September-October 2000 Volume 13, Number 5
in Carlsbad, Laura Means Pope describes her current occupation as "word
wizard and coach" to other writers and people making life changes, as
well as writing newsletters, grant proposals, and other documents. Before
joining the Peace Corps in 1994, she had worked as a lawyer in Connecticut,
executive director of a school boards association, and Assistant Professor
of Education at UCLA. After completing her M.S. degree in Human/Environment
Relations at Cornell University in 1992, she served 27 months in Kazakhstan
as one of the first eight Peace Corps environmental advisors sent to the
former Soviet Union. In 1996, she returned to her family of four children
and seven grandchildren in the U.S.. Finding employment closed to 72 year
old grandmothers, she invested in up-to-date computer equipment and set
up her own thriving business in Carlsbad. You can contact Laura at (760)
Ah-dear family and friends-
It's Friday night and still light at 8 p.m., though scattered rain clouds hastened the dusk. What a long day! But before I tell you about it, I want to bring you up-to-date about one of the more interesting adventures I've had in this saga of Ust'-Kamenogorsk and the Peace Corps volunteers.
Much to my surprise, Sergei told me without explanation that he and Irina, one of the interpreters, would pick me up at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday morning. They did, and Sergei drove us through the city, across the Irtysh River and into a large field. The Cossacks (read that as old-fashioned Russian-style Cossacks) were gathering there for a ceremony and celebration. For two years they have been petitioning to become a registered non-governmental organization, so that they could congregate legally. The officials stalled a long time, probably because Cossacks are renowned fighters, but finally consented.
When we arrived, a soccer game was in progress nearby, as the nearly 400 Cossacks assembled on that crisp, sunny morning. They were a rather motley crew in the sense that few of their uniforms matched. Most of the men wore dark khaki pants with a red or blue stripe down the side and a jacket with a leather strap halter, one strap across the shoulder for non-commissioned men and two straps forming a "T " in the back fastened to the belt for officers. By law, they can no longer carry their swords.
Some men had tall white sheep's wool hats. Others wore military type hats with a visor and jaunty crown. Still others sported tall black hats. About 200 men exuberantly greeted each other with a standard routine. They shook hands with their right hands and hugged each other with their left hands and arms. Some kissed each other on the cheek. They were all ages, some so old that they were provided benches. Those of my generation were laden with medals won in "the Great Patriotic War," their name for World War Two.
Many of the men sported moustaches and some had trim beards. The leader was very tall, lean and handsome. He was clearly elated that they were having the celebration. One of his young lieutenants was a past master at working the crowd. He hugged every one of his "brothers."
When the ceremony began, the men formed a long line, three deep. A white van shaped something like a Volkswagen van without windows, roared on to the field and came to an abrupt stop in front of them. Out jumped three Russian priests in black robes. One had a full beard and wore a green velvet hat. Four young girls and a woman, all in long skirts and lace shawls, followed on their heels. The men set up a portable alter with candles and two icons flanking a gold cross. The priests donned heavily embroidered, silver-colored vestments and the acolytes or helpers lit the candles.
The women sang a counterpoint to the priests' singing or chant. Prayers, hymns, incense, and chanting filled the air as birds circled on the updrafts and soccer players kicked the ball and chattered among themselves. The blessing of the whole group was accompanied by a lot of crossing one's self and bowing plus answering the chants. I couldn't help thinking about how men have always called on God's blessing, as they plotted the most efficient way to kill the "enemy."
The most touching part of the ceremony involved inducting new members. The fathers of seven-year-old sons marched forward with their sons, one at a time. Each hoisted his son onto a horse, which was led in a circle around the altar three times. When the boy dismounted (none could reach the stirrups), the priest cut snippets of hair from the top of his head in the shape of a cross and embedded the locks into a baseball-size hunk of candle wax. I generally felt that photographing any part of the ceremony was intrusive, but couldn't resist a picture of a child being initiated.
The admiring crowd of wives, children, and other family members solemnly observed from the side of the field opposite the line of men. The robust women were dressed in their Sunday- best shawls. Bright red hair twisted into a knot on top of the head was the favorite coiffure. At the end of the ceremony, we all shared hunks of white bread torn from very large loaves and dipped in a platter of salt.
