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

June 2011

Upcoming Events

  • June 9: WCPCA's Salon Ouagadougou - Can the Peace Corps go on without major changes?
  • June 13: WCPCA June Board Meeting at the home of Dorothy Soper
  • June 23: WCPCA's Salon Ouagadougou
  • July 1 - July 4: CRPCA's 3rd Annual Local Campout

In This Issue

From The Board From Members and the Wider World

Interfaith Peace Walk For Nuclear Free Future

Beginning in Eugene, Oregon, Thursday, July 21, 2011, at 8:30 a.m. at the Hult Center Japanese Memorial Garden and moving on to these cities:

Oregon - Corvallis, Salem, Portland
Washington - Richland, Yakima Centralia, Olympia, Tacoma, Des Moines, Seattle, Suquamish, Bainbridge Island

And ending at Bangor Trident Submarine Base on August 9.

JOIN Rev. Senji Kanaeda and Rev. Gilberto Perez, monks from the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Temple on Bainbridge Island, as they drum, chant and offer prayers for a Nuclear Free Future. You may join them for any part of this walk.

For more information: Susan 541.683.1350 scundiff@riousa.com
Submitted by Bob Watada

RPCV Presenters Sought In Deschutes County

We've received a request from a Deschutes County librarian for RPCVs to participate in presentations that will feature a visiting Peace Corps Recruiter. Josie Hanneman is looking for presenters who can help on June 18th in Sunriver at 1 pm, and/or June 20th in Bend at 1 pm. If you are interested, please contact her directly. Thanks in advance to helpers!

I am organizing two small Peace Corps events in Bend and Sunriver this summer, through the Deschutes Public Library. We have a recruiter coming to present information about Peace Corps, and talk about her service, but we were planning on having other RPCVs involved, too, in a panel setting. At the (almost) last minute a few of them had to back out. Do you know of any RPCVs who might be willing to come over to Central Oregon for our event? We'd love to have a full panel of people who were in different areas, doing different projects, and who served at different times. Our events are June 18th in Sunriver at 1 pm, and June 20th in Bend at 1 pm.

Thanks so much for any contacts you can send my way!


Josie Hanneman
Community Librarian
La Pine Public Library

A Little Bit Of Backstory On The Malaria Drug Lariam (Mefloquine)

This is from a friend of a friend of a friend, but still interesting information. I know that Lariam (aka Mefloquine) was prescribed when I was serving in 2004 but have heard rumors that it is no longer used in the Peace Corps in some countries. I'm not sure if that is true or not, though. Here's the article:

A number of years ago, I chanced upon an article written by Croft and Herxheimer (2002) on the neurophsyciatric side effects of mefloquine and the pathways by which it causes these (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC101408/). Croft was the head of NATO's Department of Public Health, so it did appear that he had some credibility.

At the time, I thought it was pretty odd that something that dangerous would get past the FDA, but, in other areas, the same reasoning frequently came up, going crazy beats dying from malaria. Well, not really if it makes you commit suicide or kill other people when you are under its influence. Saying that Peace Corps couldn't afford some programs if they had to give volunteers the more expensive but safer malarone just did not really seem a convincingly appropriate trade of values.

So while looking for that original article again today, I happened upon a more recent article by Croft that addresses the history of the development of mefloquine and how it became part of the pharmacopeia with less than the standard testing and scrutiny required for other drugs. It's an interesting story and here it is:

What Do You Think?

I think many of us in the Peace Corps community have opinions in one form or another about the controversy about the Peace Corps in the news recently. It seems like a lot of the questions that come to my mind aren't questions I can answer. For example, could some of these rapes be reprisals for violating the gender status quo, encouraging girls to take on different roles? Are women more in danger of sexual violence the more they become integrated into their communities, as then they are seen less as agents of the CIA and more as regular women? How are victims of other violent crimes treated? Does the drinking and drug use by volunteers in general put female volunteers (or volunteers in general) in danger, as respect for volunteers decreases? Because rape is such an emotionally charged topic, can there be a discussion in Washington that isn't all posturing and politics?

If you have thoughts about this or information that would help shed some light on this issue, please send it to newsletter@westcascadepca.org. If you wouldn't mind it being published in the next newsletter, include that info in your email. Comments can be published anonymously, if you like.

