- February 2004 -- V olume 17, Number 1
bridges, cuts through barriers
Everyone has daily
routines but some people step out of them long enough to discover that
there’s life and love out there where you least expect it. Write
of your experiences. Send to HOMETOWN, South Bend Tribune, 225 Colfax
Ave., South Bend, IN 46626 or e-mail to Hometown@sbtinfo.com.
Their names are
Stanley and Sim, and they gave me enough fruit to last for days. We didn't
speak the same language, but that didn't seem to matter; they were masters
at smiling. They smiled when I juggled the fruit and when I showed them
how to throw a baseball (i.e. fruit). It didn't matter that we weren't
able to small-talk, because we had already surpassed that with a much
deeper human connection. These smiles were like nothing I had ever seen
before, they were not rehearsed before mirrors, yet they were some of
the most beautiful signs of compassion I had ever seen.
Stanley and Sim
are brothers, each less than 5 years old, who live amidst the vibrant
community of villages around Adaklu Mountain, which is in the Volta region
of Ghana in West Africa. Their brilliant smiles were more than just contagious;
they opened an entirely new perspective to me on the magnificent bond
that all humans share: Love.
on the journey across the Atlantic to participate in the International
Summer Service Learning Program (ISSLP), sponsored by the Center for Social
Concerns at the University of Notre Dame, I had been confronted by many
differing views of what this "service" experience would entail.
Often, I would hear about the importance of helping those "less fortunate,"
the definition of which was almost always derived from differences in
In these conversations,
very few ever stopped to think that our "less fortunate" brothers
and sisters in the Third World could possibly be "wealthier"
than us in the social realm. However, this idea presented itself in my
mind often as I participated in the social interactions of Ghanaians and
felt the welcoming compassion of people like Stanley and Sim.
Is it possible
that the idea of fortune is more dynamic than the measurement of material
wealth? If I could choose only one aspect of this experience to incorporate
into my own life and to share with others it would be this: We all need
help! Service, charity, assistance or whichever word you choose, is as
much about receiving as it is about giving.
This does not
mean being patted on the back for work that has been done, it means humbly
opening yourself and your community to others around the world in an exchange
of knowledge and resources. America may be the most materially wealthy
nation in the world, but in our country I have rarely seen the widespread
inner joy that covered the faces of the Ghanaians I had the privilege
to live, work and laugh with.
Many new avenues
are opening up that allow us to exchange knowledge and resources with
people around the world. My experience in the Volta region was made possible
by a new organization named BRIDGE, formed by former Peace Corps volunteers
who worked in the Volta region.
I worked alongside a fellow Notre Dame student, Adam Dell of Elmhurst,
Ill., to instruct two grass-roots organizations on bookkeeping and funding
proposal writing. BRIDGE is an organization that seeks not only to share
the wonders of Ghanaian culture with the rest of the world, but also to
find funding to enable villages in the Volta region to keep organizations
Adam and I worked
directly with two important groups in the Adaklu Mountain community --
the Ecotourism Committee (EC) and the Orphan Committee (OC). Both were
established in conjunction with the Peace Corps and have successfully
completed projects benefiting their communities.
For example, the
EC has been operating tours of Adaklu Mountain for visitors from around
the world for a few years now. These tours not only provide income for
residents of the nine villages surrounding Adaklu Mountain, but they also
directly protect the natural ecological beauty of the area for the enjoyment
of generations to come. The OC is directly involved in the lives of orphans
throughout the nine villages and has recently embarked on a project to
provide school uniforms and tuition for some 300 orphans for the next
An identical project
was completed in the recent past, thanks to the generosity of Fran McDonald
of South Bend.
During our time
in the Volta region, Adam and I worked closely with these two committees
in developing their ideas into workable plans and funding proposals. One
of the biggest obstacles to securing funds is the popular idea that donated
or loaned resources will be used carelessly or squandered once they arrive
in the Third World.
Adam and I spent
five weeks running workshops in which we showed how to keep sound records
of financial activity and to create biannual reports for BRIDGE. The bottom
line is that there is simply not enough money available within Ghana to
make these projects happen; cooperation between those of us who are materially
wealthy and those who are on the ground bringing these proposals into
reality is vital for improvement to continue.
