March - April 2002 Volume 15, Number 2
& logo from
http://www.nationalgeographic.com Produced by Nature and
National Geographic Television
picture & logo from http://www.nationalgeographic.com
Produced by Nature and National Geographic Television
In episode one, the first storyline is about a single mother in Nairobi who journeys back to her home village to give birth to her second child. The second storyline is about another woman who married a game hunter and lives in a tiny village in Tanzania with her three children. She journeys back to a large city where she was raised and educated.
In episode two, a nine-year-old Tuareg boy takes his first journey by camel caravan through the Sahara Desert to Bilma, Niger with his salt-trading relatives. They buy salt in Bilma and deliver it to a market in Nigeria in competition with truck convoys.
In episode three, the first storyline is about the Baka (pygmy) people of the Congo River basin in Cameroon who have been relocated to roadside villages, but they hunt for meat deep in the forest. When they discover a felled tree, they visit a local government office to appeal for assistance and enforcement of poaching laws. In the second storyline, the coffin makers in Accra show how they design and make their fantastically carved wood coffins. These craftsmen are also struggling to obtain sufficient supplies of wood for their businesses.
Episode four tells the stories of two young men in Ethiopia. In the first storyline, a young man is invited to participate in an important religious festival in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. In the second storyline, a young shoeshine boy in Addis Ababa visits his village for an annual festival.
In episode five, in the first storyline, a young Fulani man in Mali's inland Niger River delta, drives his cattle herd into the Sahel to graze, while his girlfriend back home in her delta town prepares herself for his return. In the second storyline, also in Mali, young goatherd boys compete with elephant herds for water during a drought.
The first storyline of episode six, features a Ugandan fisherman struggling to raise enough money to purchase a motorized fishing boat for his operations on Lake Victoria. The second storyline pertains to the Kilombero Valley in Tanzania, its big game hunting, and a farming family struggling to survive there.
The seventh episode tells the story of an amateur soccer team on the island of Zanzibar, Tanzania, and their struggles to pay to travel to Dar-es-Salaam for a championship match.
Episode eight takes place in southern Africa. The first storyline is about a man from Lesotho who migrates to Johannesburg to work in the diamond mines. The second storyline is about a woman engineer in one of the gold mines. The third storyline is about a tribal group which was forced off their traditional homelands to make way for a national park in Namibia.
The DVD set has a bonus ninth episode, which tells how the series was made. It is in widescreen format with surround 5.1 sound. Each episode lasts one hour. The list price for the four-volume boxed set is $99.98. Amazon.com sells it for $89.98, and it can be purchased for less than $75 at Costco. The series is also available on VHS for $74.98 list price or $65.98 at Amazon.com.
Since both Nature and National Geographic Television have excellent reputations for high quality video productions, this series does not disappoint. In addition, some episodes have music soundtracks of African musical groups. This could be an addiction for Africa lovers!
--Frank M. Yates, Ghana (1973-76)
Return to Nepal
Scott Skinner, a Vermont attorney specializing in labor law and an accomplished mountain climber, served with us in Nepal IV (education/TEFL) and returns regularly with his family to trek and renew friendships. Because the Nepali language has no initial consonant blends beginning with the "s" sound, Scott was forever known to Nepalis (and, therefore, to his PC compadres) as Escott Eskinner. Escott was stationed in Chainpur, a high mountain village near Mt. Everest, which pleased this serious climber immensely, and from where he came to our house bearing a rare bread-and-butter gift: handfuls of raw garnets plucked off the ground. Escott's wife and sons have taken to Nepal like ducks to water, enduring grueling treks, severe illness, injury, and cold alongside Escott. These are reports of their latest journeys in Winters 1999 and 2001. Escott writes here for a PC Nepal audience and therefore omits understood details about grueling local living conditions.
 Trek to Chainpur: December 1999
Our trip was great. It was really a series of sorties out of Kathmandu into the hills and then Chitwan. First we hung out in Kathmandu to show Justin the sites. Then we flew to Lukla and hiked nine days in the Khumbu [base of Mt. Everest]. This was just before Christmas, very nice weather in daytime (almost tee shirt weather), but very cold at night. We got up to about 14,000 feet [snow line in Nepal begins generally at 13,000] at Pangboche before turning around. Because of the cold we had no plan to go to basecamp. By this time, Justin and Mary had stomach problems and I had raging bronchitis so we spent Christmas day recuperating in our hotel in Kathmandu.
After several days of recuperating, we flew to Biratnagar and went up into the eastern hills via Dharan (Barbara Goldberg's former post), Dhankuta, Hile and to the end of the road in Basantapur. We were accompanied by a young Tamang woman whom I met in 1997 and who also trekked with us in 1998. We walked north along this great ridge at about 10,000 feet and got some views of Kanchenjunga. After two days on the ridge we descended to Chainpur (my old post) where memories of my prowess as a teacher had somehow taken on a golden glow with age and the entire high school staged a ceremony in our honor. I received a tikka [red forehead blessing] which remained stained on my hair for four weeks afterwards. My former students are now the senior teachers. The one remaining faculty colleague from 1964 is now about to retire but we had a wonderful Newari goat curry in his house. Oddly, I was never invited into a teacher's house in the old days. We were in Chainpur for the Millennium although in bed by 9:30 pm. Even with newly installed electricity, in Nepali towns it still seems best to go to bed early. We then dropped down into the Arun valley to Tumlingtar where we flew back to Kathmandu.
