West Cascade Peace Corps Association
About Us

ReConnections - October 2006

A monthly newsletter of The West Cascade Peace Corps Association in Oregon's Southern Willamette Valley

October 2006 www.westcascadepca.org


October 8, Sunday, 5:30 PM

Monthly meeting. Home of Dorothy and Dave Soper. Speaker is Rebekah Lambert who recently returned from Albania as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Dorothy's phone is 343-3924.

October 22, 10:30 AM

Brunch Board Meeting of West Cascade TBA Location. All welcome.

October 28, Saturday, 1 PM

Whale Watching excursion in Newport, Oregon. Contact Artis Mary Spriggs at if you can go. Article on Page 3.

November 5, Sunday, 5:30 PM

Potluck meeting. Program: Speaker Patrick Morris who has recently returned from the West Bank.

December 3, 5:30 PM

Holiday Party at home of Artis Mary Spriggs. Dig up 3-5 pictures from your Peace Corps service to show on a big screen. Choose your pictures now so that they can be scanned and put on a disc.

August 2-5, 2007

West Regional RPCV Campout, Mt. St. Helens, Washington

More interesting than you could imagine. RPCVs just wanna have fun.

October Meeting brings compelling subjects together

The October meeting will be at the home of Home of Dorothy and Dave Soper, 4430 Pinecrest Drive, Eugene 97405


    South on Hilyard Ave
    Left on Amazon Drive West to Stop Sign
    Right on Fox Hollow Rd. for one long block
    Right on 43rd Avenue for one block
    Left on Pinecrest Dr. up a steep hill
    House number is 4430, phone is 343-3924.

The house is on the right side and is yellow. Check Page 19 in your Eugene/Springfield phone directory to see a map.

Program: Talk and video impressions by Rebakah Lambert, RPCV Albania, 2003-2005. (See article below.)

Special Guests will be Dr. M.S.R. Dev and his wife, Geetha. Dev is the retired project manager of India's space program. Dev is now a business and leadership consultant who devotes his time to humanitarian works.

Potluck: Bring your favorite dish and a beverage to share and enjoy the company of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and friends. If you need a ride or would like to carpool, please call Beryl at 687-7095.

About out featured speaker:

Rebekah Lambert grew up in Pasadena, California in a family of musicians. She received a Bachelor of Music degree in cello performance from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Upon graduation, a family friend suggested orchestra management, which was a good match. She worked with orchestras for 15 years Los Angeles, Honolulu, Beaumont (TX), and, finally, Eugene.

She took two years away from orchestras in the 1990s to get an MBA from Yale. She accepted a position as executive director of the Eugene Symphony in 1996. It was an exciting 7 1/2 years with Eugene Symphony, including the Music Director searches that brought Miguel Harth-Bedoya and Giancarlo Guerrero to Eugene.

In 2003, because of an interest in living and working abroad and in taking all that she had learned from orchestra work and applying it to the more fundamental issues of a developing country, joined the Peace Corps. She served 26 months in Albania and returned to Eugene in December 2005.

She now has a position at University of Oregon's Lundquist College of Business and also working as a consultant for United Way.

West Cascade Peace Corps Association Board Meeting Minutes

September 24, 2006, 5:30 pm
Home of Beryl Brinkman

Attendees: Beryl Brinkman, James Cloutier, Maggie Keenan, Benj Epstein, Felicia Kenney, Wayne Thompson, Libby Schoene, Evangelina Sundgrenz, Odile Stout, Brett and Laura Holt, Michael Kresko, & Shannon Micheel.

Topics of Discussion:

September 30th: Food for Lane County Silent Auction and dinner. RPCV group is to provide 20-25 volunteers for cleanup. Beryl will send a reminder email to the list serve with details. Interested RPCVs to call Shannon or email Beryl. Start time 8 pm until done.

October Meeting: October 8th, 5:30 pm at the home of Dorothy Soper. Speakers to be RPCV Rebekah Lambert and her partner, who were in Albania. Also, elections should be held for officers, as per the By-laws. Shannon and Michael volunteered to continue as co-secretaries. Lori Matthew would like to step down as treasurer, and Beryl would like to step down as President, but still be supportive. It was decided to postpone the actual elections until we had more confirmation on who is willing to run for the positions.

