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September - October 2009 — Volume 22, Number 5


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Peace Days

Great site for Peace-full things:  Check it out!
Books, quotes, links, ideas, heroes, clubs, resources.

One Day In Peace
Freedom Day
Women's Day
Earth Day
Diversity Day
Interfaith Day
CoOp Day
No Nukes Day

Peace Day
End Hunger Day

Tolerance Day
International Volunteer Day
Human Rights Day

--January 1
–February 1
--March 8
--April 22
--Mary 21
--June 22
--July 5
--August 6

–September 21
–October 16

–November 16
--December 5
–December 10

"Perfection of means and confusion of goals seem to characterize our age. If we desire sincerely and passionately the safety, the welfare and the free development of the talents of all men, we shall not be in want of the means to approach such a state."
-- Albert Einstein

"One of the most persistent ambiguities that we face is that everybody talks about peace as a goal. However, it does not take sharpest-eyed sophistication to discern that while everbody talks about peace, peace has become practically nobody's business among the power-wielders. Many men cry Peace! Peace! but they refuse to do the things that make for peace."
-- Martin Luther King, Jr.

"We know that a peaceful world cannot long exist, one-third rich and two-thirds hungry."
-- Jimmy Carter

Most of our citizenry believes that hunger only affects people who are lazy or people who are just looking for a handout, people who dont' want to work, but, sadly, that is not true. Over one-third of our hungry people are innocent children who are members of households that simply cannot provide enough food or proper nutrition. And to think of the elderly suffering from malnutrition is just too hard for most of us. Unlike Third World nations, in our country the problem is not having too little – it is about not caring enough! Write your elected representatives and promote support for the hungry.
-- Erin Brockovich

If we can conquer space, we can conquer childhood hunger.
-- Buzz Aldrin

September 21 - Peace Day

October 16 - End Hunger Day
(above-Martin Luther King) from http://www.betterworldcalendar.com

September 21 -- Peace Day:
The International Day of Peace, also known as Peace Day, is a celebration of our shared wish for a better world. It is an opportunity to look at the things that have been done over the year to help create a more peaceful, just and sustainable world, and to note the things that still need to be done. It's a time to rededicate our commitment to a more peaceful planet.

Peace Day is also an opportunity to spread hope for our wish to live in a world without war. All of the nations of the world agreed to the United Nations' call to create a global ceasefire on Peace Day. You can help create humanity's first day of peace. If we can live in peace for one day, we can learn to work together to create a peaceful world, one day at a time.

October 16 -- End Hunger Day:
More than 850 million people in the world are hungry, and as many as 35 million of them are Americans! Worldwide, some estimate that 40 million people die each year because of hunger and diseases related to malnutrition -- and many of them are children!

There is more than enough food in the world so that no one need ever go hungry. Those who wish for a more peaceful, just and sustainable world are helping to make ending world hunger a major priority. In fact, all of the world's leaders agreed to cut the number of starving people in half by the year 2015 as the first priority of the Millennium Development Goals.

World Food Day / End Hunger Day is an opportunity for the global community to unite in an effort to help raise awareness about the global problem of hunger. World Food Day was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1980 to commemorate the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in 1945 (resolution 35/70). The official goal of the day is to "heighten public awareness of the world food problem and strengthen solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty."


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News Hunt Quiz !

1) How do you say peanut butter in Malawi?
2) In what year will PC celebrate its 50th Anniversary?
3) In what country did the new Director of PC serve?

Submit answers to newseditor05@sdpca.org.

All correct entries received by September 16th will be entered into a drawing to receive a prize of a free SDPCA t-shirt!

Please include your name, country, years of service, and phone number.
Winner must have current SDPCA membership.

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International Volunteer Program

Join our long-term International Volunteer Program!

Since its inception, Habitat for Humanity has relied on the commitment, spirit and expertise of volunteers to fuel its mission. The International Volunteer Program gives you the opportunity to serve with one of our overseas offices for several months. This program is not to be confused with Habitat’s Global Village program, which provides short-term two-week volunteer trips.

The International Volunteer Program will:

  • Engage you in the international movement for decent housing for everyone.
  • Empower you to help make a difference for Habitat for Humanity around the world.
  • Enhance your experience with Habitat for Humanity.

Check it out! http://www.habitat.org/ivp/

Current Volunteer Opportunities
For details about listings (8/15/09): http://www.habitat.org/ivp/opps/

  • Costa Rica — Community Development Assistant
  • Costa Rica — Construction Coordinator Assistant
  • Costa Rica — Resource Development Assistant
  • Slovakia — Disaster Response Support Volunteer
  • Fiji — Program Development Officer
  • Guatemala — Global Village Field Assistant
  • Guatemala — Global Logistics Assistant
  • Indonesia, Jakarta — Grant Writer
  • Jordan — Global Village Coordinator
  • Jordan — Resource Development and Communication Coordinator
  • Nepal — Microfinance Specialist

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Fron USA Today, February 25, 2009, Opinion...