Then we went by car to Chitwan National Park [in the tropical jungle Terai area of Nepal] where there was a major cold wave going on. It was colder there than during the day in the Khumbu! We rode elephants, saw a rhino, and many other animals (I liked the wild pigs - which pretty much resemble the tame pigs). The camps are for tourists, and the food, while good in quality, had the strange taste of western food cooked by Nepalis for westerners. No piro [spicy heat].
Then we went back to Kathmandu and were at the airport ready to fly home when we learned that our tickets had been canceled! The plane was full and next flight was three days later. Bummer. So we hired a van and toodled over to Pokhara and a restful day at Mike Frame's wonderful hotel on the shores of Lake Fewa. [Mike Frame has been internationally famous as a restauranteur/hotelier since the 1960s] We finally returned home in mid-January some thirty five days after departure.
The good news is that the air is really cleaner in Kathmandu due to the banning of the three wheel diesel tempos. Not great, but measurably less polluted. Random notes: We had dinner with Mac and Martha O'Dell on our last night [Mac O'Dell was with the first PC group in Nepal in 1962 and has lived in Nepal since that time].... Mary liked the Sherpa lodges in the Khumbu. The east was a little too wild and woolly for her.... In a Peace Corps moment we even spent a night on the [open sky] porch of a family in one village.... On the other hand, Justin much preferred the east to the Khumbu. He was a great trekking companion. He and our Tamang friend, Phulmaya [a name meaning love of flowers], each carried 30 lbs. while I carried myself which was plenty.
 Annapurna Trek: Winter 2000-2001
Mary, Justin and I just returned from Nepal and I thought I would enclose a brief summary for folks interested in hiking, Nepal and the adventures of old people.
The Escott Eskinner family of Vermont and Nepal. (l-r) Escott, Justin, Mary & Wilson (photo from author)
We were gone for 30 days (November 9 to December 10), two days at either end being spent on air travel. Arrived in Kathmandu in the midst of the important five-day religious holiday Tihar, the Festival of Lights, in which thousands of Nepali homes display small lighted candles or oil lamps in front of their homes, in windows, in every available nook. What is a dank feudal bazaar scene by day becomes magically transformed by soft candlelight at night.
We spent three days getting permits, organizing equipment, and making treking arrangements. Our goal was to complete the Annapurna Circuit, perhaps the most popular trek in Nepal, which involves walking around the huge Annapurna massif, thus spending half of our time north of the Himalayas in an area which is more like Tibet than lowland Nepal. In geographic terms, the trail took us up one river valley, over a high pass called the Thorang La into another valley, and down that valley to the very scenic town of Pokhara from where we returned to Kathmandu.
The reason that the trek is popular is not only the spectacular scenery, but the fact that it takes you through villages which are well supplied with modest small inns or teahouses, making it unnecessary to carry tents and food. In other words, it is a trek that can be done alone or in a small group without porters. Although the trip is only about 150 miles, the rough terrain, the need to carry packs at high altitude, and the slow but steady pace of your correspondent, limited the number of miles traveled in a day.
Our group consisted of the above-mentioned Skinners and the redoubtable Miss Phulmaya Tamang, a 28-year-old Nepali woman who has traveled with us on three previous trips. Wilson, a freshman at Oberlin, claimed that he actually has to attend classes there and was not able to accompany us.
A highlight for those of us who are a bit scared of heights was walking on narrow trails perched on cliffs 300 feet above raging rivers, often sharing these very narrow trails with trains of ponies transporting wide packs of food and supplies. Another challenge was walking across the temporary trails on recent landslides. And the bridges, mostly excellent steel cable suspension bridges, posed a challenge to those who are unnerved by looking down at rushing white water several hundred feet below. Especially scary was crossing a narrow wooden temporary bridge without railings at night.
For much of the trip, we were in areas populated by followers of Tibetan Buddhism and visited several gompas, similar to monasteries. Some of the smaller villages off the main path looked much as they must have hundreds of years ago and reminded us of the village in the wonderful film "Himalaya."
As we gradually climbed up the river valleys, we had spectacular views of huge peaks including Manaslu and some of the lesser Annapurnas. The literal high point of the trip was our assault on the high pass, the Thorang La (17,700 feet) which was a very steep climb starting at about 14,000 feet. This was a particular challenge for Mary who had never been above 14,000 feet, but she powered to the top, passing a number of others. We then faced another challenge, a steep descent of over 5,000 feet to the place called Muktinath, one of the holiest shrines in the Hindu/Buddhist world where we spent a rest day. After the pass, we were treated to views of Annapurna I and Dhaulagiri, the latter rising almost four miles directly above us, as we were walking in the world's deepest gorge.
