Ghana

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Larry Grobel remembers Atar (Ghana)
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Review — MY VIEW FROM THE HOUSE BY THE SEA by Donna Marie Barr (Samoa)
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Review — TURQUOISE: Three Years in Ghana: A Peace Corps Memoir by Lawrence Grobel
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TURQUOISE: Three Years in Ghana by Lawrence M. Grobel
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Being First: A Memoir of Ghana I — Robert Klein
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THE ADVOCACY — a ‘novel’ approach to civil engineering by Melissa Fischer (Ghana)
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Review — THE ADVOCACY by Melissa Fischer (Ghana)
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Review — ON THE WIDE AFRICAN PLAIN by Richard Fordyce (Ghana)
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LETTERS FROM SUSIE published by Katherine Miller (Ghana)
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What program was the first Peace Corps project?
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Millennial RPCVs Unable to Find Work in Washington
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Review of Jon Thiem (Ghana 1968-70) Letters from Ghana
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The Things I Gave Her
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Here today, Ghana Tomorrow

Larry Grobel remembers Atar (Ghana)

  When I taught at the Institute of Journalism in Accra, Ghana (1968-71), I lived on the top floor of a duplex that came with an extra room behind the house. The room was there if I wanted a houseboy. I didn’t want a houseboy, but when my language teacher came to visit, he explained that he knew many young men who needed housing, and so I agreed to give the room to someone he knew and trusted. That is how Atar entered my life. Over the next three years, Atar and I became close. I visited his village, traveled with him to schools for the blind and the deaf, went to some historical landmarks, and to a fetish ceremony. He taught me how to play board and card games. He shared his life stories with me. When I had completed my Peace Corps service I arranged with my parents . . .

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Review — MY VIEW FROM THE HOUSE BY THE SEA by Donna Marie Barr (Samoa)

  My View from the House by the Sea Donna Marie Barr (Samoa 2007-2008) Independently published February 2022 (paperback), December 2021 (Kindle) 415 pages $15.99 (paperback), $7.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by Regina DeAngelo (Ghana 2000-2002) • When the average person imagines a Peace Corps experience, they might picture a red-dirt landscape in a forsaken locale. But some RPCVs get to tell a different story, of perhaps a palm-lined, tropical idyll, set beside a clear aqua sea. This is the spot on which a 57-year-old retiree named Donna Marie Barr found herself with Peace Corps “Samoa Group 78” in of June 2007. Like many PCVs who join later than in their youth (myself included), Barr took a circuitous route to a place she’d always wanted to go. After a service in the Air Force, raising three sons, and a career in real estate management, Barr found herself starting over in her mid-fifties . . .

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Review — TURQUOISE: Three Years in Ghana: A Peace Corps Memoir by Lawrence Grobel

  Turquoise: Three Years in Ghana: A Peace Corps Memoir by Lawrence Grobel (Ghana 1968-71) HMH Press 384 pages January 2022 $9.00 (Kindle); $ 20.00 (Paperback) Reviewed by Stephen Foehr (Ethiopia 1965-67) • In 1968, Larry Grobel did the party-hardy at the Aboakyere festival in Ghana, a “crazy, wild stoned-out freaky affair! People filling the streets like army ants around a carcass. No space left uncovered, dancing, drumming, singing and chanting, laughing and shouting, moving, jumping, throwing flags, waving swords, guzzling beer, pito, palm wine and akpeteshe, chewing kola nuts, smoking wee,’ celebrating the way a festival should be celebrated: up high and out of sight!” Grobel, then twenty-one, thought he was going to Guyana as a Peace Corps Volunteer. He misread; he was sent to Ghana. The names started with ‘G’ and ended in ‘ana’. One was in South America, the other in West Africa. Didn’t matter, as long as . . .

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TURQUOISE: Three Years in Ghana by Lawrence M. Grobel

  The ’60s was a turbulent time in America. It was the Age of Aquarius but also the age of domestic conflict among those who supported the Vietnam War and those who opposed it–particularly the young men being drafted to fight it. For some, there was a better way to serve their country: the Peace Corps. An idealistic venture that kept the Hounds of War at bay. And that’s what led Lawrence Grobel to Ghana, a country he knew absolutely nothing about, located 6000 miles away on the Gold Coast of West Africa. Turquoise is based on the memoir he wrote while teaching at the Institute of Journalism in Accra, the capital city, and traveling throughout Ghana and West Africa. It’s a brilliant collection of snapshots, detailing everything he experienced in real time, from embarrassing cocktail talk at the American Embassy to witnessing fetish ceremonies and meeting hustlers, con men, artists, . . .

