The Magic of Dreams
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The Magic of Dreams
An American Diplomat's Journey
Published:
11/24/2014
Format:
Perfect Bound Softcover
Pages:
362
Size:
6x9
ISBN:
978-1-49907-932-6
Print Type:
B/W

The Magic of Dreams: An American Diplomat's Journey relays the story of a retired American diplomat who served in the U.S. Foreign Service for forty-three years. Eleanor L. Akahloun shares a remarkable personal and professional journey from humble, yet inspiring beginnings in her tightly knit Cape Verdean American community in Massachusetts. Her firsthand account of working with the U.S. State Department provides a peek into her colorful adventures and valuable lessons learned from her travels across all seven continents. This book is an affirmation that dreams are magical, that there is beauty— amidst challenges— in chasing them. The memoir is written in a question-and-answer format, with a perfect blend of wit, intrigue, and light humor. The Magic of Dreams: An American Diplomat�s Journey is a fascinating read that will leave the readers inspired.

Fascinating Story about a Remarkable Woman, September 13, 2015 By M. E. Norris

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Eleanor (Penny) Lopes Akahloun's memoir. It is a fascinating story about a remarkable woman. Ms. Akahloun, a Cape Verdean American, devoted 43 years of her life to serve as a career diplomat in the U.S. Foreign Service. She joined the Foreign Service at a time when the institution lacked diversity among its diplomatic corp. She overcame tremendous odds through perseverance, hard work, and a positive outlook-- characteristics which would help her tackle challenges throughout her life. Ms. Akahloun is someone who believes that we all have the capacity to enjoy life to the fullest. Her story is inspiring without being corny or unreal. Anyone who reads her book will take heart, no matter what their race, creed, gender, or age.

The format of the book is akin to a long interview. The author begins by relating her family background, including the astounding story of how her grandfather journeyed to America from Cape Verde. She also tells us about her parents, remarkable individuals who worked and loved hard, providing the author with a nurturing and disciplined environment. Most of the rest of her book is about her life and adventures in the various countries in which she lived and served. These included Morocco (where she met her husband), Uruguay, Kenya, and China. The author intersperses the story of her life with interesting information on the political and economic situation of the country in which she was posted as well as the U.S. foreign policy goals in the country. This makes for an enriching history lesson without bogging readers down in too much detail.

I hope that many people will read Ms. Akahloun's story and will be as strengthened and nourished as I was in reading it.

Preview coming soon.
Eleanor L. Akahloun, born in 1943, was raised in a small Cape Verdean community in Onset, Massachusetts. She is a retired diplomat with the U.S. State Department, where she served forty-three years initially as a Foreign Service secretary and ultimately as a human resources officer. She is a graduate of Chamberlayne Junior College and attended evening classes at Boston University. She has visited over fifty countries, traveled to the seven continents, and held assignments in the Philippines, Morocco, Kenya, Tunisia, Canada, Uruguay, China, Venezuela, and Washington, D.C. She has two children and currently resides outside of Washington, D.C., where she enjoys writing, traveling, practicing yoga, and engaging in volunteer work.
The Magic of Dreams: An American Diplomat's Journey is the story of an American woman succeeding against overwhelming odds. It's as applicable to a girl facing the world in 2014 as much as it is about her preparing to go out into the world in 1965. All young people need to believe that they have a unique contribution to make to the world. Many don't because they suffer from lack of confidence, love of self and low self-esteem. Ms. Akahloun's fortune was to be imbued with these by loving parents.

Her book is a rare account of Cape Verdean African Americans. Akahloun tells it in animated detail and with a feeling so deep that I felt her connection to her long, distant past. Her ancestors came freely to America. This is a significant point of her book, and one I hope will be picked up by educators, historians and researchers. It is a part of the body of new narratives about the lives of free blacks. I think it belongs on the same shelf as the recently published and cinematically dramatized Twelve Years a Slave. These memoirs of the lives of unknown blacks who lived during slavery have become increasingly available in the last decade. They are filling in the missing pieces of the saga of African Americans.

Ms. Akahloun was surprisingly and refreshingly candid about racial sleights. These were recounted evenly and in a calm and objective way. It is very hard for those who have experienced injustice to write about it in such a measured tone.