Rebuild the Peace Corps

More than ever, the world needs ‘underutilized’ organization

By Bob Shacochis

Last month in central Mozambique, one of the planet’s poorest countries, I stood among the thatched mud-and-wattle huts of the village of Vinho. I was admiring the subsistence farming community’s handsome new school with Greg Carr, an American philanthropist who had built that school. Since 2004, Carr, who made his fortune in the information technology boom of the ‘90s, has devoted his wealth, time and considerable energy to the rehabilitation of Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park. Once considered Africa’s premier game preserve, Gorongosa had been destroyed by decades of war and lawlessness.

The school is a small part of the comprehensive vision of Carr and Mozambique to use the restoration of the park as a development engine for the hundreds of thousands of desperately impoverished peasants who live in the forests and hills surrounding Gorongosa. The 20-year-long hand-back agreement between the government and the Carr Foundation is an exemplary model for the marriage of private altruism and public policy in the Third World.

Even so, the day Carr and I toured the school, marveling at its solar-powered electricity and computer lab, his voice grew somber as he responded to my questions.

How many students?

Two hundred.

How many teachers?


Carr explained that the government had an uphill battle trying to staff its schools with qualified teachers. Even when a teacher was hired, his or her tenure was a daily concern because of the high rate of attrition caused by AIDS, malaria or other diseases. Vinho’s five teachers had dwindled to three. Carr thought the best hope for fully staffing the school had only one apparent solution: the Peace Corps. But he wasn’t optimistic. There were only two Peace Corps volunteers — much-loved teachers — in the entire district, based in a town an hour’s drive away.

Does Mozambique want more Peace Corps volunteers assigned to the country?

Absolutely. The Peace Corps has been in Mozambique since 1998, after its civil war ended and its once Marxist-Leninist leaders changed ideological direction. The nation held free multiparty elections and did everything possible to make itself one of the most progressive countries in the region. There are 163 volunteers in Mozambique, where Portuguese is the official language. Carr and his Portuguese communications director, Vasco Galante, guessed the country could absorb 10,000 volunteers.

So here we find ourselves, celebrating the inauguration of President Obama, a farsighted leader who has inspired millions of young Americans with his call to service. We also find ourselves on the threshold of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s new diplomatic initiative, the exercise of “smart power” in a multifaceted effort to reclaim our moral and political integrity in the eyes of the world. The obvious equation seems written in neon: “Call to service” plus “smart power” equals Peace Corps.

Dollar for dollar, you cannot get a more reliable, cost-effective answer than the Peace Corps when the challenge is to win hearts and minds around the globe.

For all of Africa’s wars since President Kennedy launched the Peace Corps in 1961, one of the continent’s most liberating achievements in the intervening decades has been the education of millions of African children by Peace Corps volunteers. Those once illiterate students are now Africa’s middle class, civil servants and leaders, struggling to meet their nations’ basic needs.

Today, the U.S. sends fewer than 4,000 Peace Corps volunteers overseas annually — half the number we sent four decades ago. The agency, which is underfunded, underappreciated and underutilized, turns away too many prospective volunteers for lack of resources. More than 20 countries that do not have Peace Corps programs are waiting for Congress to keep its bipartisan promise to double the Peace Corps’ size. But that promise is likely to wither on the vine of our shrinking economy without Obama’s support, which would be the equivalent, in budgetary terms, of upgrading a shoestring to a bootstrap.

Throughout Africa’s villages and cities, portraits of Obama have already been tacked on walls next to images of the Kennedy brothers, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela. It’s impossible to go anywhere in Mozambique without hearing someone repeat what has become the world’s marching order for a better future: Sim, podemos. Yes, we can.

Obama, our No. 44, who has a passion for saluting the creative legacies of his predecessors by assimilating their sensibilities into his own actions, should continue that fine habit by adapting a slogan of No. 43 to No. 35’s powerful enduring vision of international service: No Volunteer Left Behind.

And in the eyes of the world, Mr. President, if you want the biggest symbolic bang for your ever dwindling buck, rebuild the Peace Corps.

Author Bob Shacochis is a member of the advisory board of MorePeaceCorps, a group of former volunteers. He also teaches in the graduate writing program at Florida State University.