To learn more
about direct service opportunities, making a donation, or the culture
of the Volta region, visit the BRIDGE Web site at: http://www.bridgingdevelopment.org
Leaving the Adaklu
Mountain community was not easy, especially with countless images of smiling
children etched into my memory. I could not help but think about the future
of these children and the difficulties that they will inevitably face
throughout their lives. However, I find a great deal of hope and optimism
in the benevolence of philanthropists like Fran McDonald and the positive
results that I have seen from the Ecotourism and Orphan Committees.
My Ghanaian brothers
and sisters showed me the powerful beauty of the collective human soul
that links us all together in a way that easily transcends language barriers
and skin colors. We all have the tremendous opportunity to act on our
smiles and change our world for the better; smiles are contagious, and
so is love.
Justin Brandon grew up in South Bend, graduated from Clay High School
in 2000 and is a senior at the University of Notre Dame, studying sociology
--BRIDGE, Inc, P.O. Box 1984, Baltimore MD, 21210
[article from South
Bend Tribune, featured in Peace Corps Online at http://peacecorpsonline.org/messages/messages/2629/2015729.html]
following article was submitted by Carol Wahlen, who recently relocated
to San Diego]
On Our Doorstep
by Carol Wahlen
After spending two years in Romania as a Peace Corps Volunteer (1995-’97),
I thought I had seen poverty beyond belief. However, a recent weekend
to Mexico revealed far more hardship on our San Diego doorstep.
This will not
be a chronological recounting of the trip offered by Third World Opportunities,
but my observation of places and people that continue to haunt my thoughts.
The most desolate
sight and most heroic was seeing the people who live and eke out a living
at the huge Tijuana dump. As we drove through the rough terrain, we saw
Mexican families busily digging in layers garbage, looking for recyclable
materials, the source of income.
Living in the
dump is not free, a guide from Red Casa Del Migrante, tells our group
of six women and George Johnson, a tour leader from Third World Opportunities.
They pay $3,000 to $5,000 to erect makeshift shelters, many of which were
made out of garage doors discarded by Americans, the guide says.
The shanties have
no running water or heat. Trucks wind through the dump, selling drinking
water and wood to those lucky enough to have the pesos.
Our last view
as we leave the dump is the forlorn cemetery at the dump entrance. It
is decorated with sad, wilting flowers, placed on the graves a week earlier
on the Day of the Dead.
image: The long double fence that the US government has erected to keep
the Mexicans from crossing into America. The 15 foot high fence, adjacent
to Borderfield Park in the US, extends into the ocean 30 to 50 feet. Much
of the fence is falling apart as relentless waves pummel it. Between the
two fences, lampposts, every 30 feet, have four-sided fixtures that turn
a 10 p.m. night into high noon.
Through the barriers,
US border guards can be seen patrolling the beach in jeeps, a warning
to any Mexican who would dare to try entering America from Tijuana.
try to cross the border here very much, the guide says. Project Gatekeeper,
the latest US program aimed at keeping Mexicans out of land that once
belonged to their forefathers, has moved the migration east into the desert
and mountains, a far more dangerous route, he explains.
Our guide takes
us to another area of the border barrier. White wooden crosses, two feet
by three feet, adorn the Mexican side of the wall each signifying a body
found along the route to the US. Some of the crosses have names on them,
but most say: “Unidentified.”
There are some
decorative coffins hanging together on one part of the wall, each listing
the number of deaths on the border each year since the 1990s. In early
November, the number on the 2003 coffin was 385.
We spend the night at Red Casas Del Migrante, a Tijuana hostel that provides
temporary food and shelter for up to 28 Mexican men, men who had been
deported from the US because they did not have legal papers.
As we eat dinner
with these displaced persons, we learn that some of them had lived and
worked in the US for as much as 20 years. Some have American wives; many
of them have American-born children. They can not go back to the US because
they can not get the right documents. Some men say they hope to find work
in Tijuana, others say they may go back to their villages south of Tijuana.
Still others say they don’t know what they will do.
In Tecate, we
spent the night at the Don Bosco orphanage, which is home 31 boys, ranging
in age from 5 to 18. The overworked staff shows a lot of love for the
orphans, who have protection here. Where they will go later is not known.
