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Newsletter - Pacific Waves
San Diego Peace Corps Association Newsletter

March-April 2001 Volume 14, Number 2


La Paranda: Praise and Thanks
to the Magi
Bangladesh Report
From the President Board Minutes
PC 40th Anniversary: Celebrate/Share PC News Bites
Welcome, New Members! On the Road II, Globally
Host Country Updates Member-To-Member
Potpourri Newsletter Credits

Editor newseditor@sdpca.org

Hank Davenport-Barberis (Peru 1962-1964) "doesn't feel, think or act" his age. Born in Brooklyn and educated mostly in Ecuador, he has traveled, attended school, lived and worked in countries in North, Central and South America along with some parts of Europe and North Africa and is a completely bilingual and bicultural Hispanic American. He has served as an administrator and line staff for the past thirty- five years in all aspects of the Substance Abuse field in his desire "to make a difference, directly or indirectly, in people's lives." His hobbies include reading, sailing, mountain climbing, camping, playing the guitar and singing, bicycling, writing and enjoying coffee milkshakes - not necessarily in that order. He is the father of three children "of various ilks and ages." Hank has served on the SDPCA board several times, and is a gifted (and sometimes comic) emcee. Here he shares his return to his Puerto Rican family for the past winter holiday.

La Paranda:
Praise and Thanks to the Magi

I visited with my family in Puerto Rico over the past year's end holidays. I have been there several times but never, however, do I forget that first time in Puerto Rico as a Peace Corps trainee. And so it was this time also. Remembering the camps where our training was held, Radley and Crozier, located in the province of Utuado just south of the city of Arecibo.

This time, while flying in a "puddle-jumper" from San Juan to Mayaguez (on the western side of the island), it occurred to me that although we did interact with the community in cooperative home building, we never really had the opportunity to experience the culture of the island.

Lunches and dinners and visiting with acquaintances, along with shortening my Mother's "honey-do" list, kept me busy. But the sixth of January was approaching, Dia de Reyes, the Day of Kings. Although I had heard of this holiday, I never had the chance to participate. This time I did, and was it an experience!

Puerto Ricans, of course, being predominantly catholic, celebrate Christmas. However, their big holiday is the Day of Kings; children only get one present at Christmas, their major celebration being two weeks afterward at the Day of Kings. At the cornerstone of this celebration is La Paranda.

People will pray to the Kings, as to saints, for a certain something: this could be healing from a illness, better fortune, a positive change in life, better grades at school, a better relationship, et al. If whatever is prayed for happens to materialize, then those that prayed, in gratitude, commit themselves to opening up their home to the community on the Dia de Reyes. They provide food and drinks to whomever enters, even strangers, no invitation needed. Music, specific to this celebration, is a central part of the festival. This is sort of like the Juramiento that is practiced in Mexico. (It also has spiritual similarities to the traditional plate set for Isaiah at the Seder table, and to plates set in some Christian celebrations for Jesus, who may enter as a beggar, a homeless person, or another stranger, in which cases the Divine may visit in disguise.)

I was in the town of Rincon. In that area, there were three or four homes that were putting on La Paranda and it was wonderfully festive and jovial in the Puerto Rican night. One could see people of the town wandering through the streets all evening, enjoying the social atmosphere, the food and music. The homes were still decked out with their Christmas decorations, adding a certain excitement to the mood and it appeared to me that the homes celebrating La Paranda were the ones most ornately decorated, with light and friendship spilling out into the streets. It was a warm, balmy night with the ever-present island frog, the Coqui, accompanying us with its delightful whistle-song wherever we went...

When we arrived on the doorstep, we were greeted and welcomed to the party. In the main area where the party was taking place, on the center stage as it were, was an altar to the three Kings made of palm fronds decked with three or four colors of bougainvillea. In the center of the altar were statues of the three Kings illuminated by either candles or electric lighting. There was no question as to the love, devotion, effort and time taken to construct these handmade altars to honor the Magi.

Altar

Above: An altar for La Parada in Rincon, Puerto Rico, to honor the Magi. which included kings coming from different cultural backgrounds.

In the same room or porch area was a gathering of people who were dancing and singing to the music of musicians that were composing extemporaneously and playing songs, like jamming, specific to the occasion. One had to be there at the beginning of the song to fully participate: the lead singer would sing the first verse of the song, the words of which were in adoration of the Kings, and those in the crowd would follow by singing the same verse. This would then become the chorus for the rest of the verses in the song.

Since the words were sung extemporaneously, the song could have ten or even twenty verses depending on the "animo" or enthusiasm of the lead singer and the crowd! What an exhilarating time that was for all, especially myself, my younger sister and my mother of 86!



Above: Jackie Davenport, my sister and Paquita Allison, mom are alongside an altar adorned with flowers. (photo by Hank Davenport-Barberis)

We then strolled to different homes which were sponsoring La Paranda, feeling fully invited and accepted by all, including hosts we had never met, and melting into the food, drinks, song and dancing with the rest of the townspeople. I knew at the end of the evening that I had been privileged and blessed to participate, finally, (and by the way, fully) in part of the island culture of Puerto Rico.

Hank Davenport-Barberis

This holiday is celebrated widely and variously in many Christian communities of the world, including some in the New England states, often there called the Twelfth Day; some villages in this area take their Christmas trees to the town square for a bonfire purification ceremony. Such celebrations honor the supposed traditional date of Jesus' life when the Magi visited the stable, which is also commemorated in the English carol "The Twelve Days of Christmas" (along with coded underground politico-religious references due to the catholic-protestant conflict in England at the time the carol was composed).

