A monthly newsletter of The West Cascade Peace Corps Association in Oregon's Southern Willamette Valley
On Monday, September 26, the Senate passed the Kate Puzey Volunteer Protection Act of 2011 by unanimous consent. You can find out more here: http://firstresponseaction.blogspot.com/2011/09/senate-passes-kate-puzey-volunteer.html
I arrived at Reagan International airport last Wednesday evening, September 21st. After a couple of metro rides, I got off at the Dupont Circle stop and walked less than a half block to the residence of a couple from my Kenya 1 group. This, the former Malawi embassy, was to be my home for the week of my duration in Washington D.C. for Peace Corps' 50th anniversary celebration. More significantly, it was also the weekend gathering place of 26 friends and colleagues from Kenya 1, our first reunion since 2001. Considering our contingent consisted of only 34 volunteers, we regarded this as a remarkable turnout.
James Cloutier At The 50th In DC (continued)
Thursday and Friday consisted of my visiting both the Peace Corps headquarters, the host of several exhibits and presentations, and the NPCA office, a block away. Friday evening, I attended a soire sponsored by Friends of Kenya where I bumped into the woman who took over my job in Nairobi back in 1967. That was cool! I met several other RPCV's as well, many of whom appeared to be somewhat deferential when they saw "Kenya 1" on my name tag. On Saturday, I passed up all of the Peace Corps sponsored events to spend the day and evening with my Kenya group. Getting caught up with each other's lives was the primary topic of conversation. This, and the telling of numerous stories remembered from our time in Kenya 45+ years ago kept the atmosphere filled with joviality and nostalgia. On Sunday, several of us from Saturday's party took the metro over to Arlington National Cemetery where we merged with thousands of other RPCVs to listen to several speeches and also quietly pay homage to the 236 volunteers who had died in service as Peace Corps volunteers. One of these happened to be a woman from Eugene, Terry Strong. In the late seventies, Terry and I dated for awhile before becoming just close friends. She was interested and inspired by my stories about being a PCV in Kenya and decided to apply to the Peace Corps. A year after her acceptance and posting to Lesotho she was killed in a road accident in 1983. I still remember the sadness that swept over me when I learned of her death. Sunday's final event was the Walk of the Flags. Our large contingent of returned volunteers proceeded to march over the Arlington Bridge to the Lincoln Memorial with each of us walking close to the person bearing the flag of our country's service. Half way across the bridge, the President's helicopter swooped low overhead and President Obama could be seen waving to us. At the conclusion of the walk, many of us said our farewells and left to resume life before PC50.
But before I began my trek to the Foggy Bottom metro stop, I encountered two very interesting people among the clusters of marchers. One was a RPCV from Hood River who had arrived earlier in the week after an 85 day bicycle ride across the country. I initially noticed him because the bike he was pushing sported a very familiar green flag with a bright yellow "O" on it. We spoke briefly before he became engaged with other passersby offering their congratulations. My second meaningful encounter occurred with a former India volunteer in the sixties named Van Schuler, a remarkable woman who happened to be the oldest living Returned Peace Corps Volunteer at the age of 105. In spite of being confined to a wheel chair, she exuded a strong spirit. In the following days of my visit I took advantage of my host's location of housing and visited an art museum, The Phillips Collection. In less than 5 minutes from their back door, I could be standing in front of a Picasso, a Van Gogh, a Renoir or any one of several paintings by renowned artists in the museum's permanent collection. All I can say is what a wonderful way to finish off my trip to Washington, D.C.! And oh, I almost forgot. I wore our PC50 tee shirt to several occasions and received a number of inquiries resulting in 24 orders for the shirts. So, not only was my spirit fed by the visit back to the nation's capital but so was WPCA's coffers.
If you were in DC for the 50th and would be willing to share your experience, please write up an article and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
From The Board
Cuban culture critic Enrique Fernandez will present:
Overview: As Latinos have become the largest U.S. minority, American society and culture are faced with a new set of issues and possible responses. The other way of being American, from what José Martí called "nuestra América," is now a salient presence north of the Rio Grande/Río Bravo and the Florida Straits. A second language, Spanish, is heard and used more and more. Another music, another food, another way of understanding and having relationships. Some see this phenomenon as corrosive of the American way of life. Some bristle at the sound of Spanish or the beat of the clave (“This Latin music's mayhem/there's too much syncopation”, sang Kid Creole, albeit tongue-in-cheek). Many see their country overrun by “illegals” who are stealing jobs and social services, as well as spreading crime and unhealthy social attitudes. Can the skills of returning Peace Corps volunteers present a key to sanity in this divisive and volatile phenomenon?
Enrique Fernández is a Cuban, bilingual journalist, and culture critic for the Miami Herald. He was executive director of the Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences; senior editor in charge of the film section and columnist at The Village Voice; and columnist at Billboard, New York Daily News, USA Weekend, and The Sun-Sentinel. He holds a PhD in comparative literature from Indiana University and taught at Wesleyan, Purdue, Franklin & Marshall, and Bennington.
Please bring a dish to share.
