September-October 2001 Volume 14, Number 5
to World Walking:
My travels so far have taken me across Australia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, on the parapets of the great wall of China, across South Vietnam and Cambodia. In each country I have met wonderful people, all eager to learn about my country and share their family's life with me. There really are more similarities than differences in the peoples of the world. I'm encouraged that the 6 p.m. nightly bad news on TV is just the tip of the iceberg, and the majority of people are kind, honest and loving.
Papua, New Ireland
This last year has been very exciting. August 16,1999, I completed my walk across Australia: 4,032 km, 12,096,000 steps taking 2 years and 4 hours. During September and November, I walked 286 km on New Ireland, an eastern island of Papua, New Ireland. There are nearly 4 million people now on the many islands, mostly Melanesians with dark, fuzzy hair and friendly smiles. Almost one third live in the Highlands. There is no such thing as a typical Papua New Guinean, as there are more than 200 cultures, with different traditions and over 800 different languages. Pidgin and Hiri Motu are the two most widely used languages. I'm lucky that English is the official language of education, business and government. They consider themselves as 'united yet diverse.'
Over and over, I was urged to sit on a wooden bench, rock or stump under a tree which served as the bus stop and local hang-out, while a villager, showing off, would gallantly climb a coconut tree. Soon I got to see the long machetes in action, as the rough outer layer of the coconut was deftly whacked away, and I was presented with a marvelous refreshing drink of coconut milk. I grew to appreciate it's thirst-quenching qualities.
These "natives" never cease to amaze me. Only a handful can drive or has a vehicle, the mail is erratically delivered only to Namatini and Kevang, there is no electricity outside of the these towns, no TV or radio. Yet I was expected. They'd shake their heads in disbelief, "long, long walkabout to Kevang is just not possible," they chorused. Every day someone would join me on the road, "I've been waiting for you. You will come and stay at my village tonight, yes?"
One day will always be magic in my memory. In Konos, the only village of any size, I stopped by the side of the road to rest. Very slowly the villagers began to come out. Some brought their mending, basket weaving, tots on the teat, greens to chop, bowls of fruit and musical instruments.
For three hours we had an impromptu music fiesta. Drums were fashioned out of tree trunks and pots. They sang cultural pop tunes in their dialect, but mostly church hymns. I noticed one of the adolescent boys was carving something in the tree trunk with his machete, then he asked me to come look. He'd carved "A L M I T R A" vertically in the bark; it was nearly 5 feet in height. He said it was so part of me would always be in their village, and they would forever remember me.
I received two major surprises on that walk: one, the PNG's are the friendliest and most intelligent of all the races I've met world wide; two, my only enemy was a stalker: silent, deadly and only 1/4 inch long. Malaria dropped me hard, and repeatedly over the next few months.
I headed for New Zealand. I left the Heart of Gold, my trolley in Australia, taking bare necessities in a backpack. New Zealand is talked about by backpacking tourists as the friendliest country in the world. It seems the majority of New Zealanders are in Australia, and the majority of people in New Zealand are tourists from somewhere else. After seven weeks and topping 5,000 km, I headed for China, where I became bewitched with people in small villages and the Great Wall of China.
My third year of walking, August 16, 2000, 5,752 km 17,256,000 steps behind me. I will continue my China walk after I renew my visa. So I head south. The year 2001 will find me in Vietnam, making my way back to China. My dear Danny will join me for a much deserved holiday.
Inner View: Tiny Kant Village is located hours down an increasingly deteriorating dirt road on the east coast of New Ireland, PNG. It's one of the many magical Papua New Guinean Islands lying east of the mainland. I was anxious to meet Silm, a famous shark caller. Famous because photographers and TV reporters have rushed to this remote corner of the world to record this village's traditional method of calling sharks from the deep. Silm is a tiny leathery old man.
Humbly, Silm stands in his flimsy outrigger canoe, blowing a primitive horn summoning the great fish. Then he shakes a tambourine into the waters, until a shark looms up from the deep. I can see where the tambourine could make the water vibrate similarly to a smaller distressed fish, attracting the shark. When the fin appears, Silm prepares a loop of wire on a stick to trap him. Afraid for my camera in any possible tip-over, I stood in waist deep water, photographing while Silm called his sharks. As we waited for his magic to materialize a shark, I realized my foolishness. I began to pray for no sharks today.
"Distance walked: 5,998 Km, into the fourth year on the road, Guinness Book of Records Challenger: First Woman To Walk Around the World" Well I finally got on line, hurrah! I am fine, my Webmaster and his girlfriend have broken up, so there's a bit of a discussion about what is going to happen. I pray that it'll be up and running very soon. I guess the girlfriend will keep it going, she is now in London.
I have fallen under the spell of a dozen street kids (mostly boys) in Hanoi. They are runaways, orphans, products of domestic abuse...they have come to the big city for any kind of work. They mostly give shoeshines when they first arrive, as it's the cheapest way to get started, then save and start buying post cards and books to sell to tourists. When they are older, some start giving tours; the very smart save enough for school and English lessons. But mostly it's hand-to-mouth.
I'd end up feeding a few every day, but they took me to their Vietnamese cafes and it cost me less to feed 4 of us, than just me at my usual cheap place. They were also very generous, and frequently showed up at my hotel bringing food or small gifts. It was so heart wrenching to leave, and know I'd not really made any difference in their future. I do receive e-mail from a few who have a few words of English and a few extra monies to use the Internet.
Where have I been? I walked across South Vietnam into Cambodia, where the people are beautiful and sweet. Then at the Thailand border, I took three weeks off to be with Danny, still magic. We ended our Vietnam adventure in Hanoi, where I spent a week with the street kids and waited for the Prime Minister of Vietnam to sign my hat! (He did!)
I picked up my walk where I left off, in Thailand, headed north for Laos (almost there) then north into North Vietnam and into China.
