Peru

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“Fifty Years On: Sicaya 1964 & 2016” by Thea Evensen (Peru)
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New book by Evelyn Kohl LaTorre (Peru)
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“The Road Taken” — Hank Fincken (Peru): Fulfilling the Third Goal of the Peace Corps
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A Writer Writes — “Up On The Mountain” by Michael Beede
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Sixth Prize Peace Corps Fund Award: “A Nice Black Shirt” by Nathan Hecht (Peru)
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Fifth Prize Peace Corps Fund Award: “Where Carbs Mean Friendship” by Lucas Gosdin (Peru)
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“The Peace Corps Radicalized Me” by Thomas Pleasure (Peru)
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Tino Calabia (Peru1963-65) Comments on "13 Hours: the Secret Soldiers of Benghazi"
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Ron Arias (Peru 1963-64) in Front of the Camera
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A Writer Writes:The Lesson of the Machi by David C. Edmonds

“Fifty Years On: Sicaya 1964 & 2016” by Thea Evensen (Peru)

  by Thea Evensen (Peru 1964–66) • YEARS AGO, THE TRAIN to Huancayo ran on a regular schedule, an early morning departure from the Desamparados station near the river behind the Presidential Palace in Lima. It was a twelve-hour trip. From sea level through the rugged Central Andes, the train traveled by switchbacks over a 16,000 ft. pass before descending into the Mantaro Valley. On the way to its final destination, there were stops at Chosica, San Bartolome, Matucana, San Mateo, Casapalca, La Oroya, and Jauja. At each station women and children crowded onto the cars with their baskets, selling sandwiches and fruit to the passengers. It was a slow trip, but breathtaking, a chance to ride one of the highest railroads in the world. Now, the train runs infrequently and most people travel to Huancayo by bus. Transportes Cruz del Sur offers double decker first class comfort with wide padded . . .

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New book by Evelyn Kohl LaTorre (Peru)

    Between Inca Walls: A Peace Corps Memoir to be published by Evelyn Kohl Latorre   At twenty-one, Evelyn is naïve about life and love. Raised in a small Montana town, she moves at age sixteen with her devout Catholic family to California. There, she is drawn to Latino culture when she works among the migrant workers. During the summer of her junior year in college, Evelyn travels to a small Mexican town to help set up a school and a library — an experience that whets her appetite for a life full of both purpose and adventure. After graduation, Evelyn joins the Peace Corps and is sent to perform community development work in a small mountain town in the Andes of Perú. There, she and her roommate, Marie, search for meaningful projects and adjust to living with few amenities. Over the course of eighteen months, the two young . . .

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“The Road Taken” — Hank Fincken (Peru): Fulfilling the Third Goal of the Peace Corps

      The Road Taken by Hank Fincken (Peru 1970-72) • In June of 1970, I arrived on the coast of Peru a week after the worst earthquake in the country’s modern history.  What a beginning! I saw PCVs at their finest; delivering aid, and I saw the military government at its worst, confiscating supplies — although it took me almost two years to know enough to talk about it. My Peace Corps work was with el Programa National del Arroz. Our goal was to make Peru self-sufficient in rice, no imports necessary. Because rice is a twice-a-day staple, self-sufficiency would provide huge national budget relief.  We succeeded and then we didn’t. To tell that story I would need to know that my readers suffer insomnia. I enjoyed the outdoor work, the people and the irregular adventures. For example, in early December, my Peruvian co-worker and I were sent . . .

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A Writer Writes — “Up On The Mountain” by Michael Beede

    Up On The Mountain by Michael Beede (Peru 1963-65) and (Venezuela 1968-70)   From March of 1963 to February of 1965, my good friend, Ron Arias, and I served as Peace Corps volunteers in the high Sierra town of Sicuani in the Departamento de Cuzco, Peru. I was 20 years old, and Ron was a year older. We had been assigned to the PNAE, Peru’s National School Lunch Program, and we were having the time of our lives. School holidays and vacations provided the time and opportunity to explore in the  Andean Cordillera surrounding Sicuani. There were backcountry regions in those mountains where few foreigners, if any, had ever ventured.  The march of civilization was rapidly changing the environment forever. The time to visit these isolated places while they were still in a relatively untouched  state was fast ebbing away. The opportunity to do so was now. We were young and . . .