The experience was a blend of comedy- the white van's entry reminded me of the circus act car full of midgets, sadness-so many war medals, decrepit men, and worn uniforms blending into a litany of bygone days, and poignancy-as the proud papas presented their sons for membership. The children were so elated to take their ride around the altar! I wondered how many of them had any idea of how to ride a horse.
Of course, the women watched and admired. One standing near me rescued the ceremony, when her heavily decorated husband asked her if she had some scissors. She dug out a pair from deep in her big black bag, and he gave them to the priest for the haircutting.
One portly woman was especially energetic and pleased to greet everyone. She had hennaed her hair, which formed a thick and lustrous red "crown" rising above her head almost as high as some of the men's wool hats. Many gold-tooth smiles added sparkle. A man behind me commented that he liked everything except "the church." He didn't believe in such "nonsense."
It is interesting to watch reactions to religious ceremonies. On the one hand, the rituals reach back into a Russian history full of religion that almost no one alive here today has known. For many of the young, the communists' atheist philosophy is all they have seen. They are puzzled by Christian beliefs and confused by various sects. There seems to be more Russian orthodox Christianity in Ust'-Kamenogorsk than the Muslim religion so prevalent in southern Kazakhstan.
After the ceremony, the crowd gathered around a truck for a sort of picnic with vodka, bread, and shish kabob fueling their dancing to accordion music and raucous singing. Sergei, Irina, and I returned to his car where we slowly discussed the business of the new Center. Irina was generous to give up her Sunday to interpret for Sergei and me, despite her heavy coursework load at the Institute. Sergei's shifting views make life interesting, but I will save that story for the next letter.
Much love to
all of you,
I just wanted to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to all of those who make things possible in the SDPCA. Did you know that producing the newsletter is a three-person job (not including contributors) that takes well over 60 combined hours to produce? Also, we have RPCVs who are willing to donate their time and energy into producing and maintaining the SDPCA web site, another time-consuming activity.
If you want to get involved in the SDPCA but aren't much of a " joiner," there are lots of different avenues: You can volunteer to speak at a local school or community groups. You could also write an article for the newsletter about your Peace Corps experience. You could also volunteer for the myriad administrative tasks that are always coming up. Some RPCVs serve as a resource for other volunteers; would you mind if someone called to pick your brain on a certain topic? If you want to help, call me with your individual requirements and we'll find a place just for you!
All of this does not have to be a big time commitment on your part. So if you would like to contribute, please let us know. The bottom line is it's up to you. This organization is not about "them," it's about "US." Together we can make our group a place for RPCVs to come together to support one another in their endeavors to continue serving. You are an important part of that vision.
In Attendance: Patti Eger, Hank Davenport, Rudy Sovinee, Lisa Frankel, Brenda Hahn, Sharon Kennedy, & Julie Schwab attended both. Jean Meadowcroft participated 7/10 by phone, and Frank Yates e-mailed his August report from Shawnee, PA, representing the SDPCA at NPCA President's meeting. Alex Noce and Tamiza Teja of the LA PC Office were guests in July.
& Membership Reports:
J. Tonner International Support Fund:
We SDPCA members and board members extend a warm welcome to our newest members. (If we received your membership late because you joined us through NPCA, this is beyond our control but we apologize anyway.) We've seen some of you at our events already and we hope all of you get involved in our activities. Let us hear from you!! You can reach us by the contact information listed on the Contact Page of this site.
Waves Garners 2 National Awards!
This is the first year Pacific Waves has won TWO awards simultaneously. Many, many thanks to our volunteer newsletter corps, our board members who write articles, and our contributing writers - all of whose skill, creativity and willingness to share their stories make this success possible!
Brenda Terry-Hahn, Pacific Waves Editor
Fight AIDS in Africa
Extra funding for the effort comes from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. The new effort to combat AIDS will also include countries outside Africa.
Announcement of the expansion follows a Clinton administration declaration in April that the global epidemic of the sexually transmitted disease is a threat to U.S. national security. The AIDS crisis will increase the likelihood of revolutionary wars, ethnic conflicts, genocide and failure of partial democracies, according to U.S. intelligence projections.
"There is a general recognition now that this crisis is undermining development efforts broadly throughout the region," Schneider said.
CNN; submitted by Patti Eger, SDPCA
news from the SDPCA Board!
Rudy Sovinee, SDPCA Board Member
your Stories to Potential PCVs!