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This report comes to us from Tom McMahon of Reading, Pennsylvania, via Rudy Sovinee. Tom served in Bangladesh among the first PCV groups in the 60s and is also on the board of One World, Our World. He writes to his COS group about a recent visit to his host country almost 40 years later. He is still on the Indian Peninsula as this goes to press. He may be reached at tommcmahon@hotmail.com.

Bangladesh Report
Part 1

January 18.

Hello to all Friends of Bangladesh. There is a little internet cafe called La Galleria on the second floor of a building on Kemal Ataturk Avenue near the Banani market in Dhaka. I can look out and see some of the 600,000 rickshaws now plying the streets of Dhaka. The population of greater Dhaka is now approaching 12 million (Lonely Planet book says it was 1 million in 1971) so try to imagine it. The air pollution is horrendous, and many people are traveling with face masks. No bullock carts on the road now, and the beggars are not as many as I remember from the last time I was here in 1992.



Rickshaws in Bangladesh. (photo from http://www.virtualbangladesh.com/)

High rise buildings are sprouting up all over, as the region sprawls out well past the airport to the location of the new Peace Corps office in Uttara Model Town. I am staying for a few days in Gulshn as I recover from the jet lag and visit some old friends.

I stopped at the new Peace Corps office yesterday to drop off some goodies that my daughters insisted I bring along for the girls here (People magazine, and ten other rags) - along with Hershey bars. When I showed up at the office, the Americans were out of town at Comilla for a conference with the second group of volunteers who arrived last May. The first group had already left by the time I got here so I did not get a chance to see any of them. But while waiting in the office for a few minutes, I sat in the conference room, where there were four very nice pictures on the wall. All of them mini-poster size - one with Akhter Hameed Khan and Sarge Shriver (so he really was here after all!); the second was Kiki at Comilla with a group of women, the third was Rachel Jordan at the hospital in Rajshahi and third one was none other than yours truly with two other teachers (banes of my existence) from the Rajshahi Technical School! So they did not forget us after all!

I will go back to see Michael Bedford, the new director, this afternoon. I understand he was PC in the Philippines so he knows some of the routine. The first director left a couple of months ago; staff tells me she was a bit frustrated with the situations (surprise!) and that the morale of many of the first group was not real high due to lack of meaningful jobs, inadequate support, etc. (surprise number 2).



Map from: http://www.reliefweb.int/mapc/asi_sth/reg/reg_bgd.gif

Maybe Ann Kanyusick will tell us how it really was - she and Anne Moscowitz in Philadelphia have been in touch since she became part of the Bangladesh I group two years ago. All the volunteers are teaching English in secondary schools I am told, and none are in Dhaka. So perhaps I will get a chance to see some of them on my way around the country.

I plan to head to Comilla on Saturday or Sunday and then to Khulna, Barisal and up to Khustia, thence to the north and to cross over to India to Darjeeling. The weather is pleasant in the 70s and it is the right time for an older returned volunteer to be here. By the way, in the Peace Corps office here, the admin officer asked me when we were here - I told him the early 60's. He said,"My God, I wasn't even born yet" so I promptly turned and reached for my walker and stumbled out.

Another suggestion for all of you: if you can get hold of a book called Living on the Edge, Short Stories by Peace Corps Volunteers, get it and read it for the time of your life. My dear friend Ann Sheehan who served in Togo and who lives in Reading (PA) gave it to me for reading on the plane. It is a great read! I also got the latest version of Lonely Planet: Bangladesh and some wonderful language tapes called Teach Yourself Bengali with a text. It is available for ordering on the net for those of you thinking of another trip. Let's think about having a 50th reunion here in Bangladesh!!!

I spoiled myself at the Sonargaon for breakfast ($16) something we would never think of doing in the 60s - it was wonderful.

Part 2


The terrible earthquake in India was felt only slightly in Bangladesh (roughly 1200 miles away). The ponds here full of water were undulating for a few minutes and caused quite a stir - too bad I did not get a photo or video of it. I have spent some wonderful time with two volunteers, one in Comilla and the other in Aliganj, both teaching, one at the Technical Training Institute and the other at the Primary Teacher Training Institute. They are doing very well, and the stories are hilarious, and at the same time familiar.

There are new roads and new bridges, and there is a lot of traffic. The one over the Jammuna is very impressive. So goods can move to market faster - that is a plus. This morning coming back to Dhaka in a bus, we saw a terrible accident out of the morning fog, with a crushed car, two burned out buses, and big trucks off the road.

The drivers are as crazy as ever. In Comilla, I visited the butter and cheese factory with very large cold storage, all of it started by Bob Taylor and then continued by another PCV in a later East Pakistan group. The manager has great plans to expand to other frozen food and to widen his marketing reach. He needs to sell a lot of cheese though, as his summer electric bill runs about $4,000 per month!

So far I have not met another person who remembers one of us directly from 40 years ago. The PCVs' Bangla language skill is good, their attitude is good and they are doing good work teaching teachers, and in their spare time, they help out all over the place. You would love them.

