Wampler served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Kyrgyz Republic from 1999 to 2001, teaching English. Following his service he earned his Master's degree and was a Fulbright researcher in the Kyrgyz Republic, before returning to New York City to work as a Peace Corps recruiter. He is currently a professional photographer and full time graduate student of the School of Visual Arts, earning a Master’s degree in digital photography. For the past few months he's been helping with the MorePeaceCorps campaign. This fall he will enter the Foreign Service.
Oh, and he's written a play.
Twin Towers, an original play by Damian Wampler and directed by Angela Astle, will premiere at The Planet Connections Theater Festivity on Friday, June 12th through Sunday, June 28th for six performances only at the Robert Moss Theater at 440 Studios, 440 Lafayette, in New York’s East Village.
Set in the Bush Era, Twin Towers "explores the struggle between natural law and positive law - what we know in our hearts to be right versus what society and our government tell us." Trevor and Jamal, the "Twin Towers" of the title, were once inseparable schoolyard buddies. Now, years later, Trevor has returned from Iraq a war hero, while Jamal has returned from years of overseas work in the Peace Corps searching for purpose. "The two clash as the fantasy of their childhood innocence fades to reveal the truth of their character."
The play benefits the New York based non-profit ENACT, which uses professional teaching artists to inspire and education urban youth using drama therapy techniques. “ENACT really embodies what the play Twin Towers is all about,” says Suzanne Lee, the play’s liaison at ENACT and a returned Peace Corps volunteer herself. “ENACT shows that everyone has the power to make change in the world, as long as they recognize that the skills they have are valuable. It might take creativity, collaboration and patience, but everyone can do their part to improve the lives of others."
SHOW TIMES: Friday, June 12th, 5:30pm, Sunday, June 14th, 9:0pm, Wednesday, June 17th, 4:00pm, Thursday, June 18th, 4:00pm, Friday, June 19th, 7:30pm, Sunday, June 28th, 1:00pm.
Robert Moss Theater at 440 Studios
440 Lafayette, 3rd floor
TICKETS: $18 adult 212 352-3101 or www.planetconnectionsfestivity.com
In an increasingly globalized world, communication is fundamental. Language has always been an integral part of the Peace Corps experience and WorldView magazine is looking for submissions for publication relating to the subject.
Whether it’s learning a new one or working to save one, PCVs and RPCVs have a lot of experience with language and Worldview magazine wants to hear your story.
The next issue of Worldview hopes to explore these questions in addition to taking a look at language preservation, Peace Corps jargon, and language instruction at PC. Send your submissions and suggestions to email@example.com or visit http://www.worldviewmagazine.com/issues/letter.cfm for more information.
RPCV Maureen Orth--and the Colombian school named after her--made front page news in Medellin, Colombia recently for receiving over 200 laptop computers thanks to One Laptop Per Child. The organization worked to get laptops donated by Chevron and an internet connection provided by Motorola to the students in the small town of Aguas Frias, Colombia.
Orth formed a foundation to fundraise and administer the programs which will now be replicated in other Colombian schools. In the U.S., she founded K12 Wired to "provide a superior, modern education specializing in English and information technology to children who would otherwise be denied this opportunity," according to her foundation's website.
To read Orth's own account of this success, check out her article in Vanity Fair.
The following query dropped into our inbox, and we're happy to pass it on:
Name: Melissa Peterson
Title: Assistant Editor
Media Outlet/Publication: Atlantic Publishing Company
Deadline: 5:00 PM EASTERN - October 20
"I'm looking for a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer to review our new book titled "The Complete Guide to Joining the Peace Corps: What You Need to Know Explained Simply." Basically, I am looking for an RPCV to read over the book and provide comments. This person will be invited to provide a short testimonial that will appear on the back of the book. If you are an RPCV and are interested in reviewing this book, please contact me."
Peace Corps Volunteers often return home with a range of documents and mementos that chronicle their individual abroad experiences. A collection at the Kennedy Library in Boston compiles these materials in an effort to record the broader history of the Peace Corps through the words and stories of individual volunteers. The collection is central to the Third Goal of the Peace Corps - to "bring the world back home," as it allows the documents of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers to be accessed by the public and used to educate Americans about the rest of the world in a positive light.
The collection came to fruition through the efforts of John Coyne (Ethiopia 62-64) and a panel of RPCVs looking to find a home for the vast array of Peace Corps writings. Coyne, an author himself, is also the editor of www.peacecorpswriters.org, and a leading figure in the effort to bring together the stories of Peace Corps Volunteers. The collection fittingly landed at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. Current curator of the Peace Corps Collection, Jamie Quaglino, noted "the mission of the [library] is to collect material that documents the life and times of President John F. Kennedy. The Peace Corps Collection documents the efforts of a program that began during Kennedy's administration, yet still continues today."
The current Peace Corps Collection has two major components - the Personal Papers and Oral Histories of RPCVs. The Personal Papers collection, established nearly 25 years ago, includes letters home from Volunteers, memos and training guides, newspaper articles about volunteer efforts, postcards, photographs, scrapbooks, and PCV memoirs. The more recent Oral Histories collection consists primarily of audiotapes which have been compiled by trained interviewers and can be listened to at the library. Both components work to weave together a broader history of the Peace Corps through the words of those who served.
The collection is dependent on the donation of material by Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. Click here to read an interview with Jamie Quaglino and learn how you can donate documents and help construct a public Peace Corps history.