Patti Eger, President, SDPCA
Entertainment Books: San Diego's premier discount coupon book will be used as a fundraiser again. Books are $40 each, available at SDPCA events in September and in local Postal Annex stores. Support the SDPCA and our projects!
Thank you, Sharon Kennedy, SDPCA Fundraising Chair
AIDS WALK SAN DIEGO needs you!
There are many fun and exciting volunteer opportunities- such as- Help in pre-event office work. Or, assist in setup on Sept 30 for the actual walk. On Walk Day, October 1, work at Vollie Central, Communications, the Information Booth, Shuttles, Merchandise, Registration, Water Stations, Medical, Safety, Time Keepers, The Fun Zone, Vendor Booths, Finish Line, AIDS Memorial Quilt, Path of Remembrance, Display and Clean Up assignments
Incentives include T-shirts, meals on that day, a Sea World appreciation party, and the best: the AIDS WALK San Diego is a great cause. Make a difference, spend a day with people just like you who care about those with HIV/AIDS.
This is a perfect match for the enthusiasm we RPCVs, our family and friends have for participating in a community event that will truly make a difference! For this true COMMUNITY OUTREACH event, contact me ASAP leaving your name, telephone number and/or e-mail address at : 858-565-1060 or firstname.lastname@example.org and indicate which activity you'd like. Thanks!!
Hank Davenport Barberis, Chair, SDPCA Community Outreach
John Hartley, PCLA email@example.com
After trekking down from the high passes in the Everest region, they were spending the night at Jiri, a roadhead traditionally used by mountaineers. Nepalese police said the latest detention brings the number of Tibetans arrested this year to 203.The figure is considerably higher than last year when 125 Tibetans were arrested for the illegal entry.Most Tibetans who come to Nepal head for Dharamshala in India where the Tibetan exiled leader Dalai Lama is based. Nepal hands over the detainees to the UN High Commission for Refugees.
AFP, New York Times
Elaheh Koulai, dean at Teheran University and a member of Iran's Parliament, quoted in the New York Times
President Chandrika Kumaratunga hoped that a new constitution she proposed Aug. 3 would preserve Sri Lanka as a unified nation while satisfying demands of the Tamils for greater authority for self-rule in the north and east, which they regard as a traditional homelands.
That effort has collapsed for now, though Mrs. Kumaratunga has vowed to revive it after national elections this fall. Meanwhile, a feeling of menace hovers over the capital, even though there has been a lull in the fierce battles between the rebel group, known as the Tamil Tigers, and the government in recent months.
Celia W. Dugger, The Associated Press , New York Times
Instead, the Council asked Secretary General Kofi Annan to address these and other questions and to produce a detailed blueprint for the court within 30 days. Richard C. Holbrooke, the American ambassador, said that the secretary general would be bound by a Council consensus that the court has to have international input, even if Council members were not all in agreement on details. "He does not have the option of saying, ĆPut it all under Sierra Leone,' " Mr. Holbrooke said.
Ambassador Ibrahim Kamara from Sierra Leone to the United Nations called the council's action "a very, very bold step" forward for his country.
Barbara Crossette, New York Times
The crucial Parliament session has been as passionate as the demonstrations of the past. The session was to focus on the country's patchwork 1945 Constitution, but "we're watching a power struggle in Parliament," said Dennis Heffernan, a director of a political consulting firm. "It's very primitive, but it's being done without gunpowder or even fisticuffs. And if that ain't a giant step toward democracy . . ."
One thing that has changed is that the opposition now has a voice, he said. "The streets are quiet because the politicians have some constituency, some basis among average people," he said. Last year, for the first time in half a century, the Indonesian people voted in a free election, choosing among candidates for Parliament who had not been vetoed by the party in power. But the winners were elected to an institution that had little experience in democratic give-and-take.