Peace Corps: What Is It For?

Fifty years ago this spring, President John F. Kennedy breathed life into what had seemed at first like simply an ingenious campaign promise: to send idealistic young people "America's best resource" out into the furthest villages and towns of the developing world to boost the image of the United States abroad.

This was the Peace Corps. In the years since, more than 200,000 Americans have served as volunteers, and the Peace Corps itself has become more than just another government agency. It has become an idea, the perfect embodiment of America at its best: selfless and unobtrusive, trying to do good in the world by helping the less fortunate achieve their potential.

This year the agency is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a plethora of parties, expos, and panel discussions. A support lobby has coalesced around the motto "More Peace Corps," asking for additional government money to fund even more volunteers. But as it celebrates, it is also being confronted with an uncomfortable doubt being raised by more and more of those who were themselves once those idealistic and young volunteers: The Peace Corps an agency with a budget that reached $400 million in 2010 and which sends nearly 9,000 volunteers into risky environments every year may no longer have a real purpose.

Hearings held this past week in Washington, in which women testified about the lack of support they got from the Peace Corps after they survived rape or sexual abuse in their postings, only highlighted the stark contrast between the realities of the mission and the volunteers' beliefs about why they went. Born during the Cold War, the agency was essentially started by Kennedy as a form of what we would today call "soft power," presenting the friendly face of America at a moment when Washington was fighting Communist expansion in every corner of the world. But the Cold War has been over now for 20 years, and in that time there has been no redefinition of the Peace Corps' mission. Individual volunteers still manage to do good work, and they gain experience that can help them get jobs in aid agencies if they want to. But the Peace Corps is not set up to function as a development agency, and its soft-power role is no longer the national priority it once was leaving a large bureaucracy with no clear answer about what its objectives should really be.

Organizing over the Internet and through loose associations, a growing network of former Peace Corps volunteers has been pushing the agency to confront this problem directly. Two former volunteers have put out a 150-page memo that has been circulating widely in the Peace Corps community and offers a 21-point plan for reforming the agency. Their criticisms have percolated up to Congress, where in recent years there have been two bills, both proposed by Senator Christopher Dodd himself a former volunteer in the Dominican Republic that would demand deep reforms to the agency to give it, as he put it, a new "21st century mandate."


Peace Corps Volunteers Speak Out On Rape

WASHINGTON Jess Smochek arrived in Bangladesh in 2004 as a 23-year-old Peace Corps volunteer with dreams of teaching English and "helping the world." She left six weeks later a rape victim after being brutalized in an alley by a knife-wielding gang.

When she returned to the United States, the reception she received from Peace Corps officials was as devastating, she said, as the rape itself. In Bangladesh, she had been given scant medical care; in Washington, a counselor implied that she was to blame for the attack. For years she kept quiet, feeling "ashamed and embarrassed and guilty."

Today, Ms. Smochek is among a growing group of former Peace Corps volunteers who are speaking out about their sexual assaults, prompting scrutiny from Congress and a pledge from the agency for reform. In going public, they are exposing an ugly sliver of life in the Peace Corps: the dangers that volunteers face in far-flung corners of the world and the inconsistent and, some say, callous treatment they receive when they become crime victims.

"These women are alone in many cases, and they're in rough parts of the world," said Representative Ted Poe, Republican of Texas, who says the Peace Corps' promises do not go far enough and is sponsoring legislation to force changes in the way it treats victims of sexual assault. "We want the United States to rush in and treat them as a victim of crime like they would be treated here at home."

Founded in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, the Peace Corps has 8,655 volunteers and trainees, as young as 21 and as old as 86, serving in 77 countries. For most, service is, as the agency's Web site boasts, "a life-defining leadership experience."

But from 2000 to 2009, on average, 22 Peace Corps women each year reported being the victims of rape or attempted rape, the agency says. During that time, more than 1,000 Peace Corps volunteers reported sexual assaults, including 221 rapes or attempted rapes. Because sexual crimes often go unreported, experts say the incidence is likely to be higher, though they and the Peace Corps add that it is difficult to assess whether the volunteers face any greater risk overseas than women in the United States do.

