Nigeria

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Tim Carroll (Nigeria) goes home and remembers his childhood
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Review — THE REAL PRESENCE: A NOVEL by Ron Singer (Nigeria)
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16 New books by Peace Corps writers — May and June, 2022
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Review — BREAKING KOLA: An Inside View of African Customs by Katherine Onyemelukwe (Nigeria)
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“When the Right Hand Washes the Left” by David Schickele (Nigeria)
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“Loose Ends” by Bob Criso (Nigeria/Somalia)
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“The Peace Corps Blew It” by Bob Criso (Nigeria)
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“The Nzeogwu I Knew” by Tim Carroll (Nigeria)
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The One Word That Almost Sunk the Peace Corps
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Aubrey Brown (Nigeria 1961-63) dies in Boston
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Ron Singer (Nigeria 1964-67) Publishes in Transnational Literature
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A Writer Writes: The Lost Volunteer
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Review of Lauri Anderson's (Nigeria 1965-67) From Moosehead to Misery Bay
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A Writer Writes: Teachers Room Sex Farce in Nigeria
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A Writer Writes: Apocalypse Then (Part II)

Tim Carroll (Nigeria) goes home and remembers his childhood

  “I just had to live a long time,” Beloved Old Mission memories turned into children’s coloring book by Tim Carroll.   By Jessie Williams June 19, 2022   MAPLETON — As a fifth-generation Old Mission Peninsula resident, Tim Carroll has an abundance of stories about his home. “I’ve always been interested in the history of this place, and I love my roots,” Carroll said. Carroll, 83, is sharing his perspective on the Peninsula’s history in a new coloring book, Once Upon A Peninsula, which features stories from his boyhood on the Peninsula. The book, which includes coloring and other activities, features stories and pictures from the Old Mission Peninsula during Carroll’s youth. Once Upon A Peninsula was illustrated by local artist Yvette Haberlein, who previously illustrated “The Traverse City Coloring Book” project. Carroll is a regular presenter at Peninsula Community Library, hosting the monthly history-focused “Talk with Tim” program. . . .

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Review — THE REAL PRESENCE: A NOVEL by Ron Singer (Nigeria)

  The Real Presence: A Novel Ron  Singer (Nigeria 1964–67) Adelaide Books, May 2021 236 pages $19.60 (paperback) Reviewed by Lucinda Wingard (Nigeria 1966-68) • Many of us RPCVs will agree that our lives were significantly altered by living and working in a foreign country. For author Ron Singer (Nigeria 1964-67) the years since Peace Corps have included serious attempts to understand and write about the evolution of his country-of-service. The Real Presence opens with two Igbo characters each taking a chapter to describe for an indeterminate audience their lives before and up to independence in 1960. Addressing the reader in distinctly regional cadence, Lydia Ogochukwu and her much younger brother Jerry (Jeremiah) tell of village life, tribal customs, and their education from the 1930s to the 1950s. They attempt to correct the reader’s misconceptions about their birthplace and the region’s history. The third character is Peace Corps Volunteer Bob Shepard . . .

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16 New books by Peace Corps writers — May and June, 2022

  To purchase any of these books from Amazon.com — CLICK on the book cover, the bold book title, or the publishing format you would like — and Peace Corps Worldwide, an Amazon Associate, will receive a small remittance from your purchase that will help support the site and the annual Peace Corps Writers awards. We include a brief description for each of the books listed here in hopes of encouraging readers  to order a book and/or  to VOLUNTEER TO REVIEW IT.  See a book you’d like to review for Peace Corps Worldwide? Send a note to Marian at marian@haleybeil.com, and she will send you a copy along with a few instructions. In addition to the books listed below, I have on my shelf a number of other books whose authors would love for you to review. Go to Books Available for Review to see what is on that shelf. Please, please join in our Third Goal . . .

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Review — BREAKING KOLA: An Inside View of African Customs by Katherine Onyemelukwe (Nigeria)

      Breaking Kola: An Inside View of African Customs Katherine Onyemelukwe (Nigeria 1962–64) Peace Corps Writers November 2018 251 pages $14.62 (paperback); $9.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by Tom Hebert (Nigeria 1962-64)   • Like military veterans, Peace Corps Volunteers never put their stories and accomplishments behind them. As we say, “Once a Peace Corps Volunteer, always a Peace Corps Volunteer.” But very few of us have been as totally immersed in a new culture as the author of this intense but bright and sunny book. Having taught cross cultural communication at the State Department, I knew this author wrote truthfully when I read these words on page 16: “Breaking Kola is my attempt to explain African, especially Igbo customs that that build this deep sense of community.” I mention that because for over 58 years more than 235,000 Americans have served in 141 countries. And, when they return to this country, . . .

