A monthly newsletter of The West Cascade Peace Corps Association in Oregon's Southern Willamette Valley
We extend many thanks to our hosts for the October potluck, Nancy and Walt Meyer, who extended a warm welcome to about 35 who took part. We enjoyed socializing including learning about the U of O Street Faire, which had just taken place featuring a Peace Corps booth. A few members of WCPCA helped staff the booth and enjoyed mostly a sunny experience.
For our program new RPCV member, Kourtney Rusow, described to us her Peace Corps program in Senegal, 2010-2012. Kourtney's work included many components but perhaps the most compelling was the anti-malaria campaign, which focused on the distribution of bed nets, especially for children's use, and a follow up evaluation of the impact.
We were especially impressed with the degree to which Peace Corps Senegal is making use of the web for communication between the main office in Dakar and the volunteers and also among the volunteers. We thank Kourtney very much for her fascinating presentation and her Peace Corps service.
Photo Flashback at December Potluck
Members have called for a repeat performance of last year's wildly successful December potluck, at which members shared a few slides from their Peace Corps projects spanning five decades. This year we look forward to learning about another group of equally timeless projects.
Please send up to four digital images from your Peace Corps days to Maggie Keenan. Maggie will queue up these images and give members the opportunity to share a few words about their photos and their Peace Corps experience. Last year we learned about the Thompsons' camping out at Machu Picchu, Dorothy's encounter with a crocodile, and that a photo of James Dean was in fact James Cloutier. Surely more revelations await us!
Please bring a dish to share!
We'll gather at the West Eugene home of WCPCA member, Joyce Leader. For Joyce's address and driving directions, pleases consult the calendar on the website.
To WCPCA members from Jim Beyer, nominating committee for 2013 board members:
I am pleased to present the proposed slate of Board members for 2013. Several current Board members elected to continue for another year, though not always in the same capacity. In addition, three new members have been added to the Board, two in at-large positions and another as Secretary.
Please note that the Vice President position has been left open. I have elected to leave the position vacant at the moment. The Board could appoint someone to this position at a later date or better yet, one of the members-at-large could volunteer to serve in this capacity. As you know, the Board could also elect to add more at-large members at a later date.
Thank you to all who agreed to serve and thank you to a number of individuals for your expert counsel. You certainly made this process a lot easier.
Board candidates are:
Ex officio Member:
Please note that Patty MacAfee, Cameroon, 1989-91, has volunteered to work in an off-board capacity to organize programs with the assistance of Juliet Bender.
The general membership present at the December potluck will elect the the 2013 WCPCA Board of Directors. As the nominating committee, Jim Beyer, would welcome additional candidates. If you are interested please contact Jim or a current board member. Names of any additional candidates will be included in the mid-November email to the membership.
Note that the current board has recommended that the 2013 board meet only four times per year. The new board will set its own schedule, but the number of meetings is likely to be substantially less than has been the recent case. This matter is addressed further in the next article.
At the October potluck the membership voted to amend Article VII. Meetings of the WCPCA constitution. This article consists of three sentences. The Board recommended, and the membership agreed, to strike out the second sentence, which called for monthly board meetings and replace it with: "Board meetings shall be held as necessary and are open to the full membership."
For further reference you'll find the WCPCA constitution and bylaws posted on the website. This amendment will permit the 2013 to control fully the number of meetings that it schedules.
At its October meeting the board awarded $500 to a Peace Corps Partnership project in Costa Rica. The project, Bridging the Gap: A Computer Classroom in Rural Costa Rica, is being organized by Rachel Huguet, a PCV from Portland.
The project is seeking funds to build a computer classroom at an elementary school that has already received a donation from an NGO of 18 computers, as well as other equipment. A condition of accepting this donation is the construction of the classroom to house the computers. There is a full description of the project on the website.
The board recently received a postcard from Nick Kerr, the Oregon PCV organizing a PCP project in Vanuatu to build a water delivery system. WCPCA donated $1,000 to the project earlier this year. Nick wrote, "Thank you so much for your generous donations to the Navlso Water Project! You've helped to make a long fought for dream into a reality."