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Photographer finds Subjects through Peace Corps Service

by Rebecca Quigley
From Campus Connections, Spring 2000
University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Education

From Gene Nelson, Venezuela 1970-71:

As an alumnus of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, I receive numerous materials from my alumni association, http://www.uwalumni.com. One Newsletter had two articles about the Peace Corps which I enjoyed reading. The information renewed memories which every volunteer probably has had and has now, too. The two universities which have provided numerous PCVs are the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

As I read the articles about RPVs Hannah Mintek and her husband in the Soviet Republic of Georgia [see article below], and current PCV Adam Kelley in Uganda, many memories returned.

As one thinks about joining the Peace Corps many ideas come to mind which may include adventure, intrigue, excitement, danger and making a commitment to help others in a foreign country.

One thought that kept returning to me was that I was going to do “something” that was not in the normal or ordinary pattern of action of a college graduate. Another thought was that as a volunteer, I could make a commitment and do as much as possible with my abundant energy and available resources.

As these memories returned, I feel that all these values, traits, and behaviors are still an integral part of me now and in the future, too.

Photographer Hannah Mintek (BFA ’04 in art) discovered a rich dichotomy of subject material on which to train her camera while serving in the Peace Corps in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia. Shortly after finishing college, Mintek joined the Peace Corps, serving as an English teacher in Georgia from August 2005 through July 2007. There, she met her husband, also an English teacher for the Peace Corps. The couple traveled throughout Asia, married in Thailand, and moved back to Madison.

Mintek spent a year working her way back into the local job market, but she and her husband missed the country where they met and moved back in September 2008. They now live in Tbilisi, the Georgian capital, where Mintek works as a private English tutor and spends her spare time volunteering for national and international organizations and exploring with her camera. Campus Connections conducted this interview with Mintek by email.

Q: Why Georgia?
A: You don’t really have a lot of say when you join the Peace Corps. The goal is to fit your skills and interests as well as your needs to a country that matches most accurately, so Georgia it was. I chose to go back to Georgia this September for personal reasons. I fell in love with the country over the two years I spent working and living with Georgians in Peace Corps. It is my second language. It is where I met, fell in love with, and made plans to marry my husband. I remember being at our apartment in Madison when I first heard about the rising conflicts in Georgia this past August . . . my husband and I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t focus on work, and we spent days calling our friends in Georgia and Peace Corps. During that turbulent period, I was determined to find a way to get back and be with the people we care so much for. I thought I would come back to Georgia simply for six weeks to see everyone and volunteer with relief efforts. Just a day after I returned to Georgia, my husband and I decided we should officially move to Tbilisi for a while.

(right) “I can’t escape the outsider’s perspective and yet I’m as
empathetic to the lives of Georgians as locals themselves,”
says Minek. This photo is titled “shavshvebi bichi.”

Q: How has this experience compared with your other travels abroad?
A: Before joining the Peace Corps I had traveled abroad a few times, most notably to Belize, Costa Rica, France, and Guatemala. It was always a goal for my parents (both are UW graduates) to have me experience places not by sitting by fancy pools at hotels but by actually interacting in the culture and learning the history of a place. They took me to Belize and Guatemala when I was just in the fifth grade. We spent a few weeks traveling to Mayan ruins and sleeping in village huts. It forever altered my idea of travel and its purpose. I do think that it’s nice to get away once in awhile and just relax, but mostly I hold travel in the realm of discovery and personal cultural expansion. When I was finishing high school, I went to France with a school group for two weeks. It was horrible. Besides being touted around like little kids, we had next to no informal interaction with French people. I hated every minute of it because I felt like we were looking at France as if it was a zoo, snapping shots of this castle and that cathedral, but not really feeling the culture at all. While in my seventh semester at UW, I was strongly thinking about Peace Corps, but I wanted to see if it was really my style first. A friend of mine was serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala, so I spent my winter break visiting her in Lanquin, Guatemala. It was amazing; her site was stunningly beautiful and painfully poor. I wanted so badly to know Spanish as she did so that I could interact with people better. A little neighbor girl had an extremely infected foot because she had no shoes and had stepped on a broken Coke bottle. I spent an afternoon trying to calm her down and clean her wound. I felt a small but rewarding sense of purpose in those few hours. My time in Peace Corps was nothing like what my friend Jamie had done in Guatemala, but a few truths are universal to the volunteer service — you envelope yourself in a language, culture, and a different way of life; you put in all your effort to small-scale grassroots projects, some of which never even germinate, but the small successes you have are the most rewarding moments you have ever felt; you walk away feeling like you didn’t do enough, that there is so much more that needs to be done; and finally, you come back to the States thinking “Why don’t Americans appreciate what they have?” and wondering if you will ever really feel American again. It has totally transformed the way I view life and success and happiness. I don’t need a salary and big house to feel satisfied in life. I need to interact with people and continually work towards seeing the world through new perspectives. Since being in Peace Corps I have visited eight more countries and I’ve tried to keep that sense of purpose everywhere I go.

