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San Diego Peace Corps Association Newsletter

March -- April 2004 -- V olume 17, Number 2

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Our Human Network

You Just Never Know

by Cindy Ballard (Botswana, 1993-95)

We probably all remember the talk during our Peace Corps training about how we may just never know the impact of our service. We were warned not to look too hard for signs of change in our work, we were a pebble dropping in a pond whose ripples would continue beyond our time in service. We might never hear anything back about our impact, good or bad.

In December I took a trip to Kenya and Tanzania. I went to visit a fellow RPCV from my time in Botswana. Susan now works as an Admin office in Kenya, and I’d promised her I would come and visit. Last spring my boyfriend Tom decided to go with me, so that he could climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. But, wild man that he is, he wanted to do it in a day. It didn’t seem possible to me—I took four days to do the “coca-cola” route in 1995. And, his preliminary research into guide companies concurred that they wanted to sell 5 to 10 day treks. He almost gave up on the idea.

Above: Mt.Kilamanjaro whitepeaked and bush on the way to it. Photo by Tom Guminski.

But then, at the SDPCA day at the Del Mar races Tom and I met Teagan Blaine, an RPCV from Tanzania now attending UCSD. A fellow volunteer she knew had worked with a woman to set up a travel agency in the town of Moshi, just down from Kilimanjaro. Teagan sent Tom the e-mail address of Margaret Mponda of Moonstruck Mountaineering and Wildlife Safari, a full service travel agency in Tanzania ( After telling her what he wanted to attempt, she disbelievingly mentioned it around town to her friends in the business and found Freddie Munna, a guide that had made the trek in less than 24 hours and would be willing to guide Tom. The trek was on.

Margaret’s business never really developed as she had hoped. She was attempting to develop a business after the Embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya had already diminished the tourist industry there. Even two weeks before our departure there was a State Department warning against travel in the countries. I had noticed in our travel that the Kenyans and Tanzanians would ask where we were from and then guess England, Holland and even Canada before America—I guess that is telling about our diminished travel as a nation over the past few years.

Above: Guide and Porter along the way. Photo by Tom Guminski.

Margaret loves working with tourists though, and gave us amazing personal attention while we were there. She actually waited at the gate for Tom to return from his climb for over 8 hours (he made the summit in 21 hours with no issues, but the decent took another 12 hours and they struggled for a few hours with no food or water). She now runs her business out of her house where she lives with her sister and two brothers, as their parents have passed on.

Margaret didn’t know Teagan, but she had worked extensively with her friend, attending a business development workshop sponsored by Peace Corps. Though he doesn’t know Tom and I, his work with Margaret rippled to San Diego.

I guess this story is just another example of the way our Peace Corps networking can make things happen that otherwise wouldn’t.

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Susan Ross is an RPCV from Botswana, 1993–95 who is currently the admin officer for Peace Corps Kenya. She spent Christmas of 2002 as an election observer for the US embassy. Given our upcoming elections, it is appropriate to share her story, and remind everyone of their duty to vote—voting is important, because we can.

A Holiday Safari 2002

by Susan Ross (Botswana 1993-95)

January 1, 2003
I’ll begin with the president—I meant to write present, but the new president of Kenya, Mwai Kibaki—has so dominated everyone’s psyche the past 72 hours that I am not surprised by my “Freudian slip.” Yesterday Kenya swore in its third president a mere 24 hours after Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner of the December 27th election. People here are euphoric, giddy, so hopeful of change; so surprised that the process was “free, fair and transparent;” so relieved that there was a peaceful transfer of power. Several months ago I had volunteered to be an election observer for the US embassy. At that time, there were serious doubts as whether the 24 year serving President Moi would hand-over power and even graver predictions over the likelihood of violence both pre and post election. When December 27 was announced as the day ballots were to be cast, I knew that whatever happened, Christmas 2002 would be memorable.

December 24th: Christmas Eve.
I am part of a five person team. We are traveling in a rugged 4WD land Cruiser equipped with a long range radio transmitter, a satellite phone, 5 cell phones (we all have one) plus an extra for back-up 2 spare wheels (tyres), election materials, food, water and our own gear. Our observation district is the northeast providence of Kenya, in the town of Wajir, the last outpost of any size if traveling by road to Somalia. Our journey will take two days over tough roads and dirt tracks.

On day one we reach Garissa and do two things correctly: first, Ibrahim speaks Somali and thus serves as both our language and cultural interpreter; second, we have arranged with the district police commissioner to have two armed officers accompany us to Wajir.
So our team of 5 becomes 7 plus their AK-47s. Peter and Alfred serve as both escorts on our road trip and body guards at our polling stations. Quiet young men barely 20 years, their weapons intimidate where age fails (I’ll admit relief that no outlaws witnessed adaptive weapon use when, at a loss for a way to uncap our cokes, they used the magazine of the AK-47).

Garissa is our overnight stop, a hot and humid outpost noteworthy mostly for its proximity to the Tana River and as a base-station for relief agencies working with Somali refugee camps that have become established in the region.