Her book is also the story of "every woman", who attempts to balance marriage, family, and work. Above all, her memoir is about her fascinating career with the U.S. State Department. Even for those of us who knew this life well, her recollections provide new insights. Her mention of the changes for women at the Department of State in 1972 was particularly intriguing.

Anyone looking for ideas about how to have Akahloun's fulfilling family life and career should read The Magic of Dreams: An American Diplomat's Journey. It is a stunning book.
Judith Mudd-Krijgelmans
U.S. Foreign Service Officer (Retired)
Judith Mudd-Krijgelmans 
The Magic of Dreams: An American Diplomat's Journey (Xlibris, 2014)
By Eleanor Lopes Akahloun
Review by Paul Doherty
February 2015

Memoir and travel writing are enjoyable genres that allow us an inside view of the writer's life experiences and adventures. The Magic of Dreams: An American Diplomat's Journey by Eleanor Lopes "Penny" Akahloun (Xlibris, 2014) combines the best of both genres. Penny has a wonderful story to tell and she tells it exceptionally well.

What makes Penny's story particularly remarkable is how she transcended her humble beginnings in a four-room "cottage" with an outhouse to the life of a diplomat representing her country capably and enthusiastically over a variety of foreign and domestic postings spanning 43 years. Joining the State Department's Foreign Service in 1965, Penny in no way fit the mold of the typical Foreign Service employee of that time. For starters, she was an African-American female in a world dominated by white males often from a privileged background and with the best private-school education.

Penny encountered prejudice early on in her life in her home town of Onset, near Cape Cod in Massachusetts, where she lived in a segregated and isolated community of immigrants from Cape Verde. Cape Verdeans were the first African immigrant group to come to the United States voluntarily starting in the late 19th century. They did not share the experience of being enslaved people like the majority of African Americans. Nevertheless, they were looked upon as the same and suffered equal prejudices.

It is clear that Penny possessed an extraordinary sense of purpose and the drive that often accompanies it to overcome her early circumstances. Fresh out of junior college, she didn't take no when she was not permitted to rent an apartment in a prestigious building in Boston because she was black. Penny knew the building had vacancies and, with perseverance, she ultimately secured a place. After joining the Foreign Service, she experienced numerous institutional and personal challenges but, with characteristic determination, she faced them head-on and always moved forward. Seeking every opportunity to improve and expand her expertise, Penny rose steadily through the Foreign Service ranks and ultimately retired at the equivalent rank of full Colonel in the United States military.

In her book, Penny takes us on a remarkable journey through each of her many postings on a number of continents. The reader travels with her along the way through all the colorful adventures, surprises, heartbreak, joy, disillusionment and triumph.

Penny describes herself as an "ordinary" person. She is anything but. Her resolve, fortitude, and, above all, her steadfast faith, have led her on a captivating journey and, in The Magic of Dreams: An American Diplomat's Journey, we are fortunate to be able to share that journey with her.
doherty 
Penny Akahloun clearly demonstrates that she is a Woman for All Seasons in this stellar work “The Magic of Dreams.” She paints on her verbal canvass one life’s journey, with all its cultural diversity and international challenges, in the United States Foreign Service. In that regard, this book represents an indispensable guide for any young person who is contemplating a career within the State Department or any of a number of other international agencies or businesses.

However, the book is far more than being just another Foreign Service narrative. One must move through the layers, as in peeling an onion, to find the gems of wisdom that provide guidance for what Ms. Akahloun calls “a wondrous life’s journey.” Penny’s book is a compass for those willing to follow and she is both a path finder and teacher. There are narratives for those who face the challenges of immigration to a new country; there are tips on finding one’s family roots for the growing number of ancestry.com enthusiasts among the baby boomers; and there are strategies of how to deal with, and maneuver through, a large governmental bureaucracy, especially at times when challenging bosses put up road blocks to both career development and personal fulfillment.

