Email Newsletter for December 2010
Greetings from the West Cascade Peace Corps Association!
This is just a brief note to wish a happy holidays to everyone from the board of the West Cascade Peace Corps Association. We hope that this holiday season finds you well and that next year treats you at least as well as this year did.
Celebrating the 50th and inviting all first year members to join at no cost is bringing a bonanza of new members to both the National Peace Corps Association and West Cascade. WCPCA now offers a one year free membership to any RPCV joining for the first time no matter the years of service as well as to students and active PCVs. The results are encouraging.
This fall twenty-five new members joined West Cascade. Welcome to you all!! This has come about, we think, because of increased interest due to the celebration of the 50th as well as new RPCVs moving to the area and more active recruiting of U of O students. Our total membership is now 145. You’ll see the names of all of our members in the updated version of the membership directory which will be distributed to members as a .pdf via email before the end of the year. Please save this document for you will find it a useful networking reference. We invited all members to submit a short biography to include in the directory and a good number responded.
Our membership includes five active PCVs, about 15 first year members who joined WCPCA through the national organization, and a total of forty members who have joined WCPCA through NPCA. West Cascade members who have never belonged to NPCA might like to join now at no cost to learn the benefits of belonging to the national organization. For further information go to http://www.peacecorpsconnect.org/.
West Cascade is planning a BIG party downtown on Tuesday, March 1, 2011, 12 noon, to celebrate 50 years of Peace Corps! We want to bring together RPCVs and host country nationals from 139 Peace Corps countries. Samba Ja drummers will help us get the party started.
If you are on Facebook, visit our Peace Corps 50 in Eugene event and let us know you'll join us.
If you want to volunteer your time to make this event a success, please write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Additional Peace Corps Partnership Projects Funded
At its November meeting the WCPCA board made two grants to active Peace Corps Partnership projects organized by PCVs from Oregon. To make the selections the board looked at several projects and used the scoring rubric posted on the WCPCA website. The projects are described below. The program in Madagascar is now fully funded. The program in Ukraine is still in need of almost $2,000. If you are interested in making a tax deductible contribution to this worthy project, visit the relevant PC web page for which the URL is given below.
The board contributed $700 to fund the drilling of two wells for drinking water in a rural village in Madagascar. The community of 2,200 people is currently served only by a single well. The amount of water is inadequate and people often draw water from unsanitary sources. As a result many suffer from water borne diseases. The PCV involved is M. Rao. This project has been fully funded at $1,700 and presumably is under way at this time.
The board also granted $300 for English library materials to support English instruction in a high school in Ukraine. When the project is fully funded the materials will allow students to enhance their English skills in reading, writing, listening, and speaking. The instructional program will build teamwork and organizational skills as students use the materials to complete small-group projects that they will present in English to their teachers and peers.
Further information about this project is available on the Peace Corps Partnership page. The PCV involved is Margot Paulson who is a graduate of the U of O. An additional $2,000 is required to fund this project fully.
Additional Items In The Newsletter
Much of our monthly newsletter is dominated by West Cascade business. However, back when Beryl Brinkman wrote "ReConnections", there were all kinds of articles. Over the next couple months as we transition to a new newsletter team, we are hoping to expand our content. One way in which we are planning on doing this is to print the emails we receive from serving PCVs. We have definitely found that in the past couple years the number of emails we receive from serving volunteers has grown. Since everyone loves to hear what volunteers are up to, we're going to pass those emails on via the newsletter. Additionally, we are encouraging members to contribute articles of their own. This month we have included a book review of "Being First, An informal history of the early Peace Corps, by Robert Klein". If you have something to say that you think RPCVs would find interesting, send it in to email@example.com! We can't guarantee that we'll send out everything we receive, but chances are good that we'll publish most of it.
Letters from PCVs
WCPCA has several members and friends who are active PCVs and who sometimes send us emails to update us on their work. We want to share some of their stories and definitely their enthusiasm with our membership. Below is an excerpt from an email written by Margot Paulson who is teaching English in a high school in Ukraine. She comments on how she learned about the PC while a student at the U of O as well as her current work as a PCV. WCPCA recently contributed to a Peace Corps Partnership Project that Margot has organized.
November 3, 2010
My name is Margot Paulson. I first met you back in 2009 during my senior year at the University of Oregon while applying to the Peace Corps. It was a time of great excitement and attending your events made the process even more real. I had not met many RPCVs at this time and support and the events that you held were always wonderful and made me become more and more enthusiastic about becoming a PCV. Although, I had majored in French and expected to be placed in French-speaking Africa, I ended up in Ukraine working as a TEFL volunteer.
I have been in Ukraine for roughly 13 months now and have had a wealth of wonderful experiences. I am the first volunteer in my town of 15,000 located in central-eastern Ukraine. I spend most of my time teaching English, but I am also involved in a number of other activities. I run a number of clubs, plan concerts (our most recent one was on the theme of Halloween), participate and run summer camps, teach and do projects related to HIV prevention, and I am currently in the process of building an English Resource Library and Study Room at my school.
I am always working on improving my students’ English skills and the quality of the English taught at my gymnasium. My students are quite enthusiastic about learning English, but their books are poor in quality, old, and basically boring. Along with the help of the English teachers at my school and the director, we have decided to build an English Resource Library and Study Room as we believe this will be more sustainable and useful than replacing all the students textbooks. This will serve as a comfortable place for students to improve their English and the books will both get more use and will not have to be replaced as often as individual textbooks.
And Now For More Talk
Interested in talking about current events? Join us at Sam Bond's Garage (407 Blair Blvd) on December 9th from 6:30pm until about 7:30. We'll talk about the Koreas, China, leaking government info and whatever else suits us. And if you decide to stay later, there is a jug band that comes on at 9pm. I should be easy to find - just look for my fire engine red hair. -- Felicia Kenney
This is an invitation to history buffs to read Being First, An informal history of the early Peace Corps, by Robert Klein, Wheatmark (Wheatmark.com), 2010. This is a short and lively book by a member of Ghana I, the first Peace Corps project. Upon completing his PC service, Bob joined the PC staff and by the late 1960s was the Director of PC Ghana. I was privileged to know Bob when he was a PC field officer in Ghana during my first year there as a PCV.
Drawing upon on his personal experience and a wide range of interviews with the participants, Bob describes the creation of the first PC program and its immediate influence upon the definition of subsequent programs. The reader will learn about the personal negotiations that took place between Sargent Shriver, President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, two American academics who knew Nkrumah, and George Carter, PC Ghana’s first director. A reader will gain a new appreciation of the high level of uncertainty regarding this program for both a newly independent country and for the US in the midst of the Cold War. How little we knew about the developing world at that time!
Readers will also learn how that first training program was organized by American academics. Bob interviewed them as well as RPCVs from his group extensively and shares their and his experiences in the training program and subsequent thoughts about that preparation. Of course the dreaded interviews with psychologists and psychiatrists are featured.
The evolution of PC Ghana is described including Bob’s work to develop the first in-country training program. That’s a legacy that current PCVs should value highly.
All in all Being First is a most informative and entertaining book for RPCVs and prospective PCVs. I highly recommend it for holiday reading and giving. Do our newsletter readers have other PC related books to recommend? If so, please respond.
The full text of the minutes is available on the website.