December 25th: Christmas Day
[Though there are only two Christians in our group and virtually none in this Muslim dominated region] At least all the shops are open so we can buy some fruit and other stores for the day’s travel. No mangers, Santas, or Xmas trees, however.

The road is dusty, rutted and wild. The landscape is desert scrub. We enter camel country where dromedaries graze along side cattle, goats and sheep. The people are pastoralists, tending their herds and transporting goods in caravans. Their dress is traditional—women wrapped in colorful cottons and headscarves; the men in more subdued Kongas, beards dyed red with henna.

We arrive in Wajir late in the afternoon and proceed directly to our hotel. Agnes and Elizabeth had come to Wajir in November on a pre-observation site visit. At that time they booked us into the Pastoralist, “the best hotel in town” by their account and the only accommodation with flushing toilets. Imagine our dismay to discover –despite reconfirming prior to our departure—our rooms had been given to one of the local political candidates and his entourage. Ibrahim used his most persuasive Somali charm and secured us the room used by the staff; however five people in an 8’x12’ space for two days did not seem endurable for any of us. (I failed to mention the 100 deg temps, the humidity and the dust.)

Thus Agnes, Ibrahim and John are dispatched to see where in town there might be two rooms—flushing toilet or no! Elizabeth and I remain behind to hold the one room as a back-up and drink tea. One hour and a thermos later, our scouts return. Miraculously—yes, it was Christmas Day—they have been told of a Catholic Convent outside of town. They have a small guest house but it is not open on Christmas day. Agnes, (herself Catholic) played an ace: “Sister, remember Joseph and Mary were also with out shelter on this day.” Convinced, they agree to give us a three room cottage with a flush toilet and cold water shower.

The nuns themselves are actually lay missionaries from Italy though I have no idea what inroads they hope to make in a part or Kenya so Muslim that the women and girls are all veiled, many with burkas. The men, too, are traditionally attired in Kanga wraps and head drapes. Forget trying to buy a cold beer in this place and I am reasonably certain I am the only white woman within a 300 km radius. I did meet a Swedish man, an observer with the EU, whose polling station was in Eastern Wajir.

December 26th—Boxing Day
We spend most of the day in the vehicle driving through out laying areas to visit polling stations, call on local officials to introduce ourselves and follow protocol, and check with police to assess safety and security issues. Wajir is an urban area compared to the outposts we see. Most settlements consist of a shop or two, a mosque and perhaps a small building used as a school. Houses are unlike any I have seen in Africa: rondavals, but constructed completely of sticks and straw. One modern modification is in the form of bright yellow plastic tarps that cap each structure—a by-product of UNHCR relief efforts, a recycling of the wrappings used for food and other emergency supplied donated to numerous refugee camps that were established when Somalians fled to Kenya during the 1992 war.

December 27th: Election Day
Wake-up call at 4am to be at the polling stations we identified yesterday as the most significant to watch. The polls open at 6 am, but we need to observe the setting up and opening procedures. Agnes and I will cover Wajir Girls’ school and its 4 “streams”—voting locations—within the compound. We arrive in darkness and hundreds of people have already gathered, crowed at the door. The voter registers are separated alphabetically: “A” is one stream because there are so many Abduls and Abdulas “B–H” is my stream “I–R” and “R–Z” are in separate areas of the compound.
With the help of our armed escort, we make our way through the crowd. If I thought I would be the only observer, I was solely mistaken. Each of the six political parties is allowed two agents within the polling station. There are also observers from a Kenyan NGO—Kenya Democratic Observation Program (K-DOP). The Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) has a trained Presiding Officer and six delegates. The set-up is elaborate. Party agents question every move to ensure the other parties are not rigging the procedures. At 6:45 the opening activities are still underway, mandated systems to demonstrate the process is “free and fair.” For example, each of the three ballot boxes is held aloft by the presiding officer. He turns them upside-down and we visually inspect them to see there are no hidden ballots within. The lids are also examined. The boxes are then double sealed with “flexi-cuff” nylon bands and tested to make sure they cannot be loosened.

By this time, the hundreds of people outside have been waiting for several hours and are becoming restless. It is also hot and growing hotter. They have traveled all night and have probably had nothing to eat or to drink. Finally the station opens and the first voters enter, present their registration cards and Kenya IDs, have their names checked against the register, receive their three ballots (President, Parliament, and civic/local), and approach the presiding Officer. I am surprised by the high illiteracy rate. Of the over 500 voters, I saw fewer than a dozen who were able to read and mark their ballots without assistance. Thus, they must name their preferences and have the Presiding Officer record their vote by marking an X. The PO then shows the ballot to each agent to examine and certify that the correct name was marked. The ballot is then folded, handed to the voter and deposited in the proper box. It is a long, tedious process.