We continue from the May-June newsletter the story of SDPCA's Secretary, Rudy Sovinee, as he began exploring Ireland for a month in March and April. He was there at the invitation of an Irish business owner, Richard Lindley (originally of San Diego) to explore teaching youth there, using the One World Our World (1WOW) School Program, which Richard had seen in San Diego. Pictures from author.
Across the Atlantic
By Rudy Sovinee
During the month, I presented at each of four schools in the Republic of Ireland. Two were traditional with religious instruction and moors, and two were "school projects" where materials and curriculum were multi-denominational. The latter were created by the National Schools as an experiment at avoiding the sectarian misunderstandings that supported the conflict in the North.
While Americans are aware to varying degrees of the turmoil of Northern Ireland, my invitation was to the Republic of Ireland (often referred to as Ireland). The mix of cultures that is currently happening in Ireland with many new immigrants definitely is a breeding ground for problems. After a century of mostly rural living, thinned out by the emigration of last century, the island is having growth problems as descendants return to their homeland, and Asian and African refugees add to the mix. Ireland is in its fifth year of nearly 5% growth in population, mostly from immigration, and much from peoples who are not of Irish heritage, which is causing great turmoil.
Against such a broad background of history, it was humbling yet heady to be invited to share the 1WOW program message of leadership, tolerance, and peace-building skills. Yet it also seemed futile in the long run unless tied to a bigger plan. Like in the Peace Corps, or life, this plan evolved during the trip as opportunities arose. Richard Lindley, through his company, Micro Warehouse (http://www.mwh.ie) provided the basic life-support for this trip. Beyond the basics I found opportunities through the help of Richard Lindley's associate, Eddie Shaw. Eddie was my mentor on this trip, Chairman of the National Safety Council for the Republic of Ireland, a group that oversees use of such programs as 1WOW, and the source of my initial list of contacts.
Father Dan O'Connor, the education officer in Dublin for the church, was one of the first to accept a meeting. He works at "Archbishop's House" (although the Archbishop has just been made a cardinal.), Father O'Connor was an excellent listener, and when he understood what I was about, he helped by telling me how the school system is working on a program developed for this need. Called SPHE (Social Personal Health Education), the program was being developed by Lucy Fallon Byrne. Eddie had included her name on his referrals, and now Father O'Connor made the calls to add his introduction to that of Eddie Shaw.
The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (see http://www.ncca.ie) is the branch that develops curriculum for the National Schools, and Lucy is the Assistant Executive Director. My meeting with Lucy Fallon Byrne and Paul Brennan (picture below) of the NCCA took place the middle of my second week in country. Barely enough time to work out the hardware required modifications in the CD-ROM I'd generated to cart the multi-media show across the Atlantic. TheSPHE curriculum she developed is to be introduced in September, and is meant to alleviate some of the pressures caused by the immigration situation. After previewing the music and imagery of 1WOW, each commented how the 1WOW program would serve well as a resource in their own curriculum, and that 1WOW was much less culturally biased toward the USA than programs typically produced here in the USA.
Here is where a plan began to form, to complete the CD-ROM details needed to replicate what I was doing, and have Irish teachers, under the NCAA, present the 1WOW program throughout the Republic of Ireland. As other details unfolded, it appears that ten such teachers could cover all the schools once every three years, 100 schools per year. But first, could I manage to be invited into some test schools in Ireland--presenting before they'd break for Easter?
Eddie helped again with the link to a school in which he was involved, and then another school nearby quickly agreed--at a meeting immediately following the first. These schools were both in a well-to-do neighborhood (including the daughters of Bono of U-2), but Father Dan O'Connor's help had included a suggestion to contact Trocaire, an NGO well respected for aid to people in developing countries. (See http://www.trocaire.ie).
Many phone calls later I'd met with Sean Farrell and Sheila Dillon of Trocaire. Sean and Sheila are Trocaire's secondary and primary education development officers. They each arranged a day at a school to preview the program, Sean in a working class neighborhood of Dublin, and Sheila at a school in Cork. Unlike the regular educators, they each watched me for a whole day at a school, and they each loved the program. They have the task of raising student awareness of the developing world, and found much in the 1WOW program that might be adopted in their own future programs. I found in each a kindred spirit who had wandered abroad, and who shared a desire to teach students a global perspective.
The remaining journey began from talking to my Irish AID seatmate during the flight to Ireland. He networked his channels, and that led to a meeting with Alastair Walker, head of education services at the CCEA (Council for Curriculum, Examination and Assessment) for Northern Ireland. With Alastair Walker, I also met Carmel Gallager and Roger McCune, the primary and secondary education development officers. The CCEA (see http://www.ccea.org.uk) is an organization with parallel goals to the NCCA. The timing of the meeting was just prior to Easter, and my departure. Bottom line, they welcomed the preview, and would watch how things progress first in Dublin with the NCCA.
What will come of this peace effort is yet to be ascertained. Will the success at four schools (demonstrated by pre- and post-assessment surveys) be converted into a second trip to train trainers? Will funding be found to support the development of a more computer generic version of the CD? Time will tell.
My first night home provided a familiar feeling of "odd," a mini-version of returning from the Peace Corps. Having been to another culture and having noticed the differences midst the similarities, I was again home, and noticing life again with new eyes.
Thanks to the help of a growing number of volunteers and the help of a supportive board, work continues toward bringing peace to youth here in San Diego. On the flip side, I can only free up blocks of time each year to truly focus on this program. My seasonal "paying" job as a cameraman started immediately upon returning from Ireland, followed by summer season at Del Mar as a night auditor. It is frustrating to loose the momentum of the trip to Ireland during these 19 weeks of work, but is a reality of making ends meet on a shoestring budget. The dream remains to present frequently enough to avoid needing such momentum-losing diversions, to continue teaching peace by "Bringing the World Home."
