Peace Corps Writers - first page

We have a blog!
Peace Corps Writers has a new feature. Thanks to the hard work of the Writer’s publisher, Marian Haley Beil, we now have a new venue for PCVs and RPCVs to write about their experiences during their Volunteer service. Go to and post short items about your Peace Corps experience.
     When you post your writings, you can either type into the “Post Body” box, or you can copyfrom an MSWord document and paste into the box, but the file MUST have been saved in the “Text Only” format. Be sure to select under “Categories” the name of your country so that your piece will be posted with the other articles about that country. We ask that you limit each individual posting to no more than 2000 words.
     Pat Owen (Senegal 2003–05) has started our blog off with a wonderful piece entitled “African Time.”

Peace Corps Fund awards celebration
The first annual Peace Corps Fund “Live a Life of Service” Awards were given out on September 29th at the Puck Building in New York City. Five RPCV educators in the New York City Public Schools were honored: Ingrid Buntschuh (Kenya 1985–87), Allison Granberry (Western Samoa 1988–90), Kirsten Larson (Senegal 1995–98), Pedro Santana (Kenya 1988–90), and Ira Cornelius Weston (Kenya 1979–81). The awards were presented by Caroline Kennedy. The Peace Corps Fund supports programs, projects, and activities conducted by Returned Peace Corps Volunteers who wish to implement the Third Goal of the Peace Corps: to help Americans understand the people and cultures of other countries — and thereby make our country better informed and more engaged in world affairs.      Since 1987 that has been the primary aim of Peace Corps Writers as we promote the writings of RPCV, many of whom are writing about their countries of service.
     Thanks to the many Peace Corps authors who donated signed books to be auctioned off to benefit the Fund. Over $2,000 was raised from the book auction for the Fund. Lucia St. Clair Robson (Venezuela 1964–66) signed and sold her recent book Shadow Patriots: A Novel of the Revolution, to help support the Peace Corps Fund.

And then Sarge said to me . . .
Chuck Kleymeyer (Peru 1966–68) is a Culture and Development Sociologist who has worked in international grassroots development since the Peace Corps. His latest book, Padre Sol, Madre Luna, is a trilingual collection (Spanish, Quichua/Quechua, and English on each page) of true short stories about his three decades of work in the Andes. It can be obtained from Epica Books ( all proceeds going to the non-profit publisher in Ecuador, Abya-Yala.
     Chuck recalls his first meeting with Sarge:

IN 1965 OR SO, Shriver made a promotional speaking visit to Stanford University, where I was a Creative Writing major. At that time, Stanford had the highest per-student Peace Corps sign-up ratio in the United States.
     I arrived at the event early and noticed Sarge duck into a one-man bathroom in the Student Union where he was to speak. Five minutes later, I heard the doorknob turning — first tentatively and then desperately. This was followed by fists beating on the door, and a plea of “Someone get me out of here.” Being the only one around, and having had lots of experience with that particular in- house, I leapt to the rescue. Speaking instructions through the door, I had him out in no time.
     Shriver emerged with a sheepish grin, and said something to me like, “Son, if you can get me out of that damn bathroom, I want you in the Peace Corps!”
     I am convinced that this incident explains why I was the only person in my training group (Rural Community Development/ University of Missouri - Kansas City) to get not only the country he requested (Peru), but the region of the country (Cuzco/Apurimac).

In this issue
Writers in the news

Peace Corps writers have been popping up all over the place with op-eds in newspapers, e.g., William F.S. Miles (Niger 1977–79) in the Boston Globe on his host country; Kevin Lowther (Sierra Leone 1963–65) on the new military bill that links the Peace Corps with the War Corps in the Christian Science Monitor. Mike Tidwell (Zaire 1985–87) has been on network and cable news and PBS commenting about climate change, as well as the recent hurricanes. Mike is the author of Bayou Farewell: The Rich Life and Tragic Death of Louisiana's Cajun Coast. Within the last month, two RPCV writers, Peter Hessler (China 1996–98) and Tony D’Souza (Cote D’Ivoire 2000–02, Madagascar 2002–03) were published in The New Yorker. Roland Merullo (Micronesia 1979–80) has a short story in Golf World’s inaugural fiction issue.
     Read about these writers and others in this issue’s Literary Type, a column that also includes news about who is being published, where, and when.

Do read Emalee Gruss Gillis’ (Gabon 1984–86) touching account of being locked up in a psychiatric hospital in Cote d'Ivoire, having been left there in 1986 by the Peace Corps and the U.S. Embassy. Emalee survived her mental illness and has written her memoir, Dancing With Madness. Once you read an excerpt from the first chapter of her book you will be anxious for the book to be published.
     There is more, of course. On the Vietnam front, Terry Campbell (Tanzania 1985–87, Dominican Republic 1989–92 and Crisis Corps: Dominican Republic 2001–02,) remembers how he dropped out of college in 1967 and went to Vietnam, then later joined the Peace Corps. His “On War and Peace” compares the two tours of service.
     We interviewed a very fine (and funny) new writer, Monique Maria Schmidt (Benin 1998–2000.) Her book, Last Moon Dancing: A Memoir of Love and Real Life in Africa was published by Geraldine Kennedy (Liberia 1962–64) author and owner of Clover Park Press.
     We also interviewed a Peace Corps “treasure” — M'hamed El Kadi, a staff member in Morocco for fourteen years, and still going.
     In the BookLocker we feature An African Season written by Leonard Levitt (Tanzania 1963-65) and published in 1966. Besides all of that, there are also reviews of two recently published books by RPCVs.
     And finally, Marian Beil and I thank you for your continued support of our online literary magazine whose goal is to spread the word on the written words of RPCV writers.
     Read On.

John Coyne