And the voters themselves: they have traveled from so far, for so long to participate in this democratic process. They are young and old—some very old. Some are blind, deaf, crippled or deformed. Some are ill. I saw one woman near death, so weak that when she entered the room she collapsed. When she was revived, she was physically supported at every stage of the process. When she reached the Presiding Officer, she again collapsed but pulled herself forward to present her ballots. It seemed to take her remaining strength to whisper, “Kibaki.” It was a most poignant moment and seemed to capture the commitment Kenyans have to democracy. I have no doubt that this scene—or scenes similar—were repeated throughout the country throughout the day.
And, so the day droned on. Impossible heat; no facilities; no relief. The crowd was patient, passive until the former MP for the district arrived to vote. A member of KANU, the party of Moi, word spread quickly that his pockets were stuffed with ballots he intended to deposit. When he tried to address the crowd, he was shouted down. Tempers flared; the police rushed in with tear gas (not discharged); the crowd dispersed. The MP voted and departed. Inside the polling stations, voting calmly continued.
Polls were due to close at 6pm, but as that time approached, over 200 voters remained. By 9 pm the last ballot had been cast and counting could begin. Just as with the morning opening, strict procedures were followed including how the seals were broken, boxes emptied, ballots sorted, and then slowly, individually examined and counted by the ECK officials. We were all exhausted by this point and the hand-counting was hypnotic like sheep to an insomniac. By 2:30 am barely any of us could keep our heads up—with the exception of the Presiding Officer whose discipline and stamina was an inspiration.

It seems the results at my station mirrored most of the rest of the country—the opposition party, NARC (unfortunate acronym for the newly formed National Rainbow Coalition) won by a landslide. What an incredible day and I was awake for all 24 hours of it! Our observation team reassembled and returned to our guest house where we collapsed in our beds at 3:30 am—exhausted, dehydrated, hungry—but satisfied that we had witnessed a free, fair and transparent election process.

January 1, 2003
There is hope, optimism and peace throughout Kenya. What better way to begin a new year.--Susan

On my recent trip to Kenya, I spoke with a number of Kenyans that are still patient, optimistic and hopeful about the changes being made by their new government despite several unfortunate deaths in their cabinet and leadership. If only the people of America would exhibit such pride in the freedom and choice of casting a ballot. On Election Day, VOTE! -ed.


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The SDPCA crew for the day with sandbags produced. Photo by Rudy Sovinee.

Sandbagging Harbison Canyon

The Community Action Committee of the SDPCA has a goal of building internal membership camaraderie while engaging the SDPCA more visibly and actively in the community. Our first sponsored event in several years was to assist in the fire recovery effort by filling sandbags in Harbison Canyon. Filling sandbags was likely one of the more physically strenuous projects we’ll undertake. It was also urgently needed as San Diego entered its rainy season after the fires destroyed ground cover.

Our Saturday was a gloriously sunny day to be outdoors. The meeting place was the tent being used as the community center in Harbison Canyon. Seven of us showed up, and once joined by other volunteers who had answered the call of “Volunteer San Diego” we were shuttled over to the sandbagging area. There we divided our labor into a three-stage production effort. Some of us shoveled sand into inverted traffic cones, suspended between 2x4 planks. Some placed the bags under the cones and the rest tied and stacked the bags. The routine allowed for lots of fun conversation, and we rotated tasks as a way of keeping fresh.

Using traffic cones to help fill the bags with sand. Photo by Rudy Sovinee.

Our source of sand surprised me. While the sandbags we filled would be used to protect property from erosion, the sand was dug out of a roadside culvert that had filled in from earlier rains. As we finished our efforts, we lined the lower end of the culvert in a way to protect a road from being undermined, and simultaneously slow the next run-off to again drop its sediment into the same culvert.

That next rain didn’t delay. By Monday, TV newscasts were telling of rains, and the dangers they posed. We had played a part in lessening that danger, but the recovery will take months or years. We made a difference.

Filling more sand bags. Photo by Cindy Ballard.

If you missed helping with the SDPCA this time, save the 3rd Saturday of the month—specifically March 20th, April 17th and May 15th. The exact details will not be finalized until shortly before the event. Our goal is to select one project each month for SDPCA to participate in. We ask each member to commit to participate in one [or more] of our monthly projects each year.

Together, we can contribute to the community, “Bring it all back home” and have fun in the process. More details will be announced by an Evite about 7-10 days before each event.

If you know or are part of other community activities SDPCA can particapte in, contact the Community Action Committee through Rudy Sovinee at

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Don Beck is our newsletter layout designer and webmaster. He lives in Ireland/San Diego but spent December in Australia. After a warm welcome home by his cats, and adjusting to the cold after Australian heat, he took the time to share pictures and observations of the trip.-ed

Details from Down Under

by Don Beck (Bolivia 1967-69)

It’s been a week now, back here in NW Eire. Tonight, it’s cold and wet and dismal compared to Oz and San Diego. There was snow here one or two days while we were gone. Just rain storms now, for four days. Gale winds off and on; drizzles and torrents of rain. Even the cats just laugh at me when I open the door to send them out–they usually love going out.

House is finally heating up. I renew my appreciation of electric blankets. In Oz hotels/motels had electric blankets, just not plugged in. So it MUST get cold there. After Australia’s December summer, I was spoiled—to the point of complaining about the heat. Why is the grass always greener?