On Wednesday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee will convene a hearing to examine what its chairwoman, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Republican of Florida, called "serious crimes" committed against Peace Corps volunteers, including murder; in announcing the hearing, her office cited reports of "gross mismanagement of sexual assault complaints."

Lois Puzey, whose daughter Kate was murdered in 2009 while posted in Benin, will testify. So will Ms. Smochek, now a board member of First Response Action, a fledgling advocacy group founded by another former volunteer, Casey Frazee. Ms. Frazee was sexually assaulted in South Africa in 2009 and came home, she said, determined to not "let the Peace Corps toss me off like I was an isolated incident."

In an interview Monday, the director of the Peace Corps, Aaron S. Williams, said he was committed to revamping the agency's practices to create a more "victim-centered approach."

He insisted that it was safe for women to serve in the Peace Corps. "We do not place Peace Corps volunteers in unsafe environments," he said.

But he said the agency must modernize its procedures to "make sure that we provide compassionate care" to crime victims. Already, Mr. Williams has made some changes, including hiring a "victim's advocate" who began work on Monday and signing an agreement with a nationally known rape crisis group to re-examine his organization's training and policies.

The changes reflect the work of Ms. Frazee, who has spent the last 18 months tracking down Peace Corps sexual assault survivors by reaching out through social networking sites and her blog. Last year, her work attracted the attention of the ABC News program "20/20," which ran a segment on the women in January. In recent months, Ms. Frazee, 28, has collected more than two dozen affidavits from other women, who have shared stories that Mr. Williams called "tragic."

In interviews and documents, they paint a picture of what many call a "blame the victim" culture at the Peace Corps.


Salaam Aleikum To All Friends Of Afghanistan

Peace Corps is celebrating its 50th Anniversary in Washington, DC September 21-25, 2011 and Friends of Afghanistan has planned exciting events for Peace Corps Volunteers who served in Afghanistan, Country Directors, other RPCVs, and all those interested in Afghanistan's future.

Schedule of Events for Friends of Afghanistan:

Thursday, 9/22 4:00pm-6:00pm. L'Enfant Plaza Hotel. A no-host meet and greet at the Lobby bar and Starbucks. See who has come to the celebration! Group/Cycle dinners after meet and greet. More info? See below.

9/23 5:00pm-9:00pm. Embassy of Afghanistan. Meet Afghan Ambassador Hakimi, and have the opportunity for Q and A, followed by an Afghan dinner at the Embassy. FoA will present an antique Quran e Sharif to the Ambassador for its repatriation to Afghanistan.For security and for a head count, reservations are absolutely required. See information below on Rsvp.

Saturday, 9/24 8:30am-3:30pm. L'Enfant Plaza Hotel. Hear speakers currently working in Afghanistan, a panel with four past Country Directors, enjoy screenings of DVDs created by groups about their service years, and shop at a Bazaar, featuring Afghan crafts, jewelry, books, and other items of interest, with all income going to Friends of Afghanistan for its programs in country. If you have Afghan treasures, books about the region, or decorative or practical items to donate to the Bazaar, contact janwest@suddenlink.net.

Sunday, 9/25 10:00am-12:00noon. NPCA Wreath laying at JFK gravesite, and Parade of Flags. Afghanistan always leads this parade, carrying our country's flag. Afghan clothing encouraged.

For a complete schedule of the entire celebration and events, go to www.peacecorpsconnect.org/resources/peace-corps-50th-anniversary/#visit. Registration is required for some events. On that page click on REGISTER NOW TO ATTEND THE ABOVE EVENTS at the end of the DC events schedule.

For more information about Friends of Afghanistan events, and to receive an FoA invitation which you can use as your Rsvp, email janwest@suddenlink.net. If you have already contacted Jan after my first email, you do not need to contact her again. The Invitation will go out this week.

We are asking each participant for $25. This charge is to help defray costs of the Saturday program at L'Enfant Plaza (room rental, A/V equipment) and to have a committed head count for the Embassy dinner.

We encourage you to stay at L'Enfant Plaza Hotel, which is located on a Metro stop, and where we are having our events on Thursday and Saturday. Reservations: 1-800-635-5065. To get the NPCA discounted rate, make your reservation by phone, and mention "Peace Corps 50th Anniversary". To see the hotel and its amenities go to www.lenfantplazahotel.com. For a complete list of hotels discounting for NPCA, go to www.peacecorpsconnect.org/resources/peace-corps-50th-anniversary/september-events/#plan.

