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August 12, 2022

Sketches in Words and Images — and an Invitation to Dine with His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I

POETRY SKETCHES A PEACE CORPS MEMOIR By Eldon Katter Peace Corps Writers Reviewed by Kathleen Coskran   Eldon Katter sketches with images and words alike. He had the foresight to chronicle his time with the first group of Peace Corps Volunteers in Ethiopia (1962–64) through short poems and drawings — both his and his students’. He had the fortune to be assigned to teach in Harar, Ethiopia — one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, the only walled city in Ethiopia, and now a World Heritage Site. I don’t think many subsequent Volunteers received an engraved invitation from...

April 22, 2022

Stories of Racism — Confronted by a Family with Courage and Love

A tribute to decades of work by children’s author Mildred D. Taylor. This year, Peace Corps Writers recognized her with the Writer of the Year Award. By John Coyne Illustration by Montse Bernal   Mildred Delois Taylor is a critically acclaimed author of children’s novels. In 1977, she won the Newbery Medal, the most prestigious award in children’s literature, for her historical novel Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. It was the second book in a series of ten novels focusing on the Logan family, and portraying the effects of racism counterbalanced with courage and love. Her latest book, All the Days...

April 17, 2022

As a Child, She Fled Nazi Germany with Her Family. Two Decades After the War, She Was a Chemist Teaching at a University in Lagos with the Peace Corps.

My Years in the Early Peace Corps Nigeria, 1964–1965 (Volume 1) Ethiopia, 1965–1966 (Volume 2) By Sonja Krause Goodwin Hamilton Books   Reviewed by Steven Boyd Saum   Sonja Krause Goodwin had already traveled far from home, earned a doctorate in chemistry, and worked for six years as a physical chemist when she joined the Peace Corps. Born in St. Gall, Switzerland, in August 1933, she had fled Nazi Germany with her family and resettled in Manhattan, where her parents opened a German bookstore. Sonja entered elementary school without speaking a word of English. Science is where she found her calling....

August 29, 2021

Notable: Recent Awards for Four Members of the Peace Corps Community

Honors from the University of California, the Republic of Mali, Dartmouth College, and Bucknell University By NPCA Staff       Maureen Orth | Colombia 1964–66 Maureen Orth received a 2021 Campanile Excellence in Achievement Award from the Cal Alumni Association, in partnership with the University of California, Berkeley Foundation, for pushing boundaries whenever possible. She is an award-winning journalist, bestselling author, and founder of the Marina Orth Foundation, which supports education in Colombia.     Melvin Foote | Ethiopia 1973–75 Melvin Foote received special recognition from the president of Mali this year: He is to be honored with the Chevalier de l’Ordre du Mali — the...

May 11, 2021

A Plea: End Violence in Tigray

An open letter from 350 Returned Peace Corps Volunteers who have served in Ethiopia and Eritrea — signed by former U.S. ambassadors and more   By Jake Arce   AS BLOODSHED IN THE TIGRAY REGION of Ethiopia drew toward the end of its third month, more than 350 Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and a trio of former U.S. ambassadors issued an appeal to Congress asking for the U.S. to condemn the violence and demanding better humanitarian access, heightened protection of civilians, a U.N. investigation into human rights violations, and the lifting an information blockade. The returned Volunteers were joined by scores...

January 25, 2021

Eradicating Smallpox in Ethiopia

Another time, another place, another virus By Barry Hillenbrand    ”Eradicating Smallpox in Ethiopia” is a hefty and important book that rightfully deserves an honored place on any shelf of serious books about epidemiology and public health. The book tells the tale of the work that some 73 Peace Corps Volunteers did in the 1970s with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Smallpox Eradication Program (SEP), a massive project that ultimately eliminated smallpox from the world. This serious story is served up with large dollops of nostalgia, humor, delightful tales of daring, and loads of information about fighting infectious diseases, which —...

November 4, 2020

African Americans and the Future of the Peace Corps

Recruitment, support — and what next? It’s a conversation we’ve had again and again. Here are some ideas, insights, and hard truths. ON SEPTEMBER 15, 2020, THE CONSTITUENCY FOR AFRICA convened a group of past, present, and future Peace Corps leaders for the annual Ronald H. Brown African Affairs series. It’s a timely and needed conversation — with all Peace Corps Volunteers evacuated from around the world because of COVID-19, and as our nation grapples with pandemics of coronavirus and systemic racism. The conversation was moderated by educational consultant Eldridge “Skip” Gilbert, who served as a Volunteer in Sierra Leone (1967–69). Edited...

July 30, 2020

Michael McCaskey: In Memoriam

Longtime Chicago Bears leader, his service in Peace Corps in Ethiopia changed how he saw the world. By Jonathan Pearson and Steven Boyd Saum Photo courtesy the Chicago Bears Michael McCaskey was the grandson of the legendary George “Papa Bear” Halas and inherited the mantle of leading the Chicago Bears football team for nearly 30 years. He was president and CEO of the Bears 1983–89 and then chairman of the board 1999–2011. The team won their first (and so far only) Super Bowl in 1985. Peers voted McCaskey NFL Executive of the Year. He was born in 1943. He earned degrees...

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