By this time, your correspondent, benefiting from decreased bulk and daily exercise, was moving faster and we moved quickly down the Kali Ghandaki River to the roadhead from where we eventually returned by car to Kathmandu, having spent 20 days on the trail. In Kathmandu we were able to make contact with a number of Nepali friends who showed us considerable hospitality.
Our health was good (except for a little food poisoning brought on by a yak steak Thanksgiving Day meal). We benefited greatly from the entertaining company of Justin who carried a large load and also achieved a major goal by beating his father in chess. Needless to say, Mary looked marvelous the entire trip.
--Scott Skinner, Nepal (1964-66)
Each one has to find his peace from within. And peace, to be real, must be unaffected by outside circumstances. --Mahatma Gandhi
From the Editor...
As we enter that season which for the northern hemisphere is Spring, known and celebrated by all religions and all generations back into prehistory as a renewal of all life, rebirth and the creation of the new, let us rededicate ourselves as leaders in the continual re-creation of peaceful and mutually respectful communications among those around us.
As the song says, " Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me."
Deng Ming Dao said, "The peace of one individual is small. The peace of many people together is big. When we see ourselves as separate from our community and from nature, then violence and strife arise. it is only when we understand our part in an overall unity that there is the possibility of peace on a large scale."
1/7/02 & 2/4/02
Combined Board Minutes
Present: Gregg Pancoast, Frank Yates, Brenda Hahn, Gail Souare, & Tony Stark plus guest Marjory Clyne attended both meetings. Rudy Sovinee and Sharon Kennedy attended in February.
Minutes were approved as written.
President's Report: NPCA President, Dane Smith, will be visiting SW Regional RPCV groups with SDPCA on March 23rd. RPCV Stephanie Palau will bicycle from SD to Washington, DC to promote Global Education, posting a website of her trip. E-mail is email@example.com The board decided to officially write our senators.
Financial Report: Frank reported balances and provided a detailed statement of income and expenses.
Membership: Frank reported that the SDPCA membership is at 180 current, 41 past due. Our NPCA membership is at 143 current, 22 past due.
Community Outreach: Marjory Clyne will coordinate our Earth Day Booth in Balboa Park on 4/21/02. Direct e-mail address to her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fundraising: We've closed out all of our activities at Postal Annex Stores. The board agreed to include a listing of these stores to run this year as a way to encourage members to give their business to those who've supported us. We sold our 250 calendars and had to order more to supply requests.
Mark J. Tonner International Support Fund: Received 1 request for March grants, and 2 letters of thanks from past recipients. Frank confirmed that the checks approved had been cut and mailed.
Newsletter: Our next newsletter deadline is 4/10. Gregg will assure that our newsletter is submitted for this year's competition.
Web Site: Compliments to Don. Some new RPCVs find us solely through the website.
Social: Past and current activities are covered in newsletter stories.
Speaker's Bureau: March 1st calls are going to Jean to coordinate.
Old Business: Donna Carter resigned and Gail Souare accepted the role of Social Chair, Tony Starks was voted onto the board in January, and approved as Vice-President.
New Business: Time to begin planning our annual meeting for May.
Next Meeting: 6:30 PM 3/4/02 at the home of Brenda Hahn
From the board
Letters to Senators...
After the confirmation of Gaddi Vasquez as Director, in spite of unprecedented RPCV and PC community lobbying to senators nationwide, including locally, the SDPCA board decided to communicate our wishes to our two senators, on behalf of the membership. After much agonizing deliberation, this is the resulting letter sent separately to each Senator:
2002 Senator Barbara Boxer Senator Diane Feinstein Dear Senator: I am writing on behalf of
the San Diego Peace Corps Association. We would
very much appreciate receiving your ideas on how
the Peace Corps can expand its vital peace building
work. We are optimistic about the declaration by
President Bush that calls for a doubling of the
Peace Corps. Yet, the nomination of new Peace Corps
Director, Mr. Gaddi Vasquez, was controversial,
even opposed by significant past Peace Corps
directors. How can the President's call for
increased activity receive the united support Peace
Corps deserves to continue to build bridges at the
grassroots level to the peoples of the
world? We hope that the experience
of past directors and staff will be used to provide
constructive directions for a greatly expanded
Peace Corps. We urge that their experience and that
of others, including the National Peace Corps
Association, be drawn on, perhaps through formation
of an advisory or consultative group to Peace
Corps. Among suggestions made by past directors, we
believe these are most useful: That policy, which
maintained separation of volunteers from political,
intelligence, and religious intervention, must be
maintained. As Mark Gearan recently said, "The
Peace Corps cannot be seen as an arm of foreign
policy, of the State Department and, for the good
of the volunteers, can't be seen in any way as an
intelligence-gathering body." It is their
neutrality that protects them as they live alone
among the people in remote communities, especially
during this period of war against
terrorism. For over 40 years, over
165,000 Americans have served their country as
Peace Corps Volunteers. We've shared our American
culture one-on-one with peoples of the world, doing
so as nonpolitical ambassadors to the people of the
host countries. It has been a respected and very
cost effective way to promote goodwill, less than a
dollar a year per American. We greatly desire to
protect that legacy. Thank you so much for your
time. We look forward to your support for
protecting the good name of the Peace Corps as many
more volunteers answer the President's call to
serve in regions all around the world. We would
additionally appreciate any further discussion or
input you would provide to us. Rudy Sovinee,
February 10, 2002
Senator Barbara Boxer
Senator Diane Feinstein
I am writing on behalf of the San Diego Peace Corps Association. We would very much appreciate receiving your ideas on how the Peace Corps can expand its vital peace building work. We are optimistic about the declaration by President Bush that calls for a doubling of the Peace Corps. Yet, the nomination of new Peace Corps Director, Mr. Gaddi Vasquez, was controversial, even opposed by significant past Peace Corps directors. How can the President's call for increased activity receive the united support Peace Corps deserves to continue to build bridges at the grassroots level to the peoples of the world?