Some of us spend
the day sorting socks for the boys; Hundreds of socks that have been washed
and need pairing. A sign on the wall shows the size pants, shirt and socks
each boy wears, a sign that the boys are treated well and cared for as
each of the boys approaches one of us and takes our arm to escort us to
dinner. We try to communicate and enjoy the challenge.
Our final day
is spent at Juan’s home, in the hills outside of Tecate. “Call
me John,” Juan says. “I want to learn English.”
John and his family,
there are 10 in all, live in two buildings that he has constructed. There
is love and humor in this Mexican home. John has not only taken in a niece
and nephew but others as well. John takes most of our group on a tour
of the area. I stay behind and teach Elena, his wife some English. Alexandra,
the teenage daughter, paints my fingernails as we try to communicate.
John shows us
around his home, then takes us to the master bedroom. He has installed
a music system using an old boom box and soft lights surround the king-size
bed. He calls the place Romantica. But then he points to the crib next
to the bed and says that is a reminder to not get too romantic.
from Mexico, I have read several books regarding the Mexican War and have
learned how President Polk’s administration pushed the Mexicans
into a war they could not possibly win. Then sued them for peace, offering
the Mexican govern $15 million for land which is now, Texas, California,
Arizona, New Mexico and parts of Colorado. It was called Manifest Destiny.
Funny we were never taught the Mexican War in history.
Other groups go
to Mexico on weekend eye-openers. The only problem I had with the trip
was that it was religious based.
San Diego RPCVs:
We Need Your Time and Assistance!
Peace Corps Week
is next month and each year during the Peace Corps anniversary, former
Volunteers take time to share their knowledge and experience with their
local community. As all Volunteers know, part of the Peace Corps’
mission is to educate Americans back home about the people with whom they
lived and worked.
This year the
Peace Corps Regional Office and the SDPCA are working together to create
a small Peace Corps Festival on Saturday, February 28th and Sunday, February
29th from 11am-4pm at the NBC Building, adjacent to Horton Plaza, in Downtown
This is a rare
opportunity to promote a better understanding about the people of your
host country among those in your current community.
We are looking for RPCVs that would donate their time to dress up in the
garbs of their host country and to bring artifacts with small descriptions
indicating the country where it’s from and the object’s use.
We are also looking for artists with photos or painting depicting the
country they served, dancers in cultural costumes, musicians, and local
artisans to display their ethnic crafts. This is a terrific opportunity
to share your overseas experience with your community, peddle your wares,
plug your tribal drumming group, or flaunt your dance troupe in addition
to helping to kick off Peace Corps Week 2003.
we would like your suggestions on a catchy name for the festival. Please
send submissions via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
by January 14th.
If you would
like to be involved or have any leads of where we can reach dancers, musicians,
and artists to donate their time, please contact Marjory Clyne at email@example.com
or (858)576-9909 or Melody Akhavan at firstname.lastname@example.org
by Rudy Sovinee
to have the SDPCA is the possibility of what we might do as experienced
volunteers working side-by-side, and the strength of the friendships that
may ensue. The issue has been finding projects that would best utilize
our backgrounds, yet fit into our busy schedules. The Community Action
Committee has proposed that the SDPCA selects one project each month and
we ask that EACH member commit to participating in at least one of our
monthly projects each year.
Save January 17th
to be part of our inaugural group volunteer effort. Our January event
will be to assist in the SD Firestorm
and 29th will be staffing a Peace Corps table in Horton Plaza, outside
the TV Studios. Future months will rotate among projects in education,
health, environment, etc… as well as region of the community.
The dates and
theme will be announced in our newsletters, but the details will be announced
via our Evite network about 2 weeks before the specific event.
Why? Because we
are coordinating our projects with other existing programs, and these
are generally not announced until closer to the actual date. (If you are
a member and not receiving Evite announcements, please send an email to
so we can help keep you informed.)