November Meeting: Location still to be announced. Potential speaker is Patrick Morris (friend of Felicia's) who was spent time recently in the West Bank.

(Continued next column)

West Cascade Peace Corps Association Board

President: Beryl Brinkman, Afghanistan (1967-69)
Phone 687-7095, brinkman@bigplanet.com
Vice President: Wayne Thompson, Peru (1964-66)
Phone 343-6596, wayne@foxhollowfiber.com
Treasurer: Lori Matthew, Benin (1994-96)
Phone 485-3622, pobeoueme@yahoo.com
Co-Secretaries: Shannon Micheel, Dominican Rep. (95-97) & Michael Kresko (Russia/Seychelles (95-97)
mjkresko@hotmail.com, smicheel@gmail.com

Board Members at Large
Dorothy Soper, Ghana, (1962-64) Guest Board Member
dorothysoper@comcast.net, 343-3924
Maggie Keenan, Philippines, (1987-90)
Phone 687-8454, Maggie@elaw.org
James Cloutier, Kenya, (1965-66)
Phone 342-3797, cloutierjames@yahoo.com
John Michael McLean, Thailand,(72-75)
Phone 687-2505 mclea@earthlink.net
Campus Recruiter: Brett Holt, Armenia (2003-05)
Phone 346-6026, pcorps@uoregon.edu
Past President: Pennie Moblo, Tonga (1971-73)
Phone 343-6443, penniem@aol.com

Web Site: Felicia Kenney, Benin, (2003-4)

Newsletter: Beryl Brinkman, James Cloutiier, Dorothy Soper

December Meeting: Possible site is Artis Mary Spriggs. Idea for presentation was to have a slide show of RPCVs photos (2-5 per volunteer). They would need to be scanned and in PDF format to put on power point slide show. Brett volunteered the use of the LCD projector. Also, we would like to hear Emily Wheeler to talk about trip to Rwanda this summer.

New Topics

Data base update for RPCVs serving in 1990's and 2000's. Several board members volunteered to call and update the information and will return to Beryl when complete.

Artis Mary Spriggs interested in organizing whale watching excursion in October or November.

Book of Essays: James Cloutier had idea about compiling a book of essays from host country nationals who were positively impacted by PCVs. Present to members at large and perhaps form a committee of interested members to begin planning and developing the idea. James would illustrate.

Member Survey: Michael Kresko received a sample survey from the Boise RPCV group and modified it for the West Cascade group. Michael will email it to the board members for additional comments and print them out for the Oct meeting and then to possibly put on the website (Felicia) and mail to those who do not utilize the internet.

Bumper Sticker: Libby had the idea of creating a bumper sticker "I served my country in Peace as a US Peace Corps Volunteer," but is concerned that this might be too political. Comments are welcomed.

Don't forget to get your International Peace Corps 2007 Calendars put out by the Wisconsin RPCV Group. This is the 20th Anniversary for the calendar. It has raised tons of money for Peace Corps Partnership Projects and other worthy international causes.

Contact Beryl at 687-7095 or order some at brinkman@bigplanet.com

Announcement from the New Peace Corps Director

September 26, 2006

To: All Peace Corps
From: Ronald A. Tschetter, Director
Subject: Announcement

This morning I had the tremendous privilege of being sworn in as the 17th Peace Corps Director. When my wife, Nancy, and I were Peace Corps Volunteers in India four decades ago, I never could have imagined I would one day have this opportunity. This is one of the greatest honors of my life, and I want to thank President Bush for his confidence in me.

During the next few weeks, I look forward to getting acquainted with staff and settling in at headquarters. Then I want to get out in the field as soon as possible to visit our regional offices, staff at the posts, and most of importantly, our Volunteers. I am sure that Peace Corps service today is quite different than it was when II was a Volunteer in 1966, but I know the underlying sprit that guides this wonderful agency has remained the same.

