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San Diego Peace Corps Association Newsletter

January-February 2002 Volume 15, Number 1

Journeying to the roof of the world

Living with terror


President's Message

Minutes of the Board

PC News Bytes

Canine Medal of Honor

Peace Corps News

ISF Awards

Holiday Potluck

Host Country Updates



PC Palate

New Members

Newsletter Credits


Journeying to the roof of the world

English spellings are preserved in this New Zealand reporter's account.

As we planned an adventurous journey across the Tibetan plateau to the once-forbidden city of Lhasa, "When do you wish to travel?" asks Mrs Wu, the stern-looking manager of the China Travel Service. "Tomorrow," I respond. "Is there any difficulty?" "No problem," she says. "The cost will be 2360 yuan (NZ$590[US$245])." I know it is a figure 10 or more times what local Chinese would pay, but the vital tickets will take us across the roof of the world to the once-forbidden city of Lhasa.'

Lhasa, Tibet: Potala Palace (former seat of His Holiness the Dalai Lama)

From the desolate town of Golmud, sitting on the edge of the vast Tibetan plateau at an altitude of 2800 metres, we will travel across some of the most rugged country on earth on a 26-hour journey that will lead us over three mountain passes with an average altitude of 5000 metres.

Despite its lonely and unappealing location, Golmud (pronounced Geer-mu) is a friendly town full of interesting people. There are plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables in the market, along with live chickens, with their feet tied, hanging upside-down from a wooden rack beside large tin baths of splashing fish. Nearby, massive haunches of bloodied beasts sway from makeshift frames as butchers cut them with their shiny knives.

A cool breeze blows a thin cloud of dust through the market, over vibrant orange furnishing fabrics and skeins of almost iridescent-coloured wool as we head toward the two-level sleeping bus that will take us on our journey. The tiny bunk spaces are not designed for a tall Westerner. The crowded bus, filled mainly with Chinese, sets off across a desert plain traveling alongside a fast-flowing river that has scoured and sculpted the landscape, washing away road embankments and several bridges.

We lurch violently down rough diversions, often ploughing through the dirty glacial water of a river ford before climbing the opposite bank to rejoin the original road. As evening falls we are surrounded by snow-covered mountains. The air is bitterly cold, and the windows are beginning to ice over. We have been climbing constantly. Despite wearing a wool hat that covers my ears, and layers of long thermal underwear and outer clothing, I am still shivering, and the altitude and cramped conditions are making me feel quite ill. Road repairs and wash-outs continue to haunt the highway as we bump over rocky river beds and eroded embankments.

It is a long and sleepless night. The temperature continues to drop, altitude sickness hovers and rancid body odors mingle with cigarette smoke and diesel fumes. Other passengers are suffering, too. Some are puffing on precious oxygen bottles to relieve the pain in their heads.

Suddenly the bus stops, sunk up to its axle in a pool of mud. We jump out and wade through the muck to higher ground as the driver boots the bus to freedom and it surges on to solid earth. Minutes later, a loud explosion sends shrieks through the bus and curled black rubber-tyre fragments litter the road.

We spend the rest of the day limping from village to tiny hamlet in search of a replacement tyre till finally, that evening, we arrive in Wenquan. Built by the Chinese in 1955 as a staging post for trucks on the desolate Qinghai-Tibet road, it sits at 5100 metres and is said to be the highest town in the world.

Just before midnight we are traversing the Tanggula Mountains on a precarious snowbound pass, when, through dazed eyes, I watch, incredulous, as the bus supervisor picks up a heavy steel wrench and begins beating the driver over the head and shoulders. I wake the second driver and together we restrain the crazed attacker.

It seems the supervisor is none too happy with the driver's skills. The second driver takes over and shouts a warning - "Oi, oi, oi" - as the supervisor and the driver cast dark looks at each other across the bus. Five o'clock in the morning and we are stranded again. Stuck this time in a hole in the middle of a fast-flowing stream. Other passengers laugh, amused by my height, as I untangle my lanky limbs from my shoebox shelf and climb down to the aisle.Eventually the bus is unstuck and the long-suffering passengers, wet and cold from trudging through the stream and up the muddy banks, reboard, shivering and moaning.

Early-morning sun lights the surrounding snow-capped peaks with a golden light. Dramatic clouds waft above the mountains while, in front, the valley opens into a wide, yellowed vista. The high mountains give way to roadside villages decorated with colorful prayer flags on high poles. Yaks and goats browse in the fields between patches of cultivated crops.

From this idyllic valley, we emerge on Lhasa's outskirts and head for the bus station. Instead of the scheduled 26 hours, the journey has taken a grueling 44. Beyond, in the city, high on its island of rock, I see the impressive walls of the Potala Palace, once the home of the Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of the Tibetan people.

The journey has been arduous, but our arrival in the legendary city melts away the tiredness and the aches. Perhaps next time, the direct flight from the Chinese city of Chengdu, might prove a slightly less adventurous route to Lhasa.

Getting there: Cathay Pacific flies daily from Auckland to Hong Kong; Dragonair four days a week from Hong Kong to Chengdu. Fares from $2179 return. There are also flights from Kathmandu in Nepal. There are twice-daily flights to Lhasa from Chengdu and a weekly flight from Beijing (via Chengdu). There are regular trains from Xian to Xining and then on to Golmud. Buses go daily from Golmud to Lhasa. Buses, or hired 4WDs, also run from the Chinese border with Nepal at Zhangmu.

