ReConnections - October 2006
A monthly newsletter of The West Cascade Peace Corps Association in Oregon's Southern Willamette Valley
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
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
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, firstname.lastname@example.org
Vice President: Wayne Thompson, Peru (1964-66)
Phone 343-6596, email@example.com
Treasurer: Lori Matthew, Benin (1994-96)
Phone 485-3622, firstname.lastname@example.org
Co-Secretaries: Shannon Micheel, Dominican Rep. (95-97)
& Michael Kresko (Russia/Seychelles (95-97)
Board Members at Large
Dorothy Soper, Ghana, (1962-64) Guest Board Member
Maggie Keenan, Philippines, (1987-90)
Phone 687-8454, Maggie@elaw.org
James Cloutier, Kenya, (1965-66)
Phone 342-3797, email@example.com
John Michael McLean, Thailand,(72-75)
Phone 687-2505 firstname.lastname@example.org
Campus Recruiter: Brett Holt, Armenia (2003-05)
Phone 346-6026, email@example.com
Past President: Pennie Moblo, Tonga (1971-73)
Phone 343-6443, firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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
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
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 email@example.com
Announcement from the
New Peace Corps Director
September 26, 2006
To: All Peace Corps
From: Ronald A. Tschetter, Director
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.
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
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
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,
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.
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 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.
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
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.
DUES DUES DUES DUES are DUE
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
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
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.