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

September 2013

Coming Events

  • September 5, Thursday evening: The discussion group will meet 6:30-8:30 pm at the New Day Bakery, 449 Blair Avenue, Eugene.

  • September 7, Saturday evening: Volunteer to join the WCPCA clean up crew at the gala Food for Lane County fundraiser, Empty Bowls. Volunteers will arrive about 8pm to enjoy a delicious dinner together before working from 9-11 pm. See details in the article below.

  • September 9, Monday evening: The book club will discuss Bread, Salt & Plum Brandy: A True Story of Love and Adventure in a Foreign Land , by Lisa Fisher Cazacu, 7 pm, at the home of Juliet Bender and Charles Goldsmith.

  • September 19, Thursday evening: The discussion group will meet 6:30-8:30 pm at the New Day Bakery, 449 Blair Avenue, Eugene.

  • October 6, Sunday evening: WCPCA board meeting, 7-9 pm, home of Dorothy Soper. All members are welcome.

  • October 11, Friday evening: Potluck with a program, 6pm, at the home of Juliet Bender and Charles Goldsmith.

  • 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

WCPCA in the Eugene Celebration

WCPCA honored its tradition of participation this year in the 31st annual Eugene Celebration, August 24-25. We've been there from the beginning.

A lively group of about twenty RPCVs and their families represented WCPCA in the Saturday morning parade. Marchers reported being received with applause by those viewing the parade and in general having a good time. You'll see their photos below.



WCPCA also maintained a booth in the Community Causeway throughout the weekend. Volunteers who staffed the booth talked about their international experiences and answered questions about the Peace Corps' current activities and practices. They had prepped to be aware of the current situation and now are up to date on the Peace Corps! Staffers also handed out many Peace Corps brochures to interested parties.

Stopping by the booth was a steady stream of retirees interested in Peace Corps service as well as high school students and their families and friends of the Peace Corps. Staffers were happy to greet several WCPCA members who came by. A few RPCVs signed our guest book indicating an interest in being added to the organization's emailing list. Due to the early date of the Celebration staffers saw virtually no university students.


Enthusiastic booth staffers sold several WCPCA tee shirts and 2014 international calendars. We're pleased to have gross receipts of almost $200!


Thanks go to those who marched in the parade and the following members who staffed the booth: Juliet Bender, Keith Beyer, Vince Ceccacci, Laurette Garner, Charles Goldsmith, Bhavani Manheim, Julie Olson, Elke Richers, Amy and Michael Small, Bob Watada, Peggy Windle and Bob York.

We enjoyed our jobs as Celebration coordinators.

Dorothy Soper, Ghana, 1963-65
James Cloutier, Kenya, 1964-66

Volunteering to support Food for Lane County

More than one in three Lane County residents face hunger. We can help alleviate the situation. WCPCA members are invited to volunteer for two activities in September to support the work of Food for Lane County. Please see the details below.

Empty Bowls is an annual FLC fundraiser and WCPCA has traditionally supplied a clean up crew of about ten for this gala event which has sold out this year. This is an evening of silent and live auctions and a dinner that will take place on Saturday, September 7th, 5-9 pm, at the FLC warehouse, 770 Bailey Hill Road, Eugene.

Clean up crew volunteers are asked to arrive between 7:30 and 8:00 pm to enjoy a delicious dinner together before they begin work at 9 pm. Clean up typically takes two hours and involves lifting tables and chairs.

If you can join the crew, please let coordinator, James Cloutier, know by contacting him directly or sending an email to info@westcascadepca.org with "Empty Bowls" in the subject line.

Creating family size food packages from the food donations of local restaurants is an ongoing activity at FLC. WCPCA has committed to providing a crew to work on this task on the fourth Monday evening of most months. Please put a note on your calendar to volunteer for the first fall session on Monday, September 23rd.  Join the WCPCA crew at the Food for Lane County warehouse, 770 Bailey Hill Road in Eugene, for the 6-9 pm shift.

Looking forward to seeing you there. If you have questions, please send an email to info@westcascadepca.org with "FLC" in the subject line.

Thanks go in advance to the Lane County Peace Corps community for contributing to WCPCA's support of Food for Lane County.

WCPCA board

New U of O Peace Corps Recruiter

WCPCA maintains a close working relationship with the Peace Corps recruiter at the University of Oregon. The recruiters are graduate students and usually hold the position for two years, serving both the campus and the local community. They often introduce newly returned PCVs, usually fellow graduate students, to WCPCA activities. The board invites the recruiter to join it ranks as an ex officio (non voting) member. This helps the board stay up to date on Peace Corps activities and work with the recruiter.