Major tour companies offer tour packages to Lhasa and other parts of Tibet. Visas: A Chinese visa is required to enter Tibet. A special permit is sometimes required, but is usually included in travel documents issued by the China Travel Service. It is the permit component of the ticket that is expensive. Best time to go: Spring (April-May)

--Bob Maysmor,The Dominion, Wellington
14 July 2000, via World Tibetan Network


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Living with Terror

Eloquent and powerful arguments to consider as we come to grips with the events of September 11.

From: Vikram Singh, Sri Lanka
Subject: Living with Terror I, the Sermon

Dear Friends and Loved Ones,

This was intended to be a wrap up of views and experiences during an appointment with the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa. I went to Durban with the International Centre for Ethnic Studies and also reported on the conference for the Voice of America. I returned to Sri Lanka just hours before the attacks in New York and Washington.

I begin this message in Sri Lanka's nightly blackout, three hour cuts due to a drought that starves the island's hydropower. I am sweating on the keys a little; the mosquitos annoy me; the flame of the candle feels hot on one cheek. And I am feeling worse than I've felt in years. Like so many of you, I cannot describe the sensation of watching the second 767 strike the World Trade Center, of seeing a structure that seemed as permanent as the earth itself collapse into oblivion. The feeling that floats to the top must be despair. Living myself in a world of terror and reprisal (though we are far from the radar screens of the world), I also feel despair at the surge of bloodlust on the networks and the calls for vengeance from people, politicians, and the media.

Recent attacks on the US have been called evil acts of madmen. Oklahoma City, the Embassies in Africa, the USS Cole, all seen as acts of irrational evil. Evil they are. Nothing else can describe such brutal massacres, such wanton destruction. They are not, however, acts of madmen. None of them. The danger of such rhetoric should not be underestimated.

In my few years in Sri Lanka, I have seen dozens of brutal terrorist attacks, the most shocking and brazen the recent destruction of 12 civilian and military aircraft on the tarmac at the international airport. I have walked among the dead and reported the carnage. The evil of terrorism touches countries worldwide. War and insurgency have killed over 140,000 Sri Lankans in the last 18 years and left a million displaced. The population of the island is only 18 million. Most terrorist attacks here strike the cities and kill innocent civilians. The government often retaliates with military operations and air strikes.

In this setting, the rebels are the "terrorists" and government retaliation is justified and celebrated by much of the general public in government held areas. Such attacks are supported by the international community as the defense of a sovereign nation in a state of war. But reprisals can never stop the terrorist attacks. Every time a military operation claims an innocent son or daughter or parent or sibling, another terrorist--or freedom fighter--is born. The cycle is perpetual. Security can only be flawed; retaliation, however effective, can only contribute to more violence.

Sri Lanka is a gauntlet of military and police checkpoints. Vehicles are inspected going into shopping malls. You have to reach the airport three hours in advance and pass through multiple checks and searches, multiple x-rays, and at least one hand search of all baggage. The bombings continue. The airport remained vulnerable. Security is omnipresent and it is naturally discriminatory, often profiling people of the same ethnic community as the rebels. Checkpoints and searches do not make you feel safe. Because the underlying causes of the violence are not fully addressed, the attacks continue.

Undoubtedly, the attacks on New York and Washington can be attributed to sloppy security at many airports and twin failures by American intelligence and by American defence forces. Security must be tightened and the citizens will have to accept the restrictions for their own safety. But in America, too, increased security cannot stop terror attacks. A single individual willing to die for a cause is virtually unstoppable. The fabric that holds diverse societies together is an uncompromising defense of individual rights and civil liberties. Security arrangements can prove dangerous if they target or harm specific segments of a population, thus driving people to extremism. Retaliation, unless surgically precise, will always create a mushroom affect--new men and women willing to die if their loved ones are slaughtered. We see it now in America: thousands would die to exact vengeance on those responsible for Tuesday's attacks.

But we are doomed to an ongoing cycle of terror unless the struggle Americans are willing to die for is one for justice--not revenge. Fighting evil can only succeed if the approach to it is sophisticated and profound. It must be rooted in the most difficult strictures of the scriptures of the major religions and the deepest springs of the human heart. It must be rooted in forgiveness. Force must be tempered by understanding; punitive action complemented by positive action.

Around the roots of many terrorist organizations there often lies a thick layer of legitimate grievances from which violence drew its nutrients. This is true of the IRA, the LTTE in Sri Lanka, the PLO, the Kosovar Liberation Army, and many others. South Africa's ANC spent generations as a "terrorist" organization. Many vicious forces in world were equipped by major powers, including the United States (think of the Taliban itself and the Contras).

In Hollywood, attacks like those in New York and Washington are the designs of madmen bent on wealth and/or power. They are thwarted by mythic heroes in the form of Harrison Ford or Arnold Schwarzenagger. The movie stars didn't appear on Tuesday to save the day. Similarly, there were no madmen. Acts of war like these are rooted in strategy; the evil of real life terrorism is based on concrete beliefs and serious efforts to advance those beliefs, often through evil actions.