When I was in school, I remember dating a girl whose dad traveled extensively for Pan Am, yet generally saw little more than the airport and equipment. Here I was in Ireland for a month, yet spending most of my time at an office or at a nearby flat. My mission of presenting in schools, and networking with educators required a smoothly running computer program. This prototype software had worked in the USA, but didn't transfer easily to the hardware being loaned while in-country. It took over a week of 14-hour days to work through the computer issues, and the second week was largely in Dublin making calls and meeting. While I enjoyed Dublin as a city with great character, I longed to see the farms and vistas featured in so many photographs. Would I ever see these firsthand? Complicating excursions into rural areas was that my trip coincided with the peak of the disaster brought by foot-and-mouth disease. Here are notes from my sixth evening in Ireland:
"I'm sitting at home now, watching the TV stories with my flat mate, Marie. The country is in shock as the announcement was made today that foot-and-mouth disease has crossed the border into the Republic of Ireland. Everyone had gone through such extreme steps for so long, attempting to prevent the spread of the infection. Marie says that she grew up in western Ireland, on a farm. Her dad is dead, and her mom relies on the animals for all of her livelihood, so if the infection spreads there, her mom will loose everything.
"It is hard to paint a comparison for San Diego. The economy here, as well as the culture and heritage, are so rooted in, and centered around, farming. How can these people live to see restored the many generations of herds, which will be lost as animals are culled? There is much resentment for England not acting swiftly enough or strongly enough to end the outbreak there.
"The outbreak will likely affect my own ability to travel here. All travel deemed unnecessary is being curtailed. Anything that can be done to stop further spread of the disease is being considered. Hence, I will more likely spend more time in the area around Dublin, and not traveling into the farming regions where people are now suspicious as they strive to protect their livestock, and livelihoods."
I first escaped into the country that second Thursday night to collect the LCD projector for the first school presentation on Friday. The man with the projector lived in a village called Stamulin - off the road to Belfast. It was a pretty straight drive north, and only a few miles from the main road through the village. I dined at a local Inn and enjoyed the atmosphere, but was aware that I had a big test the next morning.
That Friday was a big success. There were wonderful compliments from the teachers and principal. The approach of the 1WOW (tm) school program is to introduce a great deal of information quickly and experientially. This approach worked very well in Ireland where the students were not used to such experiential teaching techniques. I did find repeatedly that the youth there knew more about historical world leaders (bad and good) than in the USA, even down to the third grade. Hitler remained the top example of leadership gone bad, but they also named Milosevic, Stalin, Saddam. On the good leaders they named M. L. King, Jr., Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Churchill, Kennedy, Kofi Anan, and Irish leaders.
The fifth year girls came up after their class lesson and asked for autographs, with the teacher nodding to go ahead... that was a great compliment, but strange. The next hour I was to meet another principal at the Dalkey School Project. It sounded comparable to a charter school and was started as a reaction to the religious divisions seen in the 70s. Word traveled fast, and so I was offered the opportunity to present at their school on Monday. (Marie and Jason later commented that Ireland survived quite well before the Internet due to the speed of word of mouth.) This particular principal has met Clinton twice, here and in Washington--her husband is the secretary of the European Teacher's Union ... so more networking is possible.
That trip to Stamulin whetted my appetite, so Saturday I decided to fold up the maps, and just head out the main road. Surprise! Clandalken really is on the southwestern edge of Dublin. Once I passed the traffic snarls of the N-7 as it covers this village, it immediately opened up to a road comparable to Route 78 in San Diego, but with a 70 mph speed limit. I was quickly surrounded by open land!
I took N-7 onto M-7 about 40 miles towards Cork when there was another traffic snarl as the four lanes shrank to two at a town called Kildare, county seat for County Kildare. A signpost announced the National Thoroughbred Stud Farm, so I thought I'd turn off into town to explore on foot. It was a very fun sunny afternoon. I strolled all over, getting some lovely shots of Irish buildings, an Irish off-track betting parlor, some farmland and several people who were willing to meet a stranger. The farm tours were closed, as was the cathedral to visitors&endash;due to precautions to avoid any spreading of the foot-and-mouth disease.
The walking eased my need to wander and photograph. By late afternoon I drove back to Clandalkin, happy. As it was Saturday night, I went out to try to meet some locals at a pub. Ireland has one pub for every 170 people. I just packed enough cash for the night, walked the few hundred yards into the village, and quickly hopped through each of four nearby pubs. Problem was that the social circles were strongly apparent as I surfed through each spot, unable to catch an eye or feel like bursting into a set of friends. I'd almost returned home when a man was coming from our street towards town - and he said, "Hi!" I replied that his was my first greeting tonight, and next I know, I'm off with him, Tom, to meet his brother. Tom is a taxi driver, and Tom's brother is a Franciscan priest, freshly returned to Dublin from posts in London, and San Francisco prior to that. The rest of the evening was a great success, with conversation on society, criminals, marriage, peace, Bill Clinton, George Bush, religion, etc., etc. If only this could happen without so much cigarette smoke. Tom said pubs are a reaction to the weather, generally too cold and sloppy, so here is this nice warm room to gather and chat. A local barber had died, and lots of people were taking part in a series of raffles as a fundraiser for the widow. Three beers for the night nearly did me in--as it took half of Sunday to feel good again.
Monday's presentations at the Dalkey School Project also went "brilliantly"---the current phrase that seems as fun as the in the old movies when British said things were excellent by saying "smashing." Still, it was not until I had a call from Sean Farrell of Trocaire that I would feel the test of teaching to youth from blue collar social backgrounds. It was the largest school I presented to, and the hardest day of teaching. Sean was a champ, watching every session of assemblies and classroom follow-up. He noted one change, easy to implement, to improve the communication; in the simulation substitute the USA with the European Union (EU). This would allow a circle of a size large enough to use in the game (any one country in Europe is too small.) The standard of living of the EU is also of a level that the consumption of resources shown in the simulation would still be graphic.
Although I knew I'd struggled to shift ideas at that school, Sean was enthusiastic, and before I arrived home I had a call from Cork confirming a presentation there on the Monday of my fourth week. It meant I would have the opportunity to truly explore! I took all of Sunday to meander the country roads to Cork on Ireland's Southwestern coast. Along the way I saw a sign and made a side trip to JFK's family homestead. Also along the way I toured some fishing harbors and a quick trip through the Waterford Crystal factory. Call it PCV quirkiness, but I found and much preferred the local craft at a cottage on the outskirts of Waterford. The sole proprietor has a website, http://www.dinglecrystal.ie, that I suggest visiting.
