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

April 2013

Coming Events

  • April 9: Volunteer for the clean up crew at Chefs' Night Out, an annual fundraiser of Food for Lane County. Enjoy culinary treats first. Hult Center, Eugene, 8:15-10:30 pm. See article below.

  • April 11: Discussion group, 6:30-8:00 pm, New Day Bakery, 449 Blair, Eugene

  • April 12: Potluck, 6-9 pm, at the home of Howard and Marvy Schuman. Elke Richers will tell us about her recent Peace Corps service in Peru (2010-12). The address is in the membership directory or see the calendar on the website.

  • April 15: WCPCA board meeting, 7:00 pm at home of Dale Morse.

  • April 22: Food packaging at Food for Lane County, 6:00 - 9:00 pm, FFLC warehouse, 770 Bailey Hill Road, Eugene

  • April 25: Discussion group, 6:30-8:00 pm, New Day Bakery, 449 Blair, Eugene

  • May 3: NOM party to honor those newly nominated as Peace Corps trainees. Mark your calendar now for this joyful evening of celebration, which is a potluck, 6-9 pm, at the Many Nations Longhouse on the U of O campus. See article below.

  • May 6: The book group will discuss Power Lines: Two Year on South Africa's Borders, by Jason Carter, 7:00 pm at Randall and Virginia Donohue's home.

  • Sept 9: Book club will discuss Bread, Salt & Plum Brandy: A True Story of Love and Adventure in a Foreign Land, by Lisa Fisher Cazacu, 7:00 pm at Juliet Bender and Charles Goldsmith's home.

  • To inquire about any of these activities please send an email to info@westcascadepca.org or visit the calendar page of the WCPCA website.

In this Issue

From The Board

From Members and the Wider World

Volunteer Opportities

ReConnections is the monthly newsletter of the West Cascade Peace Corps Association (WCPCA) and can be found online at www.westcascadepca.org on the "News" page. If you have a question about the WCPCA, would no longer like to receive the newsletter, or are interested in becoming more involved with the WCPCA, please contact info@westcascadepca.org.

ReConnections serves as a resource to RPCVs and friends in the Eugene and Lane County area through social events, community service projects, and professional development programs that embody the 3rd Goal and spirit of the Peace Corps. The WCPCA board reserves the right to choose which activities, projects, and programs will be published. Suggested items may be submitted to info@westcascadepca.org for consideration.

Editors: Deb Jones and Dorothy Soper
Newsletter Design: Felicia Kenney

Looking forward to the April potluck

On Friday, April 12th, 6-9 pm, Howard and Marvy Schuman will host the WCPCA potluck. Elke Richers will present highlights of her recent volunteer experience. Elke (Peru, 2010-2012) spent 2 years working as a Youth Development in the Cordillera Blanca, Peru. At 10,000 feet she worked in the local school, entering classrooms to teach recycling, sexual health, and basic hygiene.

Elke's service summary included: "She spent two years in the lovely community of Amashca hanging out at the colegio, areando Burros, and perfecting her Quechua greetings. Her favorite projects included making banana bread with 20 moms, getting kids to read with Amigos y Libros, and learning to speak Burro." Elke also organized a youth book club, a young women's group, and summer school activities.

Please bring a potluck dish to share as we reconnect and hear about Elke's experience. You'll find the Schumans' address in your membership directory. The address along with driving directions is also in the calendar page of the website.

Honoring new Peace Corps trainees at the NOM party

Once again the U of O Peace Corps recruiter's office and WCPCA will cosponsor the NOM party to celebrate Lane County residents who are newly nominated as Peace Corps trainees. We'll celebrate with a potluck on Friday, May 3rd, 6-9 pm, at the Many Nations Longhouse on the U of O campus. See directions below.

Please wear your country-of-service clothing and bring a potluck dish to share. Also, there will be a raffle: one canned good (for Food for Lane County) and an unwrapped white-elephant type item from your country-of-service will be good for one raffle ticket. Additional raffle tickets will be available for purchase.

Please plan to attend this fun-filled evening, which will include a small panel of newly-returned RPCVs, great food, reconnections, and a warm send-off for the nominees!

The Many Nations Longhouse is located on the U of O campus at the north end of Columbia Street, just off of E. 17th Avenue. The Longhouse is behind the School of Law (1515 Agate Street) and immediately south of the Museum of Natural History ( 1680 E. 15th Avenue).There is limited parking available in front of the Longhouse. On street parking is available on Agate Street, in front of the Law School, on E. 15th Avenue, to the side of the Museum of Natural History, as well as elsewhere nearby.

Juliet Bender, (Mexico, 2009-12) and Patty Mac Afee, (Cameroon, 1989-91)
Program cochairs

CHEFS' NIGHT OUT Still Needs Volunteers

FOOD For Lane County needs your help with CHEFS' NIGHT OUT on Tuesday, April 9th. This is a major fund-raiser for FOOD for Lane County, and it is a very popular event. You may have seen banners draped across streets in downtown Eugene. People pay $65 and up for tickets to the event. WCPCA volunteer helpers get in free, AND get to sample the fine food from restaurants in the Eugene and Lane County area.

James Cloutier has agreed to coordinate volunteers from WCPCA. Enter the Hult Center through the 6th street door no sooner than 8:15 or 8:30. The Hult ticket takers will be informed about the arrival WCPCA volunteers and you will be admitted. Report to James at the volunteer desk there.

