Book Review

One Grain of Sand:  A Peace Corps/Philippines Experience by Steve M. Shaffer.  Gasat Company, Orlando, Florida. 1988

This is a fine first person account of Mr. Shaffer’s Peace Corps experience.  It moves along logically through all the phases of Peace Corps from “The Decision” to “Close of Service”.  He includes some unique adventures including a few near death experiences. Perhaps the most intriguing part of the book is his courtship and marriage to his Filipina language instructor.  This book should be a must read for any volunteer who fell in love and/or married someone from their country of service.

Mr. Shaffer expresses many of the feelings and emotions that most of us go through during two years of Peace Corps service.  Surprisingly, he also points out some of the flaws in Peace Corps programs, although always in a positive and constructive way.  Even more surprising are his characterizations of the “bad volunteer”; those who are perhaps less dedicated, joined for the wrong reasons, or simply never make the adjustment to the Philippine culture.

Throughout his story you are always aware of his honesty and dedication as well as his idealistic philosophy.  This is not to say that he didn’t enjoy a little John Hay break once in a while.  All and all Mr. Shaffer presents a heartwarming and adventurous account of his years in the Peace Corps.

Although Mr. Shaffer served ten years after my time in the Philippines his writing makes it  easy to see that a few things have changed but many things have not.  This book was hard to put down and would make a great Peace Corps Experience movie.  I highly recommend this book to all and particularly to those thinking of joining the Peace Corps.

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About Donna Strobridge Ianni

RPCV Philippines '67-'69
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