Remember, we ask
that EACH member commit to participating in at least one of our monthly
projects each year. We hope you’ll find it so worthwhile you’ll
choose to do more, but at least once per RPCV is the goal.
we do not change our direction we are likely to end up where we are headed
A Limitless Year
I have participated
in many self improvement workshops over the years. I have learned from
all of them; personal growth and discovery leads to a happier life. The
last workshops were with Landmark Education and I want to share with you
some questions they asked us to answer as we headed into the year 2000.
I answer these for myself every new year. I hope you find them helpful
too. I wish you all an awesome year of limitless possibilities!
will you extend the boundaries in your life?
WHERE will you establish new playing fields and new
worlds of possibility?
WHERE will you veto business as usual and dance at
the edge of the envelope?
WHAT, where, and with whom will you be creative in
new and unpredicted ways?
Clyne, Western Samoa (1972-74), President SDPCA
3 and December 8, 2003
David Fogelson, Nikol Shaw, Ray Slanina, Cindy Ballard, Ted Finkel, Frank
Yates, and Brenda Terry Hahn attended both meetings. Barbara Casillas
attended in November.
Minutes were approved
Report: Melody Akhavan from PCLA has made arrangements with NBC
studios in San Diego to have a display for Peace Corps Day 2004 the weekend
of February 28th and 29th. Melody is asking SDPCA to set up tables of
artifacts for each region of the world in which Peace Corps serves accompanied
by RPCVs in native dress, as well as musical performers and RPCV artwork.
Report: Frank reported balances and provided a detailed statement
of income and expenses.
The SDPCA membership is at 139 current, 43 past due, totaling 182. NPCA
membership is at 101 current, 27 past due, totaling 128.
Action: The Community Action Committee will establish dates and
themes for each for each monthly service event, then sending out an Evite
close to the date with the specifics.
There may also
be an opportunity to “Adopt a Family” in coordination with
the IRC. Somali refugees will be arriving in a few months and will be
in need of everything to start their lives in San Diego. This may be a
possible long-term project in addition to the monthly service projects.
Calendars are sold out! Entertainment
Books are still available.
Our next newsletter deadline is 2/10/04.
In October, the Communications Committee held a meeting to discuss website
content and establish guidelines. The following were presented to the
of the SDPCA Website
provide thoughtful articles and links related to our stated mission
online, by our board, or in our charter—being that they are balanced,
clear, recommended, and reviewed.
for Inclusion of Content
not pose a conflict with our nonprofit status
the directions of Peace Corps through advocacy
funding for San Diego Peace Corps Volunteers’ projects overseas
RPCVs in our local communities
and informs through social education and community service
an active membership
A motion was made
to authorize the Communications Chair and Webmaster to determine the contents
of the website based on the guidelines of the October meeting; the motion
Awards: SDPCA has received six proposals. The committee unanimously
agreed to support two projects: Jennifer Jones’ Outdoor Play Equipment
and Learning Tools in the Dominican Republic and Dana Boling’s Equipment
for English Resource Center in Bulgaria. A motion was made to fund a total
of $925 for these two projects, as approved by the committee. The motion
response to SDPCA’s questions and concerns about funding Volunteer
projects was not acceptable. The process in place gives Peace Corps complete
control of funds and takes the decisions away from SDPCA. SDPCA continues
to have reservations about the process and the way funds will be allocated.
Rudy will write one response letter to Peace Corps and a second letter
to Joseph Permetti at NPCA, reminding NPCA of their pledge to support
SDPCA on this matter. If these letters do not mitigate the problem, SDPCA
will write to the Senators and Representatives and ask for their support.
Past and current activities are covered in calendar
Bureau: Dave continues to receive and fill requests for speakers.
The Board accepted Barbara’s resignation as Social Chair with regrets.
A new Social Chair is needed. If interested, contact Marjory Clyne.
The February meeting will take place 2/2/04 at 6:30 p.m.
We welcome your
input and participation through any of our events, or by contacting anyone
on the board through the numbers listed on page 2 or on the www.sdpca.org
website. Anyone wanting to participate on a committees (both the social
and communications committees are actively seeking members) is encouraged
to do so. Just drop us a line, and remember, the board meetings are open
to the membership as well.
Our last issue
included a brief introduction by half of the Board members. The remaining
members are introduced below.