We hope that the experience of past directors and staff will be used to provide constructive directions for a greatly expanded Peace Corps. We urge that their experience and that of others, including the National Peace Corps Association, be drawn on, perhaps through formation of an advisory or consultative group to Peace Corps. Among suggestions made by past directors, we believe these are most useful:
That policy, which maintained separation of volunteers from political, intelligence, and religious intervention, must be maintained. As Mark Gearan recently said, "The Peace Corps cannot be seen as an arm of foreign policy, of the State Department and, for the good of the volunteers, can't be seen in any way as an intelligence-gathering body." It is their neutrality that protects them as they live alone among the people in remote communities, especially during this period of war against terrorism.
For over 40 years, over 165,000 Americans have served their country as Peace Corps Volunteers. We've shared our American culture one-on-one with peoples of the world, doing so as nonpolitical ambassadors to the people of the host countries. It has been a respected and very cost effective way to promote goodwill, less than a dollar a year per American. We greatly desire to protect that legacy.
Thank you so much for your time. We look forward to your support for protecting the good name of the Peace Corps as many more volunteers answer the President's call to serve in regions all around the world. We would additionally appreciate any further discussion or input you would provide to us.
Rudy Sovinee, Secretary
"Struggling Truths" at the AART
A small group of us convened by Ron Ranson, Nepal (1964-66), gathered for this incredible play and discussion session afterwards with the playwright and actors. "Struggling Truths" attempts an evenhanded treatment of both the Tibetan and Chinese perspectives in the Sino-Tibetan conflicts of recent decades. Respectful, deeply felt and sometimes emotional opinions were expressed from the audience&endash;mostly composed of Friends of Tibet and Peace Corps people. Produced in Los Angeles, the play has been nominated for the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle's "Best New Play of the Year" and for "Best Play of the Year" by the Detroit Free Press.
Introducing Tony, our new VP
Tony Starks, Panama (2000-2001), grew up in Maine, San Diego, and Chicago, attended college in Maine, then Thomas Jefferson Law School here in San Diego, graduating in 1979.
A State Bar certified specialist in Family Law, he has practiced divorce and family law in San Diego since l98l, except of course for his time in the Peace Corps in Panama, where he was in the small business sector and worked on Tourism in a town called Changuinola near the Caribbean Ocean. He also worked with a business group trying get government money to build a sort of mini-mall there in the town for their small enterprise. Of course, "like everybody I taught some English and worked with a group of indigenous women selling native clothing..."
Tony has two adult children, is currently single but interested, and lives in San Diego in Normal Heights. He rides his bike, studies Spanish, plays pool, drinks wine and is working part time on a Masters degree from San Diego State University. We're delighted to have you, Tony!!
13th Earth Fair Booth Needs You!!
We will have a booth at Earth Fair 2002 on April 21 in Balboa Park to promote the Peace Corps experience to the San Diego community. We need volunteers to man our table for two hour periods starting at 10 AM til 5 PM. It is great fun and a good way to express our continued support for a healthy, prosperous and sustainable future! Contact Marjory Clyne (also Duchess Dowager Empress of Fundraising) at email@example.com to sign up and discuss logistics--traffic is heavy that day. Or call Marjory Clyne at 858-576-9909. See you there!
We want to thank our great
friends at Postal Annex for their outstanding help
again this year selling Entertainment Books. The
proceeds go to many deserving Peace Corps
volunteers for their field projects which otherwise
would remain unrealized. Volunteers like Jayne
Jamieson who requested funding to buy equipment for
90 children she serves at the National
Multihandicapped Welfare Society/Home of Hope in
Jordan. And Ajith Pyati, serving in Kazakhstan, who
received funding to buy Russian language
environmental books as well as English language
materials to use in her classroom. We can show our continued
gratitude to these Postal Annex stores by becoming
loyal customers to those in our neighborhoods.