I thank all of you for the support you have already given to me during the confirmation process. I look forward to working with you and ensuring the Peace Corps continues to flourish in the years to come.

Mr. Tschetter was formerly on the Board of the National Peace Corps Association. He replaces Gaddi Vasquez who has stepped down as Peace Corps Director to take on the position of Ambassador to the U.N. Food Program.

Go Whale Watching in Newport!

West Cascade is organizing a whale watching outing on October 28, a Saturday.

Please join us! Cost is $25 for adults and half-price for youth under 14 years old. If we get enough people, we can charter a whole boat (or boats). Boats will leave about 2 PM and the captain asks that we get there an hour earlier to get instructions and pay. Newport Marine Store & Charters is hosting the adventure. Conditions of the ocean and weather may cause delay or cancellation. Carpooling enouraged.

Please contact new West Cascade member Artis Mary Spriggs if you are interested.

In the current issue of peacecorpswriters.com

....is an interview with Kris Holloway (Mali 1989-91) and a review of her wonderful new book, Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali by Sharon Dirlam (Russian Far East 1996-98). We also have two "A Writer Writes" columns, one by Reilly Ridgell (Micronesia 1971-73) entitled, "I Love you Is Not the Same in Every Language."

Also reviewed in this issue is The Ravaging Tide: Strange Weather, Future Katrinas, and the Coming Death of America's Coastal Cities, the new book by Mike Tidwell (Zaire 1985-87). It is reviewed by Wayne Handlos (Ethiopia 1962-64).

We list 11 books recently published by Peace Corps writers, and two additional reviews, plus plenty of Literary Type.

Note sent by John Coyne, co-editor of RPCV Writers & Readers. www.PeaceCorpsWriters.org

From A to Z and half-way around the world

July 29, 2006
By Patricia A. Wand, Colombia, 1964-66.

. . . Lebanon and Israel are on my mind daily. But yes, I feel very safe here. People seem to realize that the decisions of a government do not represent the opinions of everyone from that country.

Everyone here knows someone who is affected. My hairdresser is Lebanese and his wife had returned to Beirut in early July to deliver their first child surrounded by her family; he was scheduled to join her on July 20. That did not happen.

I hear stories of how refugees attempted to leave Lebanon. One UAE family was visiting Beirut, couldn't fly out because the airport was the first place bombed; so they arranged for friends to drive them to Syria in a van. They were 12 miles from the border when the van in front of them, also carrying refugees, was hit by a bomb and blown up in their faces. The Israelis were destroying the major escape route to Syria, making it impossible for civilians to drive out and reach safety. The family eventually made it to Damascus, Syria and were able to board a private jet lent by a wealthy UAE family to help people escape. Emirates Air put on extra flights from Damascus to Dubai and elsewhere.

The situation is generating some interesting editorials in local and international newspapers. One theme I have been reading is that Israel itself would not have been created had Europe and Russia not marginalized Jews beginning in the late 19th century. The holocaust was the ultimate example of discrimination and destruction. The op-ed pieces point out that Jews live peacefully in Arab countries and can live peacefully anywhere in the world; therefore, do they need a country of their own?

That of course is the question that has been asked for many, many years. There may be no turning back. But certainly the international powers can pressure Israel into restraint in its aggression toward the civilians in neighboring countries. The extent of Israeli's aggression is not justified with Lebanon suffering nearly 500 deaths primarily of civilians (including many women and children) and Israel losing 40 soldiers to date. The refusal of the U.S. to join the rest of the world in calling for a ceasefire embarrasses me.

I had a unique opportunity in May to attend the wedding party of the Sheikh's daughter. I was one of hundreds of women invited to share in the women's wedding party at the Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi. The Emirates Palace hotel is the other "lesser known" 7-star hotel in the Emirates. As one of my colleagues says, it's a little hard to find your way around inside the hotel since its interior is monochromatic; i.e., gold.