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“When the Right Hand Washes the Left” by David Schickele (Nigeria)

  David G. Schickele first presented his retrospective view of Volunteer service in a speech given at Swarthmore College in 1963 that was printed in the Swarthmore College Bulletin. At the time, there was great interest on college campuses about the Peace Corps and early RPCVs were frequently asked to write or speak on their college campuses about their experiences. A 1958 graduate of Swarthmore, Schickele worked as a freelance professional violinist before joining the Peace Corps in 1961. After his tour, he would, with Roger Landrum make a documentary film on the Peace Corps in Nigeria called “Give Me A Riddle” that was for Peace Corps recruitment but was never really used by the agency. The film was perhaps too honest a representation of Peace Corps Volunteers life overseas and the agency couldn’t handle it. However, the Peace Corps did pick up Schickele’s essay in the Swarthmore College Bulletin and reprinted it . . .

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“Loose Ends” by Bob Criso (Nigeria/Somalia)

  Loose Ends by Bob Criso  (Nigeria 1966-67, Somalia 1967-68) • SUSAN STEEN AND PAUL BAUMER met on a beach in Bali. She was traveling with her friend Janice, taking a lot of pictures with her fancy camera. He was on his way home after two years with the Peace Corps in Africa. They have sex in the moonlight. It was 1970. “What was it like?” Susan asks, sitting up on the blanket and lighting a cigarette. Paul tells her about his early Peace Corps success. He and his friend Jeff “worked their asses off” and got all the latrines built for their project in only six months, thanks to a lot of help from the locals. He became fluent in Nglele. When the locals didn’t use the latrines, he learned that they use feces as fertilizer and didn’t want to waste it in the latrines. All along, the locals . . .

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“The Peace Corps Blew It” by Bob Criso (Nigeria)

  I HAD JUST GRADUATED from college in January 1966 when I picked up the New York Times and read about the bloody military coup in Nigeria. The Prime Minister and a number of other top government officials were killed. Nigeria’s budding democracy ended two weeks before I’d be leaving for Peace Corps training. Mmmm. “Do you know what you’re getting into?” my Uncle Ralph asked.   FOUR MONTHS LATER  I was settled into a teaching assignment in Ishiagu, Eastern Nigeria, and pretty content. Nice house, great students, companionable colleagues and a village culture that fascinated me. I rolled up the sleeves of my new dashiki and plunged right in — lots of palm wine, kola nuts and cultural-exchange-talk in mud homes, my Igbo vocabulary expanding in the process. When I was invited to a local wedding, I felt like I had been granted honorary citizenship. It wasn’t long before the BBC . . .

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“The Nzeogwu I Knew” by Tim Carroll (Nigeria)

   Editor’s Note: In February 2015, Roger Landrum (01) 1961–63, in the email below, alerted the newsletter staff of what he believed to be an interesting story about a friendship that had developed in Nigeria in 1965 between Peace Corps Volunteer Tim Carroll and a young major in the Nigerian army. Jim. I recently read Achebe’s Biafra memoir, There Was a Country. It has a brief section on Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu, one of the five military majors who led the coup that triggered the chain of events leading to the Biafran secession and the civil war. Achebe calls Nzeogwu “a mysterious figure.” Maybe not all that mysterious! There was a Nigeria PCV named Timothy Carroll posted in Kaduna who was friends with Nzeogwu. I’m trying to convince Carroll to write a piece for the FON newsletter called “The Nzeogwu I Knew.” I think Nigeria RPCVs would find this fascinating. It . . .

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The One Word That Almost Sunk the Peace Corps

THE ONE WORD THAT ALMOST SUNK THE PEACE CORPS BY EMILY CADEI OZY Writer MAY 15, 2015 When John F. Kennedy asked young Americans in 1960 how many of them were willing to spend years in the developing world “working for freedom,” he surely had people like Marjorie Michelmore in mind. What he couldn’t have anticipated is how the young Marjorie almost sent his whole vision for the Peace Corps up in smoke. Michelmore had just graduated magna cum laude from Smith College when she was selected for the inaugural class of Peace Corps volunteers in 1961. It was a pet project of Kennedy’s, a concept he first broached at a morning campaign rally at the University of Michigan in October 1960, after arriving several hours late. Thousands of students had waited for him – a sign of how much Kennedy excited young people back then. And he, in turn, was excited to . . .

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Aubrey Brown (Nigeria 1961-63) dies in Boston

RPCV Aubrey Neblett Brown III (Nigeria 1961-63), who is perhaps the first PCV ‘hero’, died on February 14 in Boston. He was 78. A celebration of Aubrey’s life will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Second Presbyterian Church in Richmond, Virginia. The family will receive guests beginning at 10 a.m. in the Chapel. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations in Aubrey’s name be made to World Student Christian Federation, USA, c/o Rev. Jorge Domingues, 475 Riverside Drive, Suite 1473, New York, NY 10115,  or World Can’t Wait, 305 West Broadway, #185, New York, NY 10013. Several years ago Murray Frank (Nigeria and HQ Staff 1961-64) wrote the story of Aubrey’s involvement in the famous ‘postcard’ incident for the Nigeria RPCV newsletter. Here is Murray’s account of what took place in Ibadan, Nigeria. • Nigeria in those first days of the Peace Corps by  Murray Frank October 14, 1961, was the day the postcard . . .