Don't miss this once-in-a-lifetime event. Reconnect with your Afghan and Peace Corps friends. Polish up your Dari! Eat excellent Afghan food. Wear that shalwar kameez you're been saving for just this occasion.

khoda a fez and see you in Washington. Nancy

Book Review
By Jack Meacham

I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Turkey in the 1960's. So I've read and skimmed many books about the "Middle East," Islam, the Crusades, the Arab world, and Turks and Persians. Most of these books cover the same plodding sequence of people and events that is now familiar ground. But to my surprise and delight, here is a book that challenges me to distinguish what might be familiar shadows on the wall of the cave from the true reality of world history and contemporary events.

In the preface, the author outlines the canonical narrative of world history, as set forth in Western, democratic societies (and their many high school and college textbooks): birth of civilization, classical age, dark ages and rise of Christianity, Renaissance and Reformation, Enlightenment, revolutions (democratic, industrial, technological), rise of nation-states, World Wars I and II, the Cold War, and the triumph of democratic capitalism. Islam rarely rates more than half a chapter, typically shared (why?) with the history of the Byzantine Empire.

Yet Islam's golden age of philosophy, science, and technology lasted more than five centuries. Islam has long been the mediator of cultural influences between Europe and East Asia. And Islam spans more geographical space than Europe and the United States combined. And so we should ask, what would the narrative of world history look like, from the perspective of Islamic societies? Perhaps: ancient times, birth of Islam, the khalifate, fragmentation and the age of the sultanates (Umayyads, Abassids), catastrophe (Crusaders and Mongols), rebirth (the three-empires era, Ottomans, Safavids, Moghuls), permeation of east by west (16th to 19th centuries), the reform movements (18th to 20th centuries), triumph of the secular modernists (early 20th century), and Islamic reaction today.

Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes, by Tamim Ansary, is that narrative. Europe rates only one short chapter, titled "Meanwhile in Europe," following the rebirth chapter. This is, incidentally, quite consistent with the thesis of Ian Morris's Why the West Rules--For Now, that from the middle of the 6th century to the end of the 18th century Europe was insignificant on a world stage that was largely defined and dominated by Islam.

Ansary's account of the intellectual origins of various movements in Islamic societies is quite illuminating. He distinguishes among (1) religious revival through restoration of Islam to its original form, beginning with Abdul Wahhab of Arabia in the 18th century and continuing with the Deobandis in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Wahhabism in present-day Saudi Arabia, and Ayatollah Khomeinei in Iran; (2) secular modernism, rethinking Islam as an ethical system compatible with science and a secular world of industrialization, constitutionalism, and nationalism, beginning with Sayid Ahmad of Aligarh, India, in the 19th century and continuing with Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in Turkey, Reza Shah Pahlavi in Iran, Amanullah in Afghanistan, Mohammad Mosaddeq in Iran, Gamal Abdul Nasser in Egypt, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in Pakistan, and the Ba'ath Parties of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Hafez al-Assad in Syria; and (3) Islamist modernism, reform and modernization on Islamic terms, beginning with Sayyid Jamaluddin-i-Afghan in the 19th century and continuing with Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928, the Egyptian intellectual Sayyid Qutb, and al-Zawaheri, founder of Egypt's Islamic Jihad and a mentor for Osama bin Laden.

Ansary argues that the principal consequences of Israel's 1967 attack on Egypt, Jordan, and Syria were first, to promote the shared identity and the radicalization of the Palestinians; second, to empower the power-based Ba'ath Parties in Syria and Iraq; and, third, by weakening Nasser and secular modernism, to energize the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt as well as the Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia. So here we now are, in the 21st century. It is clear from Ansary's account, if any further evidence were needed, that our disastrous invasion and occupation of Iraq was justified and accepted by our failure to see that the secularist Saddam Hussein and the Islamist Osama bin Laden could not have been September 11th co-conspirators.