Melbourne was 101 when we left, hottest it’s been there in 23 years. San Diego was about 60, somewhat on the cold side, even for SD, and definitely colder than Oz. In DC (Dulles) it was 30; in London 50 and raining; in Dublin 50 and sunny; and now, 40 plus and minus in Aclare. Days are super short once again, dark at 5 pm and light at 9 am. In Oz I was used to long days: sun up by 6 am and down at 9:30 pm. However, twilight is almost nonexistent in Oz, only about a 10 minute period as the sun goes down—then it’s dark! BUT the skies are phenomenal. So many stars, many more than in the northern hemisphere. Awesome to see! The stars on the Oz flag represent the southern cross constellation.
So much to write about. Had a wonderful time.

We traveled about 9000 miles in-country. Rick’s accent got deeper while we were there. I found little problem (generally) understanding the Oz accent. It’s much less than Irish and much much much less than UK.
People and country are wonderfully diverse. And being with a native let’s you see more. I got to meet Rick’s three sisters and their families; they really dote on him. Victoria will be a great place to retire when he’s ready!

How to summarize such an experience? Maybe keywords will help...

• diverse: Many cultures of people in one country. Laws in place and enforced about anti-racism. Groups in the streets mixed racially. Geographically a large country with a wide variety of climates and biomes and topography.

Businessmen at a tram stop waiting for the trolley to come by.
Photo by Rick Mathews.

• multicultural: There is a wide variety of cultures and ethnic backgrounds, but“melting pot” doesn’t describe it. There seems to be great pride in recognizing each, rather than trying to mix them into a single “one.”

• pioneering: I felt a sense of pride in country, of growing and building and sharing. There is a sense of cooperation and helpfulness of folk for each other, akin to pioneer days. It seemed each person’s survival is a part of everyone’s survival. It reminded me of when computers were first popular in schools. None of us were really knowledgeable of the computer beast, so we shared all each of us learned networking as a way to survive.

• growing, expanding: The major cities all had many buildings being built and expanded. Great building in progress in all the cities we visited: in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide. Population of the country is only 19 million. Melbourne about 4; Sydney about 5; Perth about 1; Adelaide about 2

"Happy Lost Purse" in Melbourne. Sad because it's lost but happy
because it's found. Photo by Rick Mathews.

• friendly, helpful, kind: People would go out of their way to help when you asked for help. And even without asking, they were curious about you as a visitor. Where were you from, what did you think of Australia. Open about positives and negatives and more worldly aware than most Americans, I felt.

• sense of humor: I heard more laughter and saw more smiles than I am used to. People seem to know how to ligthen up there–at least to be as hard at play as at work. Visual humor decorates the urban landscape. For example, the giant “lost purse” 5ft by 4ft by 2ft high in polished red granite laying on the sidewalk. Or bronze pigs wandering the mall, one poised and looking into a trash bin. Or a corner of an old building sticking out of the walkway at an angle.

Everytime I saw them. I thought they were real! This is a mall in Adelaide.
Photo by Rick Mathews.

• wholesome, naive: Wholesome = the sense that people are more whole, still with dreams, less worn down. There are only five major television stations in the country and programming I saw was less violent. All the same movies are showing, but more of the kids things. People seemed more open to talk of themselves, men seemed more able to show soft traits and women more open to showing hard traits. Less appearances. Ads on tv seem dated, less sophisticated, BUT refreshingly so. More local stuff.

Big bench in Broken Hill, a mining town along the RR from Adelaide to Sydney. Photos by Rick Mathews.

• retro: On radio stations much music from the 50s, 60s, 70s playing all the time. Frank Sinatra, Television shows: old sit coms.

• mackie: MacDonald’s is everywhere and so obnoxious with the big M’s. It was nice to hear that in the blue mountains they have been barred from building any restaurants. Mac took it to court and were told “No Way!” Hooray!, I say. Their presence there seemed an intrusion. I hope that fast foods decline there rather than increase.

• huge: The country is huge! I’ve always known it was big—it’s a continent BUT when you travel, you can see the immensity especially by train: the vastness of the horizon. And yet settled sparsely, around the edges and the major cities.

• beautiful: rugged, trees, forests of trunks, sunset and sunrise colors, parrots, flowers, red soil, deep blue of the sky, blue of a clam in the water at barrier reef, blue of the water, green of the sugar cane, purple of the jacarandas all over cities, extensive gardens around houses in cities, botanical gardens,

In Melbourne, I almost thought I was in the future in Planet of
the Apes, expecting the Statue of Liberty's arm further on.
Photo by Rick Mathews.

• extremes, variety: deserts—tropical rain forest; aboriginal—European; mountains—plains; snow—desert; Biomes: desert, tropical rain forest, barrier reef, temperate, forests, beaches,

• spectacular skies, hot sun, high UV: With only few clouds, high and sparse. Sometimes billowy and full too. And rain clouds as well. BUT when clear, a different blue than in the US.