I visited a Baptist Mission and the ruins of the old Buddhist settlement at Mainamati near Comilla - lots of Bengali tourists. But no Americans or Europeans to be found. I am always asking about the role of women, and there are more on the streets now than in the 70s but fewer than in the 60s. There is a gas station in Dhaka where all the attendants are women, in pink uniforms no less! And the internet cafe at which I am at this moment is owned by a woman.

I have been surprised about the lack of English signs and the lack of basic English skills among many people who are of the age we used to deal with. But they are now realizing the importance of it and resources are being put toward it. Plus I have given mini lectures to the students at the two colleges and reinforced it with them. The third group of Peace Corps Volunteers will come here in February, and I will not see them since I will be in the north, and heading for India, then perhaps Katmandu.

The nights are cool and a sweater is needed, and the days are sunny and warm, but not oppressive. The Bengali people are as usual very helpful and courteous, and stare all the time. So that part could get old again in a hurry. I am taking many digital photos and videos of the work of the volunteers and will share them with you all when I get back.

Incidentally, in Comilla at the new Academy, there are most pleasant surroundings and lodging, if some of us chose to come back next year for a reunion. I would come again if only to escape the northern winters! Perhaps a couple of weeks where we could review progress in community development, BRAC, Grameen Bank, Women's Issues, etc. and there may be opportunities for some of us to contribute our time and talent to some of the needs here.

Communal difficulties are still here but not as pronounced as in the 60s I am told. India is regarded with some suspicion regarding the long range plan - will she someday try to absorb Bangladesh? That is the theme kept alive by the opposition party and even though they are grateful for the help in '71, they are wary.

Nothing further on the bombing at the rally, but I have been out of the capital city for a week. Tomorrow I head for Khulna on the 36 hours ride on The Ostrich! Hope she is still seaworthy - (if she ever was in the first place). Then to Jennida and Khustia, and Rajshahi and Thakurgaon and then to India. If I get to Katmandu there may be internet. The food here is good and the people are wonderful as ever.

I am in Darjeeling now and looking out over the Himalayan range and it is damn cold. It was just getting warmer on the plains and I am here ahead of the tourist season. Bangladesh was just wonderful and I hated to leave. I did take lots of photos and will send some to you when I get home. Did not make it to Nepal (this time)! Time spent with Peace Corps Volunteers was just magnificent - I am just so proud of all of them and how great they are doing here.

Tom

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever does. - Margaret Mead

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From the President:
Greetings

How did you connect to the SDPCA when you got back to San Diego? For some of you it was probably a coincidence that we actually received your contact info.

After all, a recently returned PCV doesn't exactly have their life charted out. For me the LARO sent me an invitation to a potluck event with Mark Gearan. After that, I started to receive information from the SDPCA.

Now, many RPCVs are starting to find us on the web. Thanks to efforts of all the board members and also Joseph White and Don Beck, RPCVs are able to find out about events we are having and read the newsletter on-line. You are looking at our online site now. Check it out and tell us what you think; let us know what you think of it and any ideas for changing or improving it. Many other RPCV groups have been telling us how impressive the site is!

Keep in mind that this March is the 40th Anniversary of the Peace Corps. Local classrooms and civic groups throughout the county are waiting for us RPCVs to share our field experiences.

Contact Jean Meadowcroft (760-747-1778, speakers@sdpca.org) if you can take a few hours out of your life to tell students about the time you ate honey-covered bees in Botswana. Jean can direct you to ready-made resources for giving a classroom presentation that will not take that long to prepare. Fourth graders will probably find your diarrhea stories from Fiji or worm-counting contests from Nepal a lot more entertaining than did Aunt Frieda and Uncle Fred!

Patti Eger, President

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Board Minutes: January - February 2001

Patti Eger, Frank Yates, Rudy Sovinee, Lisa Frankel, Sharon Kennedy, Jean Meadowcroft and Julie Schwab, were at both meetings, while Craig Sherman and Brenda Hahn were only at the January meeting.

President's Report:

Our web site is drawing compliments from other groups. Several newly arrived RPCVs have found us through the site. MMSP to pay for one year of web site hosting on the host system recommended by Joseph White, supporting his design of interactive forms.

Financial Report:

Frank provided a detailed statement of income and expenses. Also our CD matures in time for the ISF awards in late March.

Membership:
Frank reported level SDPCA membership since December. He is working on a letter to past members. Newsletters sent occasionally to past members will have a label message like, "We Miss You, Please Renew!"

Community Outreach:
MMSP to support the Peace Resource Center's new building fund with a $50 donation. It was stated that this SDPCA board position needs a person who can organize activities that motivate our members into committed action.

Fundraising:
We sold about 32 more calendars than last year, with MMSP to give one each to Joseph White, Jeff Cleveland and an outstanding first time Postal Annex Store owner, and a $15 restaurant gift certificate for Don Beck for their extra efforts. MMSP to drop the hotmail account now that the calendars are sold. We will forward to RPCVs of Madison our desire to use email address calendars@sdpca.org for the coming year. Entertainment Book fund raising fell from last year's mark due to a drop in the number of Postal Annex host stores, and not making the volume to receive $2 per book bonus.

Mark J. Tonner International Support Fund:
Julie will assemble a committee to review grant proposals to meet shortly after the 3/15/01 deadline. Already two new proposals have arrived from the in-country e-mail announcements sent around New Year's Day.

Newsletter:
Don, Brenda and Jeff surmounted extra problems in producing the past issue. Kudos!

