2007 Mark J. Tonner International Support Fund Recipients
Congratulations to the four recipients of Mark J Tonner International Support Funds!!!!
We received a record number of applicants and had to make the tough decision to narrow it down to four. The community-based projects with which Julianne Dunn, Allison West, Leslie M. Andrus, and Mary Dulatre are working, all received partial or full funding.
Valky Lyceum Language Department Resource Center, $221
The language resources that she received funding for include grammar books in French and English, posters to create a better leaning environment, idiom dictionaries, DVDs on English-speaking countries and ink to print materials.
Uukwiyoongwe Security Improvement Plan, $282
The school raised enough money to purchase a photocopier and computer but is unable to keep it at the school because of theft problems and inadequate fencing to keep animals off of the school grounds. Allison’s project is going to benefit the about 300 students and community in Uukwiyoongwe.
Ain Chaib Sewing Resource Project, $515
The Sewing Center benefits about 25 regular artisans and countless others in the community. It will provide a supplementary income to artisans involved and with the revenue the sewing center generates they hope to start future projects such as a day care center and literacy activities.
Youth Development Project, $724
At the library Mary is working with the librarians to start a paper making business. Currently, they blend and press the paper using a small blender and glass to press the paper on the tables the children use in the library.
With funds from the Mark J Tonner International Support Fund Mary hopes to provide the library with an industrial blender, a paper press, and water resistant tables. The money made from selling the unique paper goes back to the library and benefits all the people in the community.
More to Come
(Here is a portion of a letter from the parents of Allison West, PCV in Namibia, on their visit to see their daughter.)
It’s hard to believe that our long-awaited trip to see Ali in Africa has come and gone! From start to finish, it was an amazing journey. The moment we arrived at Windhoek and I came through customs to see Ali waiting for us made the 30+ hours of travel worth every minute. The very length of the travel time to reach Namibia only served to underscore how very far away she is. I’ll never forget that first hug and kisses sweetened with tears of joy.
Without a doubt, the most amazing part of the trip for me was being in Ali’s village and meeting her host family and neighbors. From the moment we left the paved road in Oshakati it was as though every kilometer took us back further in time, until we landed back at a point where subsistence farming is the norm. Getting there is a challenge unto itself, as there is no real road, and depending on the rain, and the resulting lakes of water, the route changes. But Ali did well guiding us through the unending canvas of sand to reach her homestead. When we arrived, we were definitely the hot topic of conversation, as I don’t think any of them had ever seen an RV or many whites besides Ali in the village.
During the first day we had a stream of visitors to Ali’s little concrete sitting room that she shares with host sister and brother Beatta and Simon and the shaky propane refrigerator. Greeting exchanges are very formalized, and despite Ali’s best efforts to teach us the four or so necessary Oshiwambo phrases, and the proper order, Ronn and I opted for doing the respect handshake and basically smiling a lot…we thought that far less offensive than potentially uttering the world’s worst Oshiwambo insult. Everyone was very interested in us and very friendly, and they kept giggling and pointing at Ali and me because of our resemblance. Her host mother and father don’t speak a word of English, so again, smiling helped a lot.
Time is a very relative thing in the village, and it is based almost entirely on the season and what needs to happen. When we were there, all of the mahangu (millet) had been harvested and stored and the sheaves bound for other uses such as roof repair. There are some photos of the storage area which has these amazing, huge baskets of stored seed, surrounded by a thorn bramble fence. I’m sure this method hasn’t changed for hundreds of years. Seed won’t be sown until the start of the rainy season, so at this time of the year when it’s incredibly hot, the family sits in one of the open-sided huts and simply relaxes in the afternoon. They thought we were nuts running around video taping in the middle of the day.
It was also interesting to me how everything is used….nothing is wasted. Every part of the mahangu is used for food, drink, or basket and building material. And at the end of the season, they let the cattle and goats into the fields to graze on the left-over stubble. They don’t own a trash can, as there is none. Their diet of mahangu is sometimes supplemented with a goat or chicken that they’ve raised, and some occasional dried chard-like vegetable or melon, but you won’t find any styrofoam or plastic packaging here.