Q: What do you look for when you take photos there and how is it different from ‘travel’ photography?
A: When I first got to the country in 2005, I was struck with a sense of extremes: the beauty and ugliness and how you cannot see one without the other in Georgia — winding mountain streams overflowing with trash, crumbling buildings obstructing the view of a gorgeous periwinkle mountain range, etc. In the beginning I was disgusted by the Sovietstyle construction, the chaos in electricity lines and street intersections, the deteriorating unfinished homes without windows or roofs. When I finished service and left for the States, I began to have this nostalgic memory of the same images that used to bother me. By the time I returned here in September 2008, I saw these objects with a strange new affection and sense of beauty. I needed to find the beauty in what seemed ‘wrong’ from a Westerner’s perspective. It’s become obsessive for me. I want to photograph everything, to pull out from these images a kind of familiarity with something I used to find archaic and unsuitable. Now I see not beauty obscured by ugliness, but a beauty in the ugliness. I see “travel” photography as a means of simply making money, one I’m not interested in at all. I don’t see an image and think “Oh, that’d be a nice postcard.” It’s not what I was trained to see, and far from an interest to me whatsoever. I’m sure some of my images could, however, cross over into that genre, but I have no desire in pursuing it. I think if art is your passion, you have to approach it from the perspective of pure duty to making the visions you pursue obsessively. I see no pleasure in selling my photographs for the purpose of making images for magazines and postcards.

(left) “I scope out new parts of the city, alleys, and run-down areas that for me are yet undiscovered,” says Mintek, who is visible here in “self portrait: reflect.”

Q: What have you learned about photography, and life, from being immersed in Georgian culture?
A: I’ve learned that some of the best shots are not always possible. I sometimes see these moments of struggle and strained beauty and it’s just impossible for me to pull out my camera and click away. At times, for the sake of cultural sensitivity, respect, and my own safety, I have to keep my camera hidden and just remember the image in my mind’s eye. It has also taught me to be quick. I avoid dawdling with my adjustments and shoot what I can. It’s interesting because I have changed over to digital and yet I take pictures as if I’m still on film, focusing on getting the image as skillfully and quickly as possible, not really seeking the manipulative abilities of the camera. What I see with my eye I want to produce exactly with the camera. I have had near-death experiences by simply living an ordinary Georgian’s lifestyle and it has made me think about the fragility of time from a very real perspective. I have learned to be grateful. I have learned that I don’t need central heating or a hot meal to get by, and that these things do not equate my happiness. I have learned that I don’t want a 9-to–5 job and that I will not let go of my hopes.

Q: How do your work experience and your photography affect each other?
A: Currently my job is as a private English tutor in Tbilisi. It has affected both how I take photographs and what I take photographs of. Being an English teacher with Peace Corps and being a private English tutor are about as extremely different as I could imagine working in this country. I have gone from teaching some of the poorest despondent villagers in Georgia to tutoring some of the most elite business professionals in the city. I often feel shocked by the Tbilisi students and their lack of awareness when it comes to seeing the problems of their country. I’ve gone so far as to show them my photography from IDP centers in Gori to give them a reality check. In some way, I see it as a task of mine to get my students to have a greater sense of duty in supporting Georgians in need. Because of the sporadic schedule of teaching private pupils, I often get two or three hours to walk the city alone and kill time. This has become my research time “in the field.” I scope out new parts of the city, alleys, and run-down areas for me are yet undiscovered.

Q: How has your experience there changed the way you work as an artist?
A: I think my experience has drawn me into the country in a way I otherwise would never have been. I hopscotch that usually definitive line between foreigner and local. I see things now from both sides. I can’t escape the outsider’s perspective and yet I’m as empathetic to the lives of Georgians as locals themselves. When photographing on travels to other countries I would take shots with urgency because my time was so limited. I also took those photographs from one decisive vantage, because I had no way of truly enveloping myself in two weeks of Borneo or a month and a half of India. I could get close to the culture and society, but those photographs bordered on travel photography because, well, I was traveling. There’s no way around being just a visitor. Here though, I’m not an American outsider. I’ve lost the traveler’s vantage and moved a bit deeper into the everydayness of this country.