Following is a list of their addresses. Identify
yourself and say thanks when you go in! -Marjory
Clyne, American Samoa (1974-76),
We want to thank our great friends at Postal Annex for their outstanding help again this year selling Entertainment Books. The proceeds go to many deserving Peace Corps volunteers for their field projects which otherwise would remain unrealized. Volunteers like Jayne Jamieson who requested funding to buy equipment for 90 children she serves at the National Multihandicapped Welfare Society/Home of Hope in Jordan. And Ajith Pyati, serving in Kazakhstan, who received funding to buy Russian language environmental books as well as English language materials to use in her classroom.
We can show our continued gratitude to these Postal Annex stores by becoming loyal customers to those in our neighborhoods. Following is a list of their addresses. Identify yourself and say thanks when you go in!
Clyne, American Samoa (1974-76),
Are you On-Line?
Many of our members receive timely e-mail update announcements from the SDPCA Secretary. IF YOU DO NOT receive such notices, help us communicate. Send a note via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and let Rudy add you to his list. Please include city and phone number too.
Call for SDPCA Historical Photos
Okay, all you photographers: where are all those wonderful shots you took of us all at SDPCA events?? Rudy Sovinee, SDPCA Secretary, is also acting as Historian and has assumed and organized the historical records for SDPCA kept by others previously. He is calling for any SDPCA photos members have of events in our past to be sent to him in hardcopy for the album. You can send any of your SDPCA shots to him at SDPCA, POB 26565, San Diego 92196-0565.
Cultural Reassimilation Training 2/02
SDPCA Superbowl Party
Some pictures from the "training" at Rudy's house during SuperBowl XXXV. (Photos by Rudy Sovinee)
PC to Double?
From a reliable source, we learn that President Bush in his State of the Union Address on January 29 called for legislation to double the size of the Peace Corps within five years and for the Peace Corps to become part of an umbrella organization called the US Freedom Corps.
The OMB recently released the President's Budget for FY 2003 which included an increase in the Peace Corps Budget of 15%, the first step in a series of budget increases which will result in a doubling of the Peace Corps Budget over the next five years.
Now we have received reliable information that Senator Dodd and Congressman Udall may be holding a Press Conference as early as next week to introduce companion bills that will concern themselves with the implementation of President Bush's plan and for the Peace Corps to become part of the US Freedom Corps, an umbrella organization that will also include Americorps. The legislation may also include a new "Fourth Goal" for the Peace Corps and elements of a "New Mandate" for the Peace Corps.
The big question is whether this legislation will assure that the Peace Corps remains an independent agency or becomes a subsidiary part of the US Freedom Corps. Concerns have been raised within the RPCV community that the Peace Corps needs to remain independent to work effectively. The last time the Peace Corps was made a part of an umbrella agency, the ACTION Corps in 1971, the experiment was widely considered a failure. Congress reversed the legislation and made the Peace Corps an independent agency again in 1981.
In 1995 Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee, recommended a major restructuring of the country's foreign policy apparatus in which the Peace Corps would have been merged into the US State Department. Senator Dodd, along with Senator Paul Coverdell, Senator Jay Rockefeller, and Senator Arlen Specter led the fight against the change and in the end Senator McConnell withdrew his proposal citing the "considerable experience and strong views" of his petitioners.
Sources within the executive branch of government have previously told us that Bush's plan is for the Peace Corps to remain as an independent agency and that the US Freedom Corps will only serve the purpose of interagency coordination. However, Former Peace Corps Director Mark Gearan, in an interview with the Providence Journal, warned "The Peace Corps cannot be seen as an arm of foreign policy, of the State Department and, for the good of the volunteers, can't be seen in any way as an intelligence-gathering body..."
PC Day Events 3/1
Check out the Peace Corps page about the history and events of the day coming up: http://www.peacecorps.gov/rpcv/peacecorpsday/
RPCV 3rd Goal Bike Ride
Stephanie Palau, St. Lucia (1997-99) and Ecuador (1999-2001), has recently arrived in San Diego to begin her Third Goal Bike Ride ("Bring the World Home") on National Peace Corps Day, March 1st, 2002. The purpose is to promote Peace Corps by facilitating presentations in support of recruitment and World Wise Schools. The tour begins from the lawn outside Balboa Park Recital Hall 3/1/02 at 10 a.m. Interested riders should contact Stephanie at email@example.com
1WOW Begins Balboa Park Program
A joint effort between the PC World Wise Schools, the NPCA Global TeachNet, and One World, Our World, the Balboa Park School Program for fifth grade students scheduled a seven-week pilot program with the One World, Our World (1WOW) beginning on 3/1/02. A collaborative of the Global TeachNet, the 1WOW Program will present the multimedia assembly to 300 Balboa Park Program students per week, with the initial presentation immediately following the Bike Tour send-off ceremony at 10 AM in front of the Recital Hall at Balboa Park.