Patty Mac Afee reports that Food for Lane County will be very pleased to have a group from WCPCA help with packaging and/or sorting food from 6-9 pm one evening per month starting in January. WCPCA members will be welcomed the fourth Monday of January, February, March, April, September, October, and November of 2013. This activity takes place at the Food for Lane County's warehouse, 770 Bailey Hill Road, Eugene.
RPCVs will work along side individuals and groups from the community in volunteering. Not only will this be of service to the community, but will also foster communication about Peace Corps with other FFLC participants. Those interested are invited to contact Patty through email@example.com.
WCPCA members have received a gracious invitation to attend a reception honoring the late Artis Mary Spriggs who as a PCV in Afghanistan and a WCPCA member. The invitation is from the Grace Hudson Museum and Sun House, 431 South Main Street, Ukiah, CA and the reception, 5:00 - 6:30pm, will honor the Artis's life and her generosity as a benefactor to the museum that is naming the foyer in her honor. For more information visit www.gracehudsonmuseum.org.
Never Gonna Cease my Wanderin': Letters Between Friends by Ruth Kesselring Royal with contributions from the late Beryl Brinkman has recently been published and is available on Amazon.com. Many WCPCA members remember Beryl, who was a PCV in Afghanistan, as a founding member of the organization and an inspiration to all. Perhaps some of you will send in reviews of the book so that all of us will learn about it.
As you plan your holiday giving remember that WCPCA has two items for sale that are high in quality and low in price and are perfect for your internationally minded friends. Proceeds from these sales are used to fund humanitarian projects.
The 2013 international calendars published by the Madison, WI RPCV group are on sale once again from WCPCA. With photos from current and former Peace Corps host countries, and day by day listings of holidays from countries and cultures throughout the world, the calendar is a work of art and a resource that celebrates ties of friendship created by Peace Corps service. The price for an individual calendar is $12. Five or more calendars may be purchased for $10 each, and twenty or more for $8 each.
WCPCA "JFK forever" tee shirts designed by WCPCA member, James Cloutier, are on sale for $20 each. They are 100% cotton, medium blue in color, with designs on both the front and back. The latter design is printed in four colors and shows a graphic of JFK against the background of a world map, the Peace Corps name, and the following quotation (1963) "A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on."
Both items will be on sale at WCPCA events or you can pick them up in Eugene. To do this please let us know of your interest by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The items can also be ordered on the website Shop page, but a mailing cost will be charged.
To see a list of the projects funded by these sales and other fundraising activities, visit the Project page of the website.
Bill Byrd was a Eugene resident active in the early organization of the Puerto Rican Peace Corps training camps. His Peace Corps papers from this period, 1962-63, have been recently donated by this widow, Donnie Byrd, to the JFK library and will soon be available to researchers. I've had the pleasure of working with Donnie Byrd to organize the papers and send an inquiry to an archivist at the JFK Library. We were thrilled at the immediate and positive response.
The Puerto Rican training camps were short lived and were not described in either of two recent Peace Corps histories, All You Need is Love: the Peace Corps and the Spirit of the 1960s by Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman (1998) and When the World Calls: The Inside Story of the Peace Corps and Its First Fifty Years by Stanley Meisler (2011). I expect that Byrd's papers will help correct this omission.
I've filled in the story a bit below based upon the papers and also Byrd's talk at West Cascade's celebration of the Peace Corps' 25th anniversary in 1986 at the Valley River Inn, Eugene. If some of you know more about the camps, please contribute the information to this newsletter. It's an interesting story with a northwest flavor.
Those of us who attended the celebration of the Peace Corps' 25th in Eugene had the good fortune to hear Byrd's talk about his experiences as the director of Camp Radley at the Peace Corps' Puerto Rican training site. When Byrd first arrived in Puerto Rico there was only one training site. Soon, however, a second one was opened and Byrd became its director.
In late July 1962, the new camp, Camp Radley, was dedicated and the older camp was renamed Camp Cozier. The camp names served as memorials to Larry Radley and David Cozier who, in April 1962, while PCVs in Peru, were killed in a plane crash. They were the first volunteers to loose their lives while in Peace Corps service.