Q: How did your experience at UW–Madison prepare you for your work?
A: My UW experience was a wonderful training ground. In Madison, I found the chance to exercise my abilities of adaptation and creative thinking. I don’t think those are often focal points of university courses, but it is exactly what I have needed to keep my endurance and sanity in the challenges of Peace Corps, international travel, and life in another language and culture. I often reference UW when talking to students about American education. Outside of my studio courses, I greatly appreciated and enjoyed the perspectives and lessons I had in Intro to Cultural Geography, Black Music and American Cultural History, Intro to Occupational Therapy, and Current Directions in Art. Within my studios I know that my time spent in ceramics, photography, metals, color theory, and at the School of Human Ecology have greatly affected the way in which I work as an artist, and to those professors I am most grateful.

[Hannah Mintek’s website http://www.hannahmintek.com -ed.]

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NPCA Activities

Africa Rural Connect Is Live Now!

Now you can extend the experience that you had in the Peace Corps to collaborate with others and come up with the best ideas to improve the lives of rural farmers.

After months of development, NPCA has just launched Africa Rural Connect -- a Peace Corps Connect sister site. It’s a place where PCVs and RPCVs can share ideas online with the African Diaspora, development professionals, Africa scholars, and others who have lived and worked in Africa.

Peace Corps Volunteers have very unique experiences wherever they served in the world. We are counting on you to help us spread the word! Be among the first to post your idea at: http://www.AfricaRuralConnect.org

At NPCA, we believe that collaboration will bring about the greatest ideas for change.

Go to http://www.AfricaRuralConnect.org to share your plan now -- even if it’s just the seed of an idea. You could win one of the monthly $3,000 prizes for the best idea, or the $20,000 grand prize to help implement your idea.

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Build U.S.Senate Support for the PC

A big victory in the House of Representatives for Peace Corps funding! But challenges remain in the Senate. As efforts continue through our MorePeaceCorps Campaign to advance a bigger, better and bolder Peace Corps, you can build support by asking your Senator to pass key legislation.

We need to build the number of co-sponsors of the Peace Corps Improvement and Expansion Act (S. 1382), legislation introduced by RPCV Senator Chris Dodd (Dominican Republic 66-68). Along with authorizing a doubling of funding for Peace Corps over the next three years, the legislation would require a strategic assessment to address a number of matters that are viewed as key to advancing the Peace Corps.

Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Mark Begich (D-AK) are the first three co-sponsors of the bill. Take action with your Senators to build support for this legislation.

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Organizing for International Day of Climate Change

October 24, 2009. That’s the target date for an International Day of Climate Action. Organized by the group http://www.350.org, over 1,000 individuals in more than 100 nations are already planning activities. These events will serve as a visible reminder to world leaders in advance of global climate talks meet Copenhagen in December on the need for global action.

Planning on taking action? Let us know by contacting advocintern@peacecorpsconnect.org.

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from Peace Corps:
Peace Corps YouTube Channel

Washington, D.C., July 13, 2009 – Peace Corps acting Director Jody K. Olsen announced the launch of the new Peace Corps channel on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/peacecorps.

The channel provides a stunning visual look into the work of Peace Corps Volunteers projects around the world. The channel also provides a visual glimpse into the history of the agency and its founders, including President John F. Kennedy and Sargent Shriver.

“The YouTube channel is an excellent resource for anyone considering Peace Corps service to better understand what Peace Corps service is really like on the ground,” said acting Director Olsen.

Visuals provide inside view of PCV projects and history
The Peace Corps/YouTube channel launched with 45 videos about the Peace Corps and the agency’s current projects around the world. More will be added on an ongoing basis. Currently featured on the site is a video entitled, “Peace Corps: Our legacy at Home and Abroad.” The clip incorporates pictures, films, and interviews depicting the work of Volunteers serving since its founding in 1961 up to today in different areas of the world.

In its first week the Peace Corps channel welcomed nearly 1,000 views, and viewership continues to grow rapidly every day.

In addition to YouTube, the agency is leveraging social media technology though Twitter http://twitter.com/peacecorps , and will soon have a presence on both Facebook and Flickr. These sites supplement the newly redesigned Peace Corps website, that draws over eight million visitors a year. http://www.peacecorps.gov Peace Corps’ information on these sites is intended to inform and recruit the next generation of Volunteers.

As the Peace Corps approaches its 50th anniversary, its service legacy continues to promote peace and friendship around the world. Historically, over 195,000 Volunteers have helped promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of the 139 countries in which they have served. Currently, 7,876 Peace Corps Volunteers are serving in 76 countries. Peace Corps Volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment.

(Below) PC is recruiting over 50’s – Check it out:

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Aaron Williams Confirmed as Next PC Director

RPCV Aaron Williams (Dominican Republic 1967-70) has been confirmed to become the 18th Director of the Peace Corps. The United States Senate unanimously confirmed his nomination.