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Being First: A Memoir of Ghana I — Robert Klein

  by Robert Klein (Ghana 1962–63) Maiatico Mafia On March 2, 1961, the Peace Corps staff, like determined squatters, took over the offices formerly occupied by the International Cooperative Agency. Shriver took more than desks and offices from ICA. Led by Warren Wiggins, a group of ICA officers had joined Peace Corps staff. Some of the early participants gave descriptions of the chaotic character of the beginning and Shriver’s role as ringmaster. Harris Wofford, Kennedy’s special assistant on civil rights, as well as an advisor to Shriver on the establishment of the Peace Corps, recalled early discussions on the establishment of the agency, that the Peace Corps not do any projects directly but that they be contracted out to universities and other agencies. “There was not much chance of that with Shriver running an agency. Sargent Shriver clearly tended toward a fast-moving, hard-hitting, core, central organization. He put enormous weight . . .

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THE ADVOCACY — a ‘novel’ approach to civil engineering by Melissa Fischer (Ghana)

  An interview by Ben Walpole Senior Manager, Content Development ASCE’S NEWS AND INFORMATION HUB American Society of Civil Engineers • Melissa Fischer’s first novel, The Advocacy, published in 2019, mixes all the human drama, emotional stakes, plot twists, and character development that you’d expect from a great work of fiction with a realistic portrayal of a working civil engineer. It’s not often that civil engineering and literature show up in the same sentence. Melissa Fischer, P.E., M.ASCE, is aiming to change that. Fischer, who identifies as nonbinary, is a supervising engineer for the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts, but lately they’re probably better known as a novelist. Fischer’s first novel, The Advocacy, published in 2019, mixes all the human drama, emotional stakes, plot twists, and character development that you’d expect from a great work of fiction with a realistic portrayal of a working civil engineer. Fischer discussed the book on a recent . . .

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Review — THE ADVOCACY by Melissa Fischer (Ghana)

    The Advocacy Melissa  Fischer (Ghana 1992–94) Kilometer Thirteen 472 pages November 2019 $19.99 (paperback), $9.99 (Kindle) Review by D.W. Jefferson • RPCV Melissa Fischer has written a novel that reads like a memoir based upon her own experience in Ghana. The protagonist, Louisa Lehmann, is what I would label a super-Volunteer. Other RPCVs will recognize the type. Not only is she an experienced civil engineer, she spent most of the early years of her life in Libya so she understands African cultures better than most PCVs do. The narrative is complex with the primary thread of the plot involving her work for the Advocacy, an agency that works with local villages to help them obtain clean water and sanitation in an area profoundly affected by an open-pit gold mine. But the reader also learns about her neighbors, her living quarters, her perceptions of her coworkers, how she relates . . .

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Review — ON THE WIDE AFRICAN PLAIN by Richard Fordyce (Ghana)

  On the Wide African Plain — And Other Stories of Africa Rick Fordyce (Ghana 1978—80) Merrimack Media August 2016 175 page $14.00 (paperback) Reviewed by Geraldine Kennedy (Liberia 1962–64) • IN THIS SOMETIMES MOVING, sometimes amusing collection of short stories by Rick Fordyce, snapshots of Ghana in the late 1970s play out for the fly-on-the-wall reader. You can look, but only so far. No touching, no asking questions. Fordyce doesn’t often give much context. No wide-angle shots from him. No detailed backstories. We are dropped into the close-ups, bystanders rafting down the blood stream of the body Africa with our faces in the capillaries and platelets. In the opening, “Away,“ (unfortunately launched with a paragraph that is a long, meandering sentence — 7 “ands,” 5 commas, 2 semi-colons), the white teacher suffers the same deprivations as the villagers. Food is randomly available and there is never enough. He looks at . . .

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LETTERS FROM SUSIE published by Katherine Miller (Ghana)

  Susie Bannerman was a shy, gangly, fourteen-year-old high school student when she met Katherine Miller, a Peace Corps Volunteer teacher at her partially-finished boarding school in newly independent Ghana. They bonded quickly and formed a friendship that has lasted over fifty years primarily continuing their relationship by communicating through letters. About fifteen years ago Miller realized that her collection of hundreds of letters from Susie was an incredible chronicle of the life of a woman who had grown up as her country was struggling with its own growing pains. Only nine-years-old when Ghana became independent, Susie and Ghana grew up together. Katherine suggested to Susie the the idea of a making a book of her letters, and Susie agreed immediately. First the letters were transcribed to the computer. Miller wrote background material by hand — her preferred medium — before entering it onto the computer. Susie and her family were involved in much . . .

