Peace Corps Writers
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Voices from the Field
Voices from the Field
Several years ago, Betsi Shays (Fiji 1968–70), then head of the Peace Corps’ World Wise Schools program, began to develop a text book based on writings by Peace Corps Volunteers. This spring, Voices From the Field: Reading and Writing About the World, Ourselves and Others was published by the Peace Corps. The book is a language arts curriculum guide based on the personal narratives, poetry, and fiction of Peace Corps authors and is for teachers and their students in grades 7 to 12.
     Two separate but complementary curriculum units accompany the Peace Corps stories. “Reading and Responding to Literature” focuses on one or more essential questions designed to help students better understand the world, themselves and others, while at the same time, strengthening their reading comprehension skills. “A Reading and Writing Workshop” uses the Peace Corps stories as a springboard to students’ own self-discovery through the writing process.
     Also authoring the book were Beth Giebus (Morocco 1990–93) and Cerylle Moffett (Staff PC/W 2001– )
     The featured Peace Corps writers include: John Acree (Liberia 1983–85), Mark Brazaitis (Guatemala 1990–93), Leslie Simmonds Ekstrom (Nigeria 1963–65), Bill Moyers (Peace Corps staff 1961–63), Susan Peters (Niger 1984–86), Robert Soderstrom (Papua New Guinea 1996), Mike Tidwell (Dem. Republic of the Congo 1985–87), and Roz Wollmering (Guinea-Bissau 1990–92).
     According to the teachers who have field-tested the stories and lesson plans,these “voices” are “powerful and contain messages young Americans need to hear — especially now.”
     For more information about the book, and to download the entire 273 page publication as a PDF file (using Adobe Acrobat) go to:
  Spring Fashions of the Times (a special insert section in The New York Times) that appeared on Sunday, February 24, carried a piece by Maureen Orth (Colombia 1964-66) entitled “Our Woman in Tajikistan” about bazaar shopping in the Tajik city of Dushanbe. Maureen did this piece for The Times while she was in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan writing a piece on drugs and terrorism that appeared in the Marsh issue of Vanity Fair magazine. Maureen writes, “I chose not to repair to the bar, where the weary correspondent traditionally take his release, but opted for the bazaar instead.” Maureen came home with bargains, and a tale to tell.
  Readers’ Digest published excerpts from the book In Search of the Elusive Peace Corps Moment — Destination: Estonia, by Douglas Wells (Estonia 1992–96) in its December 2001 issue. In Search of the Elusive Peace Corps Moment tells of Wells’ always frustrating, often comic, and occasionally heroic adventures as a PCV on a small Estonian island in the Baltic Sea. Wells’ unique sense of irony and wit has propelled this autobiographic fish-out-of-water comedy onto his publisher’s (Xlibris) best seller list for 4th quarter of 2001.
Stephen Foehr (Ethiopia 1965-67) has signed with Sanctuary Publishing, London, for the third book in his Waking Up In . . . series. The new book on Nashville and the country music culture, is to be released in November. The previous books in the series are Waking Up in Jamaica (travel & reggae) and Waking Up in Cuba (travel & Cuban music).
  A short essay titled “My Private Place,” reflecting the thoughts of Leonard Oppenheim (Afghanistan 1964–66) during the first months of the post 9/11 U.S. antiterrorist campaign in Afghanistan, has been added to the website of the alumni of the former American International School of Kabul ( Leonard’s essay evokes memories and historical references, balancing them against the imagery of events in that country as reported by the media during the military campaign. The essay’s title alludes to the virtual nonexistence of Afghanistan in the media during “normal times.”
Jeff Koob (Jamaica 1991–93) has just published Two Years in Kingston Town: A Peace Corps Memoir. The author, a psychologist, and his wife, a psychiatric nurse, worked for two years at the University Hospital of the West Indies. Koob is a mental health professional in Columbia, South Carolina.
  Marnie Mueller will be touring the country with her new novel, My Mother’s Island, about a daughter who relives her troubled past while caring for her dying mother. Set in Puerto Rico, this is a novel that will hit home for many of us. She will be in Washington state, Oregon, California, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York and Connecticut. If you can, go to one of Marnie’s readings.
     My Mother’s Island has been selected for the May/June BookSense 76. Book Sense 76 is a bi-monthly selection of 76 most noteworthy, eclectic new books chosen by independent booksellers. Their website is:
   Chris Conlon (Botswana 1988-90) is included in William Heyen’s September 11, 2001: American Writers Respond, an anthology of essays, poetry, letters, and reflections form over 125 poets and writers that is forthcoming from Etruscan Press.
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