The event began at 8:30 p.m. We were in the midst of hundreds of elegantly dressed ladies. Most were women who normally wear black abayas covering their clothes and shelas covering their hair, but many of them came showing off their finest colors and hairstyles. Part of the socializing involved women looking over the young women to see who might make an attractive bride for their son/nephew/grandson/cousin, etc. These women-only parties are an opportunity to see what the young eligible women look like.

There was a video, sound and light show, but not live music because no men are allowed in the room. We were treated to a grand sit-down dinner with more food than anyone could eat. Then, the entrance of the bride. Dressed in white with a long, long train on both her dress and her veil, she entered and walked a very long, circular runway. (She needed two attendants to keep the trains in line.) She slowly made her way to the stage where she sat, alone, for 20 minutes while we all looked at her and listened to music. Then she slowly left the stage, walked down the runway, and disappeared. The party was over; it was nearly midnight.

Marriages here are arranged. A spokesperson for the groom talks with the family of an eligible bride and then the bride's family discusses it with her. After the families agree, the two young people meet one another and decide if this might work out. If not, there is no marriage. If so, the women have a party; the men have a totally separate party, often on a different day. There is no public ceremony.

Pat, West Cascade member since 1983, is the Dean, Library and Learning Resources, Zayed University, P.O. Box 19282 Dubai, United Arab Rep.

RPCV has article on op-ed page of The Register-Guard

Sue Wolling, (Thailand, 1980-82) has a full article in the Monday, October 1, 2006 Register Guard entitled "Return city to the top tier for bike users."

She is urging Eugeneans to do more bike travel to work and play so as to counteract the high gas prices among other reasons. Read the interesting article.

National Peace Corps Assn Board Meeting Notes

By Bob Findlay,
West regional representative to NPCA board

The annual general meeting of the NPCA, the Group Leaders Forum, and the NPCA board meeting were all scheduled for Friday, September 15, 2006, in Washington, DC.

Major decisions in the meetings focused on individual and group memberships in National Peace Corps Association. Procedures for both have been greatly simplified in the past year, and will be even more so with the adoption of a single membership category at $35 with the option of joining geographic groups such as local RPCV groups, Country of Service groups, and/or the NPCA in an a la carte manner. An associated change will be a simpler and more direct payment of membership fees to NPCA and groups. Trina James, who ably organized the last great RPCV gathering in Chicago, has brought new life to the Group Leaders Forum as its newly elected coordinator.

Over ninety visits to congressional representatives and senators took place the day before during the NPCA advocacy effort proactively focused on increasing appropriations for a larger number of Peace Corps volunteers as promoted by the president. Ironically, the venue for the morning kick-off meeting was usurped by President Bush as he was lobbying congress to approve the interrogation of suspected terrorist detainees.

Interspersed with all these meetings were celebrations of the 45th anniversary of Peace Corps. A lunchtime reception at the Ghana Embassy was a central event and there were many Country of Service receptions and dinners over the weekend.

Personally, I attended a reception at the Colombian Embassy that was a last minute event as the incoming Colombian Ambassador, Carolina Barco (the former foreign minister and only two weeks in office) by chance noticed mention of the Friends of Colombia PC group in the embassy files. Her twenty-minute talk to the RPCVs was in the most beautiful Spanish I have heard in years. Peace Corps has not been in Colombia in twenty years, yet the Friends of Colombia group is actively supporting small enterprise and educational projects in country.

Although the National Peace Corps Association represents us very well as our lobby group in Washington DC, its finances continue to be fragile and the annual gatherings will be rather low-key. There are plans underway for a large gathering to celebrate the Fiftieth anniversary of Peace Corps in 2011.

Wham, Bam, Thank you Ma'am (and Sir)

The West Cascade clean up crew that turned out for the Food for Lane County annual fundraiser and auction on September 30 was amazing. Some of the group stayed until 11:30 PM while others came at 8 PM and dutifully performed in getting tables cleared, chairs stacked, trays of dirty dishes carted out to the kitchen. The total area of the gala was knocked down, swept out and made presentable for the next morning's activities in feeding the less fortunate citizens of Lane County.

Sheila, the Food for Lane County director of volunteers for the event was absolutely amazed at the dedication and work ethic of the group. Her words of gratitude sounded sincere and profound.

