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

June 2014

Coming Events

  • June 16: Monday evening WCPCA board meeting at the home of Dorothy Soper, 6-8 pm. All members are welcome. Dorothy’s address is in the WCPCA Membership Directory.

  • July 11-13: Oregon Country Fair! WCPCA will share a table in the Community Village. We're looking for volunteers to represent the local Peace Corps community. See the article below.

  • July 27: Sunday afternoon, potluck/picnic at Fox Hollow Farm and Fiber, home of Rolly and Wayne Thompson. We'll see their beautiful farm and learn of their work to raise sheep and alpacas and their activities in the wool/spinning/weaving /knitting world. See details in the article below.

  • August 14-17: 2014 NW Regional RPCV Campout, Cougar Rock Campground, Longmire WA, organized by the Seattle Area Peace Corps Association (SEAPAX). All RPCVs are welcome but advanced registration is required. See the article below for details.

  • August 16: Saturday afternoon, potluck/barbecue/swimming party at the peaceful Pleasant Hill farm of Bob Watada and Rosa Sakanishi. See details in the article below.

  • August 23-24: Weekend of the Eugene Celebration! WCPCA will join the parade on Saturday morning and have a booth on both days. Volunteer to talk about the Peace Corps, share your experiences as PCVs, and sell international calendars and tee shirts. See details in the article below.

  • 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 keeps the Lane County RPCV community apprised of WCPCA's coming events, ongoing activities, business affairs, and community activities judged to be of general interest to the local Peace Corps community.

Submissions to Reconnections are welcome and may be emailed to info@westcascadepca.org. The WCPCA board of directors reserves the right to select items for publication.

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

Peace Corps Presentation, June 4

Oregon based RPCV, Ted Cox (Sierra Leone, 1969-71; Belize, 1971-73), who has just published a Peace Corps memoir, When British Honduras Became Belize 1971-73, will speak at the Osher Life Long Learning Institute, Baker Center, 975 High Street in Eugene, on Wednesday, June 4th, 1:30 pm. Join fellow RPCVs and OLLI members to learn about Ted's Peace Corps service and continued work in Belize.


New PC Trainees Feted at the NOM (Nominee) Party

The University of Oregon currently has 21 nominees from this past year's application process. Eleven of them were able to attend the Nomination/Send Off Party on May 30th in the U of O Many Nations Longhouse. It's a longstanding tradition for WCPCA to work with the U of O Peace Corps Representative to organize the event to honor our future volunteers.

Buffet dinner at the NOM party

We had a lovely potluck dinner and ice breaker trivia game that allowed nominees to mingle with RPCVs and people of the community who attended. After our feast, I (Laurette Garner and U of O Campus Representative) proudly introduced the attending nominees shown below.

Carli Barnum, Aaron Percival, Courtney Allen, Stacer McChesney, Aaron Staniak, Johanna Peerenboom (Staniak), Ethan Lohse, Jessie Lohse, Zachary Rowland, Steve Brandom, and Steven Myer

After the introductions we had a panel discussion with three RPCVs: Pravin Mallavarm (Portland Recruiter who served in Fiji), Roger Silfee (Thailand), and Jennifer Knowles (Macedonia). Juliet Bender (Mexico) served as moderator. The nominees had plenty of questions to keep the discussion going and parents had some too! At the end of the event, we announced the winners of trivia contest and invited winners to pick a prize from the our prize table.

NOM party panelists

Overall, the event was a success and went very smoothly. We hope that each nominee was able to learn something new and prepare themselves mentally for the adventure to come! We have wonderful group of nominees this year and they will all be amazing contributions to whatever country they get assigned to!

Laurette Garner, Madagascar, 2004-2006
U of O Peace Corps Representative

U of O Spring Street Faire

The University of Oregon Spring Street Faire went on from May 7th-9th. The Street Faire is set up every year on 13th Ave inside campus. Eight RPCVs from WCPCA were generous enough to donate their time and sit at the table for three hour shifts to talk to students who passed by. These helpful RPCV's include: Vince Ceccacci, James Cloutier, Mike Helm, Sarah Klinghammer, Megan O’Connor, Tim Rake, Mark Shumaker, and Dorothy Soper. We had over 100 students stop by the table to ask about Peace Corps! Thanks everyone who helped out!!