As San Diegans are well aware and proud, the Balboa Park Program has a reputation for excellence in teaching district youth in a manner that encourages respect, understanding and appreciation for cultural heritage. The five program goals/tracks focus on identity, diversity, culture, conflict and prejudice/discrimination. Having it begin a link to the national bike tour on Peace Corps Day with the One World, Our World program enhances the benefits to San Diego's youth.
Host Country Updates
Jordan: ISF Report
We received a thank-you note from San Diego PCV Jayne Jamieson, to whom we awarded $633 for equipment for the multihandicapped children at the Home of Hope, complete with a receipt in Arabic: "We want to joyously and sincerely thank you for your generous grant to support our Youth Training project. It will now be possible to order the equipment necessary for vestibular stimulation for the residents. We will send you pictures as soon as we are able and to keep you updated on our progress....Jayne Jamieson"
Latvia: ISF Report
From Sally Laviolette, San Diego PCV in Latvia, and her counterpart, a long appreciation letter with six pages of pictures and documentation for the purchase of blood pressure equipment, including an article in the local newspaper about the $330 grant (in Latvian [?] with translation), English usage here intact: "Your support means so much to us here. We are very proud to have extended our network and that the San Diego Peace Corp volunteers are part of our family now. Sally look forward to getting involved with the organization when she returns to San Diego in August of 2002...enjoy your beautiful San Diego weather--it's well below zero here!..."
In Mali, farmers working on the edge of the Sahara are rapidly adopting the first new groundnut, or peanut, varieties to reach their fields in nearly 40 years. Success, researchers say, is the result of wide-scale testing conducted in cooperation with women farmers, the country's leading producers. For the full story, visit the Future Harvest website at: http://www.futureharvest.org.
China revives a controversial Tibetan migration project as it prepares to move thousands of Chinese settlers into a traditionally Tibetan and Mongolian area, officials said Wednesday, relaunching a controversial plan which lost World Bank backing after international criticism. Around 20,000 people are due to move into the Dulan region of Qinghai province, a far western region which borders Tibet, officials said. "The project will restart in March," a spokesman for the Qinghai region anti-poverty office told AFP, adding the Chinese government would cover the funds which were originally to have been provided by the World Bank.
At the end of the 1990s, the World Bank pledged around 40 million dollars for a plan which would have seen around 58,000 people, mainly ethnic Han and Hui Chinese, relocated to Dulan's Qaidam desert, a historically Tibetan region in the center of Qinghai. However, a year later the bank announced it was withdrawing support for the plan following an impassioned campaign by exiled Tibetan groups and human rights activists, concerned about obliterating the indigenous culture.
Chinese police detained more than 40 Western followers of Falun Gong who were protesting on Thursday in Tiananmen Square. Other supporters of the sect, which is banned in China, were detained in their hotel rooms. In the largest protest yet by foreign supporters of the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual movement, more than 40 Westerners were detained as they staged raucous demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, Chinese authorities said.
Earlier an additional 14 European supporters who had also come to protest were detained in their hotel rooms, according to Falun Gong spokesmen abroad. Held one week before a scheduled state visit by President Bush and as China celebrated the Lunar New Year holiday, the protest aimed to dramatize China's persecution of a movement that had attracted millions of followers before it was banned in 1999 and declared to be an "evil cult."
"The president obviously is concerned with any arrests for religious purposes in China," the White House spokesman, Ari Fleischer, said today in Washington. "The president remains very committed to taking this up, personally and directly, with Chinese officials," he added.
--Erik Eckholm, NY Times;
The classrooms will be handsome, the food will be fresh and the toilets won't smell. In Ladakh, the heart of the Himalayas, a very unusual school is taking shape. Sometimes known as Little Tibet, this is an ancient kingdom high in the Indian Himalayas, to the west of Tibet. Large areas are cut off by snow for many months of the year. Winter temperatures drop as low as -30 C, even though the sun continues to blaze in deep blue skies. In the summer months, melting snow brings the valleys alive.
It's one of the most beautiful and thoughtful "green" building projects in the world by London architects Arup Associates and engineers Ove Arup and Partners with the Ladakhi Buddhist community and public works department and the Hampshire-based Drupka Trust. Designed for 800 local children, the school will have the appearance of an entire small town, comprised of classrooms, dining hall, kitchen, clinic, teachers' home and children's dormitories. Each building will open up either onto a tree-lined avenue, a garden or small stone-paved streets or squares; the residential wing will be surrounded by cottage gardens. In summer, classes will be held outdoors whenever possible. The children who will be attending are used to tending goats high in the mountains; it would be unkind, to say the least, to keep them cooped up in classrooms, no matter how graciously designed.