Web Site:
We are still looking to have our web site address be cleaner, but not at the expense of losing our e-mail capabilities. Since the new site does not include the code for linking us to the RPCV web-ring, the SDPCA has been dropped from the ring. There is a desire to have a monitored list-serve capability included on our site so members can easily opt out of what is now a large e-mail list.

Social:
The Super Bowl party was more fun than last year, even if the game was less interesting. Upcoming events are listed in this issue.

Speaker's Bureau:
A few talks are happening, but it seems too few for the effort involved. The 40th Anniversary of the Peace Corps is being announced via letters circulated through the county PTA. Rudy will provide an e-mail announcement to locate more volunteers.

Next Meeting: 6:30 PM 3/5/01 at the home of Jean Meadowcroft.

Rudy Sovinee, Secretary

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40th Anniversary Peace Corps Founding

March 2001
It's our birthday - Celebrate!

All month-long. Share your experiences with others...



40th Anniversary on the NPCA web site

Visit http://www.rpcv.org and find out what is happening around the USA to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the founding of Peace Corps.

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PC News Bites

PC and the HIV/AIDS Initiative
Peace Corps programs throughout Africa have greatly expanded and diversified their approaches to addressing the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Volunteers, staff local communities and agencies have intensified efforts and widened the scope of existing activities and new projects appropriately and effectively. The results are evident in the increasing recognition of the problem and willingness to discuss possibilities for positive change. This is a multi-faceted intensive approach which has prompted volunteers and staff to engage in prevention and care in many areas and activities relevant to local cultural and economic realities. Check http://www.peacecorps.gov for more.

Peace Corps Stats, 2001
Peace Corps now has a total of 7304 volunteers at post in the field in the first quarter of 2001. Most of these serve in education, health or environmental projects, with the remainder working in agriculture, business, or other more specialized unique projects. Diversity remains low, with 74% being Caucasian and 61% being female; the oldest volunteer at this point is 79 years of age.

NPCA Conference September 20 - 23, 2001
Registration for this Washington, D.C. conference will be available online starting March 1. Registration brochures will be mailed to all NPCA members on March 1 or sign up online where you can pay by credit card. Conference central is the Hotel Washington, located in downtown Washington at 15th and Pennsylvania. Its wonderful rooftop terrace overlooks the White House on one end and has a great view of the Washington monument at the other. Note: Rooms in this hotel will go quickly.

Meeting Solutions can help place you or your group in one of the conference hotels with a credit card. To make discount reservations for your COS group or yourself, contact Meeting Solutions Monday - Thursday 8:30-5:30 pm and Friday 9-5:30 pm eastern time toll free at 1-800-503-3330 or email dbinette@formeetingsolutions.com Let them know you are with the NPCA/Peace Corps group. Note: You will not get the special rate if you try to contact the hotel directly.

Advocacy Day is Thursday Sept. 20; Friday will be Welcome activities, Service day and programs that look at Peace Corps impact. COS updates are scheduled for Saturday afternoon, followed by Embassy Receptions and dinners on the town; Sunday is March to Arlington and closing ceremonies, followed by picnic and games. Schedule details will appear on the web site as they become firm.

New RPCV Directory
The new NPCA Directory by Harris Publishing Co. will be available to look at and for purchase at the September conference. You should have received a yellow postcard asking you to call Harris Publishing to verify your information; you must call to be included in the directory! You can call 1-800-827-4299 to update your information.

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Welcome, New Members!

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 in this site.

Joseph Chapon, Indonesia (1963-1965)
Jose Cortez, Romania (1998-2000)
Gregg Pancoast, Costa Rica (1985-1986)
Rebecca Pate, Mali (1996-1998)
Richard Schettler, Paraguay (1998-2000)

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On the Road II, Globally

From 1993-97, the SDPCA newsletter carried a column entitled "On the Road," sharing stories of One World, Our World (1WOW) program as it traveled the USA and offered 150,000 students in 25 states lessons of leadership, tolerance and conflict resolution.

Founded by RPCV Rudy Sovinee in 1991, it became a 501c3 in 1996 with SDPCA membership on its board. It began as a school assembly slide show about tolerance and diversity (Bring the World Back Home) and grew adding more features and themes such as a simulation on population density and food distribution to teach equity and tolerance.

Lately it includes peer mediation and non-violence training. See the web site http://www.1WOW.org for more details. 1WOW collaborates with NPCA's Global TeachNet with speaking engagements at Kent State, University of Texas at El Paso, UC Berkley's International House, state and national teacher conferences, as well as nomination for the Sargent Shriver Award. 1WOW was recognized in San Diego Feb.11, 2001 for promoting nonviolence at the Church of Today, a local Unity Church,

After the Feb. 11 event, 1WOW was invited by attendee Richard Lindley, an Irish activist, to go to Ireland to work with Dublin children. "Will you come back to Ireland with me?" he asked and Rudy replied, "Yes!" . Richard has arranged for 1WOW to leave March 16 and return April 16. Rudy will do school presentations and adult meetings to lay a foundation for a return in the fall.

The overall 1WOW goal is to allow the message to reach over a half million students per year. If you'd like to help, please e-mail info@1wow.org to list your skills, interests and abilities. For those with less time, financial support is a welcome option. 1WOW may be reached through the web site: http://www.1wow.org/

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Host Country Updates

Congo
Joseph Kabila, the 29-year-old political heir whom most Congolese had neither seen nor heard of until this week, was sworn in as the new president of the state formerly known as Zaire, a country occupied by a half-dozen foreign armies.

