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

November 2014

Coming Events

  • November 11:Tuesday evening, 7-9 pm, the WCPCA bookgroup will meet to talk about Dancing with Gogos, A Peace Corps Memoir, by WCPCA member, Gary Cornelius. The meeting will be at the home of Patty MacAfee. For Patty's address, send an email to: info@westcascadepca.org and write "Bookgroup" in the subject line.

  • November 14:Friday evening, 7pm, a drop-in at the home of Densie Silfee and Roger Brubaker. This is a casual BYOB event for new RPCVs to get acquainted with each other and WCPCA members. Further details are in the article below. Also see the RPCV Eugene Facebook for the address and more information.

  • November 20:Thursday evening, 6:30 pm, viewing and discussion of “Posh Corps,” which documents the experience of PCVs in South Africa, 110 Fenton Hall, U of O campus. See details in the article below.

  • November 23:Sunday evening, 6-8 pm, WCPCA board meeting at the home of Dorothy Soper. The address is in the Membership Directory. All members are welcome.

  • November 24:Monday evening, 6-9 pm, join the WCPCA crew at the Food for Lane County warehouse, 770 Bailey Hill Road, Eugene, to package food donations into family size containers.

  • December 5:Friday evening, 6-9 pm, WCPCA potluck at the home of Tom and Nancy English. New members are especially invited. Details of the program will be posted on the website's calendar at a later date.

  • Follow these and other activities on our Facebook page, RPCV Eugene: West Cascade Peace Corps Association.

    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

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

Viewing and Discussion of "Posh Corps,"
a documentary of Peace Corps service in South Africa

A documentary about Peace Corps life in South Africa, "Posh Corps," will be screened on Thursday, Nov. 20th, 6:30 p.m., in room 110 at Fenton Hall on the University of Oregon campus. Parking is available in U of O lots after 6 pm. Filmmaker, Alan Toth, of San Francisco will be present to answer questions and lead a discussion after the film. The showing is sponsored by WCPCA as an opportunity to educate students and others about Peace Corps service.

WCPCA is asking for donations to cover the costs of bringing the film to Eugene for its first showing outside of California where Toth is a board member of Northern California Peace Corps Association. He served as an education volunteer in South Africa 2010-12. Suggested sliding scale donation is $5-$20.

Toth, who married a fellow volunteer a few months ago, worked in cable television production and design before joining Peace Corps. He describes the film as one that, "documents the experiences of volunteers in South Africa. It's not a retrospective, but rather the first film to follow volunteers during their service. Posh Corps was not made to advance an agenda," Toth says, "but to capture the Peace Corps experience in a rapidly changing world."

The film, which is available primarily to returned PC volunteer organizations, is 75 minutes long. Toth says he filmed 80 hours of footage before editing it down to the final product.

Fenton Hall is on the north side of 13th Avenue, not far from the Duck Store. For more information, please consult the campus map. (For questions or further information, please contact me).

Gary Cornelius, Board secretary
South Africa, 2012-2013

Get Acquainted Evening for New RPCVs

All newly returned volunteers are invited to a meet and greet at 7 pm and after on Friday, November 14th at Denise Silfee and Roger Brubaker's (both RPCVs of Thailand 2011-2013) home in the Whitaker.  This is a casual, BYOB event, to encourage recently returned RPCVs to come out and meet some fellow RPCVs and members of the West Cascades Peace Corps Association.  Denise and Roger will provide some light snacks and will have a backyard fire if weather permits. We'd love to see you and meet new people in Eugene! 

Further details about the event including the address will be available on the RPCV Eugene Facebook page. Please visit the page often and be sure to “like” it. Anyone can post photos and information to the page.  We'd love to see your photos of RPCV events, RPCVs socializing, #tbt (Throw Back Thursday), pictures of your Peace Corps service, and anything else you'd like to share!

Denise Silfee, Facebook Chair Thailand, 2011-2013 

Sale of International Calendars

WCPCA's sale of international calendars designed and published by the RPCV group of Madison WI is off to a robust start. This activity has long been an important WCPCA fundraiser, contributing approximately $500 annually to our funding of humanitarian projects.

Young herder in the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia

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. This is a valuable reference in every home and will make an excellent gift to your internationally minded family members and friends. The price of an individual calendar is $12. Five or more calendars purchased together brings the price to $10 per calendar.

I'll have calendars to sell at WCPCA events. You can also buy them directly at Dorothy Soper's home or order them on the shop page of the website and have one or more mailed to you. The mailing price is $3 per calendar. To arrange to buy a calendar directly or for other inquiries please send an email to info@westcascadepca.org and write "Calendar" in the subject line. I'll respond to your inquiries.

Gary Cornelius, Board secretary
(South Africa, 2012-2013)

Peace Corps Presentation at Osher Life Long Learning Institute (OLLI)

Kathleen Conery will speak on her recent Peace Corps service in Guinea, from which she was evacuated in August due to the Ebola outbreak. Kathleen was born and raised in Eugene and graduated from South Eugene High School with an international baccalaureate. She attended the University of Washington with a minor in global health.

The presentation will take place on Wednesday, November 19, 1:30–3:30 pm, at OLLI which is in the U of O’s Baker Downtown Center, 975 High St. on the corner of 10th Ave. You are welcome to attend.

Grant Awarded to a Peace Corps Partnership Project in Madagascar

Voting via email, the board recently awarded $200 to a Peace Corps Partnership project, Ecotourism in Rural Eastern Madagascar. The board originally discussed the project at its September meeting and a board member emailed questions to the project director, Chris Shisler, a PCV from Redmond, Oregon. After further email discussion the board voted to make the award.