My stay in Cork was barely 24 hours. I met an American couple at the B&B (former mansion) where I stayed that Sunday night. School again went well, and then time allowed a quick visit to Sheila's office (it has a strong social activist flavor, like the Peace Resource Center here in San Diego--I felt very "at home"). Still, I was awaiting a possible okay for a meeting in Belfast, and I needed to be back in Dublin, or beyond, by that Monday night. But I couldn't resist stopping to hike around the Rock of Cashel&endash;the biggest, most intact castle I'd seen. Oh, if anyone worries about gasoline prices in the USA, try the local price there of £0.669 per liter... about $3.00/gallon! That alone is a good reason to enjoy the tiny Ford I was loaned, it not only fits on the tiny road lanes, it is easier on the pocket.
The call accepting a meeting in Belfast didn't come until Wednesday. There being no further possibilities with schools, due to Easter vacation, I made the trip to Belfast into a three day road trip. Finally some time to just go wherever whimsy led me, which became a tour of the northern coast of Ireland, through Balleycastle to Giant's Causeway, to Derry and Donnegal. More pubs, two delightful B&Bs, more pleasant conversations, and most of my photos!
Full circle, I arranged for Tom to provide my taxi ride to the airport that Monday, and then celebrated my last evening in lively conversation at the local pub with Tom and his brother. They did have their fun with me, introducing me to another taxi driver called KKK. Those were his initials, but they played them up as related to his social views. A very long night later, and I was walking across disinfectant mats at the airport--headed back to San Diego.
by Don Beck
Incredibly green countryside of many shades. Quaint, unchanged, unpretentious. Narrow roads, no shoulders, smaller cars. Rural avenues feel like paved lanes walled in with wild grasses and shrubs. Wider "motorways" [two lanes divided] near the largest cities. Skies varied daily from clear deep blue, to dark rain clouds. Most often you see incredible billowing and changing clouds. James Joyce spoke of "a day of dappled seaborne clouds." I kept looking for those clouds, but the variations of "dappled" seem endless.
This summer I spent about five weeks in Ireland and two weeks in London, England. I will try to share some of my impressions of what I saw in the Republic of Ireland. I spent only a day in Dublin and another two days in the northwestern part of Northern Ireland, so my impressions come from mostly rural areas of the Republic.
The weather: summer is warm and rainy. Lots of moderate showers. Lots of powerful, clouds of various kinds set against blue skies. Being so far north (corresponds almost to Alaska), the summer sun sets very late at night and rises early in the morning. For example, June 26 had a 10:30 p.m. sunset and a 3:45 a.m. sunrise. Though I was used to rising with the sun, I found 4 a.m. sunrise too early!
You start off with breakfast; an Irish breakfast has bacon, sausages, eggs, fried half tomato and blood pudding. The sausages are excellent and the bacon is like round Canadian bacon with a short rasher attached. Then "dinner" is the main meal at midday, as it is in our midwest. The early evening meal is a lighter one called "tea," more substantial than the English teatime, but probably from that name. Supper is a snack later in the evening. The Irish like restaurants! And there are many: Chinese, pizza, East Indian and traditional. Irish salmon and trout is popular as well as "Irish potatoes" (mostly from Cypress however). Fast foods are only slowly infiltrating. Larger cities have McDonalds or KFC and some Irish burger or fish'n'chips chains. In the Republic I saw maybe five McD's and one KFC. Northern Ireland has many more.
This was my second trip to Ireland; last summer I spent a month traveling 2,500 miles in the Republic (pretty extensive trip in a country 150 by 250 miles). I flew into Shannon last year, in the southwest, a busy, and smaller than you'd expect, airport. This year I came through Dublin: larger, busier, with even a multi-story parking lot. I stayed in Aclare, in the County of Sligo in the northwest, with a friend who grew up in Australia, of Irish grandparents, who has worked as a veterinarian in Ireland for 20 years now, rural large animal specialty.
Aclare is a hamlet, not shown on many maps, about two blocks long, buildings on both sides: a chemist shop, post office (stamps and Irish lottery numbers and scratchers made by the same company as California's, I bet), a general market and five pubs. There's a welder shop in the back, and more, as most people have many skills. The chemist shop had been run by one owner for 30 years with handwritten prescription labels, and shelves filled with drugstore goods and more. A chemist shop here serves farms as well as homes with veterinary supplies, dog foods, etc. This summer it has been bought out and the new displays are more current but not as interesting.
Markets in smaller towns are like general stores with more than groceries. In size they can be a small room to a small 7-11; Aclare's market had two rooms with mostly foods. Three miles away is another smaller hamlet with a post office and smaller general store, a gas/diesel pump, and bricks of processed turf for your fireplace. Several miles in another direction is a post office and small general store market, part of which also serves as the home of the owner's family. All these stores have frozen cabinets of one size or another, with frozen foods ready to go. Local cottage industries make delicious fresh and frozen tortes, tarts, meat pies, breads. There are a wide variety of frozen dinner preparations stocked. Lots of pasteurized juices, and many sodas and waters. One carbonated soda, Club Orange, has bits of orange pulp in it, too. Fresh vegetables are cello-wrapped in small quantities. Twenty miles away are larger towns with larger markets.Your shopping is more often and more deliberate: getting some things locally, other things nearby, and yet other things a ways away. Having lived in a city (San Diego) so long, I had to relearn that shopping in rural Ireland is oftener and a more planned adventure!
The Irish are kind and warm to visitors. I told them it was amazing to me for a country so long controlled and mistreated that the people are so peaceable and gentle. Someone told me they had conquered adversities by exporting themselves all over the globe, always remembering they were Irish. When I asked about their Republic, people spoke with a heartfelt pride. It reminded me of my PC experience where I had learned more than I was able to teach. People were curious, wanting to know my impressions. And like us they talk about their economy, about problems with kids and schools, what politicians are doing right and wrong, and sports--the weekend Irish football game for local championships between county teams.