The mahangu is a staple, and on our second night at the homestead, we were able to eat with the family. The millet flour is cooked with water in a pot over a cow dung fire, and stirred until it is the consistency of a light dough. It is then served in a communal basket and you take a scoop of the mahangu and kind of work it into a ball and dip it in the sauce of whatever else might be served – in our case it was the gift chicken given to us when we visited the neighbors. What I hadn’t anticipated however, was how gritty it would be. Mahangu is pounded into flour with a huge wood pounding stick in the ground….which is basically sand….so the resulting product is sort of like eating dough balls at the beach.
Sand is a good thing though. When you look at the photos, you’ll see a lot of concrete blocks used to build the front wall to the house and the sleeping rooms, including the new rooms where we stayed. These were not delivered by Home Depot. Instead, Tate and the sons bought forms and concrete and mixed the concrete with sand dug from a hole in the compound, hauled water via donkey cart and made each and every concrete block. Not any easy way to build.
Seeing Ali’s classroom was the highlight. It is so Ali! Unlike the traditional row seating in the rest of the school she grouped the falling-apart desks and chairs to encourage team work, and had decorated the walls with colorful posters and signs. It was very sweet to see that 3 of her learners had left messages for her, Ronn and me on the blackboard, blessing our trip. They definitely gave her the best classroom, but as you’ll see in Ronn’s video, (coming soon) her supplies are minimal, and the other classrooms are in far worse condition with broken windows and peeling paint. In one of the photos you’ll see the boxes of microscopes, computer and other supplies we picked-up in Windhoek and transported to the school. Everyone’s contributions will go a long way to improving the opportunities for all of the students.
There are so many other things that are of note…..and obviously our observations were limited. But hey, it’s really OK to pick your nose - and facial hair on older women is the norm. Not quite prepared for that one. The other thing that caught my attention is the fact that there is only one PO Box for the whole village, and that is the school address. The principal occasionally picks up the mail in Oshakati and brings it to the school, where it is delivered to the learners (and Ali) to take home to their families. As they aren’t receiving mortgage statements, or offers from VISA, not a problem.
As a real estate broker, how property is owned was interesting to me, and it was a question to which no one seemed to have a very concise answer. Apparently, the headman in each village is responsible for the overall allocated property to that village, and if someone wants to set-up a homestead, they approach the headman with some cattle or goats and the equivalent of about $200US and they can receive about 10 acres of land. At that point, it is up to them to construct a homestead out of available materials and begin to farm the land. I assume that nothing is recorded, except in the village books and where one village ends, and another begins would be impossible for anyone not of the land to discern.
It was definitely like going back in time, to a place older than we can even recognize. Both Ronn and I were in awe of Ali’s ability to not only adjust to the living conditions, but blend into the social life and become an important, well-respected part of the community. I don’t know that either of us or most anyone we know would have the ability to embrace this assignment with such an open and giving heart. Everyone adores her (of course) and I feel that she is very safe in her village and surrounding area.
It’s also very comforting to know that when I’m talking to her on the phone and she is walking home from school, or cooking her dinner I now know exactly what that looks like and where she is. We both came away from the village experience with an increased level of respect for Ali and all that she is doing, and a real appreciation for her family and villagers. In our terms, they have next to nothing, but they are by no means poor. They have a simple life that provides for everyone, and if there are family members in need, they simply move in. Stress is probably not even a word in their language, as they can count on the annual rains and the cycle of sowing and reaping. The real challenge will be to see what the kids of today do with their future and what changes that will bring to village life.