And Penny is not afraid to address some of the more critical aspects of life abroad which impact the hearth and home. There is a compelling narrative on the special challenges of international marriage and bridging cross-cultural differences. There is guidance on dealing with the special family challenges of schooling, health, spousal employment and aging parents for those who have embarked on international careers, especially in the confines of a large bureaucracy. There is also a poignant personal story from the age-old saga of coming to America with an added twist: Ms. Akahloun’s forbearers, arriving from the Afro-Portuguese cultural blend of the Cape Verde islands had to confront the color barriers of early Twentieth Century America, barriers which they found unfamiliar, disturbing and at times incomprehensible. Yet, as Penny so aptly advises at the conclusion of her work, these ancestors “preserved when all seemed lost and eventually were rewarded” with wonderful lives. Penny, through her delightful narratives and compelling stories, which lead the reader ultimately to all seven continents, is summing you, like a modern Pied Piper, on an unforgettable journey in this 362-page volume. I suggest you pick up the book and begin reading so you too can find “the Magic of Dreams.”

Dennis Halpin is an ex-Peace Corps volunteer, retired Foreign Service officer, former Congressional advisor, and a magazine writer, and, most fortunately, a friend of Penny.
Dennis Halpin 
Excellent, inspiring read written beautifully by a phenomenal woman.
Leila Akahloun 
I love the book it's about family and friends, I grew up with the author we went to school together and lived next to each other. Great reading
Patricia A. Bell  
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Eleanor (Penny) Lopes Akahloun’s memoir. It is a fascinating story about a remarkable woman. Ms. Akahloun, a Cape Verdean American, devoted 43 years of her life to serve as a career diplomat in the U.S. Foreign Service. She joined the Foreign Service at a time when the institution lacked diversity among its diplomatic corp. She overcame tremendous odds through perseverance, hard work, and a positive outlook-- characteristics which would help her tackle challenges throughout her life. Ms. Akahloun is someone who believes that we all have the capacity to enjoy life to the fullest. Her story is inspiring without being corny or unreal. Anyone who reads her book will take heart, no matter what their race, creed, gender, or age.
The format of the book is akin to a long interview. The author begins by relating her family background, including the astounding story of how her grandfather journeyed to America from Cape Verde. She also tells us about her parents, remarkable individuals who worked and loved hard, providing the author with a nurturing and disciplined environment. Most of the rest of her book is about her life and adventures in the various countries in which she lived and served. These included Morocco (where she met her husband), Uruguay, Kenya, and China. The author intersperses the story of her life with interesting information on the political and economic situation of the country in which she was posted as well as the U.S. foreign policy goals in the country. This makes for an enriching history lesson without bogging readers down in too much detail.
I hope that many people will read Ms. Akahloun’s story and will be as strengthened and nourished as I was in reading it.
Mary Norris 
Eleanor Lopes Akahloun’s “The Magic of Dreams” is too fascinating to put down. Eleanor’s opens with a heartwarming, informative overview and tribute to Cape Verdean immigrants and their life in Onset and elsewhere. Here is concise history on Cape Verde and the slave trade. Love the trip to North Carolina where her immigrant Grandpa was rescued from a capsized ship before moving to Cape Cod.
Eleanor’s faith carried her through all challenges at work and personal. Her service stories are fascinating education—in US Foreign Service, in recapping global events, and in US relations through all.
Administrating her numerous evolving Foreign Service tasks, creating new internal programs for the betterment of the departments and status of employees both expatriate and foreign, while being wife, then a single mom, is astounding, especially while adapting to foreign countries.
Eleanor’s innate ambassadorial proclivity expressed in the beautifully descriptive ‘travelogues’ within assignments and on pleasure trips engender an appreciation for global culture. From Onset to Antarctica, she so beautifully utilized the love and guidance of her family, along with her innate talent, keen intelligence, deep regard for humanity and her drive, and her determination to contribute towards a better world. She is a sterling inspiration and role model. May her book be well read and may she be invited to speak widely. I continue to promote this book on social media and in person.
Her rich detailed experiences indicate far more within the work and personal life than she writes. I knew of husband Ahmed’s passing from reading her bio, but I still did not look forward to that part of the book. I was as affected. One liners elsewhere and here were deeply moving. In this instance, “For the sake of not further distressing the children, I grieved in solitude.” This was a tug on the heart about this match made in heaven. As she says Ahmed lives in her heart, and, now through recounting of their experience, he lives in ours. And, so does Eleanor ‘Penny’ Lopes Akahloun and this terrific book.
Sylvia Ann Soares 
 
 


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