“The Peace Corps community is thrilled with Aaron Williams’ rapid confirmation”, said NPCA President Kevin Quigley. “We extend our heartfelt congratulations to Aaron and eagerly look forward to working with him to build a better and bolder Peace Corps that realizes much more of its promise.”

During a non-controversial hearing on July 29th before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) - also a Dominican Republic RPCV - indicated his hope the confirmation could come before the August recess and said on several occasions he is excited at the prospect of working with Williams. That sentiment was echoed by Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) who told Williams “I commend the President on your appointment.”

Harris Wofford introduced Williams during the hearing, drawing comparisons to Peace Corps founder Sargent Shriver, adding “I am sure he would recognize Aaron Williams as the kind of leader the Peace Corps needs today.”

Saying “Peace Corps is a cost effective way for the United States to expand its humanitarian presence”, Williams said he looks forward to working to strengthen, reform and grow the agency.

Currently a Vice President for International Business Development with RTI International, Aaron Williams has over 25 years of experience in the design and implementation of worldwide assistance programs. As a senior manager at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), where he attained the rank of Career Minister in the US Senior Foreign Service, and as Executive Vice President at the International Youth Foundation, Mr. Williams established innovative public-private partnerships around the world.. Mr. Williams served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic (1967-70). Upon completing his service, he became the Coordinator of Minority Recruitment and Project Evaluation Officer for the Peace Corps in Chicago (1970-71). Mr. Williams is fluent in Spanish. He is a graduate of Chicago State University, and has an MBA from the University of Wisconsin.

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International Support Fund Grant Reports

#1: In Malawi, 2009 grant of $392

Malosa Community-Based Oil Making Income Generating Project

Dear San Diego Peace Corps Association:
I hope this letter finds you all happy and healthy. I am writing on behalf of my friends and counterparts here in Malosa, Malawi. We all want to say thank you for the generous grant from SDPCA and to tell you a little about how your donation is being used.

I am finishing up my two years of service in Malawi and my primary project has been producing Chiponde as an income generation project at the women’s community based organization in my village. To get started, Chiponde means peanut butter in Chechewa, the language in Malawi.

Peanut Butter might seem like a strange topic for a development project. In Malawi, Chiponde is used as a life saving nutritional supplement for children and HIV positive adults who suffer from severe malnutrition. It is full of healthy protein and fats, whereas the average Malawian diet is mostly deficient of these vital nutrients.

Chiponde is sold locally, but at a price point that is unattainable for all but the rich. Free chiponde is only available for those who are hospitalized with severe malnutrition. So what about the villagers, my neighbors, the people stuck in the middle? This is where the chiponde project – and your grant money – came in!

(left) Grinding peanuts for peanut butter

My counterpart and I have brought together 25 Malawian women volunteers from the village who donate their time and efforts to producing – through a very labor intense process - chiponde at a cost the villagers can afford. Instead of pocketing the profits, it was the women’s desire to put the money back into the community in the form of micro-loans for villagers interested in starting their own small businesses.

We sell each jar of peanut butter for the equivalent of $1 US dollar. Our greatest cost is for the purchase of the raw peanuts. For $15, we can purchase 50 kilograms of peanuts – enough to make 40 bottles and gross $40. Your grant enabled us to purchase the initial ground nuts (peanuts) we needed and some of the equipment to start the program.

The women’s organization has just started to turn a small profit and we hope to disburse monies for loans soon. Our peanut butter product is now available on and is starting to sell in some of the bigger villages and town markets. We have also begun to process peanut oil for sale, which I am hopeful will not detract from the efforts of the more nutritious peanut butter project.

(below) Outside our organization’s building with all of the peanut butter volunteers and my sisters and mother who came to visit the project. (photos from Erin Clark)

I am also excited that it looks very likely that I will be replaced by another PCV after I COS next month. So, your grant has not only initiated a great nutrition and income generating project for the local women here, but it has also set the stage for an incoming PCV’s existence!

Thank you again for your generosity and support of the San Diego Peace Corps Association that made this grant and project possible. I look forward to meeting all of you when I return to San Diego later this year.

Erin Clark, RN, PCV/Chilema, Malawi & San Diego Native!
P.S. To learn more about the lifesaving effects of fortified peanut butter (also called Plumpynut in other communities) – check out this 60 minutes segment video available at:

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#2: In Honduras, 2009 grant of $556

Mieles del Celaque -
Honey from Celaque

On behalf of the Honduran beekeeping network Mieles del Celaque (Honey from Celaque), I would like to extend many thanks for the terrific support you provided for the network.

Thanks to the SDPCA, the 20 beekeepers in the group were able to purchase 3 barrel centrifuge honey extractors, which significantly ease the pressure to harvest at inappropriate times.

The group had its largest harvest ever this year (approaching a total of 1000 liters) and is growing quickly.