We learned from Byrd's talk that in early 1962 he and his family were happily settled in Eugene. Byrd taught at McKenzie High School and spent summers as a mountain climbing guide in the Tetons. One day he got a phone call from Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, a mountain climbing client, who said something like, "We need you to train these kids to be tough and self reliant. Can you be in my office on Monday morning?" Recall that outdoor fitness was a theme of the new frontier and that the Peace Corps was then administered directly from the White House.
Even though the Monday morning appointment was challenging to keep, Byrd's principal and superintendent were supportive and soon he accepted the job and moved his wife and three small children to Puerto Rico. The couple's fourth child was born in Puerto Rico.
Byrd's papers give the content and rationale for the training program which lasted for 26 days and supplemented training for specific countries. At Camp Radley the trainees had long days beginning at 6 am and lasting well into the evenings. They learned rock climbing, trekking, and swimming. They studied Spanish (in most cases), attended lectures and discussions on Puerto Rican and American society, and did homework. They had clean up and maintenance duties at the camp.
The camps' purpose was to challenge the trainees. Byrd explained this in detail saying that each trainee should have a "realistic assessment of his own capacity, his goals, and his endurance in the face of continued challenge." The goal of the camp experience was "helping each individual to face his own shortcomings without the alternative of easy retreat. ...the camp offers the opportunity for growth in whichever area he may find himself deficient."
To evaluate this training program Byrd spent ten days, November 16-25, 1962, with a group of PCVs who were working in Venezuela and had been through the Camp Radley training program. He felt that the camp's program had been helpful to the volunteers and he identified the behavioral characteristics which distinguished the most successful volunteers both while they were at Camp Radley and again in Venezuela as "initiative, sensitivity, perseverance and imagination."
Byrd explained to us in his talk that the greatest personal challenges of his position included handling all of the visitors to the camp including a good number of members of Congress and also Vice President Lyndon Johnson when he came with a retinue of 15 that included his wife, Lady Bird Johnson, one of the Johnson daughters, Senator Maurine Neuberger of Oregon, and Bill Moyers.
Byrd's personal correspondence includes many handwritten thank you notes from visitors who expressed great enthusiasm for the hospitality that they received, the operation of the camp, and the Peace Corps trainees that they had met.
In her letter of July 27, 1962, Senator Neuberger thanked Byrd for his work to receive the Vice President's delegation and added, "I feel that it is too bad more Members of Congress do not have an opportunity to see the operation at first-hand. I know they would be impressed and there would be no doubt of their enthusiasm for the program."
Perhaps the most touching letter came from Merle Radley after whose son, Larry Radley, the camp was named. Larry Radley's parents and two siblings as well as Sargent Shriver attended the camp's dedication. In a letter dated August 1, 1962 Mrs. Radley wrote: "A week has gone by since our wonderful week in Puerto Rico and Camp Radley.
'Somehow I had felt the dedication would be the final chapter in our book of memories - But I realized this was not so, after being there with all those wonderful young people. I know this is not the end of a book but the beginning. Certainly here at the camp the term Outward Bound becomes a reality. I feel all the skeptics and doubters of the future of this county should spend a week there."
Byrd kept in close touch with Peace Corps Director, Sargent Shriver, who acknowledged
this rapport in a letter of August 7, 1962, saying, "This is a quick note to tell you how much I appreciate getting your weekly reports. They are excellent jobs and the one link
that makes me feel that I'm right with you, sharing in the growth and operation of
the Camps. Please keep them up. I don't want to get out of touch."
Byrd's papers leave us with many unanswered questions but they at least launch an inquiry into the history of the Puerto Rican camps. After his work in Puerto Rico Byrd and his family returned to Eugene and where he settled into other work including being the founding director of the Northwest Outward Bound School. He was heralded as "The Mountain Man of Modern Education" in Old Oregon, March, 1968. Byrd died of age related causes in 2008 at the age of 85.
Perhaps some of you are alums of the Puerto Rican training. And those of you who worked as Peace Corps administrators may know about the camps too. Were they victims of budget cuts? Or perhaps they were phased out when in-country training started. If you know about the Puerto Rican training, please share your experiences with the readers of this newsletter.
Meanwhile let us extend our gratitude to Donnie Byrd for her generosity in making these papers available to the public.