WCPCA members support the recruiter's work on the campus by helping to staff the Peace Corps booth at the fall and spring university street faires and are available for other activities. Each spring the recruiter and WCPCA cosponsor the NOM (for nominees) party to honor the newly appointed Peace Corps trainees from Lane County.

In June we said farewell to Hannah Klausmann (Mongolia 2006-08) who completed two years as the recruiter. Hannah has graduated and taken a job as a city planner in Colorado. We now welcome the new recruiter, Laurette Garner, recently arrived in Eugene, and who kindly helped staff the WCPCA booth at the Eugene Celebration. Laurette will introduce herself to the organization in the article below.

From Laurette:

My name is Laurette Garner and I will be the new Peace Corps recruiter on the University of Oregon campus starting September 16th! I am excited to be a part of the WCPCA.

I grew up in Solvang, California but most recently moved to Eugene from Greensboro, North Carolina. I drove across the country with my dog.

I served in Madagascar from 2004-2006 as an English teacher. I worked at the high school and middle school in Nosy Be, which was a very large island off the Northwest coast of Madagascar. I knew a little bit of French when I joined the Peace Corps but was required to learn Malagasy once I arrived for training. Madagascar is comprised of Indonesian, Indian, and African people. Most flora and fauna is endemic to the island.

I am currently a graduate student in the Arts and Administration program at the U of O. I have a BA in English Literature from San Francisco State University and a BA in Art History/Museum Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I have always loved the arts and have some experience in dance, music, drawing and painting. I never honed any of these skills in the ways I should have, which is why I currently seek to be an Arts Administrator!

I look forward to meeting everyone in the group and plan on attending the upcoming potluck in October. I would love and appreciate any help that I can get when it comes time to set up the Peace Corps booth during the street fair and career fair at the U of O! Anything that I can do in return will gladly be done!

Thanks so much for welcoming me into the fold!

Laurette's office is in the U of O Career Center, 220 Hendricks Hall. The phone number is 541-346-6026. The email address is pcorps@uoregon.edu. The office will reopen in mid-September. Visit its website to see the fall quarter office hours, http://career.uoregon.edu/about/programs/peace-corps/contact-us.

2014 International Calendars

WCPCA will sell 100 international calendars for 2014 as a fall fundraising activity. This is the newest calendar published by the Madison, Wisconsin RPVC group. Once again, the photos are poignant, evocative, and breathtaking. The calendar lists daily holidays from throughout the world and includes a brief history of the Peace Corps connection with the thirteen host countries represented in the photographs. These calendars will be much appreciated and admired holiday gifts and a focal point in classrooms.

The calendars sell individually for $12 each; five or more may be purchased for $10 each. They'll be available at WCPCA activities this fall. Soon you'll be able to order calendars on the WCPCA website. One calendar sent to any mailing address in the US will cost $14.50. The board hopes to earn about $600 from calendar sales to fund humanitarian projects. With your help we can do it.

The board is looking for a calendar sales rep who can develop and oversee our sales effort. We'd like to place calendars in local businesses. This will be a short and surely successful activity for an energetic sales person! A hundred calendars will sell fast (15 have already sold). If you can help us, or want to buy a calendar, or have questions please send an email to info@westcascadepca.org and write "Calendar" in the subject line. Thanks to all in advance for supporting this effort.

WCPCA board

Camp Unity in Ukraine: diversity training made real

In May WCPCA contributed $465 as one of the sponsors of Camp Unity West, a Peace Corps partnership project in the Chernivetska region of Ukraine. One of the camp organizers and counselors is PCV Sarah Meher from Oregon. The camp took place July 6-13 and below you'll see Sarah's description of its activities and outcomes.

Camp Unity West in sum:

The camp was a great success, thanks to the help of generous donors like the West Cascade Peace Corps Association! Thank you so much for your support!

Camp Unity Director Erin Martin worked closely with the local community of Vyzhnysya, Chernivetska Oblast through English teacher, Nadia Senchuk, and her outdoors man husband, Ruslan, to organize this wonderful camp. Because sustainability is important to any Peace Corps project, seven Ukrainian volunteers helped the twelve American Peace Corps volunteers facilitate lessons and other fun activities with the fifty Ukrainian student participants ages 14-18.

We all had a really great time living in tents and eating food prepared on the main camp fire, even when it was raining! The kids were divided up into small groups who bonded and learned about team work. A normal day started with morning exercises and breakfast. Then moved on quickly to morning lesson and after that lunch and free time, where the kids could choose to swim in the river, play American football, make friendship bracelets, dance salsa, write in Arabic, play banana-grams or just rest. Then there were afternoon lessons and after that team time and various competitions. Then there was dinner and journaling/reflection. Generally after all this all the campers would gather around the fire and sing songs. All, or at least mostly, in English!