Laurette Garner, Madagascar, 2004-2006
U of O Peace Corps Representative

WCPCA needs your help to connect on social media!

WCPCA has begun work on building an official Facebook page to help keep members and friends of WCPCA in the know when it comes to events and get-togethers.  We need your help to build our page so that it becomes a useful resource and tool in keeping everyone connected and informed.  There are two main ways that you can help out right now:

1. Log in to your Facebook page and search for RPCV Eugene: West Cascades Peace Corps Association.  Peruse the page and then 'Like' the page so that you will be notified of upcoming events and interesting pieces of news.  'Liking' the page also helps open up new features that we can use to make the page better.  

2. When you get together with other RPCVs or attend an event, send photos and any info about the event in a message to the WCPCA FB page.  Then wait to see your event or get together posted on the page to share with other members! 

Feel free to send your comments, concerns or feedback in a message to the WCPCA page as well.  Thanks for your help and see you on Facebook! 

Denise Silfee, Facebook chair
Thailand, 2011-2013

Oregon Country Fair Volunteers Needed July 11, 12 and 13!

Break out your tied dyed shirts, the Oregon Country Fair is around the corner and once again West Cascades will be represented with a booth in the Community Village. We’ll be sharing Peace Corps tales new and old with folks from far and wide.

If you are interested in signing up, please send me an email and write Country Fair in the subject line.

Justin Overdevest
Dominican Republic, 2002-2004, Peru, 2004-2006

Tee Shirt Sale Continues at Discounted Prices

We’ve marked down the price of our beautiful JFK tee shirts, designed by James Cloutier, to complete this fundraising effort. We've paid for the printing and so all sales receipts are profits and will be used exclusively to fund humanitarian projects. We're pleased that several new PC trainees and their families purchased shirts at the NOM party. They are prefect attire for summer activities including taking part in the Eugene Celebration parade. The shirts are a high quality 100% cotton, and make thoughtful gifts at this graduation season. A full range of sizes but in limited quantities is available.

The sale price is $10 per shirt or two shirts for $15. For a local sale, please send an email to info@westcascadepca.org and write “Shirt” in the subject line. Someone will call you. You can also order a shirt online on the WCPCA website. If shirts are still available during the summer, they’ll be sold at the WCPCA picnics. We appreciate your support.

WCPCA board

Two Summer Picnics

There will be two summer picnics this year. We hope to see you at both of them. Details are provided below:

Sunday, July 27, 3-6pm - We will gather at the beautiful alpaca and sheep farm (Fox Hollow Farm and Fiber) of Wayne and Rolly Thompson for barbecue, potluck, fun and games.  Their address is 30781 Fox Hollow Road in Eugene. Rolly will talk about her continuing alpaca wool projects with several local communities in Peru.

Saturday, August 16, 3-6pm - Bob Watada and Rosa Sakanishi will host us for a poolside potluck and barbecue at their home at 85622 Jasper Park Road in Pleasant Hill. Come prepared for swimming or sunning. There is a covered shelter at poolside if you prefer the shade.  Before or after the food, you can take a stroll along the Willamette River at Jasper Park, which is across the street.

To both picnics, please bring a potluck dish to share of appetizer, salad or dessert. Your bringing a folding chair would be helpful. Cups, plates and utensils will be provided.

Driving directions to both picnics will be posted on the calendar page of the website. 

Juliet Bender, Program cochair
Mexico, 2009-2012

WCPCA in the Eugene Celebration, August 23-24

The tradition continues! WCPCA will take part in the Eugene Celebration parade on Saturday morning, August 23rd, and will have a booth at the celebration on Saturday and Sunday, August 23 and 24. We’ll need a strong contingent in the parade to show our colors. Children are welcome! Please wear clothing from your country of service or a Peace Corps tee shirt. (The management requires costumes of some sort.) We’ll supply flags from various Peace Corps host counties for all to carry. Or you are welcome to bring a flag from your country of service. Someone will carry an American flag also.

