Senegal

1
“Writers from the Peace Corps” by John Coyne (Ethiopia)
2
Review | TALES OF AN IKUT SWAMI by Cristina Kessler (Honduras, Kenya, Seychelles)
3
New books by Peace Corps writers | January — February 2024
4
The Volunteer who became a noted playwright | Rajiv Joseph (Senegal)
5
Riall Nolan (Senegal) has published ONE BEATS THE BUSH
6
Review | BIODIGITAL: A NOVEL OF TECHNOPOTHEOSIS by John Sundman (Senegal)
7
The Dark Side of the Hut, 50 Years Later by John Sundman (Senegal)
8
A THOUSAND POINTS OF LIGHT by Marc-Vincent Jackson (Senegal)
9
Finding “Teranga” from Senegal to the streets of Paris by Carrie Knowlton (Senegal)
10
Excerpt: LEARNING TO SEE by Gary Engelberg (Senegal)
11
Review — LEARNING TO SEE by Gary Engelberg (Senegal)
12
“Toothpaste” by E.T. Stafne (Senegal)
13
A Writer Writes: BULLETIN BOARD — A poem by Ann Neelon (Senegal)
14
Senegal RPCV Killed in Mali Attack
15
Feast & Sacrifice First Partnered Production of Posh Corps

“Writers from the Peace Corps” by John Coyne (Ethiopia)

  John writes — Since 1961, Peace Corps writers have used their volunteer service as source material for their fiction and nonfiction. Approximately 250,000 Americans have served in the Peace Corps. Of these volunteers and staff, more than 1,500 have published memoirs, novels, and poetry inspired by their experience. Many former volunteers have gone on to careers as creative writing teachers, journalists, and editors, while others have discovered a variety of jobs outside of publishing where their Peace Corps years have contributed to successful employment. A Peace Corps tour has proven to be a valuable experience — in terms of one’s craft and one’s professional career—for more than one college graduate. The first to write The first book to draw on the Peace Corps experience was written by Arnold Zeitlin (Ghana 1961–63), who had volunteered for the Peace Corps in 1961 after having been an Associated Press reporter. That book, . . .

Read More

Review | TALES OF AN IKUT SWAMI by Cristina Kessler (Honduras, Kenya, Seychelles)

  Tales of an Ikut Swami Cristina  Kessler (Honduras 1973–75, Kenya 1975–76, Seychelles 1976–78) [Cover design Frank Welffens; Photographs by Cristina Kessler] Self-published $12.00 (paperback) Reviewer — Leita Kaldi Davis (Senegal 1993–96) • • •  Cristina met her husband, Joe, in 1973 during training in Puerto Rico. As a volunteer, he was assigned to Peru and she to Honduras. Six months later he transferred to Honduras.  Peace Corps told them they could only serve together if they were married, so they agreed to risk it for a year.  That was 50 years ago this August!  They served from 1973 to 1978 in Honduras, Peru, Kenya and the Seychelles. Joe was later hired by CARE and they were sent to Sierra Leone. As an Ikut Swami — Malay for one who follows her husband — Cristina . . . and Joe spent twenty years in Africa, seven years in Latin America and two years in Asia, living . . .

Read More

New books by Peace Corps writers | January — February 2024

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 free copy along with a few instructions. P.S. 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 . . .

Read More

The Volunteer who became a noted playwright | Rajiv Joseph (Senegal)

  ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Jeremiah Norris Colombia 1963-65. Rajiv Joseph served for three formative years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal, 1996-98. About his time there, he wrote: “Being in Senegal, more than anything else in my life, made me into a writer.” His time there helped him develop the discipline of daily writing and inspired “his fascination with the power of language.” After Peace Corps, Rajiv earned a Master in Fine Arts in Dramatic Writing from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in 2004. His first play, Huck & Holden, debuted at the Cherry Lane Theater in January 2006. The play also had a West Coast run in the Black Dahlia Theater in Los Angeles the following year. Rajiv stated that the story about an Indian college student arriving in the United States is based on his father’s experience coming to the U. S. Rajiv’s mix-race background has given . . .

Read More

Riall Nolan (Senegal) has published ONE BEATS THE BUSH

One Beats The Bush by Riall Nolan (Senegal 1965-68) The Book Folks Publisher June 2023 235 pages $16.99 (Hardcover)   Vietnam veteran Max Donovan is in Bangkok, and very hungover, when his friend “Fat” Freddie Fields is arrested in San Francisco for the murder of an Australian diplomat. He knows his old buddy would never hurt a fly, so he rushes back to the Bay Area to help. There he locks horns with the District Attorney who seems intent on pursuing the case. Suspecting Freddie is being framed, Donovan tries to rustle up some cash to bail him out, but only succeeds in getting into trouble with the local mob. He’ll have to solve the case on his own. Unfortunately, the only clue he has suggests the answers lie in the jungle-covered mountains of Papua New Guinea, and the shark-filled waters of the Coral Sea. As he comes face to . . .