• vegemite: tradition to all Aussies. Vegemite is made from yeast extracts, containing vitamins and such. Meant as a spread on sandwiches to enhance food value. A little goes a long way.

• meats: lamb—low fat, high taste, tastes like beef. I really liked lamb there. beef—low in fat, better tasting than American beef. kangaroo—I had kangaroo rump. It was very nice much like steak. rissole—a combination of ground meats and onions and spices, much like a meatball. I thought it was great! hamburgers—traditional hamburger there has a slice of red beet on it as well. I never found a place that had it, but didn’t really look that hard. It doesn’t sound appetizing (but then I thought peanut butter and pickle relish was yucky till I tried it!). crocodile—said to be very savory, but haven’t tried it yet.

• fruits: Cherries were in season and were awesome. They sell them by the size of the fruit. So you might see three boxes with different prices. Mangoes were all around. Very nice. Pineapples were great. Peaches too. Fresh grapes. Apricots. Macadamias are big as well. Juice bars are very popular. Mostly 100% fresh juices, not bottled “drinks.” Fruits and veggies juiced as you watch. Carrot juice, apple juice, combinations. On mall streets in big cities with only pedestrian traffic there would be tent kiosks set up in the middle of the street every other block selling juices and fresh fruits. Lots of bottled water sales too.

• stores: Target, Safeway, 7-11. Super markets are more informal. Shelves are more like wholesale stores going up to eight or nine feet high, out of bare metal. Aisles not as wide, but with no floor displays to block you. Diversity from Chinese to Thai to Japanese to Indian to British to Mexican to US.... Much more diverse than I am used to. [Irish markets, though smaller than US are also more diverse than US]

One part of Federation Square in Melbourne with levels, cafes, museums,
shops and more. Photo by Rick Mathews.

• volunteerism: The first weekend in Melbourne in Federation Square was a Celebration of Volunteerism. The square is a large place in the center city for outdoor activities and events, with many levels, nooks and crannies for cafes, performances, a museum, and much more.

Surrounding the square the buildings have bizarre exteriors: panels of various shapes mounted at odd angles giving the area a special dimension. For this Celebration, there were many groups with dancing, singing, demonstrations, recruiting. Since its first international volunteer placement in 1951, Australian Volunteers International has placed more than 6000 persons in 70 countries as well as in Australia. In talking to volunteers and reading their magazine, I see that we, of Peace Corps, share the same vision and learning lessons. Their organization is a private not for profit organization, with sponsors and supporters including the governement’s Overseas Aid Agency. [Find out more about them at:]

Some quotes from their volunteers:

“Through the decades the value and importance of volunteering has not changed. Volunteering is symbolic of human solidarity, of human equality.”
--Herb Feith (first international volunteer, 1951)

“Although it was but a drop in the huge ocean I feel better for it. Volunteering strengthened was an experience for life.”
--Australian Volunteer, Botswana.

“As the world shrinks and our population mix increases there will be a greater need for inter-cultural understanding and acceptance.”
--Australian Volunteer, Samoa

It’s nice to see that we share the same vision and learning lessons with others. It makes me smile that we are not the only ones bringing it all back home.

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Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius--and a lot of courage--to move in the opposite direction. --Albert Einstein

From the V-President...

Renewing the Mix

[Marjory Clyne is traveling and so this is technically a Vice Presidential message]

The May 23rd annual meeting has promise of being a great party, possibly catered in part with ethnic foods. If so, we’ll need your help with RSVPs, to have the right amounts of food.

May 23rd also means looking to renew our group with a new board elected. Well over half our membership has been on the board, but the mix of new members and experienced ones allows the board to be creative. Time is always tight, but keeping the SDPCA strong is what magnifies and builds upon our shared Peace Corps legacy. Look over the board members duties (see Calling for Volunteers), and please step forward to help—on the board or with a committee. It is a great learning experience, and if you’ve done it before you know it’s easier the second time!!

Looking further, celebrate the NPCA’s 25th anniversary this summer! Mark your calendars now for the 2004 NPCA National Conference to be held in Chicago, IL from August 5–8, 2004. Our local hosts will be the Chicago Area Peace Corps Association (CAPCA). The theme for the conference: “Peace Corps 2004: Celebrating a Legacy of Service.”

Early-bird registration is now available at:

For regularly updated information on the conference, go to:

--Rudy Sovinee, Ghana (1970-73), Vice-President SDPCA


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Board Minutes: for January 6 and February 2, 2004

Present: Cindy Ballard, Ted Finkel, Nikol Shaw, Rudy Sovinee, and Frank Yates attended both meetings. Marjory Clyne and Ray Slanina attended in January. Kristen Slanina, David Fogelson, and Brenda Terry Hahn attended in February.

Minutes were approved as amended.