And now we are certainly setting ourselves up for additional foreign policy disasters, if we fail to distinguish between the Islamic fundamentalists of Saudi Arabia and Iran, who reject the social values and moral decadence of modernity and how "development" can divide societies into a "governing club" and "everyone else," on the one hand, and the Islamic modernists of many contemporary Arab societies, who reject the corruption, oppression, and despotism that they associate with secular modernism, on the other. Destiny Disrupted is an easy, engaging read; even if you don't agree with all that Ansary says, this book provides an alternative, well-organized outline of world history that can be a useful guide towards further reading, insight, and understanding.

The American And The Intelligence Of A Goat
by Boyd F. Fisher, Yemen Arab Republic (1973-75)

As a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Yemen Arab Republic I rented the top floor of a two-family dwelling in the capital city of Sanaa. Foreigners in Yemen were very rare in 1973, and everyone in my neighborhood was eager to learn as much as possible about me. A garden surrounded the house and a high rock wall separated the garden from the busy street. To gain admittance you had to bang loudly on the big metal door knocker that was attached to a tin gate. Upon hearing the knocker, several children from downstairs would rush to the gate for a chance to check out the curious foreigners who came to visit me.

Only on Fridays when the family went to the mosque did I have to trudge down the stairs to open the gate to visitors. My first Friday at home, I heard a loud knock on the gate. I bounded down the stairs anticipating the visit of some interesting friend, opened the gate, and found standing there ... a goat. As he nonchalantly sauntered through the gate, I realized that he was the goat that normally grazed contentedly in our garden.

I was surprised that he had been outside on the street, and amazed that a goat would be clever enough to find his own house and then knock on the gate. And as I studied the knocker I realized that a goat would have to stand on its hind legs and stretch to reach it. "Oh well," I thought, "I joined the Peace Corps to have new experiences and learn new things. By the time I complete my two years I will probably be an expert on the behavior of goats." The following Friday when I went down to answer the knock I half expected the goat to be standing there when I opened the gate. And he was.

I now understood that the resident goat was always outside on Friday. I could hardly wait to tell people back home about the impressive intelligence of goats, which was at least equal to that of dogs or cats. They could not only find their way home, but use the door knocker when they got there.

As my Arabic improved and I moved beyond the ability to say only good morning to the friendly family downstairs, I began to plan my first real conversation in Arabic. I looked up the words for "goat" and "smart" in my English/Arabic dictionary and then decided I was ready to praise the intelligence of goats. As luck would have it, I encountered the college-educated son who always seemed eager to help me along with my halting Arabic.

"Good morning, Ali," I said in Arabic, "Your goat is very smart."

"What did you say?" Ali asked in Arabic, seemingly unable to understand what I thought was passable pronounciation. I repeated the statement with great precision and more slowly.

"Ah, I did understand you," he replied. "Friend, why do you say that our goat is smart?"

I summoned up all the Arabic I knew and by pointing at the gate, the door knocker, and the goat, I helped him understand what I was saying. To make certain he hadn't misunderstood, he repeated what I had said and also pointed to the door knocker and the goat.

"Yes, Ali, that's what I said," I replied. "Every Friday the goat knocks on the gate."

Ali seemed to be suppressing a laugh as he carefully explained to me that on Friday, when there was very little traffic on the road, all families who owned goats let them into the roadway where they could vary their diet with the assorted plants found along the street. Yes, he patiently explained, a goat was intelligent enough to find its own gate. Then it would stand in front of the gate until a courteous neighbor came along, noticed the waiting goat, and banged on the gate to let the owners know that their goat was now ready to come back into the yard. After a few quick knocks the neighbor would move on down the street.

Now I understood. A little embarrased, I said, "Of course, Ali, of course." I wanted to say that I really knew that. That I was only joking with him about the goat knocking on the gate, but I didn't know the word for "joking," so I just shook All's hand and left for my school. But as I walked out the gate I heard Ali saying something to his little brothers about the American, goats, and intelligence, and I heard them laughing. And as I neared the end of the block and was about to turn the corner I glanced back at our gate and saw the youngest boy dart out the gate, stop the nearest neighbor and animatedly tell him a story. I couldn't hear their words but I could have sworn the lips formed the Arabic words for "American, goat, and intelligence."

Boyd Fisher is a training developer in Lawton, Oklahoma

In 1994, the WCPCA put out "The Funniest Job You'll Ever Love", an anthology of Peace Corps humor. This book was a great fundraiser and was made up of the stories of members. Now, we'd like to do it again, and we'll need your stories for the next edition.