Read More

Review | BIODIGITAL: A NOVEL OF TECHNOPOTHEOSIS by John Sundman (Senegal)

  Biodigital: A Novel of Technopotheosis John  (F.X, Compton, Damien) Sundman (Senegal 1974-76) Rosalita Associates 2015 $5.99 (Kindle) Review by: D.W. Jefferson (El Salvador, Costa Rica) • This is a novel by a computer, biology, and sci-fi nerd for other nerds in particular, and for anyone who strives to understand the space between technology that we know exists and that which either may currently exist or likely soon will exist in some form. Most of us are likely in this latter category! Sundman states that he is especially interested in the convergence of biological and digital technologies. He has been a hardware, software and science technical writer, and a manager of information architecture in Silicon Valley and elsewhere. Biodigital is a sci-fi thriller about a fictitious Silicon Valley tech genius/messiah named Monty Meekman and the quasi-religious cult of transhumanist computer designers and brain hackers who are his devoted followers. It . . .

Read More

The Dark Side of the Hut, 50 Years Later by John Sundman (Senegal)

As a Peace Corps Volunteer (Senegal 1974-76) assigned to a rural development program I was posted to Fanaye Diery (‘fah-nigh jeery’), a HalPulaar village of about 500 people in the Senegal River valley, arriving there in late spring, 1974. (The HalPulaar people take their name from their language: HalPulaar means ‘Pulaar speaker’.) In Fanaye, most houses were made of adobe. Some had thatched roofs; the larger ones had roofs made of adobe held up by wooden timbers. In anticipation of my arrival, the people of Fanaye had prepared a thatched hut for my residence. It was about 10’ square, with two window openings and a wooden door. Somehow I acquired a small table and a chair. I later hired someone to make a little bookshelf for me. I slept on a mat on the floor. The only other amenity was a terra cotta jug that held about a gallon of water, which . . .

Read More

A THOUSAND POINTS OF LIGHT by Marc-Vincent Jackson (Senegal)

  Beautiful and determined, an outcast Senegalese woman clings relentlessly to dreams of her beloved savior, a lost folklore hero, returning to her from across the ocean … Broken, but wise, a devoted griot painfully witnesses and faithfully tells her dogged plight, loving her from afar and mostly in vain … Committed American volunteers zealously navigate a developing, culturally rich African country, becoming intimately immersed, and sometimes, unwittingly entangled … Alienated and frustrated, one unsuspecting volunteer bitterly chronicles his uneasy experiences with unsparing criticism … A desperate journey, an unspoken heart, patriotic dedication, and a candid diary lyrically meld into a seamless mystical reality with surprising results. Inspired by his U.S. Peace Corps service during George H.W. Bush’s presidency, Marc-Vincent Jackson has written A Thousand Points of Light ‘s, and insightful debut novel that is an artfully written with an  engaging tale of interwoven lives and voices in 1980’s Senegal. It magically . . .

Read More

Finding “Teranga” from Senegal to the streets of Paris by Carrie Knowlton (Senegal)

  Teranga by Carrie Knowlton (Senegal 1999-01) • You can fall in love with a person, but you can also fall in love with moments in time, the sounds of drums on the beach, and roosters crowing while women pound millet at dawn. You can fall in love with the way the Atlantic Ocean smells at sunset and the way all those things come together to become your memory of a place. After two and a half years living in Senegal while serving in the Peace Corps, I was smitten. Senegal is that bump that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean just below the Sahara desert on the western-most tip of Africa. There is a beach in the capital, Dakar, where you can sit and eat a plate of fish and rice, watch the sunset, and listen to drumming and the call to prayer. The country is 92% Muslim and French is . . .

Read More

Excerpt: LEARNING TO SEE by Gary Engelberg (Senegal)

“Test of Time”is an excerpt from Learning to See,  a collection of memoirs and short stories about the culture of Senegal and the experiences of Gary Engelbery there. — JC • TEST OF TIME by Gary  Engelberg (Senegal 1965–67)  June 2003:  A lone podium in the middle of the field faced an expanse of tents that protected about 300 guests from the African sun. The Peace Corps Director who was also a former Senegal volunteer, had invited me to speak at the swearing in ceremony of the new Peace Corps Volunteers in Senegal. It was a special day because it was also the 40th anniversary of Peace Corps in Senegal.  The first volunteers had arrived in 1963. I was in the third group that came in 1965 and had been in Senegal ever since. So the Director asked me, as the “dean” of former volunteers, to speak in the name of . . .