President’s Report: The Earth Day Fair will be Sunday, April 25th in Balboa Park. The Earth Fair Organizers have readjusted their budget and booths will now cost $125. Dave will ask Peace Corps if they can pay the fee, since this is a recruiting event. Dave will chair the Earth Day Fair Committee and post a notice in the newsletter asking for volunteers.
A motion was made to maintain the booth at the Earth Day Fair and pay for it even if Peace Corps cannot help with the cost. The motion carried.
The Annual Meeting and Board Elections are approaching in May. Many members have served on the Board, but it has been years since their service. It is time to begin recirculating.

Financial Report: Frank reported balances and provided a detailed statement of income and expenses.

Membership: The SDPCA membership is at 130 current, 49 past due, totaling 179. NPCA membership is at 95 current, 30 past due, totaling 125.

Community Action: The January Harbison Canyon erosion control event was successful. Upcoming Community Action Events (3rd Saturday of each month): March 20th, April 17th, May 15th, and June 19th.

Fundraising: No report.

Global Awards: Ted acknowledges Rudy’s politically correct, tenacious correspondence with Peace Corps Washington. His efforts resulted in SDCPA’s Global Award announcement being sent to each country desk. The major change from the way awards were previously given is that checks will be made payable to a Host Country National the PCV has nominated, rather than checks payable to the PCV.

Communications: Our next newsletter deadline is 4/10/04.

Social: Kristen Slanina is the new Social Chair.
Past and current activities are covered in newsletter stories.

Speaker’s Bureau: Dave continues to receive and fill requests for speakers. An RPCV preferably a recently returned senior, is needed to speak to Friendship Partners on March 14th. San Diego County is the #1 recruiting office for PC LA. Dave has had 80 applicants nominated, with only 7 withdrawing

Old Business: None.

New Business: None.

Next Meetings: The March meeting will take place 6:30 PM, 3/1/04, at the home of Ted Finkel.

The April meeting will be 4/5/04 at 6:30pm, location to be announced. All RPCVs are welcome to attend.

--Nikol Shaw, Secretary, Mauritania (1999-01)

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Join in! Be on the Board...

Calling for Volunteers!

On May 23rd, we will be having our San Diego Peace Corps Association annual meeting. At that time we will take all nominations for the various board positions. Below is a listing of the positions with a brief description of some of the responsibilities involved. As we are a completely volunteer association, we hope that you will consider stepping forward to assist in developing our association. The best way to bring about any desired changes is to get involved!

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President | VicePresident | Secretary | Treasurer | Communications Chair | Social Chair | Speakers Bureau | Global Awards | Fundraising | Membership | Newsletter Editor | Community Action Chair

President back to list
Preside over monthly board meetings. Guide decisions if conflicts arise.

Vice President back to list
Attend monthly board meetings. Fill in for president if unavailable.

Secretary back to list
Take notes at the monthly board meetings. Serving as Secretary is an excellent introduction to the Board and SDPCA. This is a good position for someone who wants to learn more about the organization and be more involved, but may not be sure where to start.

Treasurer back to list
Attend all monthly board meetings and handle all financial transactions of the Association.

Communications Chair back to list
Attend all monthly board meetings. Oversee all association public communications—Newsletter, Website and E-vites. Create a communications committee to create policy for the association’s communications and public relations.

Social Chair back to list
Attend all monthly board meetings. Oversee a social committee responsible for organizing association functions such as outings, dinners, happy hours and general social events.

Speakers Bureau back to list
Attend all monthly board meetings. Coordinate with Peace Corps to fulfill requests for speakers in the community. This position seeks an exciting community outreach specialist. The Chair of the Speakers Bureau is contacted by public groups to arrange RPCV speakers. It’s a great way to network in San Diego and connect RPCVs to fun speaking engagements. You also participate in the basic operations of the SDPCA through board meetings and have voting power. It’s a great resume booster, not too much work, and fun!

Global Awards back to list
Attend all monthly board meetings. Oversee a committee responsible for reviewing, evaluating and awarding the Mark J. Tonner award to PCVs in the field.

Fundraising back to list
Attend all monthly board meetings. Oversee a committee responsible for generating fundraising activities—historically these have been selling Entertainment books and the Wisconsin calendars.

Membership back to list
Oversee a committee that reaches out to recently return PCVs as well as the general SDPCA membership on a neighborhood level. Attend board meetings if interested in doing so.

Newsletter Editor back to list
Coordinate the content for the newsletter, published six times a year. Solicit articles, draft event write-ups and proof read once layout is complete. Having a computer and Internet access is important to doing this task easily. Currently the layout is done in Macintosh version PageMaker 7.0, so access to a Macintosh is helpful. Attend board meetings if interested in doing so.

Community Action back to list
Oversee a committee that determines the dates and venues for our group to reach out to the greater San Diego Community by offering volunteer services in a variety of settings. Attend board meetings if interested in doing so.

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Update on ISF Grant Processing

by Rudy Sovinee (Ghana (1970-73)

Since our incorporation, the SDPCA has worked with the Peace Corps to locate PCVs from our area, and assist their communities through small grants, ISF Grants. Over the years the process has been strained as Peace Corps tightened the enforcement of its policies.