On the Peace Corps website Chris described the setting where he works as follows, "I live in a rural town surrounded by world class natural resources: abundant rivers, primary forests and a population of 3 of the most rare primate species on the planet. Lack of infrastructure has made this incredible section of natural forest virtually inaccessible to local and international tourists, as well as academic and research based institutions. This project will bring basic amenities to the region in order to draw researchers and tourism into this part of the forest. It's the basic foundation for turning our community into a research park."

When a board member asked Chris to tell us more about basic amenities, he replied, "reliable electricity (though not exceptionally powerful). The goal is to power a dozen or so lightbulbs and provide outlets where people can charge laptops and cell phones…basic housing and latrine facilities for guests like ecotourists, researchers, and students."

Chris hopes that this development will provide an income to local people who will then protect the forest rather than harvest timber illegally. Chris' original request was for $3,560 and the project has now been fully funded. We look forward to hearing about his progress.

Recruiting for the 2015 board

At its September meeting the board talked about identifying individuals to serve on the 2015 board. Several current board members plan to continue but we’ll need new “at large” board members as well as a new treasurer and membership chair. The board is organizing a nominating committee to identify new candidates for the 2015 board. The names of nominees will be emailed to the membership later in November. New board members will be elected at the December potluck and will serve in the 2015 calendar year.

If you are interested in serving on the nominating committee or the board, please contact Dorothy Soper or send an email to info@westcascadepca.org and write "2015 board" in the subject line.

This form of volunteer service is essential for the organization and, most board members feel, rewarding to the individuals. Thanks in advance to those who will consider serving in these roles.

WCPCA board

Appreciation to Street Faire Volunteers

I think everyone had a pleasant time at the Fall Street Faire on campus this year! The event took place on October 15-17th. I know that I myself enjoyed a delicious Elephant Ear on one of the days and I hope others were able to explore the Street Faire and sample some of the treats that the many food carts had to offer. The first day was a bit rainy and windy but the second day was gorgeous! And the third day, not too bad!

I had the luxury this year of having a tent sent up for me by the U of O because of new rules for the city of Eugene regarding the amount of weight needed to hold down each tent leg. The new Fire Marshall has asked that the city comply with this new rule of 125 pounds of weight per leg! Goodness knows I could not have maneuvered 500 pounds around campus. So grateful to have a tent set up for me this year.

As the Peace Corps Campus Representative, I feel so lucky to have so many amazing RPCVs willing to help me out and table at the events I participate in on campus. I do a lot of events each term and the extra help is a life saver!

This year I had 13 RPCV volunteers! The participants were: Jenn Knowles, Nicolette Ulrich, Rolly Thompson, Wayne Thompson, Gary Cornelius, Tim Rake, Kathleen Kendrick, Keith Beyer, Alyssa Bonini, Paul Barker, Nora Barker, Kathleen Conery and Maggie Keenan.

Thanks so much for all of you who gave up personal time to help me talk about the Peace Corps on campus! I am forever grateful.


Laurette Garner, Madagascar, 2004-2006
UO Peace Corps Campus Representative

Appreciation for the October Potluck

We want to thank the hosts of the October potluck, Dorothy and Dave Soper, for extending such a warm welcome to about 25 WCPCA participants, including four newly returned PCVs. The evening began with socializing and delicious food.  

First, we held a brief business meeting, where we approved the changes to the constitution and bylaws, discussed the recent funding of a Madagascar PCV project, and explained an upcoming opportunity to screen the PC film "Posh Corps" in Eugene. Afterwards, Laurette Garner provided a brief informative update on the revised PC application.  

For the program, Priscilla Dantas spoke about her life growing up in a favela in Brazil and her strong desire to learn how to play the piano. This desire was fulfilled when she started taking lessons at a local music school, where her father worked as a guard. At the age of 10, she gave her first concert where she met Bob Crites, a WCPCA member. She has been attending the University of Oregon music school for 3 years, sponsored by Bob Crites' nonprofit, and is eagerly working towards becoming a concert pianist.

Following her talk, she played several pieces by Liszt, Mendelssohn, and two Brazilian composers. It was a very impressive piano concert. Thank you, Priscilla, for providing such a wonderful talk and concert!

Juliet Bender, Mexico, 2009-2012, and Denise Silfee, Thailand, 2011-2013, Program Coordinators

WCPCA Business Update

• A reminder: membership dues and donations to WCPCA are tax deductible because the organization is recognized by the IRS as a non-profit charity with 501 (c) (3) status.

• The board is counting on members who owe dues at this time to renew their memberships. With 100 members who pay dues, we need renewals to fund the organization's basic operating costs and have so budgeted for 2014. Many thanks in advance for your support!

There will be a renewal cut off sometime in January for inclusion in the 2015 Membership Directory which includes all members, both those who pay dues and those who owe no dues. This is valuable Peace Corps networking document, circulated only to members as a .pdf document, and the more included, the better!

•We are pleased to welcome a new member to WCPCA, Cary Fontana, Mali, 2010-2012. We look forward to seeing her at our activities.

•The amendments to the organization’s constitution and bylaws that have been included in three previous newsletters were voted on and accepted by the members attending the potluck on October 24th. The amended documents are posted on the Business page of the WCPCA website. The changes have streamlined the documents and fully recognize the organization’s use of email and the website to conduct business and communicate with the Peace Corps community.

•As noted earlier the board recently awarded $200 to a Peace Corps Partnership project in Madagascar. This is the fifth PCP project that the board has funded this year, bringing the total amount awarded to $2,335. This amount exceeds the year’s target which was $2,000. The board found all of the projects worthy of funding and is counting on calendar sales to replenish the account available for such funding.