The Bin Laden Aftermath: Pakistan's Investigation
by Mark Schneider, Foreign Policy | 6 May 2011

The successful U.S. SEAL strike against Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, just blocks from the Pakistan's West Point, raises questions about whether the Pakistani military and intelligence are part of the solution or part of the problem of international terrorism. Not only does the U.S. need to learn what the Pakistani military high command and ISI knew and when they knew it, but the U.S. also has to ask a series of questions about bin Laden's heavily fortified compound, such as:

  • How long was Osama bin Laden there?
  • Who knew and protected him?
  • Who owned the land, how was it acquired, and from whom? Who designed the compound?
  • Who installed the security systems? Are they commercially available or specialized?
  • Given the multitude of military checkpoints in this military town, who did they stop and who did they allow to continue on their way into the compound?

To answer these questions and others, Pakistan's government needs to convene a special independent civilian parliamentary public inquiry, like the Watergate hearings or the 9/11 Commission. The commission's representation should reflect the parliament's party makeup, including both opposition and government parties, and ideally be chaired by a member of the opposition. It should have subpoena powers for the appearance of military and civilian government officials, and well as all bin Laden-related government documents from the military and ISI. Its findings should be made public. This is the only way to enable greater civilian authority over the country's counterterrorism efforts, drive more effective and transparent programs, and keep spoilers from undermining the cause.

The United States also needs to demand accountability from Pakistan's military. Pakistani action against national and international terrorist groups is vital to U.S. and Pakistan security, but it also is clear that the Pakistani military has seen action or inaction against those groups through an anti-India lens rather than through a counterterrorism commitment.

Contrast that with Pakistan's civilian government, which, despite getting little credit, has been making some progress. For example, after the 2008 Mumbai attacks, the civilian government investigated, issued indictments and made several arrests which, had the military had its way, wouldn't have happened at all. Putting more eggs into the civilian law enforcement and civilian police intelligence basket, as called for under the Kerry-Lugar-Berman law, is even more important now.

Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari has also fought to extend constitutional rights to the citizens of Pakistan's tribal areas, and provide them both the full rights and civilian law enforcement protection of the Pakistani Constitution. The military has stymied these efforts, but the civilian government has countered by establishing a joint commission with all the political parties to find a way to move forward in the country's most dangerous region. The parliament also adopted the novel idea of having oversight accountability committees chaired by the opposition so that investigations into Administration conduct are free of conflict of interest.

Even though the civilian government has been criticized, the truth is, it has stumbled when the military has stood it its way. The U.S. should build upon the Pakistani government's successes by strengthening its civilian institutions. It should offer a more significant assistance package to strengthen law enforcement, policy, civil services, and the judiciary's capabilities. It should also form a more collaborative partnership with civilian leaders at the provincial and district levels to help target U.S. economic assistance.

This strengthening starts with conditioning military support on demonstrable steps to combat violent extremists and ending its longstanding policy of support and sanctuary to such elements, Pakistan or foreign. The U.S. should continue to require, but also provide additional oversight of, on the State Department certification of Pakistani cooperation on a variety of security issues.

The U.S. should also continue to insist that the "security agencies of Pakistan are not materially or substantively subverting the political and judicial processes of Pakistan" and provide stronger support for civilian law enforcement agencies in combating jihadi groups, including prosecuting the small percentage of madrassas that engage in jihadi terrorist training.

The answers to the myriad questions about the Abbottabad compound will eventually emerge. But regardless of what we learn about the Pakistan military's role in the operation -- from incompetence to complicity -- the details surrounding Osama bin Laden's death further illustrate the need to hold that military accountable and to work with and empower Pakistan's civilian government.

Mark Schneider is Senior Vice President at the International Crisis Group. He was Director of the Peace Corps, 1991-2001.

Submitted by Miriam Aiken, Philippines 1965-1967

From The Board


The WCPCA is an organization entirely made up of volunteers, and we need your help! If you're willing to lend a hand, please email Dorothy Soper at president@westcascade.org.

