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  San Diego Peace Corps Association Newsletter

September - October 2005 — Volume 18, Number 5

NOTE: Our email addresses here are no longer clickable to prevent roaming spammers reading them. Sorry for the inconvenience- 9/05

Index: click on your choice:..

August Community Action: Work Project with PRC
Report from Silvie Georgens, PCV Honduras: Letrinas

Peace Corps Option at ................ Following up on
Military Recruiting
.................... Your Reactions

To Peru and Back

from the Pres:Being Part...

Board Minutes-July- Aug '05

Recruiter Corner



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September Community Action
SDPCA Helps Four Peace & Justice Advocates

Work Party: San Diego Friends Center

Helping to construct a unique, environmentally friendly, socially important building for San Diego is a cool, wonderful opportunity. RPCVs and nominees working together with full time volunteers of the Brethren and the Peace Resource Center make the effort all the sweeter.

Rudy Sovinee, an active member of SDPCA since its inception and a current Board member, excitedly comments, “I saw today the makings of the type of Community Action project the SDPCA has wanted for nearly a decade, something that can involve us well, and be a win-win in multiple ways.”

The Friends Center building project is a cooperative of two peace churches and two well-established and respected non-profit organizations in the San Diego area: The San Diego First Church of the Brethren, The San Diego Friends Meeting, The Peace Resource Center of San Diego (winner of this year’s SDPCA Global Awareness Award), and The American Friends Service Committee. These four peace and justice advocates are combining their resources and activities to create a center that will be a focus for nonviolent social change. The center will also benefit other community organizations by providing space for meetings, workshops, and programs.

This unique “green” building is being largely constructed with the help of kind volunteers and generous donors and is showing the way to new environmentally conscious construction technologies. It is the first straw bale building in central city San Diego and features energy efficient innovations such as solar electricity generation, high R-value insulation, no wood, solar space heating, as well as greywater and rainwater irrigation. “The detailed description of not only what we were doing, but also why the building is unique, was very helpful and inspired us to continue being part of this project,” commented Eva Rodriguez, one of the nominees who helped at our first Friends Center work party on July 30.

What we saw when we arrived at our first work party was a steel frame imbedded in concrete footings. We arrived the day after some of the footings had been poured, and spent the morning removing the forms using pikes, crowbars, etc. Then after a lunch of sandwiches provided by the SDPCA, we cleaned the area so that the first layer of compacted ground stone could be raked into place. The efforts of our team made a huge difference, saving days of work otherwise. “I was thoroughly impressed by the RPCVs and the other nominees. Everyone worked! No one needed to be instructed, they just looked around, saw what needed to be done and did it! A high quality group of people,” adds Eva Rodriguez.

Anytime volunteers have nominees to talk to, and visa-versa, like at a social - it’s a success. If it can be done in a volunteer effort, even better! Karly, another nominee who joined the work party noted, “I liked being able to meet people who are going through the same volunteer process, as well as meeting people who’ve been there and back.”

The Friends Center is always looking for help so if you can volunteer your labor, contribute financially, or donate construction materials, please stop by the construction site (3850 Westgate Place) anytime between 9am and 4pm Monday - Friday. Email for additional contact information.

SDPCA is excited about being part of this great project and we hope you will join us and support our efforts over the next 16 months as we include this project as a regular “Community Action” event. So if you missed the first day of volunteering on this construction project, please make it a point to come to our next work party on September 10. There will again be nominees, eager to get to hear of your tour in the Peace Corps and we hope you will want to be among those who serve to inspire these future PCVs. Work with us on this; bring friends and family to help too. You’ll be glad you did.
–Lisa Rivera, Ukraine (2002-’04). Photos by Rudy Sovinee.

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Article and pictures from Silvie Georgens, PCV in Honduras. Silvie received a ISP grant from us in May for $498 for a Community Health Project to build 22 latrines. This is a progress report. (Pictures from author)


As all Peace Corps volunteers have experienced at some point, development work in a country like Honduras can bring on a flood of emotions at any given moment. When I received the news that the grant was being awarded and the project was really going forward a rush of happiness mixed with anxiety ran through me.

What am I doing? What do I really know about latrines? Until recently I hadn’t even perfected the skill of the bucket flush. I began to think I was in over my head, but as most volunteers also know, that thought makes the project all the more exciting. Most of my more successful and rewarding endeavors here have started out with the very same doubts.

Anxious to get the process started, I went immediately to the community with the good news. Coffee picking season had just ended and I wanted to take advantage of the bit of “extra” cash floating around. At least most people were out of debt and were available to work on something other than coffee.

Our first official meeting about the project had happened months ago as we developed the proposed budget and project plan. After just one work meeting I knew they would have what it takes to make this project work. The question was: did I? I was a long way from my comfort zone.

Development work and the clinical hospital work I did in the states have very few parallels. Throughout my experience here I have consistently found myself with more questions than answers.