Photos from Ronn West. More photos at: http://www.photoworks.com/photo- sharing/shareLanding.jsp?shareCode=AF0C492C45D&cb=PW
I never wrote specifically to the SDPCA to thank each of you for the many years of pleasure you gave me (and some grey hairs too) during my 19 years with the association. The plaque given to me at the annual meeting means a lot – to know that you appreciated me too. My initial trip to Thailand was definitely all that I hoped and more…. great food, rich culture, and wonderful people. I could hardly wait to make my stay permanent, but did need to return to the USA to get the proper visa, ship a too full crate of “treasures” and spend time once more with friends. They in turn did surprise me with a sendoff party at the home of Hank and Bev Davenport.
What is life like here?
Around midday I usually go into town… Chiang Mai. That lets me handle details still being set up, and visit with a woman I met on my first trip. I did get a motor scooter (and helmet.) which is un-PC like, but otherwise I am eating at a local level and practicing my Thai daily. (Eating Thai food surprises many here, they think it might be too spicy for me, but I love it!) Few people in my village speak English, it was one of the reasons I selected here versus in town.
Last weekend my crate arrived, and my spacious 28 sq. meter room feels so much smaller now. What was I thinking back in March when I was packing to sell my condo. Sure, 2.6 cu. meters is small by American standards, but that many books, CDs, DVDs, and knikknacks all seem so un-necessary after being here happily without access for months. I did set things up, yet kept thinking that “stuff” just ties us to our past, while having nothing is total freedom to again be a kid, learn, grow and define the future… something to remember for anyone else contemplating retiring to a PC life.
So I’ll close here with a promise to be available to help the new board – though less than before. Enjoy the photos of Chiang Mai, its temples, people and environs.
Rudy’s photos have been put on our site at:
Rudy shares with us some of the results of presenting his One World, Our World (1WOW) program, which received our 2007 Global Awarenes Award, to an English-language school in Laos.
“We just completed our trip to Vientiane, Laos. The trip was at the invitation of the staff of the English international school of Vientiane. I presented lessons (see http://www.1wow.org) The program was enthusiastically received and accepted by the students 4-12 of the K-12.”
“The last article on Peace One Day is devoted to the students. What did they think? What did they learn from the journey they undertook? Read on to hear their voices.”
Quotes from: Volume 8 Issue 7 Oct.8, 2007, p.3, Dragon Tales - The Vientiane International School Newsletter
(Here is a piece from Victor Bloomberg’s blog: http://www.xanga.com/vicparaguay)
Winter in southern Paraguay brings weather that swings. Cold and rain is followed by balmy days. Plants are seeding, flowering and sprouting. On the way to the children’s school/lunch program and adult training center (built for the residents of the city’s garbage dump–see Pacific Waves May-June 07), the walk brings sights and sounds of farms and wildlife. A bird devotee would enjoy seeing the tropical hawks, cranes, and seed eaters. Their songs punctuate the humming of insects and wind moving through the leaves of small trees.
The terrain around the training center has a gentle slope leading to the large river, Rio Paraña. The grasses, shrubs and small trees had been cut close to the ground to create a clear perimeter around the new building. A minimal fence of post and wire keeps grazing horses and cattle from entering. There are a couple of parallel rises in the ground separated by mild dips, giving the land a slight ripple as if it were the aftermath of a wave that had swept in. A Paraguayan explained this is an old path formed by ox-carts, probably from the 19th century.
Conversation in the Guarani language flowed as locals reviewed a patch of land that had been plowed, the preparation for expanding an organic garden to help feed the 70 or so children. A production bin was full of fat worms and their eggs. Composting vegetative waste and steer manure was in there places. From the initial plot, the first lettuce, onion and radishes had been harvested. Carrot and beet greens were hand-high above the ground. The garden’s director has a quarter-century experience in teaching the methods, he comes from a farm family that lives nearby, two-hours by bus.
When the day’s work at the center was done, he drove me to the home of his brother. I now live there. The brother’s home is the site of a Guarani-language radio station and community school. The extended family system runs an all-Guarani language TV channel, it and the studio donated by a local cable TV business. The family knows of no other all-Guarani TV channel in the country.
