August 18, 2017

Things you should know

 

Peace Corps was hard! Very proud now. I cherish my Peace Corps patch. Hope my book helps others.

Here are some interesting facts.

Many Volunteers have served a full hitch—27 months. That’s 3 months as a Trainee in your host country and 24 as a pledged Volunteer. Yet it’s surprise to find out that quite a percentage quit before their hitch is up. Many surprises about Peace Corps!

Of the many who have come home proud  to have served that full time,  few have told their story in print. Even in this exciting time when Peace Corps is beginning its second half century and is so much in the news.

Including the news that some Volunteers and former Volunteers and national leaders are clamoring for change!

Like most Volunteers I entered Peace Corps for more than one reason!

I explain all this in my book. One is that I wanted to write about the experience. After all, I’m a journalist. Of course, I wanted to serve for noble and patriotic reasons also. But how could I shuck the reporter facet of my life aside for 27 months? Inconceivable. And as you can see, I achieved this goal

This book is the result. Completed after long and sometimes hard days of living the Volunteer’s life…observing…putting down the details every night in a journal …and completing a book that is my biggest yet—more than 500 finished, printed pages after strenuous editing to make it concise and interesting.

I tell you about the Volunteers I served with in Ukraine, the country I got sent to (to my surprise). All the Peace Corps bosses and officials who had a role in my experience. The three families that I lived with during that time—contrary to other Volunteers, I never got myself an apartment of my own. I wanted to learn local ways and experience Ukrainian life as close up and real as I could, and sharing their life 24/7 was the best way to do that.

I tell you about what I was assigned to do, which was to be a university teacher.

I explain that every Volunteer is expected to find other work and do it as well, and in my case I found three such jobs.

One was starting an English Club for university students and young career people aware that learning English was a career must—all while filling their curiosity about a subject that fascinated them—the United Stares of America.

I tell you about the fascinating country that Ukraine turned out to be for me. About the big city I was assigned to work in—all alone, by the way, with no other Volunteer posted there. I tell you how the people live. Their working conditions. How they feel about their society and how it is evolving in the difficult transition from communism to free democracy, from controlled economy to freewheeling free enterprise. How they feel about all this. And the type of people after long years of oppression and Big Brother regimentation. About their special hopes and problems. What I liked about them and what I did not like (which was surprisingly little}

I tell you about every stage of my experience. From the first glimmer of my idea about serving as a Volunteer all the way through to the end. All the good things, also some bad things that came up. About my satisfactions and difficulties and frustrations and joys. What the routine life was like. And the big things along the way. Good and not so good. Everything from A to Z.

I have also made plain my views about Peace Corps.

What I liked about it, what I disliked. Few things are perfect. Peace Corps is not, although it’s good. I give you my views on all this as well.

I also criticize a bit and explain bold steps that Peace Corps should take. And for those of you who find Peace Corps appealing, I give you loads of tips and suggestions! I wish somebody had given me such tips.

The best was to give you a good idea of the many things I cover is to print the list of chapters in the book—all 43 of them. You will find it here. You’ll see what a busy and varied and demanding life it was.

The photos—more than 140 of them—will give you a good look about the cast of characters flashed through my experience and some insights into my city and the country itself.

I am also giving you some paragraphs drawn from the book to give you an idea of how I write. It’s only fair that I do that.

Long before I wrote the first sentence in the first paragraph in the first chapter, I had made up my mind to make my story for you as complete as I could. And as honest and truthful and fair. I took great pains to do all this.

It was a huge undertaking, and a great responsibility. After all, from my words in this book, you might develop a new opinion about Peace Corps, a better one, I hope, but maybe a disappointing one.

You might even decide to become a Volunteer yourself! Or decide not to after having thought to do so!

Either way, that will be an essential decision to have arrived at!

That decision will decide how you will shape the rest of your life.

I hope you’ll like the book and will buy it. People who got to read my frequent reports online from Ukraine already know that it’s a good story…in fact, a compelling one. House of you who know my work from years back know that I give my projects everything I’ve got.

I intended my book to get Straight A’s, as the academic people say, from every point of view. Already I have heard it said that my book is a “must read” for anybody interested in all in Peace Corps, and definitely for anybody thinking of taking the oath as a Volunteer. Imagine my joy when I heard that! “A must read!”

Do let me know how you feel—truthfully and candidly—when you finish it. Please send me an e-mail (johnguylaplante@yahoo.com) I’ll take your words seriously. And I’ll keep them in mind when I upgrade the book.

I have done my best to give you your money’s worth when you buy it.

If you go ahead and enlist in Peace Corps, I’’ll approve with a loud Bravo!

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