Chai Budesh? Anyone for Tea?
by Joan Heron

"What have you gotten yourself into this time?"

Lately it seems everyone wants to write a memoir, but few write about two years spent with the Peace Corps in a country most have never heard of. In 1995, Joan Heron, retired university faculty member, volunteered for a maternal-child project. She was sent to Turkmenistan, a male-dominated land, filled with overwhelming obstacles presented by people, the Russian language barrier, customs, climate, and snags created by the author's age.

Striving to address the needs there, Heron uses her knowledge of nursing to create a new avenue to health. But it's her reaching out to all people she encounters, her refusal to take "no" for an answer, the eager involvement of local women, and the sharing of sight, sound, and emotional ties to this undertaking, that draws the reader into this unique part of the world.

There is nothing bland about this memoir. Attention to every aspect of life in Turkmenistan and the exploration of Heron's time there is woven together with the correct balance of fact and emotion. This artful account is informational, humorous with mistakes Westerners make in such a land, and raw with reality.

Heron shares her successes and failures, joys and sorrows—straight forward storytelling. This memoir, a must read for armchair travelers and risk takers, speaks to the longing for adventure and the belief that each of us is capable of being a reliable partner in building a new future for a nation being reluctantly brought into this century.

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