Parking information: The U of O's large parking lot at 14th and Kincaid will be open to the public at 6:00 pm. Those attending the potluck should feel free to park there. Note that the meters for street parking in the area usually must be fed until 8: 00 pm. So be aware! For those with mobility concerns, there are two parking spaces on the grounds of the Wesley Center.
The National Peace Corps Association has just released the results of a major survey that it commissioned and which represents the responses of 11,000 RPCVs. The report is entitled, A Call to Peace, Perspectives of Volunteers on the Peace Corps at 50. It's a major work that gives a serious analysis of the impact of the Peace Corps on the volunteers and, through them, American society.
The results will be useful in a number of ways including in framing a convincing rationale to be presented to congress to lobby for the Peace Corps' annual budget.
The board would be interested in knowing the ideas of WCPCA members regarding its conclusions. We may gain some direction for our local activities.
The annual fall University of Oregon Street Fair will take place Wednesday to Friday, October 5-7, along 13th Avenue (between Kincaid and University Streets) on the campus. The Peace Corps will have a recruiting booth at the Fair. Hannah Klausman, the new U of O Peace Corps recruiter, is organizing the booth and has asked WCPCA to help with the staffing. Hannah is an WCPCA member and served in the Peace Corps in Mongolia, 2006-2008.
Volunteers from WCPCA have helped staff the booth for several years and we hope that there will be a strong response this year. Staff shifts are two hours long and between 10 am and 4pm. Staffing involves answering basic questions about the Peace Corps and Hannah will provide the basic answers along with recruiting material. Your main role, however, is to explain what your service was like and how that service has influenced your life. You'll find this a good opportunity to learn about the Peace Corps' operation at this time. That will be a good "catch-up" for all.
Those of us who have helped staff the booth in the past report a very lively and enjoyable scene and have appreciated the opportunity to meet many students including RPCVs who stop by. Contact with newly returned PCVs give us a chance to invite them to take part in WCPCA activities, the most immediate being the potluck on Friday evening, October 7th at the Wesley Center which is next to the campus. We hold the fall potluck near the campus to accommodate this new group.
We hope that WCPCA volunteers will help welcome both Hannah and other students this fall. If you can help please contact Hannah at email@example.com to inquire about staffing needs at the booth. The board thanks you in advance for your efforts.
WCPCA's major fundraiser this year is the sale of the 2012 international calendars published by the Madison, WI, RPCV group. This is the 25th year in which the calendar has been published and its cover includes information about this milestone. Calendar sales over these 25 years have netted over a million dollars for the Madison group which has donated the funds to community projects around the world.
WCPCA has been part of the big picture for several years by purchasing the calendars from the Madison group and reselling them locally. We ask your support this fall to purchase calendars for yourself and friends, especially to give as gifts. We are selling the calendars at $12 each for purchases up to four and for $10 each for purchases of five or more. The calendars include beautiful photos from PC host countries and extensive information about holidays throughout the world.
By selling the 150 calendars that we purchased we'll raise about $1,200 which we, in turn, will award in grants to humanitarian projects worldwide. Please be part of the grant award process by supporting the calendar sales. If you want to help sell calendars to your friends, please let us know. Many thanks for your efforts and for your support of our grants to humanitarian projects.
Calendars will be available at the October and November potlucks and also directly from Dorothy Soper,
That time of year has come once again. At the November potluck, which is also our annual meeting, the membership will elect the 2012 WCPCA board. We are always looking for new members who would like to help conduct WCPCA business and give direction to the organization. If you are interested, we invite you to attend the October board meeting to meet the current board members and learn more about our work. We encourage all of our members to consider board service so that the board may represent the membership as fully as possible.
The next board meeting will be on Monday, October 17th, 7:00 pm, at the home of Dorothy Soper. Please let Dorothy know that you are coming and she'll give you directions. Her email address is
For at least the 20th year WCPCA took part in the Eugene Celebration which this year was during the weekend of August 27-28. Our participation consisted of an entry in the parade on Saturday morning and a booth in the Community Causeway on Saturday and Sunday. These activities required much cooperation and coordination among several members. The board welcomed their support and good cheer and the participation of those who marched in the parade.
Parade: One group worked on the parade entry which consisted of a large cardboard replica of the mini-bus common to many developing countries propelled by 4-6 people, a large banner with the WCPCA name, and large flags of many Peace Corps host countries that were carried by marchers and also affixed to the mini-bus. This year we asked everyone to wear an article of clothing from his/her host country or a Peace Corps tee shirt. We were a sharp looking entry.
Many thanks go to those of you who took part in the parade and to those who organized our parade entry including Nick Bosustow, Wayne Thompson, James Cloutier, and Benj Epstein.
Booth: Miriam Aiken and Vern Delk organized the displays and the staffing at the booth.
Miriam contributed the following report.