As it turned out all the things I thought would be a piece of cake were the most challenging, and the tasks I was dumbfounded by were done with seemingly no effort by the community. For me the chore of hauling pounds and pounds of sand and rocks from the river was inconceivable without a truck. I also was concerned about the very deep holes that needed to be dug in a short period of time with nothing but shovels and muscles. Especially worrisome were the holes to be dug at the homes of single women. On a visit a week later, as if by magic, everyone had their holes near completion, piles of sand and rock were distributed to all the homes and there were adobe blocks drying on every hill. They had shared the tasks and labor assuring that everyone had what they needed to proceed despite all the obstacles I had worried about earlier. It was as if they had done this a thousand times…then I realized they probably had and that they knew no other way to work but together.

“Now this is what a communal culture can achieve,” I thought. I was embarrassed to have to tell them that I still didn’t have the correct information for the wire transfer while they had been hard at working doing their part without a single glitch. I was by far the least competent of the team.

Many visits later they had successfully completed all 22 latrines and I had fallen in love with this community. As with most experiences here I felt like I had received much more than I had given.

Llano del Cirin is filled with very special people. A prime example is Doña Berta. She is fiery and quick witted. With the help of her sons grade school books she taught herself to read and write a few years ago. She maintains her house of all boys beautifully. Most of the time when I go to visit her I have to hike through coffee fields to find her working “en la tierra” as they say here. I don’t know where she gets all her energy. I am always greeted with a huge smile, a hug, and kiss. I am always sent home with eggs, fruit, vegetables, or the occasional live chicken. I am inspired daily by the generosity of the culture and the sincerity of the individuals of my host country.
–Silvie Georgens, PCV Hondura

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Peace Corps Option?
Military Recruiting

By Alan Cooperman, Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 2, 2005; A11

The U.S. military, struggling to fill its voluntary ranks, is offering to allow recruits to meet part of their military obligations by serving in the Peace Corps, which has resisted any ties to the Defense Department or U.S. intelligence agencies since its founding in 1961.

The recruitment program has sparked debate and rising opposition among current and former Peace Corps officials. Some welcome it as a way to expand the cadre of idealistic volunteers created by President John F. Kennedy. But many say it could lead to suspicions abroad that the Peace Corps, which has 7,733 workers in 73 countries, is working together with the U.S. armed forces.

“Does this raise red flags for the Peace Corps community? I’d say yes -- emphatically so,” said Kevin Quigley, president of the National Peace Corps Association, an organization of returned volunteers, staff and supporters. “We think a real or perceived linkage between the Peace Corps and military service could damage the Peace Corps and potentially put the safety of Peace Corps volunteers at risk.”

Congress authorized the recruitment program three years ago in legislation that drew little attention at the time but is stirring controversy now, for two reasons: The military has begun to promote it, and the day is drawing closer when the first batch of about 4,300 recruits will be eligible to apply to the Peace Corps, after having spent 3 1/2 years in the armed forces. That could happen as early as 2007.

Two longtime proponents of national service programs, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), devised the legislation “to provide Americans with more opportunities to serve their country,” said Bayh’s spokeswoman, Meghan Keck. When it stalled as a separate bill, aides to the senators said, they folded it into a 306-page defense budget bill, where it did not attract opposition.

Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez, who was appointed in 2002 by President Bush, said in a recent interview that the Peace Corps was unaware of the provision until after it became law. Vasquez declined to say whether he would have opposed the legislation, had he known about it in time.

“There might have been a discussion, there could have been some dialogue on this, but obviously that didn’t happen,” he said.
Several former Peace Corps leaders said they hope that Congress and the Bush administration will reverse course and scuttle the program.

They include former senator Harris Wofford (D-Pa.), who helped found the Peace Corps as a young aide in the Kennedy White House; Carol Bellamy, the former New York City Council president who headed the Peace Corps from 1993 to 1995; and Mark L. Schneider, who was a volunteer in El Salvador in the late 1960s and headed the Peace Corps during the last two years of the Clinton administration.

“Democratic and Republican administrations alike have kept a bright line separating the Peace Corps from short-term foreign and security policies,” Schneider said. “Blurring that sharp line is a bad idea, particularly now, given the unfortunate rise in anti-American sentiment following the Iraq war.

After the law went into effect in 2003, the Defense Department was slow to promote the option of combining military and Peace Corps service, but it is now energetically flogging the “National Call to Service” program, recruiters said. The Army, which began a pilot project in 10 of its 41 recruiting districts in October 2003, expanded it into a nationwide effort this year. The Air Force, Navy and Marines offer identical programs, said Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke, a Pentagon spokeswoman.

In all of the services, recruits are eligible for a $5,000 cash bonus or repayment of $18,000 in student loans if they agree to spend three months in boot camp, 15 months on active duty and two years in the Reserves or National Guard.

After that, they can fulfill the remainder of their eight-year military obligation in the Individual Ready Reserves -- available for call-up, but without regular drilling duties -- or by serving in the Peace Corps or Americorps, the domestic national service program created in 1993

Vasquez emphasized that recruits have no guarantee that they will be accepted into the Peace Corps. Once they complete their active duty and Reserve or National Guard service, they can apply to the Corps. But they will not receive any preferential treatment, and the Peace Corps is not changing its admission standards, he said.

