Ethiopia

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Waiting for Stan Meisler's History of the Peace Corps
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Talking With Mark Jacobs (Paraguay 1978-80)
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Neil G. Kotler (Ethiopia 1964-66)
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Betty Hite Graff (Ethiopia 1963-65)
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Patricia I. Eimerl (Ethiopia 1967-69)
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Sally Collier (Ethiopia 1962–64)
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Dan Close (Ethiopia 1966–68)
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George B. Breznay (Ethiopia 1966–68)
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RPCV Dick Lipez Is Back With New Don Strachey Mystery
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Review: The Man Who Killed Osama

Waiting for Stan Meisler's History of the Peace Corps

Next month Stan Meisler’s book on the Peace Corps When The World Calls: The Inside Story of the Peace Corps and Its First Fifty Years will be published by Beacon Press, but you can order it now at www.amazon.com (be the first RPCV on your block to own a copy!) We will also have a review of the book next month done by Robert Textor who was an early consultant to the Peace Corps, and editor of one of the first studies about the agency, Cultural Frontiers of the Peace Corps, published in 1966 by MIT Press. Meanwhile….For those who don’t know, Stan Meisler…was a reporter for AP who came late to the Peace Corps.  “I was not there at the madcap, exciting, glorious beginning. I started my work at Peace Corps headquarters just after the election of Lyndon B. Johnson to a full term as president, a year after the assassination of . . .

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Talking With Mark Jacobs (Paraguay 1978-80)

A few years ago when I first met Mark Jacobs (Paraguay 1978-80) he reminded me of Thomas Wolfe (the real Tom Wolfe of Look Homeward, Angel and You Can’t Go Home Again) — big and slightly ungainly with a quiet brooding presence, a thick wedge of dark hair and a massive face. A hulk of a guy. There is something of Wolfe in Mark’s prose, the luxury of his language and the way Mark fills a page with wonderful details, but Jacobs is a much more disciplined writer, and more inventive. We met in Union Station in Washington, D.C. where I had been waiting for him in that beautiful, vaulted marble main lobby and he came in out of the sunlight of the city, a towering figure and I thought: now there’s a guy who looks like a writer! And truly he is one. He joins a small band of first-rate intellects . . .

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Neil G. Kotler (Ethiopia 1964-66)

Monday, November 21 5:30 pm MAKING A CONTRIBUTION as a teacher in improving the lives of other human being, particularly young people — this was at the core of my Peace Corps experience in Ethiopia. I never felt better employed in my life as I had teaching Ethiopian history, at a time and place where few Ethiopians were studying their own history. The first semester I was asked to teach Greek and Roman history to 11th and 12th grade students. I was puzzled by this assignment. What in the world were my Eritrean students going to learn from the Greeks and Romans? Why weren’t my students studying Ethiopian and Eritrean history? When I proposed to teach Ethiopian history the following semester, the headmaster eyed me with amusement and asked what qualified me to teach national history. Eventually, the headmaster consented, and during the next year and a half I taught, . . .

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Betty Hite Graff (Ethiopia 1963-65)

Monday, November 21 5:27 pm PRESIDENT KENNEDY SPURRED ME to try new adventures. In 1963, Kennedy said Americans need more physical exercise – take a 50-mile hike in 20 hours – I walked twenty. Then Kennedy said, “Join the Peace Corps, serve in a foreign country.” I joined the Peace Corps. I stepped off the plane in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in September 1963 with much awe and trepidation as to what I was about to begin. A new life for me. A new beginning in the most beautiful country with the most beautiful people in the world. I wrote in my journal that day: “What a magnificent view and what a beautiful airport we landed at! Today is the Ethiopian New Year. The women are dressed in white (off white from washing them in the dirty streams) hand woven dresses with colorful trim around the edges. I guess I’ll have . . .

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Patricia I. Eimerl (Ethiopia 1967-69)

Monday, November 21 7:15 pm THIS IS OUR SECOND YEAR as Peace Corps Volunteers in Ethiopia. This year we are working in the city of Axum in Northern Ethiopia. Axum is a 2000-year-old city and the center of Ethiopia’s Coptic Christian Church. Ethiopia’s brand of Christianity began in Axum in the fourth century and spread to the rest of Ethiopia from this city. We enjoy exploring the ruins nearby; all the hills surrounding the city have various kinds of ruins, many of them unexcavated. We also enjoy finding different kinds of agates, quartz geodes, and other kinds of rocks in the fields and valleys of Axum. Our work this year is similar to last year, i.e., teaching. We are more experienced this year and so enjoy our teaching and our students even more than last year. We know how to handle the discipline problem better. Pat teaches English to the . . .