This past year, we have gone through another round of tightening, due in part to protecting PCVs from theft, or from becoming too financially influential. The good news is that the staff at Peace Corps continue to want to work with us. Last month, a compromise was found that works for them and the SDPCA.

Below is a copy of the letter that was sent out by the Office of Private Sector Initiatives to each Country Director. Please note the details.


January 22, 2004

For fifteen years, members of the San Diego Peace Corps Association have worked tirelessly to continue promoting the mission of Peace Corps. Now working in conjunction with the Office of Private Sector Initiatives, they would like PCVs from the San Diego area to know about opportunities for small project funding they have available—typically no more than $200-300 per project.

In cooperative agreement with SDPCA, we are distributing the attached PDF (4 pages) to all posts on the chance that you might have PCVs from San Diego whose communities are in need of small project assistance. SDPCA’s funding criteria are almost identical to Partnership Programs in that they seek to fund small scale but long-term, sustainable development and require host community ownership of the project. It is also important to note:

1. Their grant application specifically states that neither PCVs nor their families may receive the grant money. All funds MUST go to a host country community member. We ask that you stress the importance of this if one of your PCVs should wish to help a community apply for a SDPCA grant.

2. PCVs are asked to keep you informed of their efforts to help their communities apply for funds.

3. If you do not have PCVs from San Diego at your post, pardon the interruption. I know you get more mail than you can read! If you do, we hope that you will help keep the spirit of the larger Peace Corps family alive and let the currently serving Volunteers know those that who went before them are still out there and still want to help.

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"Cross Cultural Experience"

On Sunday, February first, RPCVs and friends gathered to share in a unique form of cultural interaction –at the homes of both Tony Starks and of Rudy Sovinee. This annual festival is not as flamboyant as Mardi Gras, or as long as an African funeral. Indeed, most people only celebrate the “Super Bowl” for a few hours—by sitting around TV(s) and commenting on a football game, and even the commercials. Despite the oddity of the celebration, RPCVs seemed willing and able to participate.

No doubt the abundant food, beverages and the room decorations helped people to become so engrossed in an otherwise meaningless event—or was it the option to donate to our group via a “pool” which had 20% guaranteed and all blank spaces being won by the SDPCA?

Cross Cultural experiencing at Rudy's place in Escondido.
Photo by Rudy Sovinee.

Whatever! Those who came and played had fun, and we got to share in bidding farewell to Steve and Cathy Anderson. They held the winning box for the game score, and will soon be moving to Montana.
Although this was the fifth year Rudy hosted the event, and Tony’s first, it is expected that more research into this cultural phenomena will be attempted next year, with additional researchers welcomed.

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Mark J Tonner Global Awards Update

Outdoor Play Equipment and Learning Tools $400
Jennifer Jones—PCV, Sabaneta, Dominican Republic

For the purchase of two pieces of large outdoor equipment, indoor games, art supplies and children’s books to be used in a community-sponsored (built) daycare facility which will house 25 children at a time.

Equipment for English Resource Center $524
Dana Boling—PCV, Northern Bulgaria

To fund equipment to support an English Resource Room for 324 students and teachers at an elementary school. The room will also provide resources for the local high school.

Here is a letter from Dana, acknowledging the grant to her project....

Dear Ted Finkel and SDPCA,

I just wanted to let you know that I received the letter and check from you awarding my school, Hristo Smirnennski Elementary, $525 for the purchase of a teacher computer and printer. Thank you soooooooo... much!

We are so excited to receive this grant! I can’t even begin to tell you what it means to my school, my colleagues, my students, and myself. Bulgarians are on the whole a rather pessimistic people and focus a lot on the negative side of things. It is such a pleasure to share success with them and to show them that things can change and improve one step at a time if only they try.

They were so pleased to succeed in our school fund-raiser last year, in which they raised enough money to purchase a TV for the school, and now, because of your generosity, we will be able to purchase the next priority items and take the next step towards assembling a language resource/video room.

Thank you again from myself and my school. We will keep you posted on our progress and will send forms accounting for funds spent. Till then.

Dana Boling, PCV, Berkovitsa, Bulgaria

To be a part of the ISF award committee, sign up at our May meeting, or contact Ted Finkle:

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Recipes Round the World: Columbia

A recipe from RPCV Maureen Shanley, as it appeared in Peaced Together, a newsletter for Connecticut RPCVs.

Pastelitos (little meat pies)

This recipe makes about 4 dozen small pies to serve at snack time or as an appetizer.

3 cups flour
1/2 cup (1/4 lb) butter or margarine

1 tbs. salt
1 tsp. baking powder

sufficient water to make the dough workable

2 tbs. vegetable oil
6 scallions, chopped
4 tomatoes, chopped
1 lb beef or pork, cooked and finely chopped

8 small boiling potatoes, cooked and chopped

3 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. vinegar

Mix the first five ingredients and knead the dough. Roll out thin.

With the top of a water glass, cut out rounds (approximately 96 round pieces of dough)

Saute  scallions in oil until soft. Add the tomatoes and fry for 3 minutes

Add the chopped meat, the chopped potatoes, hard boiled eggs, salt pepper vinegar and mix thoroughly.