The volunteers led lessons on the importance of diversity, open-mindedness and tolerance, as well as volunteerism and project development. They also hosted various activities about the U.S.A. and other cultures around the world, focusing on broad regions such as North and South America, Asia and Africa.

To make these lessons more real, diverse guest speakers were invited to talk to the participants about their backgrounds. For this "Living Library", PCV Vanessa talked about her Latin American roots, PCV Hieu shared about his Vietnamese heritage, PCV Dan expounded on his experience growing up in Great Britain and working with the LGBTQ community in Florida, guest Terra spoke about her experience as an English teacher in the U.S., and Nigerian students in Ukraine, Endy and Ibrahim shared about their homeland and culture.

On another occasion the volunteers divided into their regional groups and hosted a "Road Trip Through America" and told about places like Oregon, Boston, Washington D.C., San Francisco, the Mid-West, and the South, showing how diverse the U.S.A really is. In addition to these activities, the campers were also able to go on a six hour hike through the Carpathian Mountains, make and decorate pinatas, tie-dye t-shirts, roast marshmallows, and eat s'mores.

The outcome of this camp was really fun to see. The young people who attended camp were profoundly impacted. As I was riding the bus home with my students, they expressed how thankful they were that they were able to have had this opportunity. None of them had ever met any other foreigners before me and this was the first time they had ever met anyone who looked distinctly different then they do. I was proud of them because I had been worried they would be rude to my Nigerian friends just because of the color of their skin, but they hadn't been. After some initial hesitation, all of the kids were so open and friendly to all the people who shared their backgrounds and personal stories.

Most importantly, I believe the main goal of Camp Unity to promote diversity and tolerance in Ukraine was achieved because one could visually see that all the participants realized that every human being has value and you should not just judge a person from what they look like. I know they will go home and fight racist stereotypes now that they have people they consider friends who are from other countries. This was my favorite part of this experience. Taking already amazing kids, who are smart and inquisitive, and opening their minds to all the possibilities out there in the world. Opening the door to let them see the rich diversity that you can find even in relatively homogenous Ukraine, if you look for it. Even in Ukraine, you can find diversity in Peace Corps Volunteers, in foreign students, in tourists and even with in the different regions of Ukraine. And finally that that difference and diversity is not something to be afraid of and avoid, but to seek out and embrace!

Sarah Meher, PCV

How the Peace Corps can influence your career path

WCPCA has recently heard from members Cassady Walters (Mali, 2008-10; Peace Corps response in Mali, 2010-11) and Justin Overdevest (Dominican Republic 2002-04; Peru 2004-06, and U of O Peace Corps recruiter, 2008-10) with an update on their activities.

I want to share their news with WCPCA members as examples of the way Peace Corps service has influenced the career paths of newly returned PCVs in the organization. I invite other WCPCA members to share such stories no matter when they were in the Peace Corps. Please contact me if you're interested.

Dorothy Soper
Ghana, 1963-65

From Cassady who is a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University studying in the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS):

"I am just about to start my second year at SAIS. It's been nice to have the summer off from school. I have been interning at USAID's Office of Transition's Initiatives with their Africa Team -- working on Mali! -- and also at the Institute for State Effectiveness, a small think-tank/consulting firm, where I'm working on Somalia, which is a big change!

"Earlier in the summer, I got to go on a SAIS-sponsored trip to China to look at China-Africa relations. It was a wonderful trip, and I couldn't believe the number of Africans living and working in China! I'm well aware of China's presence in Africa, but hadn't realized to what an extent the relationship went both ways. I met many Malians there, and in Guangzho ... I felt like I was right back in Bamako.

"This fall, I'll be interning with Voice of America's Mali programming, which I'm very excited about. It's fun to be in DC and to have a piece of Mali right here."

From Justin who recently completed two degrees at the U of O, MBA, Sustainable Business Practices, and an MS with the Department of Planning, Public Policy, and Management:

In response to my inquiry Justin explained that his work is primarily with businesses in Latin America. He speaks Spanish much of the time and calls upon his Peace Corps experience with Latin cultures for guidance. He feels that his experience living on the border of the Dominican Republic and Haiti as well as in the Andes of Peru has given him a cross-cultural perspective that's valuable in his work.

Justin's employed in Eugene by Good Company, a local sustainability consulting firm. His recent work includes managing business and political relationships for a start-up firm developing public-private partnerships focused on waste recovery, renewable energy, and water quality in Central America. He's also providing international supply chain and climate risk management solutions for an international food processor's corporate social responsibility program.