Ten days after the assassination of his father, the younger Kabila became the fourth president since this Central African nation's independence in 1960. Little is known about the new president, who despite being a major general in the army was seen for the first time on television by most Congolese at his father's funeral. At the inauguration, he read a short oath and did not deliver an address, as many Congolese had expected him to do. He spoke only on state television in a prerecorded appearance, rarely lifting his eyes from a script. Mr. Kabila deviated little in his televised address from the policies of his father. He is now the youngest African president.

Many Congolese here have expressed misgivings over the choice, because Joseph Kabila is seen as an outsider. Raised and educated in Tanzania, Mr. Kabila was said to be fluent in English and Swahili, though not in the languages of western Congo or in French, which many Congolese had hoped to hear him speak so as to judge his fluency. But the government gave him no opportunity to speak spontaneously; he carefully read a short oath in French; a faint English accent was discernible.

A decade after the end of the cold war spurred a wave of democratization in Africa, forcing even the most tenacious of dictators to at least hold sham elections to appease international creditors, Congo is one of few African countries to never have conducted an election.

Norimitsu Onishi, New York Times


Colombia
Two years ago, hoping to end more than 30 years of grinding civil war, President Andres Pastrana took the unusual step of ceding a Switzerland-size region of land to the largest guerrilla group in the country to lure it into peace talks. The talks have gone nowhere. Even the government concedes that the territory has been used to stage attacks elsewhere, hide kidnapping victims and grow coca. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia is stronger than ever, and Mr. Pastrana's government now faces the daunting prospect of dislodging them from 16,000 square miles.

Yet it is a strategy that Mr. Pastrana is preparing to use again. Officials say he is on the verge of granting a smaller sliver of land in and around this northern town about the size of Delaware to the second largest rebel force, the National Liberation Army. His reasoning is the same - that pulling police and army units from the territory offers the best chance to foster peace talks. What is different, the government says, is that the liberation army is showing a willingness to negotiate and that the group, weakened by attacks by paramilitary forces, has more to lose than the Revolutionary Armed Forces, or FARC, by not taking part in the peace effort.

But many people here say they are not so sure about that. They view the plan as a risky proposition. An array of forces - paramilitary groups that have gained at the rebels' expense, ranchers, businessmen and poor farmers - have lined up against the plan. "This would be an irreversible act that would fracture the country," said Alvaro Uribe, a presidential candidate whose popularity has skyrocketed because of his hard-line stance toward both rebel groups. Proponents of the plan and the rebels say that without a safe haven, the rebels will not feel secure enough to sit down to talks. The liberation army also says it wants a place where Colombians in public forums can feel safe to voice their concerns.

Juan Forero, New York Times


China
As he ambles down the street with a newspaper under his arm, the clean-shaven engineer, dressed in a neat down jacket and blue slacks, could be an advertisement for the new urban China. He has a Ph.D., speaks a bit of English, likes to surf the net and has moved steadily up in his profession. Except for one problem: He remains a committed - though mostly closeted - follower of Falun Gong, the banned spiritual movement. And that represents a challenge to the Chinese government, whose vicious 18-month campaign has failed to eliminate the group, or even reliably identify its millions of devoted followers.

Brazen expressions of dissent are mounting; recently five Falun Gong members set themselves ablaze and one died in the middle of Tiananmen Square. The silent majority in Falun Gong do not demonstrate. Yet they form an enormous reservoir of believers who may someday be driven to act. "Those who go to the square are the tip of the iceberg or - as we say in Chinese - just one hair on nine oxen," said the engineer. "They are willing to confront whatever the government will do to them. Most of us are not." All this makes Falun Gong a daunting enemy for China's ever-present security forces. Falun Gong may prove to be "the most challenging organized opposition" the party has faced, said Lu Xiaobo, a political science professor at Barnard College in New York. "In this 'political struggle,' I see an image of a giant fighting a ghost - you know it is there and haunting you, but you don't exactly know where to attack, or when it will attack you."

Threatening to China's leadership precisely because it includes a remarkable cross section of people - peasants and professors, rich and poor - they are devoted to an organization that is not the Chinese Communist Party. No matter that the group, which China's top leaders have labeled 'an evil cult,' has no political goals and is only loosely organized here. Some say the government attacks may backfire, because so far they have often served to radicalize people whose only goal 18 months ago was to improve their health through Falun Gong's quirky blend of exercise, meditation and mystical Eastern-leaning philosophy: "... as the government tries to suppress the group, it has become a real opposition and more 'political' than ever." The government estimates that there are still 50,000 to 80,000 followers in China, but adherents put the number in the tens of millions.

Elizabeth Rosenthale, New York Times

Mali
With the help of Area Representative Fatou Batta and local staff of World Neighbors, the twelve woman delegation visited programs in eight villages in Mali. "I thought visiting the program areas would be a lot of work, but visits to the villages were the best part of the trip.

For more information about the World Neighbors trip to Mali check out "Trip to Mali: Women Helping Women" on our News & Events page at http://www.wn.org/newsevents.asp To travel with World Neighbors, check out http://www.wn.org/wntravels.asp or call Beth Pribulsky at 1-800-242-6387.