“Ultimately, the impact to Peace Corps in terms of how we recruit, who we accept into service, remains very much intact and consistent with what we’ve done for 40-plus years,” the Peace Corps director said. “I am an individual who embraces a very important facet of Peace Corps, and that is the Peace Corps’ independence as an agency within the executive branch.”

Wofford, who worked in the White House with Sargent Shriver, the Kennedy brother-in-law who became the Peace Corps’ first director, said the Corps historically has shown “passionate determination” to maintain that independence. At the outset in 1961, Shriver appealed to Kennedy to keep the Peace Corps from being placed under the Agency for International Development. Later, the Corps fought to uphold rules barring intelligence officers from joining the Peace Corps and prohibiting former Peace Corps volunteers from working for U.S. intelligence agencies.

Several current Peace Corps volunteers said they opposed the military recruitment option but were reluctant to speak out publicly, because the Peace Corps forbids volunteers from talking to the media without permission.

“We are already accused on a daily basis of being CIA agents so I don’t see how this [link to the U.S. military] could help,” a volunteer in Burkina Faso said by e-mail.

“It is hard enough trying to integrate yourself into a completely different culture, convincing people that . . . Americans are not these gun-toting sex maniacs . . . without having a connection to the U.S. military,” another volunteer in Africa wrote.

Former volunteers expressed a variety of reservations. Pat Reilly, a former chairwoman of the National Peace Corps Association who served in Liberia from 1972 to 1975 and spent several years as a full-time Peace Corps recruiter, said she worries about the motivation of people who enter the Peace Corps to fulfill a military service obligation.

“The magic that makes the Peace Corps work is motivation, and when you tinker with that, then it won’t work for the applicant and it won’t work for the people it serves,” she said.

John Coyne, who served in Ethiopia during the 1960s and was a regional director in the Corps’ New York office from 1996 to 2001, said numerous military veterans have joined the Peace Corps and been superb volunteers. But he said there has always been a “clear separation” between the two kinds of service. The new recruitment program “eats away at the purity of the Peace Corps as designed by Kennedy, which is that it was not going to be military,” he said.

So far, the number of enlistees is tiny compared with the 1.4 million men and women serving in the military, but large compared with the Peace Corps, which receives about 12,000 applications to fill about 4,000 openings each year.

In 2004 and the first five months of this year, 4,301 people entered the armed services under the National Call to Service program. Of those, 2,935 enlisted in the Navy, 614 in the Air Force, 444 in the Army and 308 in the Marines. Pentagon and Peace Corps officials said they have no way of knowing how many will apply to the Peace Corps when they become eligible to do so in 2007 or 2008.

In his 2002 State of the Union address, Bush called for doubling the size of the Peace Corps, from 7,000 to 14,000 volunteers, within five years. That same year, the administration named a career Navy officer with 12 years of experience in military recruiting to head the Peace Corps’ recruitment and selection office.

Since then, however, the Corps has grown by little more than 10 percent. Barbara Daly, a spokeswoman for the Corps, said that tight budgets -- rather than a shortage of qualified candidates -- were the reason.

“The president has been very supportive of the Peace Corps and has requested budget increases each fiscal year that would allow for this” gradual doubling, she said. “Congress has not approved our budget at the levels requested by the president.”

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Ed: Following up—
Here are some more places to check out the ongoing debate. Then, however you feel about the debate, we ask that you write a letter to The Editors (us) telling us about it.

As well, write your representative(s) in Washington.

• Read of the debate on PeaceCorpsOnline & vote your view.

• Read response by John Coyne, editor of the “Peace Corps Writers” web site, served as a PCV in Ethiopia in the 1960’s.

• Read response by Chris Mathews, on NBC Hardline

Let your representative know what you think of this and other moves by an administration which sees the Peace Corps’ role as that of spreading American values. Watch the debate over this latest “option” connecting Armed forces service to Peace Corps service for all potential consequences to Peace Corps.

• Then, let your congress-people know your opinion. Online you can access email to your Senator, Representative, etc.


-White House:

• Finally, write a short (or long) letter to the Editor at Pacific Waves for our next issue! Email your letter to:

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To Peru and Back

I entered the Peace Corps in 1962. After training at Boston College and Puerto Rico I was assigned to a small town outside of the Andean city of Cuzco (The Imperial Capital of the Incas). My home for the next two years was to be Izcuchaca, “the place of the bridge of limestone” in Quechua (the language of the Incas). I was assigned a Peruvian co-worker by the name of Elda Jordan. She was a school teacher whose husband, Alfredo, was a school administrator.

Throughout my two year Peace Corps tour, we three managed to form a wonderful, understanding, fruitful and fulfilling relationship. At the end of my stay in Peru, we said our goodbyes with promises to keep up the connection.

That never happened, by either party!