To fight these forces--who also believe they are fighting for justice--countries must answer questions who and how. They must also look beyond to questions of why. The U.S. needs to ask and seriously try to answer these difficult questions: Why do these people hate us enough to do such horrible things? What will the cost of our retaliation be and how can it be just and accurate? The suspects in these cases are not after mere wealth and power. While retribution is necessary, the cost of that retribution must be estimated. Nations can easily slip into an endless spiral of carnage like that engulfing Israel and Palestine, like Sri Lanka, like so many devastated places on earth.

I despair for the victims in New York and Washington and Pennsylvania, for their families, and I dread learning of the friends I too must have lost yesterday. I send my wishes to the rescue workers and hope the preservation of life remains on the top of everyone's mind. I despair for a world in which understanding and empathy are victims of political and economic convenience and for leaders around the world who do not--perhaps cannot--realize the possible results of their actions.

I just returned from an international forum from which the US withdrew. America cannot remain separate from the global community; it must realize that in order to have global support--against terrorism and for many other global concerns--it must at least participate in global processes. It must openly defend its beliefs and interests and attempt to build consensus for its positions. Its positions must be debated inside and outside of the country. It must empathize and attempt to understand the concerns and beliefs of other states and other groups of people. The withdrawal from Kyoto, plans for missile defence, refusing to sign biological weapons and land mine agreements, rejecting an international criminal court, all of these cannot be seen as disconnected from the future of US security.

Though I have strong opinions on all of these, I am not passing judgment on American positions here. I am saying that such decisions cannot be taken as if the US exists in a disconnected world.

The United States remains the greatest hope for the concept of mutual accommodation and tolerance. With many hiccups, we generally live together in tolerance and even celebration of diversity. We allow all people the pursuit of happiness. As the United States chooses a path after Tuesday's tragic loss, may the leaders find the wisdom to seek out justice, not vengeance, and to take any retaliatory action with care. May Americans remember to keep one hand ready for positive action if the other is striking destruction. May we confront enemies with strength and with kindness and avoid today's global patterns in which one wrong makes a wrong makes a wrong makes a wrong. . .

May we realize the need to re-engage the world. The stakes cannot be higher.

--Vikram Singh,
September 13, 2001 Colombo, Sri Lanka

Please feel free to distribute this opinion in any means you see fit with my name and contact information. 21 Glen Aber Place, Colombo 04, Sri Lanka +94 1 584955 (home) +94 1 685085 (office) +94 77 382771 (mobile)


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 9/11 and PASSION

While watching, listening, sensing all that was occurring in New York and Washington, DC on September 11, 2001, witnessing the accounts, the commentaries of people wondering how and why, it struck me--and helped me to cope with the emotions I was feeling--that the bottom line answer is: passion. So simple a response to such complex issues which are the touchstone for carrying out acts of terrorism.


Humanity has provided the ambiance for the expression of passion. Passion can be expressed in a way that is constructive, appropriate, positive and exhilarating, albeit subjective characteristics, but for the common good of all.

We are able to marvel and experience that which has been created throughout the ages as a result of passion, mostly in the arts and sciences. However, under the guise of religion, politics and personal gain, passion has also wrecked havoc on the peoples of this planet.


A person may experience an intimate relationship with passion such that nothing else matters. One will do what is deemed necessary, regardless of the consequences, to maintain that relationship. When at this level of intimacy, the passion is an addiction. Such is the passion of terrorists.


Unbridled, unchecked, unfettered and consuming passion to the point of fanaticism is the primary motivator of terrorists. When the latter occurs, the end result can be the person and the social environment (macro- or micro-) experiencing severe negative consequences, AKA blind terrorism. Blind to any spiritual, religious or moral precepts that would censor such activities. Blind to the primary human value--conscious or unconscious-of life itself.


When the caretakers of families, schools, religions, corporations and governments allow passion to dominate a person's being, there will be negative consequences for the person and the institution. We--the collective world "we"--must assist those who follow to understand, apply and covet the constructive nature of balance for all of us from within our being and also outside of our personal spiritual and physical domain. Essentially, an awareness and awakening of the combined consciousness of humanity must occur to thwart any future generations of beings who unfurl the flag of passion in the form of terrorism.

--Hank Davenport, Peru (1962-64), former President, SDPCA

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

From the President

A Good Time

A good time was had by all at the Holiday Gathering at the Clabby's. It was just a year ago that I went to my first SDPCA event (at the Clabby's) and now look at the exciting responsibilities I've gotten myself into....that is of being invested in the life of our Association.

Yes, this is another plea for your support and involvement in SDPCA--we need more Board and Committee members to work with us to plan and coordinate activities--generally share the workload. Please join us: attend the next meeting at my house at 2868 Elm St. (on Elm between 29th and Granada) in South Park, San Diego (619-239-0683) on January 7th from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m.--supper will be provided.

Please note in this newsletter the events planned for January and February. Hope to see you there. Also, please read about the International Support Fund grants--this is our connection to those in the field and might remind you of those days of yore as well as where our funds go.

If you have events or interesting tidbits that you would like to share with the rest of the membership, please forward them to our editor for inclusion in the upcoming editions.

--Gregg Pancoast, Costa Rica (1985-86)

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11/5/01 & 12/3/01

Combined Board Minutes

In Attendance: Frank Yates, Rudy Sovinee, Brenda Hahn, & Gail Souare plus guest Marjory Clyne were at both meetings. Gregg Pancoast, was out of town.