India: Three notices regarding the Bhuj earthquake
1. Received from local Buddhist Peace Fellowship listserve: a way to send aid directly to those most in need through local Indian-American contacts:

"Hello everybody, Sunil and I are collecting money for the quake victims in Gujarat. Ahmedabad, our hometown, has been badly hit but thankfully our families are okay. But millions have been devastated, their homes destroyed or too unsafe to live in. Many are sleeping outdoors from fear of aftershocks which have been numerous and fairly big too.

"My friend Poonam works in a non-governmental organization in a region that has been badly affected. They are carrying out relief work in the surrounding towns and villages. She said their most immediate need was for blankets and tarps. We will be sending her a consolidated check. If we let her know how much we will be able to send her she can borrow the equivalent amount in rupees and buy the blankets and tarps. If you would like to donate let me know so I can tell Poonam how much we can send her. I will send you the address for the donation. Thanks." - Ava Bhavsar, avasun@hotmail.com

2. From World Neighbors: The earthquakes that rock Gujarat have spared World Neighbors program areas which are in Karnataka to the south and Bihar to the northeast. See our release at http://www.wn.org/newsevents.asp World Neighbors does not have the personnel or capacity to respond to disasters except in areas of program operations.

To find out how you can help relief organizations responding to the disaster, call Interaction at 202-667-8227 or visit their India Earthquake web site at: http://www.interaction.org/iondia00/index.html

3. From the SonomaTime Discussion listserve: "Hello friends, this site is like the Hunger Site which I use every day to make a donation to the India earthquake victims and it is even quicker and easier than the Hunger Site: all you do is click.

That's it. No form to fill in. Worth the five seconds. Please forward generously; it's real and it helps. You can make one free donation a day! http: //www.causeanaffect.org/thanks.asp

El Salvador: The Earthquakes

The Crisis Corps is currently considering the response its Spanish-speaking members will make to the earthquakes in El Salvador, awaiting incident reports and analysis from the local director and staff.

Skills needed are Spanish fluency, construction, water sanitation, and health. Experience has shown that basic infrastructure and rebuilding materials must be in place before meaningful reconstruction efforts can commence. For more, check www.peacecorps.gov

Ukraine
The political crisis that has seized Ukraine started with the disappearance last September of Georgy Gongadze, a lanky Georgian-born journalist with a penchant for asking blunt questions about President Leonid D. Kuchma. It worsened with the discovery in November of a headless body - believed to be that of Mr. Gongadze - and, later that month, the release of secret recordings made under the president's couch by a security man in which Mr. Kuchma appears to order the journalist's abduction or worse. The security agent, who is now hiding in Europe, has beamed his accusations into Ukraine over short-wave radio.

The scandal has set off anti-Kuchma demonstrations in dozens of cities, as well as counter demonstrations by state workers ordered into the streets or bused to pro-Kuchma rallies. Television and radio journalists say they have been ordered to keep the anti-Kuchma movement off the air. The whole affair has also touched off a fractious brawl in Parliament, where Mr. Kuchma's political majority has been upended by defections and formation of a centrist opposition.

"Never in 10 years has there been this kind of scandal, and no one can see where it is going," said Oleksandr Tkachenko, managing director of Novyi Kanal, an independent television network.

The growing crisis is threatening to undo reforms in a country - a major recipient of American aid - where pensioners are being paid on time for the first time in years and where the economy last year registered a respectable level of growth after a decade of collapse and stagnation. At highest risk is the fragile relationship between the president and prime minister. Mr. Yushchenko is a former central banker whose reputation for honesty and commitment to reform have made him a more attractive leader to the West and an object of suspicion for the president.

Patrick E. Tyler, Reuters and New York Times

Chile
An investigating judge reinstated the case against Gen. Augusto Pinochet in a case that has reawakened Chile's ghosts. Judge Juan Guzman charged General Pinochet with being a co-conspirator in the murders and kidnappings of 75 leftists after the coup that brought him to power in 1973 and ordered that he be placed under house arrest for the second time in two months.

The general's lawyers suggest that the 85-year-old retired general is not physically well enough to defend himself in court. The previous arrest order was reversed by the Supreme Court. It ruled that Judge Guzman had neglected to interrogate General Pinochet first and to put him through psychological and neurological tests to determine whether he was able to stand trial. Judge Guzman fulfilled those requirements and issued his order.

Should the courts uphold the new order, the once omnipotent dictator will be fingerprinted and photographed in his house here by the same police force that he once commanded. As the judicial process moves on, though, Judge Guzman or appellate courts could decide that General Pinochet is mentally unfit to stand trial and halt the proceedings.

Clifford Krauss, New York Times


Gabon (and elsewhere):

Personal Security for PCVs
Tabatha Aboumrad, a San Diego RPCV who served in Gabon and whom SDPCA funded for a field project, submitted the following to a board member: "I am an RPCV (Gabon 1997-99) here in San Diego. There is some controversy about security in Gabon for the volunteers. Not so long ago a PCV was raped and killed near her home-which sparked conversation about security. I'm forwarding an email that is going aroun trying to put pressure on PC-decision makers about what to do about it. I thought that you and the other San Diego RPCVs might be interested in it. It's sad - but real.

Tabatha Aboumrad, RPCV t_aboumrad@hotmail.com


This letter and documentation (abridged below due to length) was forwarded to Director Mark Schneider with copies to relevant Senate Chairpersons, state department administrators, and (then) President Clinton.

