To mark the organization's 50th anniversary this year, Barlow edited “One Hand Does Not Catch a Buffalo: 50 years of Amazing Peace Corps Stories,” (Travelers' Tales/Solas House, $18.95) a compilation of colorful essays about volunteering in 31 African countries. (The book is the first of a series exploring Peace Corps service in different parts of the world).
Barlow spent two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Togo in the late 1980's.
Before that, he taught in the capitol of Burkina Faso, where he hosted volunteers passing through the city in exchange for housing during his trips to the rural villages where they worked. The Marine Park resident said the experience sparked his interest in the international service organization.
“I got to know Peace Corps volunteers,” Barlow said, and “I became more interested in what they were doing and learning, especially in relation to rural African culture.”
The anthology of essays that came out of those years, though not an official Peace Corps publication, is a first-ever overview of volunteering on the continent over the past half-century.
It includes 76 essays on a range of topics, from the stress of living far from home to the difficulty of adapting to new cultures. The title, similar in meaning to strength-in-numbers sayings like “It takes a village,” is a proverb in Ewe, a language spoken in Ghana, Benin, Nigeria and Togo.
The book also features “Elephant Morning,” an essay by Barlow on his own near-death experience with an elephant intent on destroying his equipment.
“Together these stories present a picture as true to the Peace Corps experience in Africa as I could make it,” said Barlow, who hand-picked the essays. “I did it because of what my own experience [in Africa] means to me.”
Barlow has taught at City Tech since 2006. He is also the author of “The Rise of the Blogosphere,” “The DVD Revolution: Movies, Culture and Technology,” and Quentin Tarantino: Life at the Extremes.”