Seth Mydans, New York Times
More Websites for you Surfers
http://www.igc.org/igc/gateway - Institute for Global Communications, an impressive site which promotes global peace and also hosts like-minded group sites.
http://www.worldhunger.org/ - Hunger Notes is published by WHES, whose mission includes informing people interested in issues of hunger and poverty, about the causes, extent, and efforts to end hunger and poverty in the United States and the world.
http://www.un.org/Pubs/CyberSchoolBus/ - United Nations Calendar of Peace 2000 is here, Using this website: "Teach and learn global issues! Commemorate special days such as the Human Rights Day, Peace Day, Environment Day and more..." Click on Events.
http://www.culturegrams.com - Suggested from a Global Ed-L subscriber: "CultureGrams are the print resource about countries of the world. I always read the CultureGram when I am going to another country... they have a good map included... are four-page briefings with timely, clear, concise information about each nation's history, society, and customs. Each school library should have a set! "
Some sites about International Education Policies in the U.S.:
http://www.pub.whitehouse.gov/uri-res/I2R?urn:pdi://oma.eop.gov.us/2000/4/20/3.text.1 - Memorandum For The Heads Of Executive Departments And Agencies
http://www.ed.gov/Speeches/04-2000/000419.html - U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley, Washington, DC on the Growing Importance of International Education
http://secretary.state.gov/www/briefings/statements/2000/ps000420b.html - Departments of State and Education Lead Support of President's Directive on U.S. International Education Policy
http://www.nafsa.org/int-ed/22200.htm - NAFSA: Association for International Educators: Toward an International Education Policy for the U.S.
Hey, you websurfers!
SDPCA, courtesy of the webskills of Mike Cheney and Joseph White, is redesigning and updating our two websites. We'd like your suggestions!
Get on the NPCA website (http://www.rpcv.org). Go to local groups' sites ("online community/affiliate groups/local groups/geographical groups") and check out websites for things you like and think we should or should'nt include in our SDPCA sites. One site, for example, even invites PC visitors to submit their favorite "Bowel Story." It's really very interesting to see what different groups offer and how their sites are developed. The Los Angeles group in particular has a very interactive site with lots going on and invitations to add one's own information.
your specific ideas and the site/group name or URL to President Patti
Eger (firstname.lastname@example.org) ASAP. We appreciate your input!
How Race is Lived in America
The New York Times recently ran a thought-provoking, in-depth series of articles entitled "How Race is Lived in America" (front page, June 4, 5, 7 and 11, 2000) detailing with personal interviews across the country and among extremely diverse individuals/relationships/groups where our great democratic experiment stands in its challenge to successfully produce a truly integrated, peaceful, high-functioning society that is culturally and linguistically mixed. It produced much comment and discussion from readers. I found it relevant because the SDPCA board has recently been discussing what our focus as a group should be in this arena.
I found the series so moving and well-done I wrote a rare-for-me letter to the editors and saved some of the discussion. There was a LOT for my professional multicultural library. If you are interested, it is on their website:
http://www.nytimes.com/magazine - NY Times Magazine with whatever current letters and articles are posted.
http://archives.nytimes.com/archives/ - A search for series title How Race is Lived in America returns links to the original articles and letters in response.
http://www.nytimes.com/race - Link to original articles.
Hurry - I don't know how long the paper will keep the material up on their site. It is truly book-worthy and hopefully it will be produced in book form sometime in the future.
101 Tools for Tolerance: SimpleIdeas for Promoting Equity and Celebrating Diversity
Some ideas from the bookklet 101 Tools for Tolerance from a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center:
1- Attend a play, listen to music, or go to a performance by artists whose race or ethnicity is different/new to your own.
8 - Learn sign language.
14 - Do a Civil Rights history vacation. Tour key sites/museums.
17 - Think about how you appear to others. List personality traits that are compatible with tolerance (e.g., compassion, curiosity, openness). List those that seem incompatible with tolerance (e.g., jealousy, bossiness, perfectionism).
National Campaign for Tolerance, http://www.tolerance.org
Travel in Mexico
There is important legal information for those of us who wish to travel in Mexico (problematical due to the recent accidents, arrests, and deaths) on the San Diego County Website. It can be printed out for future reference. If you like, you can go to http://www.co.san-diego.ca.us/cnty/travel/index and check the regulations and assistance Mexico offers.
Pacific Waves is published bimonthly by the San Diego Peace Corps Association which is fully responsible for its content. Except for copyrighted material, articles may be reprinted without permission with credit to the SDPCA. Contributions are encouraged: (1) e-mailed (2) text file on disk- Mac preferred, or (3) typed copy. Please send to Editor, SDPCA, P.O. Box 26565, San Diego, CA 92196 or e-mail: email@example.com
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