The training center staff has expressed interest in a hybrid cooker that combines traditional wood-fire and solar energy designs. There was not any progress on the project while I was away because there was not any money to buy materials; and previous efforts to raise the modest funds had not been successful. No suggestion to improve the production of the TV channel has yet to be adopted. Even so, the pleasure expressed that I’ve returned is evident and whatever I do while I’m here is supported. The family here is in accord that a portion of the rent that I pay can be used to buy materials to upgrade the TV studio. And if I use some of my living allowance to buy materials, the prototype hybrid cooker will be built.
Recently there was a gathering to celebrate the program’s history in this country. The volunteer that was chosen to speak said that we were here to serve “the poor and the ignorant.” Later a Paraguayan told me that those words “could have been omitted.” A Spaniard visiting for one month at the training center, from the family that runs the sponsoring non-profit agency, scolded Paraguayan staff and children for their lack of (social) “discipline.” As soon as she left, the prior routine returned and the children’s behavior improved.
Trading stories, a volunteer said, “I had to change my goals. I thought I was going to be a trainer, but nobody was interested. So I decided to go back to teaching kids.”
“Is the teacher taking a break while you’re working with the kids?” yours truly asked.
“No she stays,” was the reply. Feigning falling out of my seat brought a laugh. Then my friend said, “She’s the only one that stays.” After a moment she added, “And she’s showing some new things to other teachers.”
We laughed at the obvious. Paulo Friere would be smiling.
Peace Corps/Bolivia 60s-70s Reunion
We attended a reunion for Peace Corps / Bolivia Volunteers and Staff from the 60’s-70’s. About 82 Peace Corps folk and 34 guests/spouses gathered on August 17-20th. The 8000 feet+ altitude brought memories of the effects of high altitude to those of us who were stationed in Cochabamba (8500 ft) or the altiplano (12,000+ ft). The reunion included meetings, slide shows, panels, hiking and even a tour of the Stanley Hotel and Museum – best known for its inspirational role in Stephen King’s novel, “The Shining.”
First encounters were amazing, as you (sometimes instantly, sometimes slowly) recognized people by their eyes, or smile or turn of a phrase. For me, everyone I had known was really the same in most ways – though they were all so much older! But, of course! Only too true once I caught my own thought.
For my group it our first reunion – Bolivia 29, the only group into the tin mines – 40 years after our training. My advice is: “Don’t wait so long!” Though a few of us had been in contact over the years, most had not. Since the beginning of the year, we had located 32 of 36 of us who had served, of which 14 attended the reunion. It was great to reconnect, finding out “the rest of the story” for each other. Some groups had been closer over the years and had met a number of times. Some groups it seems were closer than others.
This was a reunion of a “group of groups” which made it easier for some small groups to meet again. This mix of groups was good, for many knew volunteers and staff of several groups. The best times were just to talk and reminisce – so many memories seemed to come flooding back with sharing thoughts and telling stories. How much I remembered and then how many things I had forgotten as well! For spouses it was a chance to confirm stories heard perhaps too many times and also hear some new ones, selectively forgotten.
Gino Baumann (Country Director from 1967 until 1970) attended. Several Bolivian staff members flew in from Bolivia. Michael Hirsh, a volunteer in Bolivia and now Country Director of PC/Peru was there with his new Peruvian wife.
One thing I came to realize was that our experience in Bolivia had been an especially good one, as we had a Country Director who was experienced in working in a PC mode, rather than a political appointee with no skills, at a time when PC was just emerging – learning how to do what it was doing a first time.
Out of my group many had gone into Government jobs, such as USAID or jobs in service to helping people: teaching, social work, housing, and more. In my group only one of five married couples were still with the same spouse. New spouses were pretty cool too, though.
All groups wanted to meet again in several years, as well as in conjunction with the PC 50th coming up in several years. We will look into meeting in-country as well.
