The current issue of The New Yorker, March 30, 2020, has an article entitled, “Life on Lockdown” Forty-five days of avoiding the coronavirus in China by Peter Hessler (China 1996-98). Peter and his wife with their nine-year-old twin daughters, Ariel and Natasha, went to China in August where his next book will be set. And then came the virus. Two weeks ago Peter wrote about the China PCVs being terminated in his host country for The New Yorker.
Peter Hessler joined The New Yorker as a staff writer in 2000. From 2000 until 2007, he was the magazine’s correspondent in China and, from 2011 to 2016, he was based in Cairo, where he covered the events of the Egyptian Arab Spring. His subjects have included archeology in both China and Egypt, a factory worker in Shenzhen, a garbage collector in Cairo, a small-town druggist in rural Colorado, and Chinese lingerie dealers in Upper Egypt. Before joining The New Yorker, he was a Peace Corps volunteer in Fuling, a small Chinese city on the Yangtze River. He is the author of six books, including a trilogy about the decade-plus that he spent in China: “River Town,” “Oracle Bones,”which was a National Book Award finalist, and “Country Driving.“ His book about Egypt, “The Buried,” was published in May. He is the winner of an American Society of Magazine Editors award and, in 2011, was named a MacArthur Fellow. He lives in southwestern Colorado.
Having been involved with The Peace Corps for many years as a staff member, The Peace Corps did not fire the volunteers. They did the most generous option they had- they classified them as having completed their service. Otherwise, they would have been on administrative leave. By closing out their service, the volunteers still able to go back, if circumstances change. None of those would have been otherwise possible. This was the kindest and compassionate approach.