Thanks go out to:

Tama Tochihera, (Honduras, 1998-99)
Beryl Brinkman, (Afghanistan, 1967-69)
Rachel Cummings (future PCV)
Artis Spriggs (Afghanistan, 1967-69)
Sarah Klinghamer (Turkey,1964-66,
Czechoslovakia, , 1991-93)
Don Klinghamer (Turkey, 1964-66)
Jennifer Farmer (Lesotho, 2003-05)
Yuqing Yang (China)
Dianne Brause. (Dominican Republic, 1967-69)
Wayne Thompson, (Peru, 1964-66)
Shannon Micheel, (Dominican Republic, 1995-97)
Michael Kresko, (Russia, 1994-95,
Seychelles, 1995-97)
Leslie Chapman, (Iran, 1973-75)
Nina Chapman, (Future PCV)
James Cloutier, (Kenya, 1963-65)
Brett Holt, (Armenia, 2004-05)
Laura Holt, (Arminia, 2004-05)
Odile Stout, (Zaire)
Deb McLaughlin, (Paraguay, 1995-97)
Libby Schoene, (Guyana, 2003-05)
Evangelina Sundgrenz, (Uzbekistan, 2000-02)

This is only a partial list - please notify this newsletter of those missing from the list.

Search for board positions off to great start

The recent call for new West Cascade Board members brought some fantastic candidates. We are hoping that this is only a beginning. We will have elections in November with the assurance that everyone who is interested may be given a chance. The following are the candidates so far.

Dustin Johnson: Nicaragua, 2004-2006, Community Health Education

While in "the land of lakes and volcanoes" he focused on reproductive education with adolescents, from natural changes in the mind, body, to birth control, to HIV,AIDS. Also built fuel-efficient stoves and taught sign language. Dustin received Bachelor of Arts Degree in International Studies from Western Oregon University in 2003, six months before flying off to Peace Corps.

Born in Eugene and raised in the Crow area, he has studied abroad in Mexico, Chile, and has traveled though Central America as well as visited India, Thailand, and Nepal.

Dustin is looking forward to becoming involved in the local community and maintaining the international feel.

Evangelina Sundgrenz Uzbekistan, 2000-01

Evangelina comes from a very diverse background that goes far beyond her professional experience and international travel with the Peace Corps. Born in El Salvador, she grew up in the Sonoma County, Northern California. She has lived and studied at universities in both Spain and Mexico.

Evangelina holds a B.A. in International Relations and Spanish where soon after acquiring both degrees she served with the Peace Corps in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, Central Asia where she taught at two secondary schools and Samarkand State University from 2000-20001.

After returning to the U.S. she earned an M.A. in Humanities and Leadership Studies. She is a strong believer in community involvement, volunteer work as well as compassionate leadership and has served on local and statewide boards in thepast. She has strong organizational and communication skills and fiscal experience that make her a perfect fit for the position of Treasurer.

She is very excited to make Eugene her new home and to be involved with the West Cascade Peace Corps group.

Maggie Keenan Philippines, 1997-90

She has been the Communications Director at the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (www.elaw.org) since 1999. She holds a Master's in Professional Studies in International Agriculture and Rural Development from Cornell University. She served for three years as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines and worked for three years in Uganda as a consultant for the Uganda Wildlife Society, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS and various USAID-funded maternal health projects. She has one dauaghter, age 13, who recently submitted an article for ReConnections. Maggie has just welcomed into her family another daughter from Uganda, age 12.

Benj Epstein, Fiji, 1978-81

Married, Two children. He is presently self-employed working as an independent sales agent representing two management service firms. Ben sits on the advisory board of Self Sufficiency Services which is a service program contained in Saint Vincent DePaul Society. He is on the organizing committee for "the Walk For The Gold" which is the sole fundraiser for Eugene & Springfield Special Olympics.

He graduated from Pace University in New York with a degree Business Administration. He has a Certificate in industrial &Labor Relations from Cornell University. He was minority owner in a management service firm for ten years.