President's Report: Gregg highlighted articles from the Group Leader's report. Specifically, Jodi Olsen, RPCV, has been nominated to be the Deputy Director of the Peace Corps, and the SDPCA gift to the Shriver award was mentioned.

Financial Report: Frank provided a detailed statement of income and expenses. One CD matures on 12/31 so as to fund ISF Grant awards.

Membership: Frank reported that the SDPCA membership is at 180 current (51 free to newly returned RPCVs), 34 past due. NPCA membership is at 132 current, 15 past due. We need to reach the new RPCVs to update records, gain email and phone numbers, and encourage their involvement.

Community Outreach: Marjory has personally maintained connection to the Sudanese Community. Suggestion is for Gail to determine how the SDPCA might support them, but no new projects at this time.

Fundraising: Of 200 calendars, only 60 are left. For the potluck, we'll take orders for calendars not in hand. Entertainment books are also moving, with Michele Tarnow and Marjory, and Jean, Gregg, and Rudy each supporting sales through Postal Annex Stores.

Mark J. Tonner International Support Fund (ISF): Committee recommends funding three projects totaling $1,633. MMSP to approve the projects, and the increase over the budgeted $1,500.

Newsletter: Our newsletter deadline is 12/10. We did incur about $300 in extra expense this issue, largely due to the color insert. No newsletter awards for the SDPCA this year!? Was the sample of newsletters submitted last year? Be sure to submit this year!

Web Site: Don Beck has been doing a yeoman's task of this AND the newsletter. There is concern because he may be over extending himself, and has been seriously ill.

Social: Plans for January are to have a hike in Palm Canyon on 1/26. Meeting location, time and car pool will be supported by Marjory. Rudy will host the Super Bowl Party on 2/3. A suggestion for attending a play was deemed too complex to have ready for February, so try for March [it was arranged for Feb 9]. A date and an ethnic restaurant in February will be arranged [Khyber Pass Feb. 27].

Speaker's Bureau: Jean has managed to connect an Orange county request with the RPCVs of Orange County.

Old Business: There is an ongoing crucial need to find more board members to share the activities of our group leadership.

Next Meeting: At President Gregg Panacoast's house, January 7th from 6:30 to 9:00 pm--supper will be provided.


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PC NewsBytes

From NPCA: Emergency Response Network

A reminder about updating your ERN (Emergency Response Network) record every three months: as a result of the tragic events of September 11, and the resulting humanitarian crisis emerging in Afghanistan and its border countries, we have received a number of inquiries from global organizations urgently seeking experienced personnel for disaster relief and refugee assistance. This is a free benefit of your NPCA membership.

We are a 24-hour, global access on-line database of RPCVs during times of international crisis and humanitarian need. The goal is to quickly and effectively connect relief and development agencies worldwide with highly skilled RPCVs. Enter your contact information, availability, and skills into our secure database, then made available to subscriber organizations. ERN members have volunteered for: the International Rescue Committee, USAID, American Red Cross, ACDI/VOCA, Peace Corps' Crisis Corps, American Refugee Committee, and others. Visit our web page at If you encounter any difficulties or have forgotten your personal ERN password, please contact

--forwarded from RPCVLA Board


NPCA Advocacy Units

Recent events have driven home the imperative of active advocacy by the NPCA, affiliated groups and RPCVs. It is timely that NPCA already has a grant from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund to conduct advocacy training workshops and to organize state level advocacy units. NPCA state-level advocacy units will be organized as distinct entities, either in connection with existing state/regional/local groups, or independently, as conditions indicate. They will have their own officers and meetings, and operate under a charter provided by the NPCA, with annual elections and action agendas. Specifics can be tailored to each state.

Email your desire for involvement/questions to Ed Crane, NPCA Advocacy Coordinator,, 202.293.7728x21


JFK Library wants you!

The John F. Kennedy Library in Boston would like to have your letters home from Peace Corps for the Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Collection; they are looking for letters, personal diaries or journals, or other materials that document personal experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Materials not made by a PCV, such as printed materials or magazines, are not of interest for the collection.

The RPCV Collection is most interested in material that can document the earliest years of the Peace Corps, 1961-65, but will accept RPCV materials from any country for the years up to 1975. They emphasize the earlier years because those are most directly related to the JFK Library's mission of documenting the life and times of John F. Kennedy. The letters become part of the national archives, and are used by historians and other researchers. About 50 to 75 volunteers have already contributed to the collection. You may contact the archivist, James Roth, by e mail at, or at the John F. Kennedy Library, Columbia Point, Boston, MA 02125, or by phone 617.929.1229.

--Submitted by Jean Meadowcroft


New PCLA Officer

Just a short note to introduce myself. I am a RPCV (Honduras 1998-2000) and the new Public Affairs Specialist for the PC/LA office. It's been a while since a body has filled this position on a full time basis, and I'm pleased to say that I am looking forward to the challenges of 2002. My background includes high tech public relations in a variety of capacities and I am moving into community awareness public relations.

I'd like to meet with you, or talk via phone or email, to see how we can work together in some exciting upcoming events and activities being planned by the LA office. If you are ever in the LA area and would like to stop by and share some ideas or just say hi, please do cube is always open! I look forward to working with you.