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Sally Collier (Ethiopia 1962–64)

Monday, November 21 8:00 pm I served with the Peace Corps as a music teacher in Ethiopia with the first group to go there, from 1962-64. I lived in Addis Ababa with four other young women. Our house was termed “Debutante Hill” by our would-be humorous friends. My roommates included Mo, the daughter of a Chicago Irish policeman, Sylvia, an Italian-American, who when asked one day how she was, said, “Oh, so and so,” Peggy who was in seven Land-Rover accidents during her two-year stint (no one wanted to fly home on the same plane with her), and Stephanie who laughed on a perfect C- scale, always us. My roommates were fresh out of college; I was 25 – an older woman. I probably should have been wiser for my extra four years of living, but my real education had only begun. It began the day I received the invitation . . .

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Dan Close (Ethiopia 1966–68)

Monday, November 21 5:57 pm In November of 1963 I came to Washington to say farewell to Jack Kennedy. I came here with hundreds of thousands of people, and we stood in lines that stretched for countless Washington blocks through the cold November night. We walked slowly for hours toward the Capital, and along the way we met friends and relatives, brothers and sisters whom we had never met before, whom we would never meet again. We had come from all directions, along roads filled with hitchhikers carrying signs that said simply “Washington,” and we stopped and picked them up, carried them forward in our slow and silent and subdued tide. Through the long night, we were the American people, assembled to pay honor to our fallen leader, Jack. The lines of mourners entered the Capitol from the east, and there were placed the flowers sent by many nations, and . . .

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George B. Breznay (Ethiopia 1966–68)

Monday, November 21 6:09 pm JOURNAL EXCERPTS 2/3/67 At the Bank today a woman in native dress (black with a white shemma [shawl]) came in, bowed to the teller, treaded lightly over to the counter where the desk men are, bowed deeply again, and proceeded to transact some business. Saw a ritual of men kissing today – a cycle is 4 kisses: A kisses B’s right, then left cheek; then B does the same to A: this cycle was repeated twice, all the time shaking hands – then a stand-off – both stepped back, each rubbing the back of his neck as if in embarrassment. It seemed that neither then knew what to say! 2/9/67 The other day Lemma saw me sitting quietly in the middle of the bus as he walked near the Trinity Press. I thought “how observant he is!” -but then on reflecting I discovered that there . . .

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RPCV Dick Lipez Is Back With New Don Strachey Mystery

Dick Lipez (Ethiopia 1962-64) who uses the pen name Richard Stevenson has a new Donald Strachey novel coming out in September. This one is titled, The 38 Million  Dollar Smile. Lipez, who has written for such publications as The Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, Newsweek and The Washington Post, and more importantly, was a Peace Corps evaluator in the early days when Charlie Peters ran that division, writes now in western Massachusetts  and lives with his spouse, sculptor Joe Wheaton. Lipez has written ten titles in this Strachey series, and this novel is based on Dick’s recent trip to Asia. The plot centers on Gary Griswold, the hapless gadfly scion of Albany old money, late of Key West, who goes missing, and his ex-wife, now married to Gary’s brother, wants to know what’s happened to him–not to mention his 38 million dollars in cash. She calls Don Strachey, Albany’s only gay PI.  The rest, as they say, . . .

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Review: The Man Who Killed Osama

I could think of no better to review The Man Who Killed Osama by George P. Matheos than RPCV Darcy Munson Meijer. Darcy currently lives with her family in the United Arab Emirates and teaches English at  Zayed University in Abu Dhabi. • The Man Who Killed Osama by George P. Matheos (Ethiopia 1963–65) iUniverse October 2008 256 pages $26.95 Reviewed by Darcy Munson Meijer (Gabon 1982-84) I liked this lively book, though Matheos’ style took getting used to. Some clever American writer had to take on the woeful story of America’s obsession with Osama bin Laden, and Matheos does it with humor and suspense. The Man Who Killed Osama follows Jake and Jo Ann, naïve newlyweds, from Chicago to Beirut and back, as they become involved in tracking down America’s Public Enemy #1. On the way, Matheos weaves subplots that add depth and suspense. Matheos opens the story with one of Jake’s nightmares, . . .

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