Modest without being demure, candid without being coy, Buckler draws readers into a journey of discovery, a commitment of soul, body, and mind to his task of helpfulness. He conveys a unique eye for descriptive detail that also scans the bigger picture of the peoples' plight and awareness of the world around them ... This book should be read by anyone interested in community development within cultural contexts in Africa, or anyone who just wants to be absorbed without pause in a good read. -- Ralph Nader, consumer advocate, lawyer, and author For anyone interested in current African affairs, this is the book for you. Another valuable addition to Peace Corps Experience literature, it was written and published only two years after the author hugged his African family and returned. Not a timid soul, Michael L. Buckler describes his home in Malawi, and explores several controversial topics such as the overlap of services offered by the Peace Corps and non-governmental agencies, the U.S. foreign aid package, American subsidies and their effect upon other nations, Volunteer use of anti-depressants and Volunteer sexual debauchery...Don't hesitate - buy this book! Peace Corps Worldwide From Microsoft highlights the 'interconnectedness' of humanity, the importance of cultural awareness and need for education. Buckler, like many Peace Corps volunteers, wore many hats that exposed him to the complexity of development. From garden and tree-planting projects, to building a girls boarding house, he learned enduring lessons about development work and policy. Duke Today 'Holy crap. We won't know the real deal until we step off the plane,' said Buckler to his fellow Peace Corps volunteers before 'embarking into the great beyond' in Africa. Nine thousand miles and one year later, the 32-year-old lawyer begins to understand the depth of commitment demanded by his mission in Malawi and the truth of his initial assessment. Teaching in a village there for two years meant sharing his small home with three boy students as he learned language (Chichewa), customs, and culture. Buckler's multicultural and transformative personal growth will keep readers' attention as he reports on how he learned the nuanced meanings of commitment, collaboration, and friendship in this exploration of self and place developed from journal entries. Buckler describes with keen powers of observation details of village life that capture the imagination as he sees beyond those boundaries to the larger global landscape. Readers interested in global community development and armchair travelers will applaud. Booklist Written like a journal, this fish-out-of-water memoir is clearly heartfelt. Buckler left a law career to take a two-year Peace Corps assignment in a village school in Malawi. He here chronicles his arrival and subsequent adjustment to life in rural Africa. He was supported through the difficult transition and mentored in work and in life by the school headmaster-their relationship is a particularly touching piece of the story. Buckler, in turn, served as mentor (and housemate) to three local boys who would become the first in the village to pass the college entrance exam. He was motivated to write this book in hopes of providing a college fund from the proceeds for the boys he refers to as his sons. Verdict Inspiring and heartbreaking, Buckler's account of the endless obstacles encountered by his students and colleagues and their hope and persistence to succeed makes for compelling reading. Recommended for anyone contemplating volunteer work in the developing world and for those who enjoy chronicles of self-discovery and renewal through sacrifice. Library Journal In Malawi, 'nothing is certain except for dusk, dawn and diarrhea,' says Buckler, a Peace Corps volunteer from 2006 to 2008. A lifelong dream, the author was finally spurred to join the organization after defending Microsoft in a multimillion-dollar court case and going through a painful divorce. Cultural differences abound in South Africa, especially in issues of privacy, but even in politics and friendship. Luckily, Mr. Zimbota, headmaster of the school where Buckler teaches, becomes an invaluable cultural ambassador, and three students the author calls 'The Boys' become his housemates, creating a tight-knit family. Aided by naive idealism and the urge to help, Buckler takes on community projects, starting small, with a tree planting plan, and ending with the building of a boarding house for girls who had been travelling up to 10 miles to attend school. Buckler's poetic descriptions provide a colorful image of Malawian life, while never softening the sobering realities of poverty, malaria, and HIV. Buckler succeeds in illustrating how the Peace Corps, though disorganized and underfunded, truly aids communities by providing the basics that westerners take for granted. Publishers Weekly Buckler left a successful law career to take a two-year Peace Corps assignment teaching in a village school in Malawi. His compelling journal chronicles the endless obstacles encountered by his students and colleagues, as well as their boundless hope and die-hard determination to succeed. Proceeds from his book are building a college scholarship fund for three of his students. Savannah Morning News
Michael L. Buckler was raised in LaPlata, Maryland. He attended Cornell University and Duke Law School before practicing law for several years. As a member of the Peace Corps, Buckler spent two years living and teaching in a Malawian village. He now lives in Washington, D.C. and works for the National Park Service. Author proceeds from the sale of this book will be devoted to several worthy development projects in Malawi, most notably a college tuition fund for the boys who lived with the author during his Peace Corps experience.