WCPCA had an outstanding booth at the Eugene Celebration thanks to the energy and creativity of Vern Delk. He designed colorful display boards of posters, letters and photos from PCVs in the field who had received grants from WCPCA, Peace Corps recruitment materials, items for sale including the 2012 International RPCV calendar, tee shirts and sweatshirts, and most stunning of all: a world map with colorful push pins to designate active Peace Corps countries of service, former countries of service, locations of grants from WCPCA, and, notably a nice long bright red pin for RPCVs who visited the booth to note the country and location of their Peace Corps assignment. It made a popular stopping point for passersby and several interesting conversations about Peace Corps service and international travel were generated.
Thanks to the WCPCA members who staffed the booth and fielded questions about Peace Corps service. We appreciate their contribution of time and energy toward making the presentation a memorable success. Thank you to (in alphabetical order): Keith Beyer, Vince Ceccacci, James Cloutier,Vern Delk, Dale Dow, Benj Epstein, Joe Hindman, Corie Hinton, Joyce Leader, and Evangalina Sundgrenz.
In August of 2011, WCPCA made a $500 grant to School of Leadership – Afghanistan (SOLA) in memory of Artis Mary Spriggs.
Artis served in the Peace Corps in Afghanistan from 1967-1969 with 20 other women as a vaccinator for smallpox. One of the other women in that vaccination group was Beryl Brinkman, one of the founders of WCPCA. Funding for the donation came from the Beryl Brinkman Memorial Fund. Their work contributed to the eventual eradication of that devastating disease. Artis’ career choices and world travels formed a vision of social justice and her generosity funded charities to support schools, self-reliance and opportunity for all.
Artis lived in Ukiah/Redwood Valley, CA for most of her adult life, but moved to Eugene, OR in 2006 where she was an active member of the West Cascade Returned Peace Corps Association, and volunteered at the Hult Center and University of Oregon Natural History Museum. Intrepid traveler, singer of songs, Scrabble player, generous benefactor, and devoted friend embarked on her last journey July 6, 2010 in Eugene, OR.
SOLA means “peace” in Pashto, and it is a non-profit NGO established in 2008 to prepare the very best Afghan students for study in the U.S. and abroad so that they may return home to become future leaders of Afghanistan. SOLA places special emphasis on creating the conditions for ambitious young women to pursue their studies. It provides a dorm free of charge as well as transportation. Ongoing supporters focused on creating peace and understanding across cultures include Orchard Park Schools Educational Outreach in NY, Friends of Afghanistan (300 returned Afghan Peace Corps volunteers), and the Afghan Women’s Writing Project and Masha Hamilton. Classes are held at SOLA—Kabul in English language and math. Discussion groups and seminars are part of an ongoing effort to improve verbal and written communication skills. SOLA’s in-house instructors include Afghan experts as well as visiting scholars from the U.S. and Canada. In addition, well-known American writers teach an online writing course. High school math is being taught in partnership with St. George’s and St. Paul's schools in the United States.
The board is especially pleased to have awarded five grants this year which total $3,460. Approximately $1,200 of this amount came from distributions of the Beryl Brinkman Memorial Fund. Other funds were proceeds from the sale of international calendars and tee shirts. The newly funded projects are listed below and also on the project page of the website:
The first four projects are Peace Corps Partnership projects and thus organized by PCVs. The organizers of three of these projects are Oregon residents and two of these organizers are members of WCPCA. The organizer of one project is from Washington state.
The grant to the School of Leadership was made to honor the memory of Artis Spriggs who was a PCV in Afghanistan and at the time of her death, a member of WCPCA.
The board made an effort to fund Peace Corps Partnership projects that include the leadership of Oregon citizens or at least citizens of the northwest. We've received enthusiastic emails from some of the project organizers and will publish them in the newsletter as they come to us. We hope that some of the Oregonians will be able to speak to us at a potluck to explain their projects when they return. These recent grants bring the total amount that WCPCA has awarded in grants since 1986 to $36,330.
Further information about projects that have recently received grants from WCPCA:
Camp Alma: This three day camp for young women in a rural northern Andes region of Peru is being organized by several PCVs who will identify participants from their communities. The camp addresses the fact that few young women in the region are able to complete a high school education. Through the camp young women will have the opportunity to learn leadership skills. Local institutions as well as professionals will donate their expertise and materials to ensure the success and sustainability of the camp.
On 9/27 WCPCA received the following email from Annie Embertson, a PCV from Roseburg who is an organizer of Camp ALMA and a WCPCA member:
Powerful Peruvians 2012 Calendar: PCVs in Peru will produce an annual calendar to celebrate the work of Peruvian women. The calendar will include photos and inspirational quotes of Peruvian women. The project aims to raise awareness of women's leadership and will be distributed to PCVs, community leaders, and important institutions throughout Peru.
Upon completion the calendar will be unveiled in several departmental capitals in events that will include workshops in women's rights. The goals of the events will be to enhance the knowledge and teaching capacity of PCVs and their community partners so that they can effectively incorporate gender equality into their community institutions and daily lives.
An organizer working on this project is PCV Dani Rueter who is from Portland, OR.
I'm going to be putting together a list of local volunteer opportunities for the WCPCA website. If you have an organization or project that could use the help of an RPCV, write up a few sentences and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll be putting this together soon and help with ideas would be appreciated.
Contributed by Felicia Kenney