Also interested in serviing on the Board are Odile Stout, Zaire; Libby Schoene, Guyana, 2001-03; Jennifer Farmer, Lesotho 2003-05. Please contact one of the current Board Members on Page 2 to add your name to this impressive list.


For many of you, October is the month your West Cascade and National Peace Corps Association membership is up for renewal.

It costs money to run a viable group. Expenses in the last year included newspaper printing and mailing, postage, entry fees for Eugene Celebration participation, post office box rental, etc.

If you are letting the cost of membership prevent you from joining, please give whatever you can.

We look forward to having you renew your commitment to this wonderful group.

Please fill out the form on the back of this newsletter and return it soon.


By Marsha Swartz, Uganda (1966-68)

It was usually very quiet in the Ugandan hills around Kinyasano Secondary School. Far off voices echoed softly through slopes crowded with coffee, banana and eucalyptus trees. Only the pounding thunder of tropical rain on flat, resonant banana leaves broke the peace - that is until Claude arrived.

One early school morning, as I sat in the office ordering books, two men quietly appeared in the doorway. One opened his coat and motioned to me to come see. Clutching his torso was a tiny, emaciated baby baboon, shivering in the Kigezi mist. Needless to say, I could not walk away. Within a few minutes, the baby was wrapped around me and on his way to my house and I was twenty shillings lighter.

We found a large basket, put a brick in the oven to warm, and searched for our alarm clock. I had grown up on a farm in Idaho, you see, and that is what we routinely did for tiny piglets, usually runts of the litter, that we feared would not survive. Cipriano, the Ugandan who worked for us, gave us a very odd look and rolled his eyes. We went next door to the pastor's house and borrowed a baby bottle. We soon had Claude sucking away on goat's milk. As he fell asleep in my arms, I wondered what in the world I was in for.

I soon found out. Claude, that somehow seemed an appropriate name, proved to be far more engrossing than even a good game of Scrabble. For some odd reason, he thought I was his mother! He soon learned to ride my leg for dear life. This greatly amused and amazed the students. They couldn't imagine why I could possible want to walk around with this "thing" on my leg. I wasn't quite sure either, but it really worked quite well. He often "rode" to class with me, happily content. I usually brought along a banana for Claude to eat for lunch.

Claude surprised all of us with his ability to learn. After hours of watching us correct mountains of "copybooks," he started grabbing pencils and making marks on whatever he could get his hands on. Unfortunately for the cat, this included the cat. Claude at first chased the cat around and around the room, occasionally riding on the cat's back. This was far better entertainment than watching "sausage flies" bash headlong into the wall. As Claude grew larger than George (the cat), this game ended and George started disappearing as soon as Claude's "ech, ech, ech" was heard.

One day, I walked into Rukungiri, a nearby village, to watch a soccer match some of our students were playing. It was a cool day - the temperature had probably dropped to sixty-five degrees, I tucked Claude around my waist, threw on a large jacket and started off. I arrived at the match and stood at the rear of the large crowd, straining to see someone I recognized.

Soon I realized that the women I was standing behind were all turning and looking at me, covering their mouths, giggling and pointing. I wondered what I had done now that was so strange. It wasn't until I looked down that it dawned on me what was causing the commotion. Claude had grown restless under the jacket and had stretched a tiny, hairy hand out of the front of the coat and was groping around the buttons! The women were by this time gathered around me and laughing boldly. I came to understand that they thought this hairy little hand belonged to my infant, and, as they had never see a

mzungu (white) baby before, were quite sure that this was the strangest infant that they had ever seen. It was not until I exposed Claude that they realized what he was and were even more amazed. I'm sure that they then chalked it up to another crazy, mzungu behavior and turned away.

I tucked Claude back under my jacket and scurried home.

Marsha and Ed Swartz are now back in Idaho on Marsha's family farm after retiring from careers in Eugene. They are giving all they have to make the wheat and cattle farmers proud. They have two children. Alia is a schoolteacher in Eugene. Adrian met the girl across the street (who was a Fulbright from New Delhi) and they are now married living in the Bangalore, India area.