Fast-forward to 2004. Ron Inskeep, a volunteer with whom I lived in Izcuchaca for a short time before his tour ended, contacted me. We had reconnected after 40 years at the 40+1 NPCA National Conference in Washington, DC in 2002. He and his wife Judy (an RPCV in the same group as Ron who worked in Cuzco) were going to be in San Diego and wanted to stop in and see me. I invited them to stay at my home. We spent two days together. During their stay, they mentioned that they had been in contact with the Jordans and provided me with e-mail and land mail addresses!

What ensued was an exciting, inconsistent but determined flurry of correspondence between the Jordans and me. The result was a commitment on my part to do what I could to make it back to Peru.

Going to Peru from California is no small trip in distance, time or finances. I pondered on how to make the trip worthwhile on all counts. I have family in Quito, the capital of Ecuador that I hadn’t seen in 50 years. (Hmmm, is there a pattern here?) I had been corresponding consistently for several years with my cousin Martha and her husband Claus who live in Quito. I have Peruvian friends (the Mendoza family) who used to live in San Diego, now in Lima, the capitol of Peru that I haven’t seen in several years. Michael Hirsh, an RPCV, 1WOW and SDPCA friend was now the PC Country Director stationed in Lima. Add these people to the mix of memories, feelings and experiences that the Jordans represented, and the result is a delightful collage of exciting places to visit along with the opportunity to reconnect with people who were part of my past. A lot of emotional anticipation was created in being able to re-experience family, personalities, histories, warm feelings and “mucho carino.”

What was developing in my mind was an itinerary that would perhaps be of interest to my usual summer vacation partner, my youngest son, Juan Carlos and to my partner Phyllis, a seasoned traveler. They both concurred. All that mattered was when? We decided that we would leave in June, after Juan Carlos’ school term. We would spend 9 days in Quito visiting as many sights and seeing as many members of the family as possible. After we left Quito, Juan Carlos mentioned that he had counted about 200 relatives that we visited with!

We would then arrive in Cuzco via Lima in time to witness the Inca Festival of the Sun, Inti Raimi. This is held during the week of the winter solstice, on June 24th. It is one of the largest gatherings of people held annually in the Southern Hemisphere. We would spend our layover in Lima with Michael and our 8 days in Cuzco with the Jordans. Elda and Alfredo were now retired and had opened their home to travelers in the form of a family inn. We would visit with them and go to as many of the archeological and cultural attractions as possible. We then planned to fly back to Lima and spend 4 days there with the Mendoza family before completing our 3 week trip in South America.

We managed to accomplish all that we had planned and then some! The weather was wonderful at every stop. The people, family and friends welcomed us with open arms and hearts. The travel plans that we had finalized went off without any major hitches! It was, in short, unbelievable but real!

When I saw Ron and Judy in Washington for the first time in 40 years, it was as though time stood still. The same occurred for me when I saw Elda and Alfredo. I was taken aback by the welling of emotions that we mutually felt when we came together in Cuzco. Happy faces and smiles, tears and warm embraces were shared.

For me, it was as if all that had occurred to us separately over the years didn’t matter. That primary link holding us together, our time together 40 years ago, was somehow even stronger now. I experienced an amazing unraveling of emotions and thoughts that had gathered through the years of non-communication between us.

We were together again; young spirits, older bodies, wiser souls and a room full of mutual if unspoken respect for the journey of life that all of us had been able to make up to that moment. In the recesses of our eyes, we understood that what mattered was that we were together again, able to retrace the experiences, the memories, our lives as no-one else could. We exchanged how we never stopped thinking about each other and that we have always cherished that time together. I am certain that on a spiritual level, we have always been in communion with each other. It was a feeling of validation, reinforcement and love.

Juan Carlos was now experiencing some of the stories that he had heard from his father. I was stunned upon realizing that both Alfredo and Elda remembered in detail things that I had done while a volunteer. (They even recalled some things that I had forgotten or wasn’t aware of.) They had kept our common experiences alive in their hearts and minds to this day and willingly spoke about them to my son. At times, they related some of these with great delight and hilarity. The names, places and language (Quechua) became very real to him.

We (Elda, Phyllis, Juan Carlos and I) traveled to Izcuchaca and Anta, the main communities in the region where Elda and I worked as the Co-Directors of a school feeding program. I recalled how I would sometimes have to get to schools located in remote Andean valleys or mountainsides by horseback. The name of the horse that I had was Relampago or “lightning”. He was the slowest horse on the pampa! (It wasn’t his fault. I was probably the heaviest and tallest person he had ever carried on his short frame.)

Juan Carlos could experience for himself the awe-inspiring topography of the area ringed by snowcapped giants like Chicon, Salcantai, Ausangate, Veronica and the distant Huascaran, all siblings in the great family of mountains known as the Andes. Also, he experienced the indigenous people and the unchanging, harsh lives they lead even though the world at their life’s outer limits has taken quantum leaps. We traveled the perimeter road that rings the Pampa de Anta and climbed on huge, long Inca farming terraces still in use! We visited towns along the way that Elda and I hadn’t been to in years – many for her, 40 for me!

