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About the Author

Gary P. Cornelius

Gary Cornelius worked in Oregon's public mental health and developmental disabilities services systems, in several Oregon counties, in all parts of the state, for 28 years.

He performed a variety of duties over the years, initially as a receptionist at Clackamas County Mental Health in Gladstone, Oregon. Later duties included case management, commitment investigation, public advocacy, quality assurance, bus driver/staff in a day treatment program, clinical liaison to state hospital programs, community relations, teacher of police officers and coordinator of a 5-county regional crisis diversion program.

He has written numerous op-ed pieces for many Oregon newspapers and has testified before the Oregon Legislature about mental health issues. 

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But what he wanted to do from the age of 15 was join Peace Corps, the program started by President Kennedy in 1961.

Career and family delayed that for a few decades, but in 2010 Gary retired early, at age 55, to pursue that dream. It didn't turn out exactly as he expected because . . . well, you have to read his second book, Dancing with Gogos, to see what happened!

Among other things, it's an account of life in a rural Zulu village in South Africa, a country with one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS in the world; and the story of 500 years of oppression during the age of apartheid.

It's the story of learning a new language, of immersing oneself in a new culture, of leaving a love 15,000 kilometers behind and discovering the unexpected chance to find a new one half a world away.