Most people spoke of an economic upswing: that the youth have traditionally left rural areas for cities like Dublin and then gone abroad for greater opportunity. Now, it is said, more are staying. There are more people coming into the country as the economy is opening more new businesses-in part due to information technologies. Ireland is embracing technology, laying cable throughout the Republic to join all the counties in access to the Internet. There was a national competition and the city Ennis was chosen to become a model. Businesses, homes and schools were connected, given computers and have been very successful.
Satellite dish TV and cell phone services pervade the country. There are more cell phones than people and on most houses you will see a TV satellite dish for hundreds of channels: worldwide sports, news, movies and programs. Many cable channels have European counterparts: Discovery, Animal Planet, TCM, and QVC... There are four Irish stations (three in English and one in Gaelic), many UK stations' entertainment and some US shows, too: Dharma and Gregg, Friends, Seinfeld, Frasier. Quiz shows, however, didn't have as much money at stake as in the USA. Evening soaps with intertwined plots are ever popular. Police shows abound too, but with notably less violence. CNN has a European News channel; BBC reports news more matter-of-factly. The weather maps cover all of Europe, Russia and the Middle East. What seemed "exotic faraway places" to me is normal fare there. It was good to be reminded there is more in the world than the US.
Near Aclare is Hennigan's Heritage Centre, which has been preserved by its owner for the heritage it represents. Tom Hennigan's family has lived on this land for more than two hundred years. The cottage is where his family had lived since last century. It is small, of 2-3 rooms, a few small windows, and thatch roof. Originally grandparents, parents, children and some animals lived in the small cottage. Land use and ownership has long been of great importance to the Irish. Hennigan wishes to educate people about what it was like then and why.
In the 1800s, people could stay on their land as long as they could pay taxes required by the English appointed landlord. A cottage was taxed for the number of doors it had and the ampount of sunlight let in--the number and size of windows. In view of hard times, famine and poor soil, people had little money and a great many lost their land. Some practices came into being to keep one from getting put out. More sunlight meant higher taxes, hence windows were made few and small, Manure kept outside the door made access uninviting, so the tax collector wouldn't enter to evict people. In the famines eviction was common.
The Irish heritage is not impoverished but one of strength and resourcefulness in facing brutal circumstances. It is a culture to be proud of, though not seen in such terms. Students from all over the country come to the Hennigan Centre and are involved in making displays of the history of the area and gathering artifacts of historical importance. You need only hear Tom Hennigan speak to understand his passion that helps others learn and take pride in the beauty of their heritage. Students are also setting up a website for this awesome heritage centre.
Students attend school through high school, same as here. "Kids" are said to be as wild and unruly as here. There are countrywide exams for graduation and students prepare rigorously, take them in July with results back in August. There is much anxiety over the tests, resulting in four suicides in the past few years. Teachers seek higher salaries, threatening strikes. Parents raise issues of Special Education access to appropriate education, with court rulings now in place for expanded services. Irish history is a topic rich in cultures and cultural confrontations; according to teachers the curriculum is being revised to bring what is taught in alignment with what actually happened, from the people's view.
Pubs have the image of a place to have a good time, leaving the impression that Guinness is the number one recreation of the Irish. While it is a place to congregate and pass on information, and though all pubs have Guinness and the Guinness name is displayed on most, drinking habits and fare varies widely, from lemonade, to sodas, to mineral waters, to mixed drinks, to beers, and most are full service with full meals served, as well. There are nights with performers, maybe a cover charge for entertainment. Other nights, as on weekends, there can be contests about trivia, with money prizes. Competition between pubs or between towns goes on as well.
The Irish accent was not much of a problem, I found. If I listened carefully, I usually understood it easily. It also varied, with more accent in the far northwest in Donegal and in Limerick in the center. I spent two weeks in London too, and found the English accent harder to understand than the Irish. My friend had a strong Aussie accent. Going with him on some of his rounds, I had been talking to a farmer client. I was asking about plants and trees but somehow accents came up, and I told him the vet said I had an accent, though I knew he was really the one with an accent. The farmer thought a moment and said matter-of-factly (and tactfully) that we both had accents. I got so I could recognize an American accent when spoken!
Northern Ireland is still part of the UK, a fact that will change if political sides can come to agreement. In Northern Ireland independence is an explosive topic where you are expected to take sides. In the Republic, people don't seem to take sides about it: they don't want part of either side, due to how the sides are currently behaving. Eventually people want a single Ireland, but only after the divisiveness is gone.
Although my experience of Northern Ireland was limited, I found appearances there very different. First, visitors can't help but notice watchtowers used by the British Army to control the cities in the 70s and 80s: barbed wire, high fences, caged-in compounds to keep out fire bombs. These are all empty, but still present. In the Republic you rarely see any policemen or military. Local police or Guarda are usually not in uniform and use unmarked cars. They know their community, have a pulse on the happenings and are respected. Second, Northern Ireland seems to have larger, richer fields densely planted with many crops. There are few rocks, and fences are of wood, wire or trees and shrubs. The sides of roads are cut and "manicured," rather like the British, in contrast to the wild state of roadside vegetation in most of the Republic.
Peace Gardens are being built to focus on building a peace and reconciliation between the Republican and Unionist communities in Northern Ireland, to allow independence. Arguments go back to clashes between kingdoms of Scotland and England, (mostly along Catholic/Protestant lines at the time of James of Scotland and William of Orange), and Ireland's division into two countries in 1920's. The Republicans (mostly Catholic) want a free nation or Republic, independent of the UK. Unionists (mostly Protestant) want to continue as part of the UK. It became volatile again this summer with firebombs and escalating demands. Overall both sides have taken an equal toll of deaths. It seems to be a stalemate for the moment with no simple fix.