Our day-long journey back to the Pampa de Anta occurred in the present. But for Elda and me, we relived at every turn our experiences of 4 decades ago. Elda was even able to reacquaint herself with family she hadn’t been in contact with for years. We went to the site of the house I lived in, now unrecognizable. We walked the same cobble stoned streets and paths that I walked as a young man in his early twenties that I now witnessed my son walk. We saw the corner where the open air market (now enclosed) was where I would go to buy food. We went to where the local spigot at the end of the street was, the place where I and the rest of the neighborhood, would get our water. We saw that a sports stadium that I had designed as a volunteer had become a reality.

Unbeknownst to Elda, Alfredo or me, the local authorities had taken my plans for an all-sports municipal stadium that I had naively and ambitiously designed without any means of follow-through in constructing. They had indeed constructed it! There, looking out on to the pampa, in front of my eyes was what my traveling companions were now calling the Henry Barberis Sports Stadium!

So much had changed. Yet, I was overcome with the realization of how my decades-old experiences were so fresh in my mind. My being there made them even more vivid.

I had been to Peru and back. I am so grateful for having had the opportunity to relive what is part of my history in such a stark and wonderful way. The Jordans and I will maintain contact as never before. (Not too difficult given the previous non-communication of 40 years!) Our being together, sharing together again the life we once had and the life we now have has forever cemented the bond that we and all human beings can choose to live by. That bond is the mark of mutual respect, admiration and love.
–Hank Davenport-Barberis, Peru (1962-1964)
Photos from author.

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Lessons from Laxminiah

by Richard Rathbun
from TIMELINE March/April 2005, photgraphs from story

My passion for growing food goes back to my childhood, when my mother helped me plant a crop of radishes in our back yard. I also treasured the fruit produced by our backyard cherry tree, loved the sweet plums that I could pick from our ancient plum tree, and the pears, which had to be individually wrapped in newspaper at the end of the growing season and set aside in the woodshed to ripen.

It was, however, pure coincidence that I ended up years later working in agriculture as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal. I simply accepted my Peace Corps assignment; it sounded like interesting work in an interesting place. My training for the assignment was at the University of California, Davis. We were taught how to raise and butcher chickens, how to grow vegetables, how to grow wheat and corn, but our primary mission was to help Nepal produce more rice. The theory, promoted in Nepal by advisors from the United States, was that in order to develop, a nation had to have a source of income and foreign exchange.

Nepal had only two primary potential sources of such income: One was its mountains and culture, which Nepal could exploit as tourist destinations; the other was to produce an agricultural surplus to sell outside the country, primarily in India, for foreign currency which Nepal could then use to develop. That all sounded good in the late 1960s, and my assignment was to grow more rice.

So off I went to Nepal at the ripe age of 27, posted to a tiny remote village, with the job of transforming their agricultural system of production. We were agricultural “extension agents,” modeled after the American system which consists of Land Grant Colleges where new agricultural practices are developed and extension agents extend successful practices out to the farmers. The system had worked miracles in the United States, allowing for tremendous leaps in productivity.

(Left) Villagers fishing with nets in a monsoon swollen stream. The small fish they catch will be eaten for dinner, supplementing the traditional daily meal of rice and dahl.

Years later, I am saddened by what I did back then out of an innocent belief that such development was both positive and inevitable. I found in my village of Laxminiah an ancient system that had been flourishing for thousands of years. There was no garbage dump, no fertilizer, no pesticides, no herbicides, no chemical pollution. The only industrial products found in that countryside were the occasional bicycle, and the assortment of aluminum cooking pots that almost every family had.

Everything else was either from the bronze age (handmade brass eating plates and lotas for holding water), or made from local materials. Rope and twine were made from hemp grown for that purpose. Houses were built from timbers harvested from the nearby jungle. Roofs were thatched or covered with tiles made right there from clay soil~ and baked hard with the fire of wood and straw.

Walls were woven from bamboo and plastered with mud, straw, and dung. Water was drawn from wells dug by hand and lined with bricks made in the same way as the roof tiles. Scratch plows were made from hard, knotty wood from the toughest trees. Bullock carts were made also from trees harvested from the jungle and allowed to season in the village.

(Left) Making the rim of a wheel, a process little changed in 4,000 years.

While seasoning, the logs were used as benches--places to sit and talk or to watch the world pass slowly by. Those bullock carts are almost identical to the ones unearthed by archaeologists in the Indus River Valley from cultures that existed more than four thousand years ago.
What light there was on evenings when the moon was not up came from small clay pots with a wisp of cotton as a wick and fueled by oil crushed from the local mustard seed.

Much to my surprise, subsistence farming, which I had pictured as a system where people just barely got by, was a wonderful form of existence. People did not spend a great proportion of their time farming. They farmed with the seasons, and if they had sufficient land, they could grow all they needed to feed their families.