In the summer of 1972 my boyfriend applied to the Peace Corps and was
accepted. I had no choice and neither did Peace Corps! We got married
and they found me a job as a statistician for a UN doctor starting a Family
Planning clinic in Samoa. (I do not have a college degree.)
The second year
I taught 12th frade English, Home Economics and was the P.E. teacher/coach
for a Catholic girls school. In our spare time we did some great scuba
diving, flying, made some very good wine, made a movie,and compiled a
cookbook. We traveled for a year in South East Asia before reluctantly
I have been happily
retired since March 2002.
I served in Venezuela 1967-69 in a Physical Education program and became
involved in adult literacy. Established and taught in a school in the
Guarija Peninsula. Upon returning from Venezuela taught ESL and started
a Ph.D. program in Psychology and finished with an M.B.A. in International
Management. I worked for a multinational bank and spent five years doing
lending in Brazil. I also did international institutional banking in Spain,
Portugal, Greece and Cyprus.
For the last couple
of decades I have been in the International Private Client group of a
large brokerage firm. I moved to San Diego in Sept. 2001 for family reasons.
Happy to share ideas with any returning volunteers interested in a career
of international finance.
Dave served enjoyably in El Salvador’s Agroforestry program from
1998-2000. He graduated from the University of Evansville, Indiana with
a B.A. in Biology. After Peace Corps, he worked as a recruiter for the
San Francisco Regional Peace Corps office and took a great opportunity
to recruit in the San Diego area in February of 2003. Dave is currently
serving as Chair of the Speakers Bureau with the SDPCA. From his comfy
home in Pacific Beach, Dave enjoys surfing, playing music, reading, and
As chair of the Speakers Bureau, one has the unique opportunity of connecting
the public to eager Peace Corps speakers. You make great contacts with
organizations like Kiwanis, Lyons, and other community groups and meet
lots of RPCVs as you hook them up with sharing their experiences.
It’s a fun job, and a great way to participate in the SDPCA.
I entered Peace Corps in ’70 as a math and science teacher, but
grew so fluent in Ashanti over my first year, that I was reassigned to
the Bureau of Ghana Languages. There, over the next two years, I wrote
“An English-Twi/Twi-English Dictionary of Chemistry and Physics.”
When I returned to NJ with an Ashanti bride, the need for a job led to
a decade of strategic planning and computer modeling for Union Carbide
Corp. A divorce in the early 80’s and a career change brought me
to San Diego by ’86, where I met people doing citizen diplomacy
trips to China and the USSR.
My photos from
those trips and others, along with the friends I made in the SDPCA, evolved
into creating a school program called One World, Our World (www.1wow.org
). It has allowed me to share some aspects of the RPCV worldview with
over 175,000 students in 25 states, plus Ireland and Mexico. Add in skills
in massage, and as a broadcast cameraman - and I’ve made ends meet.
This year I’ve completed a software version of the multimedia program
that will allow more kids access to this experience, learning skills of
leadership, tolerance and peace building.
I love being part
of the SDPCA, yet this year am particularly stretched for time. Worse,
my TV work always includes weekends, and falls during the same seasons
as our annual holiday and organizational meetings. So for fun, I love
hosting RPCVs for the Superbowl party. See you there!
Mark J Tonner
SDPCA has received
six proposals. The committee unanimously agreed to support two projects:
Play Equipment and Learning Tools
Jennifer Jones—Dominican Republic
for English Resource Center
A motion was made
to fund a total of $925 for these two projects, as approved by the committee.
On November 15th
a group of about 20 of us ventured down the trolley and into Tijuana for
a walk through the cultural center and over to Roberto’s for an
exceptional meal. It was a pleasant day filled with good conversations
and companionship with fellow RPCVs and their families.
in Tijuana are impossible to overlook—the five year old girl standing
on her brother’s shoulders and juggling oranges in traffic for anything
the cars driving by are willing to give them—is just one image from
the afternoon that sticks in my mind.
Yet our varied
experiences abroad bring home a sense that although life isn’t fair
or equal, human connections are what give life joy.
this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of
service and compassion are the things which renew humanity. --Buddha
act of love, a voluntary taking on oneself of some of the pain of the
world, increases the courage and love and hope of all. --Dorothy Day
Need a Good Book
you resolved to make more time to read more books this year?