  • Organizers for WCPCA's participation in the Eugene Celebration, August 26-28. We need 2-3 people to organize props and people to march in the parade on 8/27, set up the tent and display materials in the causeway, recruit staffing for both Saturday and Sunday, and then arrange for all materials to be packed and taken away. This is a great weekend to renew your friendships with WCPCA members, meet new RPCVs, and talk to local people who want to know about the Peace Corps.

  • Overseeing sale and mailing of tee shirts. We need 2-3 people to store the shirts, respond to purchases online, and bring or send tee shirts to venues where there are potential buyers and staff to handle sales.

  • Overseeing sale of the 2012 international calendars. This is an annual fundraiser for WCPCA in which we usually earn about $1,200 to support Peace Corps Partnership projects. WCPCA members and local businesses sell the calendars and they are also available to purchase on our website. We need 2 or 3 people to organize this annual effort.

Peace Corps Partnership Projects

Each year WCPCA funds two to four Peace Corps Partnership Projects. We give preference to projects organized by PCVs from Oregon. We began this process at the April board meeting when the board selected four projects to contribute to.

A few days after the board meeting when treasurer, Dale Morse, planned to send the funds via the Peace Corps website, he discovered that three of projects had already been fully funded and thus withdrawn from the website. Good news for those projects but it sends us back to work. Dale was able to send $960 to complete the funding for a school library project, Expanding Educational Resources, in Kyrgyz Republic. The project is being organized by a PCV from Oregon.

The board has allocated $2,000 to contribute to PCP projects this year and will continue to look for projects to fund. WCPCA members are invited to join this search and make suggestions to the board or offer individual contributions. Learn how to find a listing of these projects on the PC website in the introductory paragraphs to the "Projects" page on the WCPCA website.

Full information about Expanding Education Resources and other projects that WCPCA contributes to will be in a later issue of the newsletter. For a list of the projects that WCPCA has funded since the 1980s look at the "Projects" page of the website.

In connection with our search for PCP projects to fund, the board has recently questioned how the Peace Corps shared information among staff and volunteers regarding successful projects whose ideas or methods might be replicated. Because the topic is of general interest, the reply from Marcy Carrel, Information Collection & Exchange (ICE), Peace Corps, is included below. Some of us have looked at the references and found them quite worthy. But of course they don't tell the full story but that is a big job.

Hello and thank you for your inquiry regarding Peace Corps information collecting and sharing. As you might expect, this is a continuing challenge for an organization which works in over 75 countries around the world. There are formal and informal processes in place some of which are initiated by offices here in Washington, DC and others which are initiated by the posts, Volunteers, and by Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and friends such as yourself.

I work in Information Collection and Exchange (ICE), which is part of the Overseas Programming and Training Support (OPATS) Unit. We publish and distribute training resources to Volunteers in the field and support the network of resource centers at posts. You can view and download some of the ICE publications on this page of the Peace Corps website: http://www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=library. We are also involved in sharing field-produced materials with other posts.

If you are interested specifically in the Peace Corps Partnership Program projects (http://www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=donate), you may want to contact that office directly at pcpp@peacecorps.gov.

Best wishes for your work with the West Cascade Peace Corps Association. And thank you for your continuing interest in the Peace Corps.

Marcy Carrel
Information Collection & Exchange (ICE) Peace Corps
1111 20th St. NW | Washington, DC 20526 | USA
RPCV El Salvador

Want To Build Marketable Skills?

The WCPCA will be offering free web page development classes this summer (and other dates in the near future). Before you skip ahead, thinking, "That's just for young people", wait just a minute. These are simple skills that anyone who is comfortable at a computer can learn. You don't have to be a computer whiz to put together a web page. If you still don't believe me, try the following:

  • Go to your computer and find the Notepad program (for PCs, usually under Accessories) or Textedit (for Macs, under Applications) and open it
  • Type in:
    <P>Hello World!</P>
  • Save it to "helloworld.html" on your desktop.
  • Double click on the new file to open it in your web browser.
You just created a webpage! In the WCPCA class, you'll learn how to create a nice looking webpage with no fancy software and all for free. What's the catch? In volunteer organizations, there is often only one person who knows how to maintain the website. When that person leaves, even little changes to the website can't be made. If the WCPCA can put together a group of people who are willing to help out with the website on occasion, then we don't have to worry about making changes when the current tech person (that's me) is gone. These skills aren't just useful for maintaining the WCPCA's website, though. The great thing about web development is that it doesn't have to be a full-time job. You can make a page every once in a while to earn a little extra money or just to help out. That's a job that would work well for someone who is retired or just returned from the Peace Corps. If you are interested, contact info@westcascadepca.org.

