After seven years, it’s time to go
By Barry Hillenbrand (Debre Marcos 63–65)
Back in 2004 E&E RPCV president Marian Beil, speaking at the meeting of our group at the RPCV Conference in Chicago, asked whether there was anyone interested in helping her with the HERALD. I had recently retired after working 34 years at TIME magazine. I knew something about writing and editing. So I thought, hey, I could lend a hand. It would be a piece of cake.
Well, some piece of cake. For the last seven years I’ve fretted a lot over the HERALD, which Marian correctly says binds us all together. I worried that we were not running the right stories. I worked hard, at times, to make sure the newsletter was bright and informative. I put out seven issues that were printed on nice light beige-colored paper, and then, after we switched to electronic publishing, I edited nine editions which were delivered online. Still I worried that the HERALD was not appearing as often as it should. There were some very long dry periods without an issue. Those that did appear were mostly fun to produce. I badgered friends and complete strangers into writing for us. I managed to get contributions from those who served in Ethiopia/Eritrea in the ’60s and ’70s and from PCVs currently serving. Lots of people helped.
I am particularly indebted to John Coyne, of PeaceCorpsWorldwide.org, who generously wrote for us while turning out his own blog, editing his excellent site, and writing charming novels about golf. (Rumor has it he also holds down a full time job. I think it’s unlikely.)
And I owe a great debt to Shlomo Backrach, editor of the East Africa Forum, who — sad to report — died in December after a struggle with lung cancer. Shlomo cared passionately about Ethiopia and Eritrea and graciously shared his knowledge and wisdom with me over our regular long lunches at our favorite Lebanese restaurant on Connecticut Avenue here in Washington. He wrote long pieces analyzing Ethiopian/Eritrean politics, and we were all so much better informed because of his labors. Of course, he not only wrote for us, but worked tirelessly sending out his daily summaries of news from the Horn of Africa. We will all miss a colleague who contributed so much. I mourn a friend.
But most of all, I am grateful to Marian for all the work she did on the HERALD. Sure, she bamboozled me into editing the HERALD, a task she did by herself for years, but she continued to do an enormous amount of the work required to produce the HERALD. She laid out the pages, cropped the photos, corrected my spelling errors, sent out notices to us all that — at long last — an issue was available on line. Then she’d listen to all the complaints about what I had put in the edition. Without Marian there would be no HERALD and no E&E RPCV.
In recent years one of the HERALD’s most reliable and graceful writers has been Janet Lee (Emdeber 74–76). Recently Janet spent her six-month sabbatical from Regis University in Denver back in Ethiopia overseeing the establishment of the Segenat Children and Youth Library in Mekelle. She just can’t seem to stop volunteering. And I am pleased to announce that Janet, an experienced editor, has volunteered to take over the HERALD. We will be well served. And I can stop fretting.
So thank you all for your patience and your support over these years. It was really just a piece of cake.