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What program was the first Peace Corps project?

  If you ever run into any RPCV from Colombia One, the first thing he’ll say (they were all guys) before giving you their name is: “We were first.” Colombia One PCVs are obsessed with this fact and that they are not given their proper pecking order. Recently my friend Ron Schwarz (Colombia 1961-63), wrote this piece on why THEY were the first PCVs, not Ghana. I asked the Director of the Peace Corps to check on this obscure (but important) fact. She was nice enough to come back with this information and statement from the agency’s General Counsel Office and the  Office of Strategic Information, Research and Planning. Start dates for the early programs of the Peace Corps were corroborated and/or updated based on detailed research and analysis conducted by our Office of Strategic Information, Research and Planning on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps. . . .

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Millennial RPCVs Unable to Find Work in Washington

This news article appeared today in the Washington Post. Results are not surprising as even the Peace Corps doesn’t recruit RPCVs to work at HQ. The article cites two RPCVs from Ghana, Cheri Baker and Anthony Cotton, both highly skilled and laden with degrees plus their Peace Corps service, both having given up and/or working part-time to find a federal job. ……Ask not what your government can do for you…. Millennials exit the federal workforce as government jobs lose their allure By Lisa Rein December 15 at 9:30 PM Six years after candidate Barack Obama vowed to make working for government “cool again,” federal hiring of young people is instead tailing off and many millennials are heading for the door. The share of the federal workforce under the age of 30 dropped to 7 percent this year, the lowest figure in nearly a decade, government figures show. With agencies starved for . . .

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Review of Jon Thiem (Ghana 1968-70) Letters from Ghana

Letters from Ghana 1968-1970: A Peace Corps Chronicle Compiled and Edited by Jon Thiem (Ghana 1968–70) A Peace Corps Writers Book (An Imprint of Peace Corps Worldwide) $12.99 (paperback), $10.99 (Kindle) 255 Pages 2013 Reviewed By William G. Spain (Malawi 1967–69) Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time in a foreign country knows how important it is to write home about your experiences and receive letters from home.  Letters are a lifeline and self-chronicle, a way to reach inside of oneself.  When those letters are written by strangers, reading them is like looking into another person’s life in progress. Jon Thiem’s Letters from Ghana 1968–70: A Peace Corps Chronicle is just such a book, full of the small mysteries of everyday life as well as the bigger mysteries of a dynamic period in our history. An introductory essay sets the stage for the collection of letters that follow. . . .

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The Things I Gave Her

by Lisa Kahn Schnell (Ghana 1998–00) The following work was first published at PeaceCorpsWriters.org in January, 2004. In 2005 it was the winner of the Moritz Thomsen Peace Corps Experience Award. • THE FIRST THING I GAVE GENVIEVE was a pile of my clothes to wash. The shirts and trousers were red with dust from day-long bus rides and bike rides, and from nine weeks of my swirl-and-rinse washing. I gave her my full attention as she showed me how to wash thoroughly, with merciless, strong arms, two basins of water and a small bar of soap. She returned my clothes to their normal color and left them smelling only of wind. Once I had more than just a mug to eat out of, once I cleaned the lizard poop off my bed and chased the scream-sized flat spiders from behind the kitchen shelves, I gave Genevieve my trust. She . . .

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Here today, Ghana Tomorrow

An article yesterday, June 30, about the Peace Corps in Ghana appeared in a Ghanaian newspaper written by RPCV Phillip Kurata . Kurata works for the State Department and writes for www.America.gov, a webiste of the State Department, that distributes news of the U.S. to the world. I thought you’d like to read what they are saying at State about us. Of course, Kurata is one of us. The first Peace Corps Volunteers arrived in Accra on the afternoon of September 1, 1961. The article has the arrival date in Ghana as August 30, but it was the afternoon of September1, 1961 according to John Demos, a member of the Ghana I. Fifty PCVs met Kennedy on the White House lawn, then went to a send-off party at the Ghanaian Embassy in Washington, D.C. on August 31. “Many libations were poured,” recalls Demos, a 1959 graduate of Harvard who had also done graduate work at Berkeley before . . .

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