The group received a grant from the municipality to purchase a wax-stamping machine, and will soon be selling wax sheets as part of a small business venture.

Three black barrel centrifuge honey extractors Celaque’s project obtained through the ISP Grant fro SDPCA. (Photos from Bryce Norton.)

They are also working to legally incorporate the network, and the process should be finished in early 2010.

I will continue to send pictures as able.

Many thanks,
Bryce Norton, PCV/Honduras

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New PC Recruiter
Meet Shane Mathias, Regional Recruiter

Shane Mathias, Peace Corps regional recruiter for the Los Angeles Office, served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Panama from 2004 to 2007 after completing a bachelor’s in political science at San Diego State University.

During his three years of Peace Corps service, Shane worked primarily with rural farmers to encourage reforestation. Partnering with a consortium of institutions and individuals, Shane successfully trained farmers throughout the isthmus to plant and care for approximately 16,000 native trees.

“Creating and directing that collaboration resulted in my proudest achievement in Peace Corps -- expanding reforestation activities to a much larger geographic region of Panama,” says Shane.

In addition to planting trees, Shane taught English, promoted organic-farming methods, and facilitated funding for the purchase of computers for his community.

“Working and living with the proud farmers of my region was a defining epoch of my life,” says Shane. “Being integrated into this small community allowed me to fulfill altruistic ambitions, while simultaneously experience the incredible joys, and follies, of living in a small, rural community in a foreign country.”

As a recruiter, Shane says he now looks forward to using his Peace Corps experiences as examples of the professional and personal benefits to serving in the Peace Corps.

As an outdoor adventurer, Shane particularly enjoys snowboarding, SCUBA diving, and surfing.

Shane can be reached at 310.356.1102, 800.424.8580, or by e-mail at smathias@peacecorps.gov.

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Channa Masala Recipe

from: http://www.recipezaar.com/Channa-Masala-17471

This fabulous chickpea recipe is adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s classic by Zeke Koch.

20 min prep - 40 min cook time
Serves 6 - 8


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions (peeled and minced)
  • 1 clove garlic (peeled and minced)
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 6 tablespoons chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cups cooked chickpeas or 2 (15 ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 teaspoons ground roasted cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon amchoor powder
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 lemon (juiced)
  • 1 fresh, hot green chili pepper (minced)
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger


  1. Heat oil in a large skillet.
  2. Add onions and garlic and sauté over a medium heat until browned (3-5 minutes).
  3. Turn heat to medium-low.
  4. Add the coriander, cumin (not the roasted cumin), cayenne and turmeric.
  5. Stir for a few seconds.
  6. Add the tomatoes.
  7. Cook the tomatoes until browned lightly.
  8. Add chickpeas and a cup of water and stir.
  9. Add the roasted cumin, amchoor, paprika, garam masala, salt and lemon juice.
  10. Cook covered for 10 minutes.
  11. Remove the cover add the minced chili and ginger.
  12. Stir and cook uncovered for 30 seconds.

Serve and enjoy!
[Send in your favorite recipes -- from service or not -- to share with others. -ed.]

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If you want to make peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies –Moshe Dayan (1915 - 1981)

from the President
PC 50th Anniversary

Wow! 2011 marks the 50th Anniversary of the Peace Corps. That’s more years than most of you and a little younger than some of us. This is a great accomplishment, something we should all be proud of. I would like to take this time to invite ALL Returning Peace Corps Volunteers, its nominees and invitees to participate in assisting to make this a dynamic celebration.

The board has come up with a few ideas and are asking you its members for suggestion for parties, community service ideas or projects for its celebration. We want to make Washington take notice. We need your help. Please feel free to call or email me or any board member with your suggestions.

Let’s make the 50th Anniversary a San Diego standout! I look forward to hearing from you.
–Eva Rodriguez, Ecuador 2006-09

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Board Minutes

July 8, 2009
Katie Clark, Lisa Eckl, Laura Vento, Mae Hsu, Lennox Miller, Carl Sepponen, Jennifer Arrowsmith, Gregg Pancoast, Kristen Slanina, Eva Rodriguez. Guests: Tracy Addis Absent: None

Financial: Greg reported balances of $2,054.44 in the checking account and $4,163.43 in the savings account. There is a total of $4,896.24 in Unrestricted Assets and $4,988.14 in Restricted Assets. $4,840.54 is in the Calvert Foundation (NPCA funds) to fund micro-enterprise activities in developing countries. $860 has been paid for two hundred 2010 calendars for fundraising.

Membership: 98 current members (2 new, 12 free). 62 members are 12 months past due. The board is still looking for someone who is interested in the Communications/Membership board position as Lisa will be moving. In the interim, she is still carrying out the duties of the position.