January 3, 2001
Dear Director Schneider:

We are returned Peace Corps/Gabon volunteers (RPCVs) who are concerned about the apparent security problem that exists in Gabon. According to your June 24, 2000, statement, issued in response to the acquittal of those brought to trial for the murder of volunteer Karen Phillips, you are currently reviewing 'all aspects of our presence and programs in Gabon.' We would like to assist you in that review.

In the attached documents, RPCVs have given accounts of their experiences with security matters in Gabon and Peace Corps' response to those experiences.... We believe that these accounts should cause the Peace Corps to change the way it addresses security matters not only in Gabon, but in other developing countries as well. These security incidents ...are unnecessarily frequent.

Because we believe many of these incidents could have been avoided if Peace Corps had handled matters differently, we propose that Peace Corps make the following changes to the way in which it addresses security problems within a country:

1. ESTABLISH A SEPARATE BUDGET for security purposes that would be available for directors and medical officers (PCMO's) to respond immediately to volunteer security concerns, whether in the form of a visit to local authorities, sending money for added security to a house, or relocating a volunteer to a safer region.

2. ESTABLISH MANDATORY PROCEDURES FOR DOCUMENTING all security problems so that changing directorship can make informed decisions....

3. ENSURE THAT PCVS HAVE SAFE HOUSING BEFORE THEY ARRIVE AT THEIR POST. This would include a visit by a senior staff member to the potential site, a visit to site by trainee during training, and installation at site with staff member.

We believe these changes can be accomplished at minimal cost and disruption to the organization. If implemented, future volunteers may be saved from the psychological and physical damage which we know has been suffered by so many returned volunteers....we believe (this) to be a problem existing within the Peace Corps - a systemic problem which has placed volunteers at risk in the past and, if gone unaddressed, will continue to place them at risk in the future.

We remain committed to the three goals of Peace Corps service....

On Behalf of Concerned Gabon RPCVs,

Elizabeth Schuler, TEFL, 1991-93
Susan Feldmann, TEFL, 1992-94
Margaret Kolbe, TESP,1991-93

The above advocacy correspondence included a listing of the responses to a security survey submitted by Gabon RPCVs and PCVs and copies of the original documents as completed by PCVs affected. As I count the documentation (too lengthy to reprint) of incidents and their types, including many reports to PC Gabon and repeated requests for support/intervention, dated from 1988-2000, they include: harassment (with or without guns), 3; robbery, well more than 15; breaking and entering a PCV home, well more than 21; stalking, 2; accostations (with or without guns), 4; assaults (sexual and/or other), 10; personal threats, 4; murder, 1; rape, 1; battery, 1; domestic violence, 1; trespass, 2, murder on PCVs property, 1; and relocation due to security incidents, 6 (including one to Washington, D.C.), although many other PCVs who requested relocation (based on security issues which had already occurred for them) were denied by PC Gabon.

For further information, or to offer comments or support, you may contact: Concerned Gabon RPCVs, 1317 42nd Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94122, 415-664-5389, concernedgabonrpcvs@yahoo.com

(Ed. note: I personally remember being sexually accosted/mildly assaulted during my service in the 60s, just as our trainers had warned might occur due to cultural differences. The difference between this and Gabon PCVs' experiences seems to be that in my case, host country individuals knew that local PC staff would protect us and support us in the legal arena, and that our service was deeply honored on all sides, so that my negative responses struck fear in the hearts of my accosters, once they knew I was willing to report them.

However, according to these PCV Gabon reports from 40 affected volunteers, PC Gabon repeatedly seems to offer little, if any support, even when serious incidents are reported and intervention pleaded, and Gabonese seem to realize this and to take full advantage).

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Member-To-Member

From one SDPCA member to another: professional, skilled and free support

Resume review and Career Counseling
Mona Melanson (h) 619.692.4138

Local Education Career Info
Brenda Terry-Hahn (h) 619.584.0186

Professional Sailing Lessons
Hank Davenport-Barberis (h) 858.565.1060

Do you have a special skill?
Want to help out other members?
Please note these are FREE services members are offering.
To get listed here, e-mail to info@sdpca.org

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Potpourri

"With every true friendship, we build more firmly the foundation on which the peace of the world rests." - Mohandas Gandhi

Oops!
There were several minor boo-boo's in the last Pacific Waves, for which we apologize. At press time, one of us was mid-root canal and the flu, with an international guest, and for this one - after the newsletter was done - the computer trashed the entire thing and backup, so all had to be input again; one mid-nervous breakdown due to a move and an escrow (one friend says es-screw) closing, and one hungry and looking for work, as the holiday bustle also swirled around us. We aspire to do better this time. - Pacific Waves Crew

Greenstar: Solar Powered E-commerce for Villages
"Greenstar is engaged in international development of a new exciting variety that is applicable to your connections overseas. Currently in Palestine, Jamaica and India, Greenstar invests in self-contained, solar-powered community centers in remote areas around the world.

"Each center has Internet, health facilities including telemedicine, a classroom including distance learning, and a business center, through which we operate e-commerce in native cultural products. The solar array powers the unit, preserves medicines and purifies water. E-commerce pays for the facilities and brings wealth into the community. The main line of products will be "digital culture," such as music and art, which can be duplicated and transported effortlessly, making the transaction completely green and highly efficient. The community eventually owns all these services and an income source that preserves culture by giving it market value. For more, check our web site http://www.greenstar.org or http://ww.e-greenstar.com or V 301.776.9979, F 603.462.5911.

Paul Swider, pswider@e-greenstar.com President, Friends of Bulgaria (This also sounds like something Friends groups might wish to investigate for their host countries.)