To date, schooling in Ladakh has been largely for boys and conducted in Buddhist monasteries. The Indian state school system has been hard-pressed to provide the money and skills to boost local education. In any case, teaching is in Urdu (English from the age of 14), a language unfamiliar to Ladakhi children--90% of whom fail to finish school. When the Druk White Lotus School is completed in 2009, it will teach children from across the valleys, from remote mountain villages and orphans from the area, around 200 children altogether, will board full-time. The school will also train teachers. From necessity and common sense, it will be self-sufficient in both food and, thanks to solar power, energy.
Annie Smith, the trust's director, works closely with the Arup team led by Jonathan Rose and Jim Fleming. "What everyone wanted," says Rose, "is a design that is both traditional and modern, as timeless as possible. Local building skills are of a very high order, and we have been learning from them. You should have seen the various layers of the mud roofs being trampled into position by gangs of villagers in local costume. Modern concrete construction is unsuitable because of the severe climate and frequent earth tremors. We agreed on granite walls inset with a mud core. These are stable, well-insulated and blend in naturally with the mountain setting. We have learned to abandon many construction details we devised in London and gone for local tradition instead," says Rose. "When you see how well the surrounding monasteries have survived--up to a thousand years - in such hostile conditions, you learn to respect what has gone before. This is no place for clever details that, while they might look good in a business park in southeast England, wouldn't last for more than a few winters in the Himalayas."
The architects are particularly pleased with the design of the latrines, which could help to revolutionize health in the developing world. The latrine blocks are clad in solar panels; these serve to dry human waste, which then breaks down into compact and all but odorless fertilizer, easily removed. Fresh air, meanwhile, is scooped through the latrine blocks, sweeping away unpleasant smells. This helps to keep flies, and thus disease, at bay.
--Jonathan Glancey, The Guardian, 1/28/02
More news from our SD PCV Amy Reck
Now that I've been at site for almost two months, I wanted to share my impressions and answer questions that My new home, Sibiu, is at about the same latitude as Maine - it's friggin' cold here! The city has a population of around 140,000 and a heavy German influence (aka Hammerstandt). It's old, charming, and nestled in the foothills of the Carpathian mountains, so I am surrounded by many promising hiking opportunities this summer. It's a town with many cobblestone streets; but, on the paved roads, it's common to see trucks, horse-drawn carts and Mercedes sharing the same lanes.
Many people here speak English; often times when I open my mouth in an ATTEMPT to speak Romanian, people say "Please, speak in English", which I'm sure is followed by the unspoken "...because it pains us to hear you completely butcher our language!". Another adjustment is converting, well, everything. The money is different ($1 = 31,500 lei), my utilities last month cost 1,972,000 lei. I am paid (in lei) about $200 per month, which I hear is slightly more than the average Romanian is paid...I don't know how people manage. I buy my apples by the kilo, recipes call for grams of sugar instead of cups, the treadmill I use is in km/hr, the temperature is in celsius, so parents: teach your kids that metric system! You never know when things will come in handy.
There are four basic food groups here: pork, chicken, beef and pork. There is supposedly a lot of produce in the summer. There are, surprisingly, a lot of oranges, bananas, onions and garlic here; but I have yet to find an appetizing recipe that incorporates these four ingredients. What I do have available are lentils, rice, beans, pasta and TONS of bread. I have become a French toast with fake syrup genius! I am definitely not worried about going hungry while here.
What food I miss: Sammy's Woodfired Pizza, fat burritos, sushi and STARBUCKS! The concept of to-go coffee does not exist, nor does the idea that a cup of coffee should exceed 4 oz. For someone who used to START her day with a 24-oz. cup, this has been a difficult adjustment. But, perhaps in time I will learn to appreciate Turkish coffee, chewy grounds and all...not!
One thing about eating so much bread, it's been a quick way to add a layer of "insulation"! So I joined a great gym Sibiu has with two treadmills, wonderful equipment and MTV! It's one of the few luxuries I've splurged on and it was nice to introduce something familiar and routine into my life. The gym is about a 40-min walk from where I live, and since I can walk, walk, or walk to get anywhere - I'm getting a lot of exercise these days.
I live right next to the train station in a two-bedroom, 1-1/2 bath bloc apartment. I'm lucky to have heat, hot water and electricity; but it's far from posh. I still lack a refrigerator and I don't have a telephone, tv or washing machine. The last two aren't such a problem, although washing jeans by hand is no fun! And, apparently something called the Olympics is going on (remember, I get my news from MTV!), which I won't be watching. I did finally join the millennium with the rest of you and bought a cell phone...how many years did I agonize over getting one?
So by now you are thinking: spacious apartment, cell phone, gym, cable tv (yeah, they even have HBO here)--this is NOT Peace Corps! Well, it's not exactly Survivor: Romania, either. In fact, for a lot of our pre-service training in Ploiesti, it felt more like Real World: Ploiesti! I still sometimes struggle with the idea that I'm not exactly in a Third World country and won't learn how to build my own mud hut, but, I must admit I am grateful to have the amenities I have. Romania is a developing nation, and I think my challenges here will be different, more with people's attitudes, mentalities and workstyles. Quick example: the concepts that "time is money" or "time is precious" don't really apply here, and I've been to meetings where people show up super late-- without apology or explanation - or don't show at all. There's not really a sense of customer service here either, and I've sensed a general apathy about Romania's chances of entering the EU. All interesting stuff that I will probably not understand even if I stay here 10 years....