The diet, therefore, was derived from local sources, and consisted mainly of rice and dahl, a lentil. This diet was supplemented with yogurt from the village cows or goats or buffalo; ghee, a clarified butter from the same sources; fish from the streams; tiny crabs from the flooded rice fields; seasonal snails; some local vegetables; chapaties made from winter wheat; pickle made from mango or lemon, spices and oil; and other plants and animals foraged from the countryside according to the season.

Everything was local, from the place itself, with the exception of some cloth, salt, and an occasional bar of soap. Even the tobacco for the homemade “bidis” was locally grown, wrapped and tied in leaves to make a tiny, pungent smoke that is a cross between a cigar and a cigarette. The tea that people sipped in Laxminiah came from outside the village, but still from tea estates within Nepal, but the sugar for the tea was squeezed from the village’s own sugar cane.

As I grew to understand the system, I realized that each farmer grew his crops from his own seed, and saved his seed for eating or for next year’s planting on his land. Due to this, the varieties adapted elegantly over time to the local conditions, and the final product was constantly evaluated in terms of productivity, disease resistance, and taste. World renowned for its flavor, and available in many markets in the United States, Basmati rice is one product of this process. In Laxminiah, many varieties of Basmati rice were grown, each with its own unique properties and subtle flavor. No fossil fuels were used, no waste products were generated, no chemicals were applied. The soil fertility was well maintained through traditional methods, and had been for generations. And these methods produced prolific crops admittedly at the expense of fairly intensive labor during cultivation.

(Left) The wife of Laxminiah's village chief preparing a midday meal.

Life in Laxminiah was not perfect. Diseases and their causes were not understood, and the life experience of villagers was limited to the immediate area of the village. Normal conversation often dealt with simplicities my Western mind found rather boring. But I frequently imagined that with the addition of education and sanitation, this would indeed be a quality of life to be sought after. People here had plenty of time--time to talk, to relate, and to carry on the important and meaningful daily activities of life. So, attending Terra Madre, an event celebrating this kind of local, sustainable, biodiverse food production, was like a flashback in time. Many of the farmers in attendance were simply doing what they always have done. Terra Madre is an attempt to allow them to continue.

With the perspective I now have, if I were to do it again, I would go to Laxminiah with a video camera to document their lives. I would go to learn from the villagers about how to live lightly on the earth, with quality and dignity and joy.

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NPCA Advocacy Network

NPCA has made a committment to advocacy, “to promote policies consistent with the Peace Corps experience.”

From taking action to ensure that the future generations will benefit from the life-changing opportunities Peace Corps provides, to taking action in support of an engaged and humane US foreign policy, we need your participation.

Join the NPCA Advocacy Network today and help us build a dedicated, energized voice for global peace, understanding and tolerance.

Become an advocate member:

  • Option One – Listserv Member: Receive an electronic newsletter monthly, with key updates from the NPCA Advocacy Program.
  • Option Two – Network Advocate: More regular contact, that could mean targeted phone call, email or letter writing actions.
  • Option Three – Network Coordinator: Coordinators will be active in all advocacy activities and receive all correspondence.

More info on becoming an advocate member:

Check out the resources for advocacy already in place on the NPCA website.

• Did you know that a non-profit organization can lobby for ...legislation?

• Need to know how to contact our representatives or find ...information, as in a lot of useful websites: government, ...organizations, the UN, news and information? ......

At the NPCA Advocacy Home page...

check out these Current Action Opportunities underway:

  • The Peace Corps Community (An NPCA Priority)
    • Peace Corps and Military Recruitment-Increase Funding for the Peace Corps
    • Keep Perkins Loans Available for Peace Corps Volunteers
  • Issues Of Global Concern
    • Support Fair Trade (An NPCA/Oxfam Campaign)
    • Climate Change/Clean Energy
    • The United Nations: Organize a “People Speak” Program
  • Country Specific Actions
    • South Asian Tsunami Response

National Peace Corps Association,
1900 L Street NW,  Suite 205Washington, DC 20036
202-293-7728, ......
............fax: 202-293-7554

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September 25-26, 2005
NPCA Advocacy DC Gathering

How about you? Spread the word too!

So far, we have heard from between 10 and 15 people from across the country (including California, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Louisiana and New York) expressing interest in our two day gathering of RPCVs for planning and advocacy on climate change and clean energy!

Help us SPREAD THE WORD. Know of an RPCV who might be interested in attending? Refer them to our NPCA calendar, and look for the Sept. 25/26 posting. Interested participants should drop us a line at

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Fundraising Continues!

2006 International Calendar
We are selling the 2006 International Calendars and Entertainment books again this year to support our Global Awards program. Last year because of your generosity, and that of the San Diego community at large, we were able to fund various projects for volunteers in the field from San Diego.

Price is $10 per calendar, $12 if you want it mailed to you. Pick them up at events or write to arrange your purchase.

Excellent gift; each day lists cultural events from around the world. Photographs are stunning. And each calendar helps support our projects!

2006 San Diego Entertainment Books
Entertainment books as usual will be available at many Postal Annex stores (see list online at our website) in San Diego County or on a limited basis from me (Sean Anderson, 619-440-4681) starting in September.