--Michaela Brehm

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News Stories

Peace Corps News

Peace Corps News is an independent organization dedicated to the free exchange of ideas among returned peace corps volunteers and is not affiliated with the US Peace Corps. Access this idea exchange and full stories following at

Sargent Shriver ....

  • Sargent Shriver calls for a New Peace Corps in Speech at Yale November 15.
  • Bill introduced to honor Sargent Shriver with Congressional Gold Medal November 8.
  • Listen to Sargent Shriver's speech at the Peace Vigil September 29.

Gaddi Vasquez Senate Confirmation Hearings.....

  • The Hill: A flawed choice to head the Peace Corps December 5
  • Complete Documentation on the Hearings November 15
  • Our First Hand Report on the Confirmation Hearings November 15
  • Editorial: Our Assessment of the Confirmation Hearings; Former Director Jack Hood Vaughn's Statement to Senator Dodd; New York Observer: A Scandalous Nomination: Bush's Peace Corps Pick.

Peace Corps Washington.....

  • Director Mark Gearan's Tribute to Chuck Baquet 28 November
  • HUD Secretary Mel Martinez visits PC Headquarters 28 November
  • Gaddi Vasquez and Jody Olsen Confirmation Hearings 15 November
  • Nomination of Jody Olsen as PC Deputy Director sent to Senate 5 November
  • Charles Baquet, a retrospective on his years of service 31 October
  • CHP International helps PC recruit Country Directors 26 October
  • Charles Baquet resigns as acting PC Director 3 October

Peace Corps Recruitment.....

  • New York Times: At Yale, the Peace Corps has a waiting list 17 November
  • Washington Post: In Pursuit of Idealism 22 October
  • Christian Science Monitor: Older Volunteers join Peace Corps 17 October

Senior Volunteer Corps.....

  • Proposal for Senior Volunteer Corps 26 November
  • Return of the aged hippies 26 November

National Service and the Peace Corps.....

  • National Service and the Peace Corps 1 October
  • Tulsa World: Expanding National Service
  • Bush support lends weight to important program 10 November
  • Senator John McCain supports Program of National Service 30 October

Safety of Volunteers Overseas.....

  • The Safety and Security of Volunteers Overseas 15 May
  • USA Today: Peace Corps Security in Question 15 May
  • Peace Corps Volunteer Larisa Jaffe dies in Zimbabwe 12 October
  • Peace Corps: Safety of volunteers is paramount 24 September
  • LA Times: U.S. Recalls Peace Corps workers from Zimbabwe 17 November
  • Peace Corps Team to assess re-opening programs In Peru 23 October
  • Peace Corps suspends programs in Bangladesh 18 October
  • Peace Corps Volunteers lament hasty evacuation of countries 1 Oct.
  • Peace Corps suspends programs in the central Asian nations of Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan 1 October
  • Peace Corps suspends program in Papua New Guinea 7 June
  • Peace Corps closes program in Poland 7 June

The Department of Peace.....

  • Proposed Legislation for the Department of Peace 1 October
  • Roll Call: War a Challenge For Peace Caucus 1 October

RPCVs respond to September 11.....

  • What Returned Volunteers Can Do 17 September
  • Sargent Shriver says "Service--that's the Challenge!" 22 September
  • Who makes the decision to evacuate volunteers? 1 October
  • Messages of Support from our Host Country Colleagues and Friends 11 September
  • Kindness from a world that's been there 7 October

Peace Corps and Terrorism.....

  • Peace Corps can Defuse Terrorism, ex-envoy says 4 October
  • NPCA Resolution on Terrorism 3 October

RPCV Advocacy.....

  • Call for Increased Funding for International Affairs Budget 28 November
  • NPCA gets grant for organizing state level advocacy groups 23 November
  • NPCA issues Funding Appeal for Advocacy Program 25 Oct.
  • NPCA issues Advocacy Alert for Global HIV-AIDS and Health Fund 24 October

Peace Corps 40th.....

  • Watch the Video of Sargent Shriver's Message to Volunteers 27 September
  • Special Report from the Peace Corps Vigil 22 September
  • Video of The Volunteer Flag Procession 27 September
  • Video of Let there be Peace on Earth 27 September
  • Peace Corps "40th plus 1" rescheduled for June 20 - 23, 2002 19 October
  • Working for Peace for 40 Years 22 October

RPCVs in the News.....

  • RPCV Martin Puryear's sculpture featured at the Milwaukee Art Museum 27 November
  • RPCV Brandon Bannister starts mural project 26 November
  • RPCV Thomas M. Wright appointed head of African Missions 15 November
  • RPCV Chris Matthews writes about Peace Corps days 1 Nov.

RPCV Stories.....

  • "We are all Sisters" looking for stories by women who served in Peace Corps 27 November
  • Thanksgiving in Gabon by Terez Rose 19 November


  • Dominican Republic RPCVs plan in-country reunion for Feb, 2002
  • Thai 58 RRPCVs plan in-country reunion for June, 2002
  • Peace Corps Kenya 1987-1989 plans reunion for July, 2002
  • Mali RPCVs plan reunion for July, 2002

Links to other Peace Corps Sites.....

  • Peace Corps--the official site
  • Peace Corps Writers--read about the Peace Corps
  • The NPCA--the largest association of Returned Volunteers
  • Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Returned Volunteers
  • Peace Corps Chat-- ask questions and get answers from RPCVs

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New SDPCA ISF Awards Announced

The SDPCA International Support Fund awards three new grants this January. In future issues, we will read reports from the PCV recipients, but here is a peek at who and what the SDPCA is funding through donations, Entertainment Books, and International Calendar sales via our membership.