One of the rockiest places on earth is Western Ireland. Stone walls serve as fences but, more importantly, they are a place to put rocks usefully out of the way. Vehicles are driven on the left side. Roads are incredibly narrow, in towns and out, about as wide as one and three quarters of a European car. On rural roads there are no paved shoulders. Shoulders consist of perhaps 18 inches of vegetation and then a rock wall, hidden by shrubbery. This greenery is trimmed back once a year, making it like a hedge. But within several weeks it grows back, trimmed for the rest of the year by cars passing by. When passing, cars move as far into the road edge as possible and just barely pass. I learned to keep my (passenger) window up as a car passed so as not to be scraped by the branches. "Town" areas with narrow streets often have traffic jams but people drive carefully, moving courteously in turn. It is amazing what trucks can actualy pass through narrow lanes in a town.
People walking often use the center and move to the side as cars pass, with always a lift of the index finger to say hello and wish you well. Roads are paved in asphalt and "chippings" (cracked rocks like small rocks or large pebbles). Signs announce "loose chippings" in areas freshly repaved. Most roads and lanes are paved and usually winding, as they are built on the former trails used for hundreds of years.
I came back refreshed to hot, busy, crowded "golden" San Diego. Now, don't get me wrong. San Diego is nice. But it is even nicer to see glimpses of the spirit that has made this people friendly, kind and down-to-earth out of a heritage of such adversity.
From the President
Greetings from the beach......by the way, if you have done any summer reading and would like to recommend a book to our group, feel free to send in the information with comments for inclusion in our next newsletter.
I have heard (as I was out of town) that the July social/community outreach event went very well and that good connections were made with the Kukuma young men and the Sudanese community. It would be great if some of our group stayed in touch with the boys as they make progress in the many challenges ahead of them and kept us posted through the newsletter. Any volunteers?
The Association's fundraising cycle is just getting underway and you will see an announcement in this issue from Paul Johnson, Fundraising Chair, regarding the Entertainment Books. This and the International Calendar are our primary fundraising revenue sources so all efforts to make these sales happen will be appreciated and help further the goals of the association. Many thanks.
--Greg Pancoast, President
7/2/01 and 8/7/01: Combined Minutes of Meetings
In Attendance: Gregg Pancoast, Frank Yates, Rudy Sovinee, Brenda Hahn, Paul Johnson and Gail Souare attended both meetings. Donna Urdiales-Carter and former board member Sharon Kennedy attended July only. Minutes were approved as written.
President's Report: MMSP to follow past years' precedent and pay the registration costs for one SDPCA representative to the NPCA conference. This year it will be Hank Davenport.
Financial Report: Frank provided detailed statements of income and expense, accepted for audit.
Membership: Frank reported that the SDPCA membership is at 160 current, 27 past due, totaling 187. NPCA membership is at 108 current, 12 past due, totaling 120.
Community Outreach: No news to report, but the Sudanese Youth social event served a dual purpose of community action. See article in this newsletter.
Fundraising: Paul Johnson accepted a board position in July, and agreed to chair this key function. He sent letters to past Postal Annex supporters, will send out additional letters and will contact his committee of volunteers about follow-up calls before leaving on a three-week trip to Africa. MMSP to have Frank order and pay for 200 International Calendars.
Mark J. Tonner International Support Fund: After a report and discussion, MMSP to offer two cycles for grants to the ISF, each budgeted at up to $1,500, with deadlines of November 15 and March 1.
Newsletter: Various members agreed to submit contributions. Our next newsletter deadline is 10/01. Brenda has operated under past board decision allowing her to expand so as to include the stories she is receiving.
Web Site: Don Beck has begun maintaining the SDPCA website by posting the newsletter and adjusting some layout. MMSP to allow Don to explore and implement a monitored posting service for our members to use for quick announcements.
Social: Donna is working with RPCV Dan Taylor to organize a camping trip to explore a segment of our ecology: bats. See details in this issue.
Speaker's Bureau: Interim chairman, Jean Meadowcroft e-mailed her availability to confer for our meeting via phone, but had no news to report at this time.
Old Business: Gail Souare waited throughout the meeting before offering to be nominated and voted onto the board. She has not yet accepted a committee assignment, but is reviewing the Community Action position and files for consideration. The SDPCA still has two vacancies on its designated nine person board.
Next Meeting: 6:30 PM 9/4/01 at the home of Gail Souare.
--Rudy Sovinee, Secretary
PC News Bites
40th Anniversary Reunion
The National Peace Corps Association wants as many returned volunteers as possible to register for the 40th Anniversary of the Peace Corps, Sept. 20-23. If you want to see who has registered, go to http://www.rpcv.org and check out "The List," by clicking "Celebrate" and choose "Find Your Friends." Then if you are feeling left out, click for registration and do it now. If you are not online, call 1-866-324-7103 and register by phone.
Registration gives you access to programs that showcase RPCV impact in: education, business, environment, public service and closing the digital divide; lets you into the Congressional reception, RPCV Career Fair, keynote address, film festival and workshops on writing, life planning and volunteering again. Be part of posterity in the photo of RPCVs with their Country of Service flags along the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool. Checkout http://www.rpcv.org for ongoing program updates. Be there in September for a weekend to remember.
Calling all PC Librarians
Nann Blaine Hilyard and I, new co-editors of "Perspectives" in Public Libraries magazine, are especially interested in experiences of Peace Corps volunteers in setting up, working in, or operating public libraries in other countries at any time in the 40-year history of the Peace Corps.
The January/February, 2002 issue of Public Libraries magazine will be devoted to the theme of "International Librarianship." To contribute a brief essay for "Perspectives," please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 804-748-1767. If you would prefer to contribute a full-length feature article, please contact Public Libraries Feature Editor Renee Vaillaincourt at Publiclibraries@aol.com or 406-777-1288.
--Skip Auld, Assistant Director,
Chesterfield County Public Library,
Watch for the SDPCA website to soon have a section for bulletin board listings!!
This section will serve our members who want to MORE QUICKLY connect---with others who served in the same host country, for quick information on finding a job locally, to invite the membership to a party, to advertise their garage sales, list relevant grants available, etc.---all things too deadline-driven for newsletter listings only.