The price remains $40. What a great deal for discounts on just about everything!
–Sean Anderson, Romania (2002-‘04)

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You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.
--Mark Twain

From the President...

How Do You Feel About...?

Greetings from the sun and sand! The summer has seen SDPCA members at some great events, among them the Evening at the Summer Pops and the Peace Resource Center work day. 

I have enjoyed seeing a variety of longtime members at the functions, as well as meeting new members and Nominees.  I know the Board and Committees have been hard at work planning events for the Fall, so be sure to see page 5 for more details.

On another note, during the month of July an article concerning Peace Corps and Military service was published in the Washington Post [full article included here]. The article ascertains that some military personnel may be eligible to fulfill their military service requirements through Peace Corps service, provided they have applied and been accepted according to Peace Corps regulations. 

I have read many emails from other RPCV group leaders expressing their confusion about this policy and its applicability, as well as much concern about possibly blurring the distinct line between Peace Corps and the Military. 

I am curious to know how you feel about the matter, so I look forward to hearing from you (and even reading some Letters to the Editor in the next issue!). 

In the meantime, take care and I look forward to hearing from your and seeing you soon
–Nikol Shaw, President, Mauritania (1999-2001)

[Ed: At the end of the article Military Recruiting, is Following Up where there are some additional readings and a poll on Peace Corps Online. Please DO write Pacific Waves a letter about however you respond to this new “option.”]

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Board Meetings 5/05 & 6/05


In attendance: Sean Anderson, Marjory Clyne, Sira Perez, Lisa Rivera, Nikol Shaw, and Rudy Sovinee attended both meetings. Frank Yates attended in July. Liz Brown and Gregg Pancoast attended in August.

Minutes were approved as amended.

President’s Report: See committee reports.
Financial Report: Frank revised the financial report from last Board meeting for July. Gregg is now working with QuickBooks, transferring Year to Date data. He also reported balances and provided a detailed statement of income and expenses for August
Membership: Lynn reported that SDPCA membership is at 142 current, 59 past due, totaling 201. NPCA membership is at 97 current, 38 past due, totaling 135. There are four new members: 2 RPCVs and 2 associates. Lynn has also reconciled numbers with NPCA.
Community Action: Report back on Peace Resource Center building event on 7/29/05. Lisa will contact Hal Brody to find out next available date for September. Lisa also has several ideas for community action events and will follow up on showing of Invisible Children, as well as look into advertising SDPCA community action events on to hopefully recruit interested parties into SDPCA.
Fundraising: Entertainment books are to arrive in August. Suggestion was made to create t-shirts for the SDPCA and have a t-shirt design contest. Also, Sean will look into possible fundraising event at Kobey’s Swap Meet.
Global Awards: Rudy produced a rubric and a project proposal for the Mark J. Tonner International Support Fund. Minor edits were made, and it is now ready for distribution via Peace Corps.
Communications: Our next newsletter deadline is 08/10/05. Tom Ryan is the new Newsletter Assistant. Sean will check the voicemail for the month of August.
Social: Past and present activities are covered in newsletter stories.
Speaker’s Bureau: Chris Powers is now back in San Diego, and is continuing to search for and secure speakers.
New Business: Rudy would like to organize RPCV events centered on different regions possibly every two or four months. Need to search for potential venues. Sean suggested on joint ventures with other groups and organizations.
Next Meeting: 6:30 pm, September 7, 2005, at the home of Marjory Clyne.
–Sira Perez, Kazakhstan (2001-02)

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“I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.” –Dwight D. Eisenhower

2 San Diegans Planning PC Service

The Union Tribune wrote articles on Jon Muench and David Larson in July respectively about their plans to serve as Peace Corps Volunteers: Check ou the articles online:

Website of PCV from San Diego

To remember the days of service you can visit the website below. This volunteer was evacuated from Nepal and has now gone to Ecuador. She has a website with info on her experiences in Ecuador. Thought this might be of interest to our members .

Calling for PCVs’ & In-Country PC‘s URLs

Working on our website, I check how people are referred to the site and found a referral from Suriname. So I looked into it and found our site is listed in links put together in-country by one of our May 2005 ISF grant recipients: Dean & Jamie Schumacher, PCVs in Suriname. I enjoyed looking at the links listed of the Suriname PC folk and more. So different from when I was in service.

If any of our readers know of other such links to our own grant recipients and others, please let me know. It would be great to assemble a listing.

For one thing there are many handcrafts available and loads of information. Even a link to a school in South Bay sponsoring a volunteer’s project or town. Way cool!

Send to Don Beck via:

Summer Pops

The Summer Pops POPPED to a sold out crowd of Beatles fans including a few of our own RPCV’s on Saturday, August 13th.

We heard 20 Beatles tunes sung, played & performed by 4 guys who look & sound just like the Beatles-- favorites like Yesterday, Penny Lane, I Am A Walrus, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and of course Hey Jude. We all sang along, old and young; everyone seems to know the words to Beatles songs. A fireworks display capped a very satisfying ride down memory lane. You should have been there!