With many digital cameras, pictures have been shared and posted online. For those who might wish to see some of the activities, check online at (yes, the Bolivia/Reunion site is piggy-backed onto our site as you can see from the url): http://edweb.sdsu.edu/SDPCA/mines/group.htm
2008 International Calendars
Our very own SDPCA T-shirts
2008 SD Entertainment Books are available at 20 Postal Annex stores countywide (see list below). You will find savings on everything from restaurants--Pat & Oscar’s, Rockin Baja Lobster, Humphrey’s, Jack In The Box, even Ben & Jerry’s!--airlines, hotels, car rentals, the SD Zoo, florists, even traffic school!
So what are you waiting for #$%* ??
Most PostalAnnex stores (list) are open 6 days a week, and I am available to take your orders for calendars and T-shirts anytime.
Just email me at:
Membership Renewal Notes
By Lynn Jarrett, Ukraine, 2001-03, Membership Records
Family Membership Change 2008
This change reflects the change that was made by NPCA as well as some other RPCV groups across the U.S.
Do NOT send SDPCA dues to NPCA
When these dues are posted in our own system, you are paid for only three-fourths of the year, not the total year. ALL members’ dues are $20 per year, and we’re working to get the word to EVERYONE that we went on a calendar year at the beginning of this year at a rate of $20!
So please make a note of this important fact. And know that if you send $20 to SDPCA, you’ll be paying for a full year.
Please do NOT send your SDPCA dues payment to NPCA.
Annual Holiday Party
On December 1 the Board will welcome SDPCA members and families at the annual Holiday Party at the Friars Village Clubhouse at 1190 Camino Copete, San Diego, CA 92111. It will be scheduled for 5pm to 9pm.
The Board is looking forward to seeing each of you and yours at this event – your event -- where we can connect and reconnect with our membership. This year this event kicks off the holiday season for all of us. As usual we will partake of the potluck dishes that everyone will share:
At our annual May event, our social chair, Kate McDevitt, took us through an icebreaker to meet our groups by regions in which they served. This idea was well received and indeed proved to be quite interesting by putting people together, especially those sometime wallflowers, which resulted in even more interesting conversations than usual. It was a great way to meet new faces with lots of common interest and knowledge about the countries where they served.
Community Resource Center also has a domestic violence shelter for women and children who have recently left abusive relationships. Holiday Baskets is a program that helps those in need during the holiday season. From after Thanksgiving till mid-December the Community Resource Center takes over part of the Del Mar Fairgrounds and transforms it into a place where people can come to pick out toys, clothing, baby supplies, food for their families, and some even get to take home a bike. Each family gets an actual shopping cart and a personal escort to walk through and pick out items for each member of their family, at the end each family is given a box of food and a whole Turkey so they can eat well during the holidays.
In addition to collecting items to donate to this wonderful program SDPCA will be volunteering as a group to help set-up and distribute the items. Details will follow mid-November as to when this will happen.
So let’s start the holiday season right. Come and see your friends, meet new ones, enjoy the food, music and camaraderie. We look forward to seeing you there.
Or any Links for volunteering or service opportunities?
Check out NPCA Advocacy activities – see where and how you can find new ways to "Bring it all back bome." From podcasts to interviews to programs here and around the world.
Please send your suggestions to Brenda at and they will be posted.
We can post them on our SDPCA Bulletin Board in the re-vamped Connections secton at: http://sdpca.org/connect.htm
Check it out!!
Board Meetings – September & October
September 9, 2007
October 17, 2007
Next Board Meeting: November 28, 2007, 6:30 at Sharon’s house.
--Sharon Kennedy-Darrough, Thailand 1989-91
We build too many walls and not eough bridges.
from the President
Recently, I returned to Romania after a three year absence. I was amazingly comfortable despite getting lost a few times and having rusty language skills. It was as though I had returned home again. During my visit, I saw old friends, counterparts, and visited the Peace Corps Office/Staff. In addition, there were three other Returned Peace Corps Volunteers from my service group in the country at the same time. This was an unplanned pleasant event. We had a small reunion. Since Romania joined the European Union, there are been many physical changes in the country but the culture is relatively the same.
