Sunday, March 27, 2011

RPCV Publisher of Travel Books Written by RPCVs

By John Coyne on Sunday, March 27th 2011

Christopher Beale (Eastern Caribbean 2005-07 ) has done an amazing thing for RPCV writers. He had built a book publishing company–Other Places Publishing–located in North Carolina that publishes travel guides written by Returned Peace Corps Volunteers who, as he says, ”Few travelers (or travel guides) have the experience and local knowledge that an RPCV has about his or her country.”

Chris started in early 2009 to develop his travel guides written and researched by RPCVs. To date, they had published eight book with another 10 coming out within the next few months. With a few exceptions, everyone who works with Chris, from editors, writers, researchers andphotographers, are RPCVs.

Today, Other Places Publishing has guide books for Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and the Pacific. The newest publication isMaking Peace with the World Photographs of Peace Corps Volunteers by Richard Sitler (Jamaica 2000-02). Sitler, who worked at newspapers in Ohio, Indiana, New Hampshire and New Jersey, returned to Jamaica in 2006 as a Crisis Corps Volunteers, then traveled the world to record the stories of PCVs. Rather than look back on the 50 years of the agency, Making Peace with the World,showcases the Peace Corps as it is today. To do the book, Richard spent two years going to 22 countries on five continents.

Other RPCVs who have written or contributed to travel books for Chris, and who were in the Peace Corps between 2000 and 2010, are:

Felicie Reid ( Benin) Lead Writer
Erika Kraus ( Benin) Lead Writer
Patrick Erdley ( Bulgaria) Contributing Writer
Leslie Strnadel ( Bulgaria) Lead Writer
Callie Flood ( Cape Verde) Lead Writer
Brittany Kuhn ( Cape Verde)Contributing Writer
Anna McCanse ( Dominica) Lead Writer
Zak Klein (Dominica) Contributing Writer
Katherine Tuider (Dominican Republic) Lead Writer
Evan Caplan ( Dominican Republic) Contributing Writer
Jake Fawson ( Gabon) Editor
Steve McNutt ( Gabon) Editor
Mike Dreyfuss ( Ghana) Contributing Writer
Julie Nguyen ( Ghana) Contributing Writer
Sonya Dugal ( Ghana) Contributing Writer
Maria Karlya ( Ghana) Lead Writer
Sara LeHoullier ( Madagascar ) Lead Writer
Christi Turner ( Madagascar ) Photographer
Natasha Oxenburgh ( Mali) Lead Writer
Chad Lathe ( Micronesia/Palau) Contributing Writer
Ben Cook ( Micronesia/Palau) Lead Writer, Editor
Lorry Marvin ( Micronesia/Palau) Contributing Writer
Christy Lejkowski ( Micronesia/Palau) Contributing Writer
Richard Lejkowski ( Micronesia/Palau) Contributing Writer
Megan McCrea ( Micronesia/Palau) Contributing Writer
Michael Gall ( Micronesia/Palau) Contributing Writer
Nathan Chamberlain ( Mongolia) Lead Writer
Leslie Chamberlain ( Mongolia) Lead Writer
Andrew Cullen ( Mongolia) Contributing Writer
Ashlee Christian ( Mongolia) Contributing Writer
Jeremiah Allen ( Namibia) Lead Writer
Thomas Rhoden ( Thailand) Lead Writer
Jason Schneider (Tonga) Contributing Writer
Steve Hunsicker ( Tonga) Contributing Writer
Kate Asleson ( Tonga) Lead Writer
Ashley Hardaway ( Ukraine) Lead Writer

Check out: for a list of books before you travel anywhere, or perhaps you have a travel book idea that might interest Chris. Drop him a note. Tell him Coyne sent you!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Corps Curriculum

University of Miami
March 3, 2011
Last Tuesday, a week to the day after the Peace Corps marked its 50th anniversary, Steve Hunsicker came to UM’s McLamore Executive Education Center to share with an audience of some 40 prospective applicants what being a Peace Corps volunteer is all about.

But first the South Florida regional recruiter pointed to a photo of himself and announced, “That is me you’re looking at in a skirt. I did wear a skirt for two years.”
At age 47 Hunsicker applied to the Peace Corps, serving from 2007 to 2009 on the South Pacific Ocean archipelago of Tonga, where he helped residents start and improve small business ventures. The skirt, he explained, “is the typical business attire in Tonga.”
In addition to offering anecdotes from his own experience, Hunsicker provided application and benefits information as well as some Peace Corps demographics.
Hunsicker said the 8,655 active Peace Corps volunteers and trainees serving around the globe now represent a 40-year high for Peace Corps placement. Of those currently in the field, he added, 33 are UM alumni.
The goal of the Peace Corps, a U.S. government agency founded in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, is to immerse volunteers in new cultures and bring that learning back to the United States to share with the rest of the nation. It requires two years in-country service plus three months in-country training in one of six primary service areas: education, youth and community development, health and HIV/AIDS, small business development, agriculture, and environment. Volunteers are also encouraged to do secondary projects that assist the host country with other areas of need.
“We try to meet the needs for whatever the countries are requesting,” he explained.
The largest volunteer country currently is the Ukraine, with 400 volunteers. The newest and smallest contingent is in Colombia, where the Peace Corps returned last year and now has nine volunteers. Although 28 is the average age of a Peace Corps volunteer, the oldest Peace Corps volunteer currently serving is an 86-year-old nurse based in Morocco, Hunsicker said.
In addition to getting help with student loans, volunteers get medical and dental insurance; 48 days of vacation; language, cross cultural, and technical training; a stipend; and a taxable readjustment allowance of $7,000 after their service. Another advantage, Hunsicker pointed out: Institutions, such as the Smithsonian and EPA, and multinationals alike often contact the Peace Corps, looking to interview returned volunteers for job openings. The Peace Corps also partners with colleges and universities, including UM, to offer scholarships, assistantships, academic credit, and additional stipends.
The Peace Corps has a strong tradition at UM—and an ardent fan in President Donna E. Shalala, who served in Iran from 1962 to 1964. More than 350 UM alumni are returned Peace Corps volunteers and for the past two years the University has been in the Top 25 of the organization’s annual list of “Top Peace Corps Volunteer Producing Colleges and Universities.”
As for how the event turned out, Hunsicker said, “I was there quite late answering questions,” and he was “thrilled” with the quality of potential candidates. “UM is a great school.”