Read More

Review — LEARNING TO SEE by Gary Engelberg (Senegal)

  Learning to See and Other Short Stories and Memoirs from Senegal by Gary  Engelberg (Senegal 1965–67; staff/APCD Senegal 1967–69; Regional Training Officer/west and central Africa 1969–72) BookBaby September, 2017 164 pages $25.19 (paperback) [pre-order now] Review by Leita Kaldi Davis (Senegal 1993-96) • GARY ENGELBERG HAS LIVED in Senegal, West Africa for over fifty years. He is co-founder, along with Lillian Baer, former Director and current Board Chairman of Africa Consultants International (ACI), a non-governmental organization that promotes cross-cultural communication, American Study Abroad programs, health and social justice, including LGBTI rights. It’s otherwise known as The Baobab Center in Dakar. I became acquainted with Gary, Lillian and ACI when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Sine-Saloum region of Senegal from1993 to 1996. I have cherished their friendship and that of the staff at ACI that has become almost entirely Senegalese since Gary’s retirement a few years ago. Reading . . .

Read More

“Toothpaste” by E.T. Stafne (Senegal)

  Toothpaste E.T. Stafne (Senegal 1994–96) • I never knew such goddamn pain in all my life. My fingers searched out the offending patch of skin and found it just above my mouth. In my groggy, half-awake half-asleep state it felt like a fist-sized plug of tobacco shoved between my teeth and upper lip. That explained the bulging I felt, but not the intense pain. Slowly, I rose up from the hot and uncomfortable foam mattress, threw aside the frayed Peace Corps-issued mosquito net, and dragged myself over to the lone mirror in my possession, the one on the inside cover of a Silva compass. Not meant for self-inspection of deformities, its size did not allow for the full effect of horror that I would have realized with a regular-sized mirror. This small one gave me the illusion that it wasn’t all that bad, just a small bump. But as . . .

Read More

A Writer Writes: BULLETIN BOARD — A poem by Ann Neelon (Senegal)

  BULLETIN BOARD Ann Neelon (Senegal 1978–79) • When I discovered that all the postcards of black authors had been defaced, I heard my voice crackling, as in a radio transmission from outer space. The world was waiting for me to deliver an important message, but I was an ______ astronaut, not a poet. The best I could do was paraphrase someone else’s efforts: “That’s one small step back for a man, one giant leap backward for mankind.” Through the window of my classroom, I could see the Columbia Point Housing ______ Project rising up in front of me like a lost planet. Asphalt and cinder blocks were its most distinctive surface features. I remembered the alien boy who had landed from there in my classroom. When I called on him to read, he had inched his long black finger across the page, sounding out each syllable as if he were in . . .

Read More

Senegal RPCV Killed in Mali Attack

U.S. Victim of Mali Attack Worked on Women’s Health By LIAM STACKNOV. 20, 2015 New York Times Anita Ashok Datar, an American public health worker from the Washington suburbs, was killed Friday when gunmen attacked a luxury hotel in Mali‘s capital, Bamako, killing at least 19 people and taking as many as 100 more hostage. She is the only American known to have died in the attack, according to United Nations officials. Ms. Datar, who lived in Takoma Park, Md., loved the fiction of Jhumpa Lahiri and Zadie Smith and was the mother of a young son, Rohan. Her Facebook page has pictures of the two of them together during a series of family milestones: vacations, Halloween and the first day of school. In a statement released Friday, her family said that of all her accomplishments, Ms. Datar was most proud of him. “We are devastated that Anita is gone – it’s unbelievable to . . .

Read More

Feast & Sacrifice First Partnered Production of Posh Corps

Alan Toth (South Africa 2010-12) who created Posh Corps Website has announced their first RPCV partnered production, Feast & Sacrifice.  As Alan writes, “Feast & Sacrifice is a remarkable film by RPCV Clare Major, about a family in Senegal struggling with rapid globalization. We talk a lot about Peace Corps Volunteers, but this may be the first film to focus on a Peace Corps host family.” This award winning film includes educational commentary about Peace Corps service in Senegal, and it is  available at poshcorps.com. A graduate of the University of Texas Austin’s Radio-TV-Film department and of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism’s documentary program, Clare Major (Senegal 2004-06) has been freelancing in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2007, working in both video production and postproduction. She has worked for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Wired Magazine, and Adobe Systems, among others. In the Peace Corps . . .

Read More

Copyright © 2022. Peace Corps Worldwide.