As the holidays approach, we will all be busy with family and friends. Please take time this holiday season to write a letter, email, or call your old friends from your Peace Corps days. You and your friends will have a good time chatting about the past, present and future events.
All the best,
"Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures." —John F. Kennedy (1917-1963)
Older Peace Corps Volunteers
Here’s a great radio story (see link above) about Peace Corps recruiting senior volunteers ...have a listen. The website is the AARP radio program: “Prime Time Post Script”.
You may want to share this article with your RPCV Groups, older friends and family, your Facebook network, etc...encourage them to participate too!
Events of Interest to our Members:
Please send details to us so we can post it on our online SDPCA Bulletin Board in the CONNECTIONS secton. Make sure to check out this section of our website (http://.sdpca.org/connect.html) for new member-driven events!
Check other stuff there as well. Such as NPCA Advocacy, Member-to-member activities, notices and more.
Saving Peace Corps History
The Project hopes to add 3000 1960s interviews to the National Archives at the John F. Kennedy Library in the RPCV Collection before the anniversary year; that would be about 10% of those who served during that period.
The RPCV Archival Project is an informal network of RPCVs who work to preserve Peace Corps’ legacy by conducting oral history interviews of those who have served as PCVs. In the five years of its existence, more than 40 RPCV interviewers have completed approximately 300 interviews [see http://jfklibrary.org Search: The RPCV Collection]. The Project’s basic resource is, and will continue to be, the unpaid voluntary efforts of those RPCVs who’ve participated, operating in cooperation with NPCA Affiliate groups, such as The San Diego Peace Corps Association.
We need people to volunteer to participate by becoming interviewers; a commitment of 3 hours a month during 2007 would add 12 more RPCV stories to the Collection. The Project provides training and orientation through an operational guide; once started, participants work directly with The RPCV Archivist at the Kennedy Library.
nterested? Questions? Comments? Contact Bob Klein, Project Organizer RPCVArchivalProj@att.net
Recruiter’s Corner – Nov. & Dec. 2007
One of the comments I hear often as a recruiter, and I’m sure you all do as well, is, “Gee, I bet you’ve got a lot of interesting stories.” And when you get to answer the same question over and over like I do, you can develop a pretty good response. My favorite is, “I’ve got more stories than audiences willing to listen.”
I’m sure you’ve all experienced moments when your family and friends’ eyes glaze over across the dinner table when you start a sentence with the words, “In Panama... In Zambia… In the Ukraine…” Lucky for me, I have one of the few jobs around where people are happy to hear about my experiences nearly every day. But what I’ve been surprised to find out so far over my tenure recruiting is that the more I share about my time in Peace Corps, the more I reconnect with it.
I had always thought of the third goal as something strictly to benefit the population-at-large, as returned volunteers act as windows to distant places and peoples. But in addition to that, it provides a means for the RPCV to keep in touch with the transformative experience of service; to reinforce the lessons learned and to keep such meaningful memories fresh in the mind.
So I encourage you all to be active with the SDPCA Speaker’s Bureau, and your own individual efforts or promoting the 3rd goal. It will not only spread interest and compassion for what is happening beyond our borders, but also spark a little self-awareness about what your Peace Corps service means to you today.
I’d like to thank all of the SDPCA members who have contributed at recruitment events over the last few months (Lisa, Ellen, Marjory, and others). I look forward to your on-going cooperation in helping to reach out to prospective volunteers about the experience of a lifetime. Please get in touch with Tracy Addis or myself for upcoming opportunities.
Jacob Hall, Regional
Recruiter, SD County, 310-356-1114
Welcome: New Members
SDPCA extends a warm welcome to our newest members, as of November 2007. We’ve seen some of you at events already, and we want all of you to get involved in our activities. Let us hear from you!
• Katie Clark, Reproductive Health Specialist, Nepal (2001-2003)
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:
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