Summer Cooperative African Language Institute 2001
Once again the University of Wisconsin-Madison will be hosting the Summer Cooperative African Language Institute (2001)From June 18 to August 9. Tuition will be $1800 for 8 UW-Madison credits.

We invite visits to the SCALI web site below to register your interest, including indicating the language and level in which you would be interested. SCALI 2000 was able to offer Bamana II, Chichewa I & II, Hausa I, Setswana I, Swahili I & II, Xhosa I, Yoruba I & II, and Zulu I. We will be updating the site as additional information on offerings, funding, accommodations, etc. becomes available. Please feel free to contact us if you should have any questions or suggestions or visit our web site or the following:

email: scali@mhub.facstff.wisc.edu
URL: http://polyglot.lss.wisc.edu/afrst/scali/
phone: 608.262.2380, fax: 608.265.5851.

Mark L. Lilleleht, Coordinator, SCALI 2001

Human Rights Web Sites and Listservs
There are a number of programs in Human Rights taking place this summer that are being announced on the Human Rights Education listserv (hr-education@hrea.org). You may learn more about these listed below and others by going to the indicated web sites, or by searching the archives for the hr-education listserv (see below for instructions).

  • 22nd Annual International Human Rights Training Program (Montreal, June 2001), application deadline: February 1, 2001
    http://www.chrf.ca
  • International Human Rights Advocacy Training (St. Paul, MN, August 2001)
    http://web.hamline.edu/law/scotinstitute
  • Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (Washington, DC, May-June 2001) - application deadline: May 12, 2001
    http://www.wcl.american.edu/pub/humright/hracademy
  • Global Human Rights Education listserv: Send mail intended for the list to
    hr-education@hrea.org . Archives of the list can be found at: http://www.hrea.org/lists/hr-education/

To subscribe, send a message to majordomo@hrea.org, with this text in the message: subscribe hr-education

Help Poor Women Empower Themselves:
An advertiser-paid contribution will be made toward a woman's micro-enterprise loan every time you click on the http://www.povertyfighters.com site, which works like The Hunger Site does, with even more revenue per click, at no cost to you. Microcredit programs provide self-employment and other financial and business services to very poor micro entrepreneurs. Visit the site, give a click, and pass the word!

Cathy Cordes

Travel Web Site by Tourists-cum Authors:
IgoUgo is a unique online community where regular tourists become travel writers and postcards sent home are turned into interactive travel journals. Since launching in August 2000, IgoUgo members have posted over 20,000 travel journals on nearly 2,000 destinations, sharing their real, personal experiences interacting with locals, teaching English, working abroad and learning new languages. Current entries include:

  • Teaching English to Tibetans by Guide Eleven Shadows
    http://www.igougo.com/planning/viewFreeForm.html?Entry=3106
  • Willing Workers on Organic Farms by Guide Scotth
    http://www.igougo.com/planning/viewJournal.html?JournalID=1415
  • Project Eco-Quetzal by Guide Milvos
    http://www.igougo.com/planning/viewJournal.html?JournalID=4646

These journals include personal stories, beautiful photos and useful links. Through them IgoUgo offers a connection with like-minded travelers and first-hand, objective travel recommendations. Guide-writers also earn points toward American Airlines Frequent Flier miles and other rewards including digital cameras and backpacks. I invite you to visit or contribute to http://www.igougo.com!

Stella Fiore, Associate Editor, 212.463.0443, stella@igougo.com

Amity Institute seeks RPCV Participation
Amity Institute, a San Diego-based international teaching exchange organization, is seeking board members among RPCVs who are interested in international education, foreign languages, cross-cultural learning and international understanding. Created in 1962 by American language teachers who had Peace Corps-type idealism, Amity seeks to help promote the learning of other languages and cultures in the U.S. by conducting a sort of reverse Peace Corps: volunteers from abroad assist in foreign language classrooms all across the U.S., sharing their lives while learning American culture first-hand.

Several Amity staff and board members over the years have also been involved in the Peace Corps, a natural linkage which we wish to continue. Those interested can explore the web site (http://www.amity.org) or contact Debra Hinman, Director at 858-455- 6364,10671 Roselle Street, Suite 101, San Diego, California 92121.

Debra C. Hinman, Executive Director


WN's Work of Women
Work of Women, a new membership organization within World Neighbors started in May 2000, now has over 350 members. It focuses on the power and potential of low-income women. If you are interested in providing education and training, small business loans, health care and clean water to women and children living in rural Asia, Africa and Latin America, visit WOW! at http://www.workofwomen.org

Computer Haiku, Continued
Imagine if, instead of cryptic, geeky text strings, your computer produced error messages in haiku. They would read like these:

Chaos reigns within.
Reflect, repent, and reboot.

Order shall return.
ABORTED effort:

Close all that you have.
You ask far too much.

First snow, then silence.
This thousand dollar screen dies
so beautifully.

With searching comes loss
and the presence of absence:
"My Novel" not found.

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Newsletter Credits

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: newseditor@sdpca.org

Editor
Brenda Terry-Hahn

Layout / Production
Don Beck, Jeff Cleveland

Contributors this issue are
Frank Yates, Rudy Sovinee, Patti Eger, Lisa Frankel, Sal Castellito, Hank Davenport-Barberis, Tom McMahon, NPCA Listserv authors, New York Times Reporters

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