  • Physical Therapy Apparatus and Components
    Jayne Jamieson----Amman, Jordan ($633)
    Jayne Jamieson--a retired Special Education teacher with twenty-five years of experience in San Diego City Schools--is serving with her husband, former ARC San Diego staffer, in Amman, Jordan. In her assignment at the National Multihandicapped Welfare Society/Home of Hope, she encountered a need, with the experience to know the answer: her proposal to the SDPCA is for three special "swings," a key component amid other requests for funding to purchase mobility, sensory motor, vestibular equipment and therapeutic toys to simplify and enhance the lives of the 90 children currently resident there.
  • Presentation Materials for Health Projects
    Katie Clark---Kathmandu, Nepal ($500)
    Katie Clark, born and raised in Poway, has also worked at Scripps and Mercy Hospitals as a Registered Dietitian. She is now serving out of Kathmandu, Nepal, working in a village in the far east midhills region as a Reproductive Health Specialist. Her project creates continuing materials and a presentation for each of 12 centers in 4 districts with a week long program aimed at 9th and 10th graders to help end the problems of reproductive health and population growth caused by ignorance and incorrect beliefs.
  • Books and Language Learning Materials
    Ajith Pyati--- Shymkent, Kazakhstan ($500)
    Ajith Pyati, whose permanent address is in San Diego, is now serving in Shymkent, Kazakhstan, as a school teacher of Environmental Studies and of English. Her school is building the bookshelves and furniture, and the SDPCA is providing funds to purchase quality Russian-language environmental books, as well as English language learning materials.

Comments among the review committee gave high appreciation of the quality of the proposals. Thanks to the internet, we were also able to ask and receive answers to some questions. We look forward to reports from these PCVs, and await our next round of proposals (due to reach us by March 1, 2002.)

--Rudy Sovinee, ISF Chair/Secretary


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Canine Medal of Honor

James Crane worked on the 101st floor of Tower 1 of the World Trade Center. He is blind so he has a golden retriever named Daisy. After the plane hit 20 stories below, James knew that he was doomed, so he let Daisy go, out of an act of love. With tears in her eyes she darted away into the darkened hallway. Choking on the fumes of the jet fuel and the smoke, James was just waiting to die. About 30 minutes later, Daisy comes back--with James' boss, whom Daisy happened to pick up on floor 112.

On her first run of the building, Daisy led James, James' boss, and about 300 more people out of the doomed building. But she wasn't through. She knew there were others who were trapped. So, against James' wishes, she ran back in the building.

On her second run, she saved 392 lives. Again she went back in. During this run, the building collapsed. James heard about this and fell on his knees into tears. Against all odds, Daisy made it out alive-- this time carried by a firefighter. "She led us right to the people before she got injured," the fireman explained. Her final run saved another 273 lives.

She suffered acute smoke inhalation, severe burns on all four paws, and a broken leg, but she saved 967 lives. Mayor Guilaini rewarded Daisy with the Canine Medal of Honor of New York. Daisy is the first civilian Canine to win such an honor.

--from New York Times, 9-19-01

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Our SDPCA Holiday Bash 12/9

Thanks to everyone who came to the potluck, helped organize it, and ran the meeting and raffle. I hope everyone had a good time. A few items were left behind: bowls, lids, serving utensils, name tags, permanent marker, Elder Hostels newsletter... Anyone wanting to pick any of this up can contact me....858.279.9279.

Happy holidays!

--Joan Clabby,

OUR deep thanks and appreciation to Joan who hosted us again, this time while ALSO playing single parent, due to Bill's out of town commitment. WOW.

Above: Group photo of the Holiday Bash... (Photo by Hank Davenport Barberis )


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Host Country Updates

Also, see page 4, under Safety of Volunteers Overseas... for some updates.

Romania: Journal from PC Training

Thursday, October 25:

Greetings from Romania! Just a quick e-mail to let you know I made it over here safely! I am living in a city called Ploiesti about an hour north of Bucharest. It is quite industrial and very polluted, but it is surprisingly modern in some regards: i.e., it has MTV, McDonalds, internet cafes, the music is current and I saw Law & Order the other day (in English)! I guess on some levels I find it disappointing to find these amenities, but I will be going to a much smaller site in December (my permanent home for two years) and will be lucky if I have hot water!

There are 35 people in my group, about half of which are in the Environmental Management and Education sector that I am in. We attend school 8:30 to 12:30 then technical training until 4:30. It makes for long tiring days, but we only have 8 weeks to become acclimated! I will find out my assignment in late November and move Dec.15. I am with a host family now that thankfully has one daughter fluent in English. They are so cool: somehow I got hooked up with a vegetarian, nonsmoking, pet-loving family! Very rare in Romanian culture.

I attempted running a few times, and despite the stray dogs, weird looks, and open manholes (!) I survived. May go again but it's always a lesson in humility. As an alternate, I am walking to school every day, about 1/2 hour each way. Plus, I found situps, pushups and jumping jacks are a way to keep warm! It is about 40 degrees today, but the heat generating plant on the end of town isn't exactly generating heat yet, so I sit through class with three layers on, plus a coat and hat. Yep, missing San Diego!