Those aren't the only classes either. We would also like to run a Microsoft Access class and perhaps a "Protecting Your Computer From The Internet" class, if there is interest. So, contact info@westcascadepca.org and let me know when you are available.


WCPCA now has approximately 145 members. The number represents a welcome upward trend. About a dozen new members have joined in 2011 through the "first year free" program offered by WCPCA and also NPCA (National Peace Corps Association) of which WCPCA is an affiliate. The program has attracted recently returned volunteers as well as several RPCVs who have been in Lane Country for a few years. About a third of the WCPCA members join through NPCA. The others join the organization directly.

The board is very pleased to welcome so many new members. On the other side, however, about 15 people have let their memberships expire this year and chosen not to renew. Of course some of these people have left the area but others are still here. We would be happy to hear suggestions from them of ways to make our activities more appealing.

New members who joined in May are the following:

  • Brandon Forester PC service: Rwanda, 2009-2010; Mauritania, 2008-2009
  • John H. Lorentz PC service: Iran, 1961-1963 (Living in Ohio now and planning to return to Oregon)
  • Thomas Mosier PC service: Kenya, 2008-2010 (Moving to Corvallis soon)
  • Vince Ceccaci from San Diego PC service: Columbia, 1977-78 (From San Diego; worked 35 years as a rehabilitation counselor for the disabled)

NOM Party

The annual NOM party to celebrate new nominees to the Peace Corps took place on June 3rd at the Wesley Center near the U of O campus. The U of O Peace Corps Recruiter, Justin Overdevest, and WCPCA Vice President, Maggie Keenan, organized the event which included a potluck dinner, entertainment by U of O international students, and motivational talks by Eugene's Mayor, Kitty Piercy (RPCV, Ethiopia, 1964-66) and Hannah Klausman (RPCV, Mongolia, 2006-2008) who will be the new Recruiter starting this fall.

We said farewell to Justin who is receiving two advanced degrees in June from the U of O and who has completed three years as the PC Recruiter as we welcomed Hannah who is a WCPCA member and has given us a presentation about her PC service. WCPCA is fortunate to have the opportunity to collaborate with the PC Recruiters in activities on the U of O campus. About 50 people including the new nominees and their families and friends and WCPCA members enjoyed a festive evening filled with celebration and anticipation.

Many thanks go to those who helped stage the event. In addition to Justin and WCPCA board members, this group included Andrew Dempsey-Karp, Rob Dwan, Joyce Leader, and Lori Matthew.

Country Fair

Andrew Dempsey-Karp is organizing the participation of WCPCA in the Peace and Justice booth of the Community Village portion of the Country Fair which will take place July 8-10. This will be the first time that we have participated in the venerable Lane County event. If you have questions or want to volunteer to help with this please contact Andrew through info@westcascadepca.org. Our thanks go to Andrew for this initiative.

Treasurer's Report

As of May, 2011, the WCPCA accounts at OCCU showed the following balance:
Check and savings (total): $7,284
Beryl Brinkman Memorial Fund (restricted account): $930

As of March 31, 2011, the Beryl Brinkman Memorial Fund, an endowed account at the Oregon Community Foundation, showed a balance of $29,226.

Grand Floral Parade In Portland, June 11th

Good news! The Peace Corps contingent in the Grand Floral Parade in Portland on June 11th is booked up!

The Columbia River Peace Corps Association (CRPCA) of Portland has organized this entry which will feature 139 returned Peace Corps Volunteers each carrying a flag of a current or former Peace Corps host country. The CRPCA board invited RPCVs from throughout Oregon to take part. The latest report indicates that the quota has been met and, indeed, there is a waiting list of over 60 additional RPCVs interested in taking part. Several WCPCA members will be in the parade. Congratulations to CRPCA for this successful effort.

Of course there are still places available to view the parade. We hope that a good number of WCPCA members will be in the stands. Photos of the Peace Corps contingent in the parade would be most welcome for posting in the WCPCA website scapbook.