New Member Co-Coordinator

Patsy Loughboro, South Africa (2001-2002) is now Co-Coordinator (with Cindy Ballard, Botswana 1993-95) of the SDPCA North County Inland group.

She lives in Fallbrook amidst all the herb farms and may be contacted at 760.728.6918 or
Welcome, Patsy!!

Some Humorous Language...
English Signs
Around the World

  • Bangkok temple:
    “It is forbidden to enter a woman, even a foreigner, if dressed as a man.
  • Cocktail lounge, Norway:
    “Ladies are requested not to have children in the bar.”
  • Doctor’s office, Rome:
    Specialist in women and other diseases.
  • Dry cleaners, Bangkok:
    Drop your trousers here for the best results.
  • Nairobi restaurant:
    “Customers who find our waitresses rude ought to see the manager.”
  • On main road to Mombasa, leaving Nairobi:
    “Take notice: when this sign is under water, this road is impassable.”
  • On a poster at Kencom:
    “Are you an adult that cannot read? If so we can help.”
  • In a city restaurant:
    “Open seven days a week and weekends.”
  • In a cemetery:
    “Persons are prohibited from picking flowers from any but their own graves.”
  • Tokyo hotel’s rules and regulations:
    “Guests are requested not to smoke or do other disgusting behaviours in bed.”
  • On the menu of a Swiss restaurant:
    “Our wines leave you nothing to hope for.”
  • In a Tokyo bar:
    “Special cocktails for the ladies with nuts.

Getting Evites and You Dont Wish To?
If you DO NOT wish to receive Evites please let us know by emailing:

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Recruiter Corner

A project you can help us prepare – while not leaving home
San Diego is beginning to get the attention it deserves from the Peace Corps. After hosting two successful panel discussions earlier this year, one on the environment and one on women’s issues in the Peace Corps, plans are underway to host an event every two months instead of every four months.

What do we think will make this fun and interesting to the public? We plan to have three of these events be multimedia. Imagine an informative panel discussion on regional issues while a digital slideshow on the same region was running in the background. This event can attract many more members of the public as well as our friends and family.

I am looking to collect your digital pictures from the Peace Corps or your travels of Peace Corps countries. Each image should be at least 640 by 480 in resolution. If you are scanning them to send, then a JPG at 1200x1600 will be awesome! The filename should indicate country and your last name, and the email should list more info as to content, year, situation, etc.

The subject matter can vary from landscapes to buildings to celebrations and to everyday life in a village or town. We will cover each of the Peace Corps regions each year, but whether you served in Africa, Europe, Asia, Latin America or wherever -please begin e-mailing your photos to Rudy.

For this project please use this e-mail address:

Obviously this project will only work if enough people participate. Even if you haven’t made it out to our community action events or dinners, we hope that you will be able to contribute five or ten images apiece. More would be welcome too. And if we haven’t seen you at an event for some time, maybe the fact that your pictures will be part of the show will help bring you out to at least one of these panels.

Our collaboration with the Peace Resource Center in helping to build their straw-bale center is also helping to fix one problem brought on by the San Diego city budget crisis. We lost access to the Mission Valley library, but we are gaining options for hosting events at the site shared by the Quakers, the Church of the Brethren, and the Peace Resource Center. The room is bigger than the library, and yet has the same shape and features.

You will need to mapquest the route, it is tricky!
3850 Westgate Place, San Diego, CA 92105-5113.

The continued working together of the peace building community in San Diego holds the promise of great mutual benefit. Here’s another chance for you to play a part. Our first such event will be on October 10th from 6:30 – 8:30 pm. We will then have a topical panel at the same site and timeframe on November 17th.
–Rudy Sovinee, Ghana (1970-’73)
SD Regional Recruiter &

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Welcome, New Members!

SDPCA extends a warm welcome to our newest members. We’ve seen some of you at events already and we want all of you to get involved in our activities. Let us hear from you! And contact us so that we might help you as well.

  • Kathleen Harnig, Bulgaria (1998-2000), Teacher
  • Karl Pierce, Honduras (1988-1990), Park Ranger, Environment
  • Perth Rosen, Honduras (2000-2003), Trainer, Environment
  • Kirsti Senac, Associate
  • Athena Allen, Associate

–Lynn Jarrett, Ukraine (2001-2003)

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Newsletter Credits

Pacific Waves is published six times a year by the San Diego PeaceCorps Association which is fully responsible for its content. Except for copyrighted material, articles may be reprinted without permission with credit to the SDPCA.

Contributions are encouraged: e-mailed text file on disk- Mac preferred, or typed copy.

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

Liz Brown

Web Layout / Production
Don Beck

Contributors this issue are:
Richard Rathburn, Alan Cooperman, Silvie Georgens, Nikol Shaw,
Marjory Clyne, Cindy Ballard, Liz Brown, Sira Perez, Lynn Jarrett, Sean Anderson, Lisa Rivera, Rudy Sovinee, Henry Davenport-Barberis

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