Saturday, November 24:

I hope that everyone had a great Thanksgiving. I was fortunate to go to Bucharest with some other PCVs, where families from the American Embassy hosted us, a great time with plenty of food from the States. : )

Yesterday, we received our site announcements, and I will be going to a city called Sibiu in the middle of Romania (about six hours NE of Bucharest) in the region of Transylvania. It has about 400,000 people and is described as one of the most beautiful cities in Romania! I'm finally getting over the idea that I should be roughing it in some dusty African village where I can't shower, as I think the challenges here will be many and different, and this is a very exciting time for Romania as it tries to get into the EU and NATO.

The NGO I will be working for is called the "Edelweis Foundation," and its primary goals are to reduce by 10% the number of poverty-stricken families and to eliminate problems from local water pollution. They run a kindergarten; consult and provide clothes, food, medicine and sanitation to the community's poor; do cleanups, plantings, water sanitation in polluted areas and manage the green spaces in the county. There are five full-time staff and about 25 volunteers.

My job should focus on grant writing (and training in same), research into available funding resources, strategic planning and organizational development, and technical training on computer software. I pretty much think I'll be flying by the seat of my pants, but: this group sounds much more structured than others around here, so we'll see. I'm a little nervous about the language still, but it's coming along well.

Training is draining and I haven't spent nearly as much time at the Internet Cafe as I thought I would, but soon I should have lots of free time on my hands. I will also let you all know my new address then. As always, I appreciate the emails and cards and the interest in what I'm up to over here! Feel free to email me, as it only costs me 15,000 lei per hour, about $0.50.

Sunday, December 16:

On Friday, I officially became a Peace Corps volunteer (finally!). We had a very patriotic and moving ceremony, with the American Ambassador. Please replace my old address with the following: Amy Reck, Str. Abatorului, Bl. 4, Sc. C, Ap. 28, Sibiu 2400, Romania

Thanks for keeping in touch,

Amy : )

Amy is our newest San Diegan in the Peace Corps Training program


Nepal: Report from Sherpa Country

This email, listing more political unrest in northern Nepal, arrived to a former PCV. The author's identity, along with that of other residents, is not given for security reasons. It is reported exactly as received with English usage intact.

Namaste ! Dear friends,

On the night of 25th Nov. the light went off in the whole Salleri and Phaplu valley. Maoists attacked Phaplu and Salleri district Headquarter. The aviation tower were bombed at Phaplu. Then they cited the slogans of their victory on the little street of Phaplu. Salleri was attacked at the same time. The CDO's quarter was bombed and the CDO was shot when he was running away from the house. We had a meeting with him at the RP's Hotel and had left at about 7 pm that very evening.

The CDO's office, Agriculture Dev. Bank, Revenue office were burnt completely. The revenue officer's body was recovered just today. The police post at Salleri was attacked and most of the the policemen surrendered. 17 of them were taken to a house nearby and were shot to death. Some who tried to escape were killed on the spot. About twelve of them were used to carry the arms and ammunitions to their destination away and safe from the securities towards Kinja. Afterwards they were freed from Kinja. Some of them were used to carry their wounded ones to their medical team waiting nearby and three of them escaped while few were shot dead.

The Maoists tried to enter they army post at Salleri with bombs but were killed on the way. The army fought back and many Maoists were killed. A handful (around forty) of army somehow managed to fight back till six o'clock in the morning. There were deaths and casualties which was not disclosed but I guess it was not much compared to the Maoists. The dead bodies were spread around the battle ground and many of them were seen dragged down to the river according to the eyewitness from the other side of the river. The Salleri Valley was bright all night from the burning houses in Salleri. Civilian houses were not their target and very minimally damaged but the panic was all around the valley. The next morning, there were no clouds in the sky. The mountains looked as beautiful as ever. The soothing cool breeze of wind gushed into the Phaplu and Salleri valley but not all the dwellers could experience it.

As the shot were less heard. People slowly moved to the edge of Phaplu to see how everything looked in Salleri. The houses were still on fire. A thick layer of smoke was still covering the sky of Salleri. Six injured policemen were brought for treatment by the young brave boys of Salleri. Two of them were very serious with khukri cuts on the throat and back cutting deep into the spines and bullet wounds. We did what we could. Cleaning, stitching, tight bandaging, and IV fluiding as fast as possible and relieving pain. Later that day they were taken to Kathmandu in a helicopter.

From the midnight when we heard the shots and explosions, we gathered all the family at a place on the ground floor. My daughter A__ P___ came to join us. For A__ P___ it was twelve hours earlier than her usual rising time. I was very happy to see her. We decided to hide ourselves in the godown of the kitchen block. Slowly we moved towards it. P____ could not open the lock because her hands were shivering. I had to help her. P___, A___ P____, P_____ and me got into the dark smelly room. As we sneaked in, the rats were running and making so much of noise that we were scared that they will help the Maoists track us.

After a while, it was little quieter. I asked all to keep dead silence while I go back to house to inform the other friends who were sleeping quietly. My friends, Dr. Klaus Haase (82) his daughter Utah and their friend Gerda was sleeping all in separate rooms. I slowly knocked at their rooms and informed that the Maoists have attacked in the Phaplu and Salleri. I requested them not to panic. Slowly brought them down to the ground floor and kept warm with the blanket on the sofa. We could see out of the windows. No torches were allowed to light in the house.