Here’s one to try from a returned PCV...
Curse of Chief Tanaya
by Craig J. Carrozzi,
Inspired by campfire
tales told by high Sierra cowboys and the stirring facts of the California
Gold Rush, author Craig Carrozzi has created The Curse of Chief Tenaya--a
historical novel of gripping content.
It is 1891 in
northern California, the western frontier has only recently closed and
the "Gilded Age" of "Robber Barons" is in full swing.
Colorful personalities such as the acerbic newspaper columnist Ambrose
Bierce, the young "Oyster Pirate" Jack London, and the great
naturalist John Muir, work, play, and create their legends in this time
Among them, Jeremiah
Ignatius McElroy, a legendary survivor of the Irish potato famine and
California Gold Rush days but now an aging bounty hunter turned tour guide,
waits for life to play out its string.
he is offered a rich commission to track down and kill a phantasmal grizzly
bear that is raising havoc among high Sierra ranchers. Thinking to top
off his career with one final adventure, Jeremiah accepts. The stage is
set for a fantastic journey, encompassing past and present, from the waterfront
saloons of Jack London's Oakland to the lost Hetch Hetchy Valley of the
Sierra Nevadas, Jeremiah finds love in the arms of a French writer and
a final reckoning with a true Indian curse.
Aside from the
obvious action/adventure, The Curse of Chief Tenaya is a "stealth"
environmental story which will give you plenty of food for thought.
Curse of Chief Tenaya by Craig J.
Hardcover, 226 pages, $24.95, Southern Trails Publishing
To order call: BookMasters (800) 247-6553 or go online to: http://www.bookmasters.com/marktplc/01054.htm
Host a Foreign
World Peace, One Friendship at a Time...
Return the great
"home-stay" experience that you enjoyed during your Peace Corps
service by housing a Foreign High School Student... and sharing cultures
For more information,
please contact: Jude Wallway, Honduras (2001-03), E-mail: email@example.com,
Cell phone: (707) 689-7464
Welcome to New
We of SDPCA extend
a warm welcome to our newest members. We’ve seen some of you at
our events already and we want all of you to get involved in our activities.
Let us hear from you!! You can reach us by the contact information listed
in Contact SDPCA. Old members, use this section
as your SDPCA Membership Directory update.
New members are
listed by name, country and years of service, area of residence.
had a great holiday season!
Peace Corps recruitment
is getting back into gear with information meetings and office hours at
San Diego State. Here’s what’s on tap
Career Services -Office Hours:
January 12th - Mondays and Thursdays, 2- 4pm
3rd Thursday of the Month, 4-5pm
1/15/04, 2/19/04, 3/18/04, 4/15/04, 5/20/04
Community Information Meeting:
Thursday, March 4th, 7-8:30pm
San Diego Downtown Library, Second Floor Meeting Room
820 E Street, San Diego, CA 92110
There will be
a San Diego Festival with NBC celebrating 43 years of Peace Corps from
February 28th and 29th from 11-4pm. We need 20 volunteers total that served
in various regions from 11-1:30pm and 1:30pm-4pm. It’ll be about
2.5 hours of manning a table, talking to the public. Host country dress
We are also looking
for costumed RPCVs to make an announcement on TV the morning of the 28th.
Please contact Melody Akhavan if you are interested. She can be reached
at 310-356-1106 or firstname.lastname@example.org
those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.”
- T.S. Elliot
El Salvador Agroforestry (1998-2000), Peace Corps Los Angeles, San Diego
Regional Recruiter, 619-594-2188
Waves is published six times a year by the San Diego PeaceCorps Association
which is fully responsible for its content. Except for copyrighted material,
articles may be reprinted without permission with credit to the SDPCA.
are encouraged: e-mailed text file on disk- Mac preferred, or typed copy.
send to Editor, SDPCA, P.O. Box 26565, San Diego, CA 92196 or e-mail:
Cindy Ballard [interim]
Layout / Production
Don Beck, Jeff Cleveland
this issue are:
Justin R. Brandon, Carol Wahlen, Rudy Sovinee, Marjory Clyne, Ted
Finkel, David Fogelson, Cindy Ballard, Jude Wallway