Starting in July we'll ask for volunteers to sign up for tabling at the booth. We'll talk to booth visitors about the Peace Corps and our individual service experiences and most likely have international calendars and tee shirts to sell.

We make WCPCA known to the community at the Eugene Celebration and the Country Fair. Please join us to represent the Peace Corps and West Cascade Peace Corps Association by "bringing the world back home" at these two events.

WCPCA board

Bookgroup's Selection for September

At its May meeting the book group selected the following book for discussion at the September meeting, Little Women of Baghlan: The Story of a Nursing School for Girls in Afghanistan, the Peace Corps, and Life Before the Taliban by Susan Fox. The author was a PCV in Afghanistan, 1986-70, and the book was published in 2013. The book has good reviews on Amazon and is available in paperback, new or used, and on Kindle.

The next book group meeting will be in early September. Details about the date and host will be posted on the website's calendar page when determined.

WCPCA board

New WCPCA Members in 2014

WCPCA welcomes the two new members who have joined this year, Bart Briefstein who was a PCV in Venezuela, 1966-68, and Lauren Wagner who was a PCV in Ecuador, 2012-2014.

The board is grateful to Bart for offering to assume the position of Board treasurer for 2014.

Please join us in welcoming these new members at our social gatherings.

WCPCA board

2014 NW Regional RPCV Campout, August 14-17

Join the Seattle Area Peace Corps Association (SEAPAX) at the Cougar Rock Campground, on the southwest side of Mt. Rainier National Park in Washington, for the 2014 NW Regional RPCV Campout, August 14-17. Now in its 24th year, this annual campout is a unique gathering of RPCVs from multiple groups in a single geographical region.

Not far from the campground is Paradise, the most popular destination in the park, with a lodge and visitor center, many miles of hiking trails and a commanding view of the mountain, the highest in the state and Cascade range. Popular activities in the park include wildflower walks, hiking, rock climbing as well as camping. Hiking options are available right from the campground.

Saturday night's dinner will be provided by SEAPAX and Sunday morning breakfast by next year's regional campout host, the Columbia River Peace Corps Association (CRPCA) in Portland. You are on your own for all other meals.

The cost to register and enjoy the Saturday night dinner is $25 per person; children under 14 are free. To learn more and to register for the campout, visit the SEAPAX website, http://home.seapax.org.

Anyone from WCPCA who takes part in the campout is invited to submit an article to this newsletter to tell us about it.

WCPCA board

James Cloutier Painting in the National September 11 Memorial Museum

A group of Maasi elders in Kenya, moved by the events of September 11th, expressed their sympathy to the people of New York City with a donation of fourteen cows. This impressive story is captured in Cloutier's flag painting below and the children's book in which it appears, 14 Cows for America (2009), by Carmen Agra Deedy in collaboration with Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah, a member of the Maasi tribe.

Many WCPCA members will remember meeting Naiyomah when he lived in Eugene and was a student at the U of O. Cloutier was among those who found housing for Naiyomah and introduced him to American culture. Naiyomah went on to graduate from Stanford University and pursue graduate study in the US.

Cloutier and Naiyomah have remained in close touch. Their friendship resulted in Cloutier's 40 x 60 inch painting, the painting's display in Kenya, its inclusion in the book, and its addition to the 9/11 Memorial Museum's collection. This eventful story was chronicled recently in a Register Guard article.

Cloutier joined Naiyomah in NYC to preview the museum's collection. Cloutier will contribute an article and photo to our July newsletter to tell us of their visit and impressions of the setting and collection.