As far as my work goes (that is why I'm here!), since I'm sure my Mom and Dad are the only ones still reading, I'll save it for another lengthy, tedious email. I can tell you that I have some projects that focus on both social services and the environment, but so far it has been ssslllooowww going. I am basically still in a tourist/exchange student phase. Thankfully, I am in a cool city rich in history, museums and legends of Dracula. I AM in Transylvania. Actually, my experience thus far has been a lot like my first semester of college: freshman "15", walking EVERYWHERE and trying to figure out where the heck I fit in.
Finally (you're STILL reading? don't you people have work to do? ), I must say this. I waiver between looking around in awe and thinking how lucky and proud I am to be here with the Peace Corps, to holding my head in my hands and wondering what the heck I am doing here and if it was worth sacrifice. In time, I hope it will all make sense. Until then, please keep me in your thoughts as you are in mine, and I will keep you posted on my long, strange trip.
Scientists from one of the world's leading agricultural research centers announced today the creation of a global consortium of research institutes, relief and development organizations, universities, and aid agencies to undertake a multi-million dollar effort to rebuild Afghanistan's agriculture.
War conditions coupled with the region's worst drought in at least 40 years have devastated Afghanistan's food-production capabilities and depleted critical seed stocks, leaving the nation heavily dependent upon food aid from international donors. Consortium members say that by harnessing the best of agricultural research, Afghanistan will be able to revive its once-thriving farming sector and move toward food self-sufficiency by 2007.
Agriculture is the largest and most important sector of the economy in Afghanistan, a country of about 22 million people. The partnership, called the Future Harvest Consortium to Rebuild Agriculture in Afghanistan, has the potential to be the largest-ever seed recovery effort of its kind. It will work to replenish damaged seed and irrigation systems to restore critical farming activities, both for near-term requirements and long-term sustainability.
The consortium will provide farmers with seeds to plant for the upcoming spring and fall growing seasons and vaccines to prevent disease in Afghan livestock. The consortium will also focus on the once-prosperous livestock and horticultural (fruits and vegetables) sectors, as well as land and water management.
--For the full news release visit the
QUOTE: Our enemy is our ultimate teacher. - the 14th Dalai Lama
Want to Polish Your Spanish Skills?
Calling all Spanish speaking RPCVs who want to keep up their language skills learned in host countries! Let's form a group to meet once or twice a week; maybe we can negotiate a native speaker to come to the meetings and support/teach us? Maybe we can meet over wine or beer? Interested? Call Tony, Panama (2000-2001) at 6l9.234.l978.
Support the California Clean Water, Clean Air, Safe Neighborhood Parks, and Coastal Protection Act!
Supported by environmental groups from around the state, the California Clean Water, Clean Air, Safe Neighborhood Parks, and Coastal Protection Act of 2002 will provide essential funds to help preserve California's ecosystems and habitats and improve protected publicly accessible natural areas.
Proposition 40 will provide $1.275 billion for land conservation and improved air and water quality, and $1.325 billion dedicated to California's State and local parks, recreation, and historic and cultural resources. Passage of the California Clean Water, Clean Air, Safe Neighborhood Parks, and Coastal Protection Act of 2002 will allow California to move forward in the effort to protect the state's wildlife and open space by allocating:
Proposition 40 is supported by a wide variety of groups including the Planning and Conservation League, the Nature Conservancy, the Trust for Public Land, Defenders of Wildlife and the Sierra Club. Your help is needed to pass this important bond act. To get more information, donate funds, or volunteer locally to help the campaign, please visit us on-line at http://voteyeson40.org or contact Bryan Blum at 916-313-4539.
We Web Worms, take note:
Planning Summer Travel on a Budget?
Don't forget HosNet, the network of RPCVs and staff who host each other internationally. To sign up, contact Alan Burrus at burrusNMPC@aol.com or write PO Box 1971, Santa Fe, NM 87504. Accommodations are friendly, extremely reasonable, and vary by site. The basis is mutual trust, respect and goodwill. Participation is NOT limited to members and is open to the PC and Americorps communities.
Tools for Tolerance
--101Tools for Tolerance
--101Tools for Tolerance
Are You an African American RPCV? Serve in Africa?
Aliona Gibson, South Africa (1999-01) seeks submissions from African American RPCVs who served in Africa for a non-fiction anthology exploring this experience. She hopes for a wide range of stories and memoirs that cover the 40-year history of Peace Corps and accurately reflect life as a African American RPCV in Africa. Items should be double spaced with a title and 5000 words maximum. Submit by April 30, 2002 to Aliona Gibson, POB 71387, Oakland CA 94612, or Rivoningo@yahoo.com
The PC Palate
Share your favorite PC Palate Spot with us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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
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