Not Letting Any Grass Grow Under My Feet

Barbara E. Joe

Barbara E. Joe, author, human rights advocate, Spanish hospital interpreter

At age 78, I have a lifetime of experiences to share and, I hope, a little wisdom to impart along the way. At the outset, let me say that in addition to being divorced and a single parent, I endured the worst experience any parent can undergo, first the death of my oldest son, Andrew, then the loss of my Cuban foster son, Alex. But I also cherish and celebrate all the more my other children, grandchildren, and great-grandson. I’m grateful for each and every day that they are alive and well and never take them for granted.

My losses have also made me pretty fearless in my own life. I’ve been a volunteer with Amnesty International USA for 35 years, including the last 12 years as volunteer coordinator for the Caribbean.  I’ve also lived in Latin America and been an election observer in Chile (1988), Nicaragua (1990), Haiti (1990), and the Dominican Republic (1996). And I’ve traveled to Cuba several times, but am no longer welcome there. I joined the Peace Corps as a health volunteer in 2000 at age 62 and ended up staying more than year beyond the usual 27-month term, returning to Honduras 12 times since to volunteer with medical brigades and other humanitarian projects, even though the Peace Corps has left Honduras because of security concerns. The last time I was there was in February. and I plan to go again next February.

I started a new career working as an on-call Spanish interpreter in schools and hospitals in Washington, DC, at age 64, after I returned from Peace

Barbara Joe at book signing with 3 lont time political prisoners featured in her book

Barbara Joe at book signing with 3 long time political prisoners featured in her book

Corps. All those events are chronicled in two memoirs, Triumph & Hope: Golden Years with the Peace Corps in Honduras, and Confessions of a Secret Latina: How I Fell Out of Love with Castro & In Love with the Cuban People. I use proceeds from sales of each book for projects in the corresponding country. I also write about Cuba for the Huffington Post,

I will be talking about and selling both books at several upcoming events, if any readers should want to attend. First, on Sat. Nov. 5, I’ll be at a book fair at the Martin Luther King Public Library in Washington, DC, from 10 am to 5 pm, along with other local authors. Then, on Wed. Nov. 9, I will be in Hillary Clinton’s hometown at the Chappaqua Public Library, 7 pm, 195 Greeley Ave. and on Fri. Nov. 11 6:30 pm in New York at Barnard College., Columbia U. at Barnard College/Columbia U.


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