Community Action: Future (tentative) events: August – no event planned; September – coastal clean-up day in Peñasquitos Canyon; October – 4 mile breast cancer walk in Balboa Park; November – food bank (This will be a weekday event.)

Fundraising: 2010 calendars are currently on sale. They are $10 for current members and $12 for others. Entertainment books are coming soon. Katie may try selling some t-shirts at Happy Hours.

Social: Happy Hours have moved to Thursdays. The board discussed moving the annual holiday party to January to avoid schedule conflicts with work holiday parties, shopping, vacation/travel, and final exams. Katie will check the Red Lotus Society in downtown San Diego as a location.

Speaker’s Bureau: Lennox will start soliciting with schools and other organizations to see if they are interested in RPCV speakers.

August 12, 2009
Eva Rodriguez, Kristen Slanina, Carl Sepponen, Mae Hsu. Absent: Jennifer Arrowsmith, Gregg Pancoast, Katie Clark, Lisa Eckl, Laura Vento, Lennox Miller

President’s Report: The 50th Anniversary for Peace Corps is in 2011. We can celebrate anytime during the year – not just on one particular day.

There will be some minimal monetary contribution for the event from Washington D.C. Eva would like to recruit more RPCVs to join SDPCA. One idea is to try to increase attendance at events by calling RPCVs/SDPCA members to personally invite them, rather than just via email/Evite.

Membership: 93 current members (1 new, 12 free). 64 members are 12 months past due. Elena Gallegos has expressed interest in the Communications/Membership board position, but is out of the country for the summer.

Community Action: Jen and her husband were the only participants for the July beach clean-up. She was not sure if maybe people got lost or could not find the meeting place. Previous beach clean-ups planned by other Community Action board reps were not successful, but this was Jen’s first. Jen is requesting any feedback regarding this type of event or other events. Eva could not easily find parking and by the time she arrived, could not find the SDPCA group. She suggested posting an earlier meeting time on the Evite, so that everyone could congregate well before the event start time at 9 am.

Fundraising: Calendars are available for purchase. Entertainment books will be available in 2 weeks. Contact Carl if interested.
Social: The Peace House/straw bale house was suggested as a venue for the Holiday Party. Katie will report back on the Red Lotus Society as a venue at the next meeting.

Other: New PC recruiter, Shane, would like to attend a future board meeting to introduce himself and to look at how we can collaborate in the future.

-Mae Hsu, Secretary, Tonga (2001-03)

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Dodd Undergoes Successful Surgery

Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) had surgery on August 11 to treat early stage prostate cancer. The surgery was a success and Senator Dodd is doing well. He will remain in the hospital for a few days. After a brief recuperation at home with his family, he is looking forward to getting back to work later this month on behalf of the people of Connecticut.

Suggestions are more than welcome!!!

If you have any ideas or input for upcoming volunteer projects, or would like to join the Community Action Committee, please contact me!
–Jennifer Arrowsmith at

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Welcome New Members!

SDPCA extends a warm welcome to our newest members, as
of April 20, 2009. Let us hear from you! We’re glad we were able
to support your work in service. Welcome back!

• Joseph Gerard Andrews, Bulgaria, 2007-2009,

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Recruiter's Corner: Sept./Oct. 2009

Here are some of the recruiting events scheduled for September and October. Please join in and share some of your experiences with prospective volunteers. You are always welcome!

Contact me for more information and specific locations.

Sep 10: Info Table/SDSU
Sep 17: Diversity Fair/ Holiday Inn 3805 Murphy Canyon Rd
Sep 22: International Day of Peace/USD (I’ll have an info table)
Sep 24: SDSU Career Fair, info meeting (Borders, Mission Valley)
Sep 29: Info meeting SDSU
Sep 30: Job Fair/SD convention center

Oct 6: Career Fair CSUSM
Oct 12: PLNU Career Fair
Oct 13: USD Grad Fair
Oct 15: Grad Fair/SDSU
Oct 22: USD info meeting
Oct 29: Info meeting PLNU
Oct 30: SDSU info meeting

--Shane Mathias, Regional Recruiter, RPCV Panama, 2004-07
PC LA Regional Office, 310-356-1102 smathias@peacecorps.gov
(See Shane’s bio under Meet Shane Mathias (above))

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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:

Mae Hsu

Web Layout / Production
Don Beck

Contributors this issue are:
Erin Clark, PCV Jennifer Arrowsmith, Lisa Eckl, Shane Mathias, Bryce Norton, PCV Katie Clark, Kristen Slanina, Don Beck, Gene Nelson, Rebecca Quigley, Bob Shacochis


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