Dorothy Soper, Ghana 1963-65
Newsletter co-editor

Share Letters of Peace

In a recent article in the AARP Bulletin, an appeal for "War Letters" from Andrew Carroll, Director of the Center for American War Letters prompted me to write the following:

"Where are the Peace letters? Over the last 50 years almost 300 Peace Corps Volunteers have died during service but no one prints their letters. How much longer do we have to glorify war? Check out the Fallen Peace Corps Volunteer Project online. Sam Greer"

To which I got the following reply: "Dear Mr. Greer, Hello and thank you for your email. Please know that we absolutely seek out, archive, and promote letters concerning peace. Indeed, some of the most impassioned calls for peace are articulated by service members who have seen firsthand the horrors of war. We also are very interested in letters by pacifists. (I, personally, was educated in a Quaker school.)

"Whenever people ask, 'Why aren’t (insert subject matter here)-related letters in your collection??' my response is: Please help us find them!! So if you strongly believe that letters related to peace should be part of our collection (and again, some already are!), we would be very grateful if you would spread the word and assist us in finding more of these important letters. "Thank you again for taking the time to write to us. Cordially, Andy Carroll, Director"

So please help me 'spread the word' to get more Peace Letters into the Chapman University collection. Besides any letters that you may have, it would help to let your Country of Service groups know where to send any that they may have. The hard copy contact is Andrew Carroll, P.O. Box 53250, Washington DC 20009. Emails and scans can be sent to warletters@chapman.edu. My friends, we have a lot of sharing to do in order to match the 100,000 war letters already in the Chapman collection.


Charles (Sam) Greer
Ethiopia, 1966-68


Cross Culture at the U of O

In May, RPCVs Denise Silfee (on left, Thailand, 2011-2013), Justin Overdevest (Dominican Republic 2002-04 & Peru 2004-06), and Anna Steeves-Reece (Nicaragua, 2011-2014), were panelists in Maggie Keenan's (Philippines 1987-1990) Cross Cultural Communication course at the University of Oregon.

Maggie (standing) has been teaching INTL 431/531 for the UO Department of International Studies since 2011. Maggie's students integrate class readings into "personal reflection papers" on presentations by international students, RPCVs, U.S. State Department staff, and members of Eugene's international diaspora. Joint activities with students at the American English Institute are the basis of the mid-term paper and time spent with a "cultural informant" is the backbone of the final paper. Summer term students enjoy field trips to Plaza Latina, Muse Jack Karaoke, and more. Maggie says that the class format holds the attention of her 60 students.

Maggie says that the class format holds the attention of her 60 students. "It's a discussion-based class, not a lecture," she says.  "There are no rights and wrongs in cross cultural communication."

Maggie Keenan
Philippines 1987-1990

Looking Glass

Looking Glass is looking for several volunteer drivers for its Safe Place program. The National Safe Place program provides access to immediate help and supportive services for young people in crisis though a network of sites sustained by qualified agencies, businesses, and trained volunteer drivers who are responsible for responding to calls to transport youth in crisis to the Looking Glass Emergency Shelter.

Once contacted, the volunteer meets the youth at the identified Safe Place site and transports the youth to the shelter. Drivers must be 21+ years old, have a good driving record, and successfully complete a background check. A one year commitment is necessary. Volunteers are what make this program work.

If you or someone you know may be interested in volunteering, please contact Jennifer Knowles at Looking Glass Station 7 (541) 689-3111.

Jennifer Knowles
Macedonia, 2009-2011

Newly Elected NW Representative to NPCA Board

We send our congratulations to Chuck McConnell, the newly elected NW representative to the NPCA board. The information below from the NPCA website will introduce Chuck to WCPCA. We hope that he’ll visit us in Eugene before long.

Charles (Chuck) McConnell
Nominated by Columbia River Peace Corps Association
RPCV Ukraine 2008-2010, RPCRV Ukraine 2011
Lives in Portland OR

Chuck holds an undergraduate degree from American University in Washington, DC, and a Masters from the University of Oklahoma. Chuck's first career was in public broadcasting focusing on programming and production. His second career was in association management primarily with the National Educational Telecommunications Association. Chuck left that work to join the Peace Corps, serving in Nikolaev, Ukraine, 2008-2010 as a community development volunteer. During that time, he helped a nascent association of Ukrainian universities develop a model policy on academic freedom.  