The firings were still going on but this time it was much more prominently heard from Salleri.

We heard a big group of people marching with the slogans. I slowly went to get my family from the rat haunted godown. I slowly knocked and gave my identity. The dogs barked at me. I could not stop them. As expected, they were shivering from the fear and the cold. We now all gathered at the ground floor of the main house and got everybody a blanket at least to treat from the urgent suffering. Rest of the hours nobody dared to speak any word till it was early morning. I decided to go to hospital to wake up all the staff to get prepared for the wounded one with antiseptics, bandages, IV fluids and sutures etc. As I got out of the house, I saw the eight children coming out of the small house on their way to bathroom. I asked them if they heard anything last night. They did not hear a thing. I rushed to my little hospital. On the way, I wished I was one of the children.

--Name Withheld

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

  • Resume review and Career Counseling
    Mona Melanson, Thailand (1969-'71)
    --(h) 619.692.4138
  • Local Teacher Career Info
    Brenda Terry-Hahn, Nepal (1964-'66 )
    --(h) 619.479.6620 email:
  • Professional Sailing Lessons
    Hank Davenport-Barberis, (Peru 1962-'64)
    --(h) 858.565.1060
  • East County Boondock Outpost, Info &/or Guide
    Dan Taylor, Belize (1986-'88)
    --(h) 619.445.9766 (tel/fax) email:
  • US Foreign Service Career & Exam Information
    Sandor Johnson, India (1966-'68)
    --(h) 760.635.0963 (tel/fax) email:

Do you have a special skill? Want to help out other members?
Please note these are FREE services members are offering.
To be listed here, e-mail to or call 619.491.1801

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 Until he extends his circle of compassion to all living things,
man will not find peace. --Albert Schweitzer

Volunteers Needed

Explorer's Club needs volunteers. This new outdoors program is being on run on Indian Reservations in San Diego County to turn kids on to science. The Program leader is ex-PCV Eleanora Iberall Robbins, Tanzania, 1964-1966.

Scientists, nurses, or anyone interested in outdoors science please contact:

Eleanora (Norrie) Robbins
Ghana RPCV (99-01)


Looking for Housing in San Diego Area

I am looking for other RPCV‚s in the area who are in need of a roommate or who would be interested in looking together for a house or apartment to rent. I returned three weeks ago from West Africa, where I taught secondary school chemistry in Ghana from 1999 to 2001 as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

I will be staying in San Diego until next summer. I am a 1997 graduate of UCSD and am currently applying to graduate programs in biochemistry.

Contact information:

Paul Sigala
Peace Corps Fellows/USA


The Toughest Job You'll Ever Love, STATESIDE!

  • Earn an advanced degree and serve your fellow Americans at the same time.
  • Attend school at a reduced cost and earn other benefits and stipends depending on the university.
  • Study and exchange ideas with other RPCVs who share your interests.
  • Learn skills that can easily be applied to work overseas.
  • Benefit from lifelong eligibility as a returned Volunteer!

Choose from degrees offered in a variety of areas including business, community and economic development, environmental studies, healthcare, education and more.Fellows/USA works with more than 30 universities that offer financial assistance to RPCVs who wish to attend graduate school in a variety of subject areas. Through internships, Peace Corps Fellows work in under-served U.S. communities.

Find out more at:
800.424.8580, ext. 1440

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The PC Palate

Lolita's Taco Shop
4532 Bonita Road, Bonita

The best Mexican food in the South Bay!

Reasonable, often with a line out the simple storefront door at mealtimes, it's well worth a try. Just across from Sweetwater River Park, it's open daily, take out available. Try the chicken adobo or pollo asado plates. Daily specials Monday through Friday.

Share your favorite PC Palate Spot with us at!


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Welcome, New Members!

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!! Contact information listed in Contact SDPCA

  • Jason Arkin, Nicaragua (1999-2001)
  • Frederick Boyle, Morocco (1999-2001)
  • Susan Cooper, Mozambique (2000-2001)
  • Beckri Eguez, Gambia (1999-2001)
  • Holly Etson, Slovakia (1999-2001)
  • Warren Fish, Panama (2000-2001)
  • April Gaudette, Ukraine (2000-2001)
  • Judith Gillespie, Peru (1964-1966), Guatemala (1968-1970) PC Staff,
  • Chaeli Judd, Panama (1999-2001)
  • Kate Kuykendall, China (1999-2001),
  • Erin Olson, Morocco (1999-2001
  • Stephanie Palau, Eastern Caribbean (1997-1999),Ecuador (1999-2001)
  • Matthew Petree, Paraguay (1999-2001)
  • Jesse Sharp, Paraguay (2000-2001)
  • Paul Sigala, Ghana (1999-2001)
  • Angelina Surillo, Turkmenistan (1999-2001)

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Newsletter Credits

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:

  1. e-mailed
  2. text file on disk- Mac preferred, or
  3. typed copy.

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

Brenda Terry-Hahn

Layout / Production
Don Beck, Jeff Cleveland

Contributors this issue are
Gregg Pancoast, Rudy Sovinee, Donna Urdiales-Carter, Frank Yates, Marjory Clyne, Ron Ranson, Vikram Singh, Bob Maysmor, Hank Davenport Barberis, NPCA Listserv authors

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