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Sixth Prize Peace Corps Fund Award: “A Nice Black Shirt” by Nathan Hecht (Peru)

  Nathan Hecht (Peru 2012-15) was a Peace Corps Volunteer in the high Andes Mountains near Huaraz, Peru. Nathan worked on projects to promote community environmental management, including reforestation through agroforestry, trash management, environmental education, and, in his third year, climate change adaptation and water quality monitoring with The Mountain Institute. Originally from La Crosse, WI, he is now a graduate student at the University of Minnesota studying sustainable agriculture and diversified farming systems.   • A Nice Black Shirt by Nathan Hecht “I DON’T HAVE a nice, black shirt.” A familiar feeling of anxious uncertainty rose as I realized I didn’t know if Quechua people even wore black to funerals. “White is okay, Natan,” my host mother said kindly, “for the angels.” My mind grasped at thoughts of training on cultural integration, the historical influences of Christianity in Peru, the Spanish word for “condolences,” as I brushed a layer . . .

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Fifth Prize Peace Corps Fund Award: “Where Carbs Mean Friendship” by Lucas Gosdin (Peru)

    Lucas Gosdin (Peru 2013-15) served as a community health volunteer in Peru where he had two host families and lots of friends. He loves to visit them and communicate with them through WhatsApp. Lucas never learned how to make good ceviche, but he can make a lot of delicious dishes you have never heard of. Lucas is a doctoral student studying maternal and child nutrition at Emory University. He also conducts research in Peru.   •   Where Carbs Mean Friendship by Lucas Gosdin EVERY GUEST KNOWS that refusing food might be considered rude. Now imagine being in a place where friendship is measured in food. After hugging me and calling me her new son, the first question my host mother, Teo, asked was, “Qué no te gusta comer?” — what don’t you like to eat? After living in Peru for a few months of training, I knew the connotation . . .

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“The Peace Corps Radicalized Me” by Thomas Pleasure (Peru)

The following article was published on Argonaut Online — the web presence of The Argonaut, a local newspaper for the westside of Los Angeles — on June 1, 2016 under the title “Opinion Power to Speak.” We are delighted to have received permission from the author to repost it here. •   •  The Peace Corps Radicalized Me by Thomas Pleasure (Peru 1964–66)   SINCE FRANK MANKIEWICZ’S DEATH in 2014, activists, historians, cineastes, journalists and spinmeisters had been awaiting publication of his posthumous memoir, So As I Was Saying . . . My Somewhat Eventful Life. I imagine we all felt that Frank — son of “Citizen Kane” writer Herman Mankiewicz, nephew of director Joseph Mankiewicz and a political force of the 1960s and ’70s in his own right — had a special message for us. We were right. Movie buffs will lap up Frank’s tales of growing up in Hollywood and his conversation . . .

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Tino Calabia (Peru1963-65) Comments on "13 Hours: the Secret Soldiers of Benghazi"

Most RPCVs, new Volunteers, and staff know of RPCV Christopher Stevens’ model service as a PCV and then a U.S. Ambassador until he was slain in Libya in 2012.  Many may be curious to see how Hollywood would portray him.  Now we know.  In “13 Hours: the Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” Stevens is, in Hollywood-speak, “a bit player.” Nonetheless, “This is a true story” declares a typed preface rolling at the film’s start.  The name of Libya’s second biggest city has become an epithet of scorn meant by many to besmirch Hillary Clinton’s record as President’s Obama’s first Secretary of State.  The killing of Stevens and three colleagues had fanned the partisan flames of the 2012 Presidential campaign, and surely those flames will flare up again before this year’s Presidential election is over.  But little in this movie can be easily argued to derail Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The reason?  “13 Hours . . . .

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Ron Arias (Peru 1963-64) in Front of the Camera

Ron Arias (Peru 1963-64) author of half a dozen books (the last is entitled My Life as a Pencil) and for 22 years a writer at People Magazine retired a year or so ago to Hermosa Beach, California and gave up (at least full time) his writing career and began to throw pots. It’s a true story. Ron is finding his new occupation satisfying as well as fun. Recently cinematographer Matt Hanlon of www.wearethreaded.com did 3 hours of videos and produced 5 minutes of Ron at work as a potter. He also relates how Ron made the transition from print to clay. Take a look: https://vimeo.com/146351224

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A Writer Writes:The Lesson of the Machi by David C. Edmonds

A Writer Writes The Lesson of the Machi By David C. Edmonds (Chile (1963-65) Mapuche village near Chol Chol, Arauca, Chile September 1964 Friday-The drums wake me again. Now what? Another funeral for some poor child? A wedding? No, the village Machi, who performs all healing and religious rituals, is going to offer another lesson for the young girls. I don’t know the details because things that happen here don’t always make sense. So when I see the Machi’s seventeen-year-old daughter, Ñashay, passing by my little dirt-floor ruca with a pale of milk, I ask her what is going on. “It is called the Lesson of Two Loves,” she tells me in her broken way of speaking Spanish, standing there on the mud walkway in her head dress and shawl, all four feet, ten inches of her. “What is the Lesson of Two Loves?” “Yes, the Lesson of Two Loves. . . .

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