In 2011, he returned to Ukraine for a short Response assignment, teaching English in Zhytomyr. After the Peace Corps, Chuck settled in Portland, Oregon where he mediates for Multnomah County Small Claims Court, Oregon's Foreclosure Avoidance Mediation Program and Clark County (Washington) Small Claims Court.  He keeps his hand in on events production through work with Portland’s legendary Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.  And he plays bluegrass fiddle. Other interests include aviation – he's a general aviation pilot and flight instructor, and a credentialed rater of aviation English.

WCPCA board

Breast Cancer Risk Study for Returned Peace Corps Volunteers

The National Peace Corps Association has partnered with researchers at Baylor College of Medicine to determine if there is a link between the risk of cancers, including breast cancer, and medications taken during Peace Corps service. The investigators have developed an online survey for RPCVs to measure health and health-affecting behaviors.

Our goal is that EVERY woman who served in the Peace Corps between 1961 and 1990 is represented in this study.

Studies in animals suggest that people who took a commonly used medication in the past to prevent or cure malaria may be at lower risk of developing some diseases today, such as cancer or heart disease.

Baylor College of Medicine is developing studies to examine this link, beginning with this online survey to compare a large group of women who took the medication to a large group of women who didn't. For more information,visit the study's website.

Female RPCVs who served between 1961 and 1990 represent an ideal group of people in whom to study this possible link, because about half of RPCVs took medication as part of their service and about half of them did not. Additionally, over 20 years has passed since their service and related medication use, so we can look at health changes over a long period of time.

No exhaustive list of RPCVs who served during that time is available, so the investigators are counting on your help! Watch your email for an invitation to fill out the survey and be sure to invite your friends to participate when you get one.

The survey takes about 20 minutes and can be taken online or over the phone. Question topics include lifestyle risk factors for diseases and a brief medical history.

http://www.peacecorpsconnect.org/cancerstudy/, (6/3/14)

Peace Corps & Rotary Announce Collaboration to Promote Global Development and Volunteer Service
Initial pilot in the Philippines, Thailand and Togo

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, May 5, 2014 CONTACT: Peace Corps Press Office, 202.692.2230; Rotary International, 847.866.3247
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 5, 2014

Peace Corps Acting Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet and Rotary International General Secretary John Hewko today signed a letter of collaboration strengthening the organizations’ cooperation in the United States and abroad to promote global development and volunteer service.

"The missions of our two organizations reflect and reinforce each other," Hessler-Radelet said. "In our increasingly interconnected world, bringing the Peace Corps and Rotary together in common cause provides more opportunity than ever to leave a greater impact."

At Rotary International World Headquarters in Evanston, Ill., the two organizations committed to explore initial collaboration in the Philippines, Thailand and Togo. Across these three countries, Peace Corps and Rotary volunteers will be encouraged to share resources and expertise, and Peace Corps volunteers and Rotary clubs in the U.S. can connect to boost the impact of development projects. Through the Peace Corps Partnership Program, Rotary clubs can provide small grants to support volunteers and their communities.

"It makes perfect sense to leverage the strengths of both organizations to achieve maximum impact, efficiency and sustainability in the projects we carry out," Hewko said. "Together we will work to improve lives and build stronger communities, and – in doing so – address many of the root causes of violence and conflict, such as poverty, illiteracy, disease, and lack of access to clean water and sanitation."

The Peace Corps and Rotary will also work together to recruit more Americans into Peace Corps service and share their knowledge and understanding of the world with fellow Americans. Both organizations have rich histories of promoting peace and friendship between cultures and undertaking sustainable development activities to help communities in need throughout the world. They also have networks of volunteers and members dedicated to making the world a better place.

Peace Corps and Rotary programs overlap in more than 60 countries, and many returned Peace Corps volunteers join Rotary clubs. The organizations have previously partnered on projects in literacy, water sanitation, and health, and Rotary funds have helped to purchase everything from construction materials to library books.