On June 5th award winning author and former Peace Corps volunteer Tony D'Souza (Cote d'Ivoire 00-02, Madagascar 02-03) gave a talk at the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington D.C.
D'Suoza, who worked as a rural AIDS educator while serving in Africa, has since published two critically acclaimed novels; Whiteman and The Konkans. He spoke about and answered questions on both his writing and his Peace Corps experience. He also read a passage from Whiteman, a novel which describes the experiences of an American relief worker in West Africa. Whiteman has been praised for refusing to fall back on stereotypical tropes common to novels of Americans traveling in developing countries. A New York Times review proclaimed: "where many a fledgling novelist would aim a protagonist's awakening solipsistically inward, D'Souza directs it generously outward. He resists the temptation to use Africa as a colorful backdrop, to mill a bildungsroman from exotic grist: a young American goes to Africa to change the world, but finds it is he who has changed."
Tony D'Souza's novels are fiction but heavily influenced by the real events of his life. He made clear that while Whiteman is not his memoir (the protagonist Jack Diaz is in no way connected to the Peace Corps) certain incidents described in the novel were drawn directly from his personal experience serving in Cote d'Ivoire. He explained that he intertwined memorable moments from his own reality into a fictional plot in order to produce the most captivating narrative. D'Souza likened this method to the practices of traditional oral storytellers from his West African village.
D'Souza was very candid about his time in the Peace Corps. He admitted that part of the reason he initially joined the Peace Corps was because people said it would be a good chance for him to write; however, it was only when he stopped focusing on writing and stepped out of his hut that his experience really began. He noted that the Peace Corps is "an individual experience, a test of what's most difficult for you." Many he knew could not handle the difficult transition and left. He spoke specifically to the issue of language barriers, and explained how only when he was proficient in the dialect of his village did he feel he could have a real impact. Although this process was difficult and at times humiliating, D'Souza emphasized that this trial and error was integral to being able to really communicate with his African neighbors. Throughout his talk D'Souza kept the audience consistently engaged by not only focusing on the lessons that came from his experience, but also the humor, mistakes and mishaps that happened along the way.
Click here to read more on Tony D'Souza and his writing.
The 2008 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting was awarded earlier this month to New York Times reporter Jake Hooker (pictured left) and Walt Bodganich for their Investigative Reporting series entitled "A Toxic Pipeline" which traced the deadly flow of toxic ingredients in Chinese-made products around the world.
Hooker's writing has also appeared in NPCA's WorldView magazine. His article "Over the Rainbow: China struggles with drugs and the virus" was published in our special issue on HIV/AIDS and can be read here.
From the New York Times website:
Jake Hooker was born on Oct. 27, 1973 in Newton, Mass. He attended Milton Academy and Dartmouth College, where he studied art history. For two years he lived in the backcountry of the White Mountain National Forest as a caretaker for several backcountry huts operated by the Appalachian Mountain Club.
He was a volunteer in the Peace Corps in China starting in 2000. For two years, he taught English at a middle school in Wanxian, a small town along the middle reach of the Yangtze River, near the Three Gorges. In his free time there, he learned Chinese. He published his first newspaper article, about his life in Wanxian, in The Boston Globe in 2001.
In 2003, Mr. Hooker returned to China to work for the Surmang Foundation, a non-governmental organization that runs a free health clinic for nomads in eastern Tibet. Western doctors work alongside Tibetans there; patients come on horseback. Mr. Hooker translated for Western doctors and Tibetan doctors, bought medicine, wrote reports and met with health officials, Tibetan monks and other people in the Surmang Valley.
Mr. Hooker has traveled to most places in China writing about rural life, AIDS, ethnic identity, and archaeology. Since 2006, he has contributed research and reporting to a wide range of China coverage for The New York Times.
Tireless Peace Corps community champion John Coyne always has his finger on the pulse of the publishing world when it comes to Peace Corps writers. Since 1989 he and fellow returned Peace Corps volunteer Marian Haley Beil (both Ethiopia 62-64) have been furthering the Third Goal by fostering Peace Corps writing talent: first with the print newsletter RPCV Writers & Readers and since 1994 with the website PeaceCorpsWriters.org. Somehow John also finds time to maintain a lively blog that "comments on Peace Corps writers, Ethiopia, happenings, current affairs, golf, other people's blogs, etc. etc."
Stanley Meisler, an early evaluator at the Peace Corps who has had a long and distinguished career in journalism, before and after his Peace Corps years, has signed a contract with Beacon Press to write a history of the first 50 years of the agency. This is a major development in the telling the story of the Peace Corps, a history that will be written by a talented writer who knows the agency from the inside and from the early days, and a journalist who has observed PCVs at work around the world.
Meisler was with the Los Angeles Times as a foreign and diplomatic correspondent for thirty yers, living and working in Nairobi, Mexico City, Madrid, Toronto, Paris, Barcelona, the United Nations and Washington. He still contributes articles to the Los Angeles Times Book Review. He is the author of the biography Kofi Annan: A Man of Peace in a World of War and United Nations: The First Fifty Years. Today he writes a News Commentary for his website, www.stanleymeisler.com.
Peace Corps celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2011.
Publisher of www.peacecorpswriters.org, Marian Haley Beil (Ethiopia 1962–64), and editor John Coyne have just announced the winners of the 2007 Peace Corps Writers Awards for books published during 2006. The winning books and authors are:
Winners receive a special citation and cash awards from Peace Corps Writers, an Associate Member of the National Peace Corps Association. Congratulations to all the winners and all the RPCVs who published books in 2006.