Onto half the round circles of dough place about a teaspoon of the meat and vegetable mix, then cover with another round piece of dough and twist the edges to close the small pies

Fry in deep, hot oil until golden brown.


Send in your favorite recipe to share with the rest of the SDPCA members! See page 2 for address or e-mail to

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An act of love, a voluntary taking on oneself of some of the pain of the world, increases the courage and love and hope of all. --Dorothy Day

Welcome Peace Corps Friend of Iran!

Peace Corps Friends of Iran is NPCA’s 148th affiliate group. The group plans to start a pilot training/home stay project, in collaboration with the Science and Arts Foundation. A group of Iranians would come to the U.S. for a two-week training on information and communications technology and home stays would be provided by RPCVs. Initial placement sites being explored, include Oregon, southeast Iowa, Milwaukee and Westchester County, NY.

For more information, contact:
Peter Russell, group leader:
or Dane Smith:


Seeking RPCVs On Community College Campuses!

The National Peace Corps Association, in collaboration with the Peace Corps, is seeking RPCV educators, administrators, and board members who are affiliated with one of the 1100 community colleges throughout the nation.

We also are looking for RPCVs who served as Volunteers possessing an associate degree without any further higher education. RPCVs can help the Peace Corps recruit community college graduates for volunteer service. Community college graduates can presently qualify for 3 volunteer assignments.

The following list details a few ways that RPCVs might get involved:

Encourage college staff to act as Peace Corps advocates, identifying the benefits of serving in the Peace Corps, announcing events, and encouraging participation;
Meet one-on-ones with students who are curious about the Peace Corps;
Make presentations in front of groups, in classes or at special events; and/or
Help staff a Peace Corps table at a career fair

If you would like to participate, please contact NPCA staff member Toby Schaeffer at or by phone at 202-293-7728 ext. 24.

For more information about the community college outreach initiative, Go to:


From Peace Corps

Fellows/USA loves sharing the extraordinary work being done by RPCVs across the United States and is continuously looking to expand. We are looking for university professors to establish new programs and become program coordinators and former Peace Corps volunteers top become new Fellows.

If you or someone you know is interested or if you have questions about Fellows/USA, please visit our website at http://www.peacecorps.govor give us a call at 202-692-1440.

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Welcome to New Members

We of SDPCA extend a warm welcome to our newest members. We’ve seen some of you at our events already and we want all of you to get involved in our activities. Let us hear from you!! You can reach us by the contact information listed in Contact SDPCA. Old members, use this section as your SDPCA Membership Directory update.

New members are listed by name, country and years of service, area of residence.

Rebecca Carter, Tanzania (2001–03): Science Education; Oceanside
Lisa Luttbeg, Nicaragua (2001–2003): Community Health Promoter, San Diego 92120
Sira Perez, Kazakhstan (2001–02):TEFL; San Diego, 92107:

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Recruiting Corner

Well, all this work in San Diego has really paid off. In the last year that I’ve worked as a recruiter here, we’ve had 80 San Diegans go off to join the Peace Corps! Many of those you have met at SDPCA functions, and you will see again in the future as SDPCA members.

The University of San Diego ranked 11th in our top 25 small universities or colleges nationwide! I’ll be working to get a few more schools up there this year.

I have several upcoming events, obviously Peace Corps Day on Feb 28th and 29th will be a huge one.

HELP! I need some help with a March 9th Career Fair at San Diego State from 11am–4pm. It is a great opportunity to share your Peace Corps experience with eager college students and community members.Much to my disbelief, they never tire of my stories!

It’s great. If you are interested in participating by being at the Peace Corps table please contact or call 619-594-2188

Peace Corps and the SDPCA will be cosponsoring a booth at the Earth Day Fair this year on April 25th from 10am–5pm. Come on out RPCVs for a fun event. You get to check out Earth Day and talk about your Peace Corps times.

In the future, I will be listing all of the Speakers Bureau folks who have helped out with events and speaking engagements. To those that have already participated, thank you, thank you, thank you! You have been an invaluable resource in raising awareness about the Peace Corps and fulfilling the third goal. Everyone that did an event reported back that it was a lot of fun.

Special thanks to Rudy Sovinee who has done six events. Again, ¡Muchas gracias!


“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”—Martin Luther King Jr.

--David Fogelson, El Salvador Agroforestry (1998-2000), Peace Corps Los Angeles, San Diego Regional Recruiter, 619-594-2188

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Newsletter Credits

Pacific Waves is published six times a year by the San Diego PeaceCorps 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: e-mailed text file on disk- Mac preferred, or typed copy.

Please send to Editor, SDPCA, P.O. Box 26565, San Diego, CA 92196 or e-mail:

Cindy Ballard [interim]

Layout / Production
Don Beck, Jeff Cleveland

Contributors this issue are:
Cindy Ballard, Susan Ross, Don Beck, Rudy Sovinee, Nikol Shaw, Maureen Shanley, Dana Boling, David Fogelson, Ted Finkle

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