We are open to your ideas for this section, and all listings will be screened for appropriateness. Send YOUR listings or ideas for this section to newseditor@SDPCA.org
See below Welcome.. for thank yous...
Our Welcome to Kakuma Youth
The SDPCA Picnic on Saturday, July 28 with the Kakuma Youth was truly an international affair. Dozens of RPCVs and our special guests from Sudan made it to Morley Field Park to mix, eat, and share resources. In many ways, the returned PCV'S were emotionally transported back to their own PC "cultural plunges" during this special event. The day began with some confusion regarding the exact location of the event and yet as PCVs do, we persisted until we located our true destination (remember how many wrong buses we took while trying to find our way in-country?). The directions had Upas going through from Park - it doesn't [Many apologies for the error, due to an incorrect Thomas Brothers]. Despite this confusion, AND a parade blocking traffic from the north, AND a traffic accident fatality briefly closing access from the south, dozens of RPCVs and our guests from Sudan made it to Morley Park to mix, eat, and share resources.
Then, we met and greeted the young men, strangers to our country, in much the same way we were once warmly greeted and embraced by our host families. Then began the cultural exchanges that can forge lasting relationships. Remember how we often spoke with trepidation as we began our social encounters with our host country friends?
Next, what would a PC social event be without the famous PC potlucks. We were all treated to a wonderful spread of epicurean delights as some women led by Elizabeth from the San Diego Sudanese Association had prepared some special Sudanese dishes like "kebab" which was something like a stew. We didn't ask questions, just ate and enjoyed the different tastes and textures. The women had prepared some fresh "kisera", which is a thin, unleavened bread made from maize flour, often used as a base for meat and vegetable stews. We also enjoyed "fuul" or "fasooliyya" which are dishes of stewed beans and vegetables.
Then RPCVs showed off their tried and true African dishes like Brenda's Mahfay with a sneaky but delicious peanut butter sauce. Then there was a chicken and rice dish from Malawi and a PC staple--pizza--and enough deserts to feed all of San Diego (well, almost). There was more than enough food for our guests to take home leftovers. We were all sated and ready for a nap. Remember peaceful, leisurely times in countries not as "time conscious" as the USA?
We finally merged into one big happy family and gathered to exchange information and openly share with the group our mutual appreciations. John Kang, President of the San Diego Sudanese Association, spoke about the on-going needs of the young men and the Association. Mr. Kang reminded us that the "Lost Boys" were no longer lost but are "found" and need assistance. He let us know that as the boys mature and find jobs, these jobs are often far beyond the SD City Heights area (where they are living in groups of four or five per household. These youth need ongoing interaction with caring adults and families to help them adjust to the USA, and avoid the crime and drugs that have taken their toll on so many American youth in these same neighborhoods. After some more thoughts and prayers were shared, we played frisbee and football. One of us remarked, "This was my first-hand opportunity to meet these youth and see the age in their eyes, yet watch them as little kids as they learned to throw a frisbee. It was a reminder of times in-country.... and a reminder that a one-day picnic, a few shoes or a watch, while nice to have, would not provide the day-by-day guidance and mentoring that would bridge their needs into a new culture."
The SDPCA members who came brought an abundance of household items and clothing so that each young man had arms full of things they had selected in turns, but this last comment stuck with us all. The Board collectively agreed that the NEXT STEP for the transition into a longer relationship with this community would be to help them somehow meet the needs of all their members. The Sudanese Community needs a van to help shuttle the youth to their initial jobs for a limited time. This IS THEIR MOST URGENT NEED, as more youth arrive regularly. Yet, it is beyond the SDPCA's resources or mission to provide a van.
You Can Help
You our members, or your contact community network, may be able to assist the non-profit Sudanese Community Association directly as a donor. SDPCA is also looking into ways to help. For further information or if you wish to assist, contact Sharon Kennedy at the International Rescue Committee (619-641-7510) or John Kang of the Sudanese Community Association (619-285-8133).
As you can see, we were all equally blessed. We remember returning from our PC tour wondering who had really gotten the most out of my experiences, our host country people or us? We think it's safe to say that we all felt this way again today. See you all at our next social event....a PC-style Camp Out!
--Donna Carter (Honduras 1979-81),
SDPCA Social Chair,
We of SDPCA extend a warm welcome to our newest members. (If we received your membership late because you joined us through NPCA, this is beyond our control but we apologize anyway.) We've seen some of you at our events already and we want all of you to get involved in our activities. Let us hear from you!! You can reach us by the contact information listed on page 2. Old members, use this section as your SDPCA Membership Directory update.
New members are listed (whenever this information is given) by name, country and years of service, current occupation, area of residence, email and home phone number. Where San Diego is the area of residence, zip code is given for possible SDPCA neighborhood contact and carpool possibilities.
Katie O'Connor, Thailand (1999-01) 92109
Michael Peloquin, Liberia (1965-66)
Christine Wines, Honduras (1973-74)
You were in the Peace Corps; you remember what it's like in-country, seeing the needs, wanting to make even a simple difference, but lacking resources. Every year your SDPCA assists PCVs from San Diego with their local community projects in developing countries. Due to our new electronic proposal submission process, we anticipate EVEN MORE useful projects this year. [See the latest PCV response to this funding, Host Country Updates]
The SDPCA International Support Fund has been very successful over the years in support of various PCV projects including:
None of these projects could have been supported without your help. So, once again, we are asking for your help to make this year's fundraising efforts a success. As in years past, we are selling Entertainment Books for the 2002 year to the public. Each book contains many various coupons and discounts for goods and services worth thousands of dollars throughout San Diego and Los Angeles. For each book we sell at a cost of $40.00, SDPCA receives $10.25 for the International Support Fund. The books pay you back for themselves in only four or five coupons' use.
So how can you help? You can find interested parties that would like to buy one or several books. These include your family, friends, relatives or even local business that would be willing to sell the books, on behalf of the SDPCA to the public. We will provide all the necessary materials and information.