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Ron Singer (Nigeria 1964-67) Publishes in Transnational Literature

Ron Singer’s (Nigeria 1964-67) story “Their Countries of Origin”  is set in an imaginary central-African dictatorship and appears in the November issue of Transnational Literature, an academic e-journal from Flinders University, Perth, Australia. The theme is the response of American liberals to illiberal regimes around the world. Ron has written seven books and twice been nominated for Pushcart Prizes. His poetry, fiction, satire, journalism and operate (librettos) all can be found at www.ronsinger.net. Ron Singer’s 44-year teaching career began with the Peace Corps in Nigeria (1964-67). The author of seven books, Singer (www.ronsinger.net) trawls the genres: poetry, fiction, satire, journalism and opera (librettos). Among the venues where his work has appeared are Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Evergreen Review, The Georgia Review, Grey Sparrow, Poets & Writers, and The Wall Street Journal.  Singer’s serial thriller, Geistmann, and his serial farce, The Parents We Deserve, can currently be read at jukepopserials.com.

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A Writer Writes: The Lost Volunteer

The Lost Volunteer Whatever happened to Jim King? by Bob Criso (Nigeria & Somalia 1966-68) In the past, I spent a lot of time searching for Jim King, eager to talk with him about the last intense days that we spent together in Biafra. Jim was stationed at Macgregor Teacher Training College in Afikpo, about an hours ride from my house in Ishiagu on my Honda 50. When the war was heating up in the spring of ’67, Peace Corps Enugu gave me a van and a list of people to pick up in case of an emergency evacuation. Jim was on that list and I picked him up during the last-minute rush to leave the country. Jim, a tall, wiry, blond guy with glasses, was on the Peace Corps “whereabouts unknown” list for years. His family had moved from his last Altadena, California address while he was in Nigeria. . . .

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Review of Lauri Anderson's (Nigeria 1965-67) From Moosehead to Misery Bay

From Moosehead to Misery Bay: or The Moose in the VW Bug by Lauri Anderson (Nigeria 1965–67) North Star Press $14.00 224 pages June 2013 Reviewed by Don Schlenger (Ethiopia 1966-68) FROM MOOSEHEAD TO MISERY BAY is a wonderful collection of tales both tall and, according to the author, mostly true. They recount his childhood and adolescence growing up in northern Maine at the southern edge of the great northern forest; his young adulthood overseas as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nigeria and later as a teacher in Micronesia and Turkey; and his life in academe at a small Finnish-American college in the upper peninsula of Michigan. There is very little of what could be called “mainstream” about the life Anderson describes, which makes the book all the more compelling and enjoyable, and there are more than a few “Are you KIDDING?” moments as well. Here are a few: Local . . .

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A Writer Writes: Teachers Room Sex Farce in Nigeria

Teachers Room Sex Farce by Larry Lesser (Nigeria 1964-65) [Note: The author maintains that this is a true story except that he’s changed everybody’s names except his own and his then-wife’s. No need to change their names because they come out smelling like a rose.] • It’s January 1964 when Harriet and I arrive in newly independent Nigeria, peacefully unyoked from British rule. We’re Peace Corps Volunteers, deployed as teachers at the Government Technical Institute (GTI) in the provincial capital of Enugu. Our school is preparing young Nigerian men for careers in engineering and business. Our principal is ex-RAF wing commander Maddox, who resembles the caricature Colonel Blimp in physiognomy and demeanor. The deputy principal is a Nigerian named Otuagbo. More than half of the faculty are expatriates, representing an assortment of Anglophone nationalities … including the two American PCVs, Harriet and me. Nigeria is being hailed for its successful . . .

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A Writer Writes: Apocalypse Then (Part II)

Apocalypse Then by Bob Criso (Nigeria & Somalia 1966–68) • Part II Leaving Nigeria “BOB, THEY’RE GOING TO KILL US! They’re going to burn the house down.” Laura was shaking. “So this is how I’m going to die.” I visualized the headlines of my hometown newspaper: Peace Corps Volunteer Killed in Nigeria. I grabbed Laura by the shoulders. “Put your sneakers on. We may have to make a run for it.” Jeff was silent and frozen. Outside, an elderly local man stepped up onto a flat tree stump and addressed the crowd. He told them that he knew me, I was a good man and the two visitors were my friends. “Come to your senses!” he shouted like a scolding parent. It started to rain and the crowd quieted and thinned. That evening, Ugwu, Ekuma and Otu, fellow teachers, came to the house. They were somber-faced, apologetic and ashamed.  “We . . .

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