Please let us know that you will participate by sending and email to info@westcascadepca.org and write "Chefs' Night Out" in the subject line.

Miriam Aiken, (Philippines, 1965-67), President

WCPCA Board Members Still Needed

Yes! You can still volunteer to be a board member for WCPCA. There are only 3 more meetings scheduled in 2013 and each lasts about 2 hours. Serving on the board is a good way to meet other RPCVs and keep in touch with what is happening with serving PCVs the world over. If you are interested and have questions about the time commitment, please send an email to info@westcascadepca.org with "Board" in the subject line, and I'll get back to you right away.

Miriam Aiken (Philippines, 1965-67), President

Book Group

The WCPCA Book Group will be meeting on Monday, May 6th at 7:00pm to discuss the book Power Lines: Two Years on South Africa's Borders. This book was written by Jason Carter, grandson of former president Jimmy Carter, and describes his two years (1998-2000) in Peace Corps living with a rural black family near the Swaziland border. For his assignment, he helped implement new curriculum for South African schools. We will meet at Randall and Virginia Donahue's home. Please join us to talk about the book and how it relates to your own Peace Corps experiences.

Juliet Bender, (Mexico, 2009-12)

Volunteer with International Exchange Students!

How would you like to teach a Japanese teenager the fine art of ordering fast food at a drive through? Or show a Brazilian student how to pass a football with his hands instead of his feet? It's possible when you volunteer with AFS Intercultural Programs. AFS students come from more than 50 countries to experience life in America with families just like yours. As an AFS Volunteer or Host Family, you'll learn about a new culture, and more deeply appreciate your own. For more information about how you can get involved, contact WCPCA member Caitlin Krutsinger at ckrutsinger@afsusa.org (503)419-9514 or visit www.afsusa.org.

Update from RPCV Tyler Russ, director of the Peace Corps Partnership project, Guitar Workshop, in Rwanda

In April, 2012, WCPCA awarded the Peace Corps Partnership project, Guitar Workshop, a grant of $835. The grant fully funded this project whose director is Tyler Russ of Portland, OR. Tyler has completed his Peace Corps service and returned to Portland. He recently sent WCPCA an email to update our members regarding his project and how it will continue under the direction of his PCV successor.

You'll recall that Tyler is a guitar player and through his project had guitars made by a Rwandan craftsman to supply to students at the high school where Tyler was teaching. The students planned to take after school guitar lessons that Tyler conducted. The guitars and sheet music, also purchased through the project, belong to the school and are loaned to students. In the email below Tyler gives us an update on his project and a vivid picture of his PCV experience.

"I've been busy these past few months. Since taking a GRE subject test on October 13th. I was busy finishing teaching lessons and writing report forms for students. I was the class 'titulaire' for a section of senior two students, a class of about 45 students. The report forms were finished November 10th the day that students started to return to their homes. Then I had to focus on getting some essential work done, like acquiring the final items for the Guitar Workshop grant and closing it. I just got that paperwork submitted about two weeks ago. I've also been working on grad school applications and have been at site for farewells. I just completed service yesterday (Nov. 28th) and was busy this week preparing all of the COS materials.

"In March I completed an Engineers Without Borders (EWB-USA) New Community Application, which was recently adopted by a chapter based in San Diego. I've been busy arranging additional information for them and trying to coordinate a phone call between them and our counterparts in my village of Bungwe.

"All of this has been made more difficult due to (extremely) limited access to electricity and internet, especially to electricity since the school year ended.

"Unfortunately, I had very little time at site once I had the guitars and books at the school. We did manage to have a few workshops and had a solid turnout of about 47 students - students who wrote a short application to be considered. Unfortunately again, the workshop was not well-announced, so the turnout, while representing highly interested students, did not reflect the general interest at the school.

"I'm happy to report that Peace Corps has chosen to replace me at site and the new volunteer, Todd, was chosen partially based on his music background and knowledge. Among other instruments, he also played bass guitar for a number of years. Both I and the administration at my school had agreed on the need for a volunteer to help lead the Guitar Workshop next year. I now feel confident of the success of the workshop. While hosting Todd on his site visit, we held a workshop for students. We agree that by playing an advisory role and monitoring the workshop, it will be possible for the students to continue to study guitar. A small 'committee' has been formed of four students who will be responsible for collecting the equipment needed for each weekly workshop - guitars, stands, books. These students are fortunately highly motivated and will enable a student-autonomous guitar workshop. Todd will basically monitor student behavior, collect fees and help with issues such as repairs, expenditures, schedules and lesson ideas.

"I had a chance to meet with Todd for a short time in Kigali and introduced him to the guitar craftsman, Mariuss. This relationship will be essential to the sustainability of the project and the stock of guitars."

Tyler Russ, (Rwanda, 2010-2012)

NPCA Advocacy Update

A note from Rob Powers, an intern at NPCA:

In the House of Representatives the five Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) in Congress are now circulating an important letter urging their colleagues to help bring the Peace Corps' budget back up to $400 million in Fiscal Year 2014. You can help make this happen by contacting your Congressman/woman in Oregon and asking them to sign the letter.

Please follow this link to take action now. Contact us at advocacy@peacecorpsconnect.org to find out more about how you can help.