Your generous support will go a long way to assisting our San Diego PCVs achieve their goals in their host country communities. For further details on how you can help, please contact Paul Johnson, Fundraising Chairperson, at 619-321-2585 (email: email@example.com), or Gregg Pancoast, President of SDPCA, at 619-692-0727 ext. 111 (email: gpancoast@home_start.org).
--Paul Johnson (Mali 1994-97), Fundraising Chair
Now that I'm older (but refuse to grow up), I've discovered:
-submitted by Don Beck (Bolivia 1967-69)
People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. When you figure out which one it is, you will know what to do for each person.
When someone is in your life for a REASON . . . it is usually to meet a need you have expressed. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally, or spiritually. They may seem like a godsend, and they are! They are there for the reason you need them to be.
Then, without any wrong doing on your part, or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand. What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled, their work is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered. And now it is time to move on.
When people come into your life for a SEASON . . . it is because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn. They bring you an experience of peace, or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it! It is real! But, only for a season.
LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons: things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person, and put what you have learned to use in all other special friendships to thank them for being in your life.
-contributed by Rudy Sovinee
Share your favorite international cuisine places... send in to Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Trieu Chau Restaurant,
From one SDPCA member to another: professional, skilled and free support
Please note these are FREE services members are offering.
To be listed here, e-mail to email@example.com or call 619.491.1801
I will call you my brother, I will call you my sister, on the basis of what you do for justice, what you do for equality, what you do for freedom and not on the basis of who you are. - June Jordan in Technical Difficulties
Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of South Florida, Inc. (RPCVSF) invites each RPCV to join us to lend a helping hand to displaced families in Colombia. Visit our web site at http://www.colombiaproject.org, go to the projects section to choose a small business or community development project in the displaced settlements, make your pledge through the donor screen, send your tax-deductible donation to RPCVSF, Inc., then follow your project's progress on-line.
RPCVSF established The Colombia Project (TCP) in 2000 as a pilot project to channel aid directly to displaced families in Colombia. Our web site allows donors such as yourselves to reach out to a specific individual or group and then follow progress on the website. RPCVSF strives to make TCP a model for providing direct, effective aid with minimal overhead and maximum transparency. Visit our web site or contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 305. 856.5573.
--Helene Dudley, (Colombia 1968-70,
2151 SW 17 St., Miami, Fl 33145-2117.
Captive Daughters, a Los Angeles-based organization that works against the sex trafficking of children, has nominated Maiti Nepal of Kathmandu for the esteemed 2001 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, the world's largest humanitarian award. "Maiti" in Sanskrit means "unconditional acceptance and friendship," an important concept in this arena in which these victims become throwaway people due to their being "tainted."
Known as the Nobel Peace Price for human rights, the Prize awards one million dollars annually to a charitable or non-governmental organization that has made extraordinary contributions toward alleviating human suffering. Maiti Nepal, which has dedicated itself since 1993 to intercepting, sheltering and rehabilitating over 1200 victims from Indian brothels, would be the first Asian Organization to be recognized.
--American Nepal Society, http://www.ansca.org
The age of living an international lifestyle has arrived. "Escape from America while you still can" through an Expat E-zine: Escape Artist at http://www.escapeartist.com/efan/efan.htm
--recommended by Jeff Cleveland (Belize 1997-99)
As a teacher of English as a Second Language, I asked my students to write a composition about fire. One student wrote: "The fireman went into the building and came out pregnant." When I asked him to explain, he opened his dictionary and pointed to the word pregnant, which was defined as "carrying a child."
--in The Teacher Calendar at http://www.becquet.com,
American Field Service (AFS) Educator Abroad Program offers semester or month-long intensive educators programs to educators in both directions.
For American teachers who travel to China, Thailand, Mexico, South Africa, Spain, and Argentina, our goal is to provide intercultural experiences that will affect the way they teach and learn throughout their careers.
The Program combines class teaching with cultural immersion allowing participants to gain insight into a different way of life and educational system. U.S. educators will meet also with community leaders, and local government officials in their host country to exchange ideas on education and culture.
AFS offers semester or month-long intensive educators programs to China, Thailand, Mexico, South Africa, Spain, and Argentina. Our goal is to provide educators with intercultural experiences that will affect the way they teach and learn throughout their careers.
The AFS Educator Abroad Program combines class teaching with cultural immersion allowing participants to gain insight into a different way of life and educational system. U.S. educators will meet also with community leaders, and local government officials in their host country to exchange ideas on education and culture.
For educators from Hong Kong, China, Colombia, Thailand, Argentina and Chile, American educators can bring the world into your classroom by mentoring a visiting teacher eager to share his or her culture with your students while learning about American teaching techniques. AFS visiting teachers are certified teachers in their home countries and are paired with a mentor teacher during their year or semester in the U.S.
For more information about how to host or mentor a visiting teacher or about going abroad with AFS, please contact Helen Wu at 1-800-876-2376 x442 or at email@example.com or http://usa.afs.org/index.cfm?method=schoolseduc
--NPCA Global Education listserv
CRInfo (the Conflict Resolution Information Source at http://www.crinfo.org) has just released a Call for Proposals for its Mini-Grant Program. Mini-grants of up to $7000 are available for web-based information projects in the peace and conflict resolution fields. Details can be found at: http://www.crinfo.org/mini-grants.cfm
-Guy and Heidi Burgess, Conflict
Campus Box 580, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0580
Pacific Waves is published six times a year by the San Diego Peace Corps Association which is fully responsible for its content. Except for copyrighted material, articles may be reprinted without permission with credit to the SDPCA.
Contributions are encouraged:
Please send to Editor, SDPCA, P.O. Box 26565, San Diego, CA 92196 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Don Beck, Jeff Cleveland
this issue are
Sharon Kennedy, Paul Johnson, Gregg Pancoast, Rudy Sovinee, Donna Urdiales-Carter, Almira Von-Willcox, Frank Yates, Dan Taylor, John Atem, Don Beck, NPCA Listserv authors, PC Calendar Contributors