Back issues are archived and links in them may not be current
July – August 2006— Volume 19, Number 4
Earth Charter Summit
SDPCA Global Awareness Award 2006:
–from the IRC
The International Rescue Committee (IRC), San Diego, would like to thank the San Diego Peace Corps Association for your recognition of our work via the Global Awareness Award. This award is meaningful to us as the mission of the IRC is very much in line with the mission of the Peace Corps. IRC San Diego assists refugees who have been legally admitted to the United States torebuild their lives after suffering through war, violence, and often years in a refugee camp. RPCVs make great employees and volunteers for the IRC as they have personal experience adjusting to a new culture and learning a new language. Thank you very much for your longstanding support of the International Rescue Committee!
To learn more,
visit ourwebsite: http://www.theirc.org/sandiego
–Sharon Kennedy Darrough, Thailand, 1989-91
by Zoe Underhill,
I had the pleasure of observing the activities of the annual festival of Chonta, a fruit of sorts that is harvested from Chonta Palms. Chonta has a texture and taste a bit like squash and the color of pumpkin guts. First, the fruit is boiled and then it needs to be peeled to expose the meat which is often filled with worms but by this point they are already cooked so it´s easier to just close your eyes and eat. The chonta contains a seed that has a brown casing but if you crack this open you can eat the white interior which has a hint of coconut flavor. The majority of chonta is consumed in the form of chicha—a homebrew of sorts. You would have to drink gallons to get drunk though. The fermentation gives the drink a bitter flavor but it´s not too bad overall.
At the festival, the many students and townspeople gathered into the mission-built traditional Shuar palm thatched meeting hall to watch dances and pass around gourds filled with chicha. The dancers wore traditional clothing and adornments. The youngest women wear electric blue dresses, middle aged women wear navy and older women wear maroon. These dresses used to be made from tree bark but more recently they´ve switched over to polyester. The men are bare-chested and wear a sarong of sorts on their lower half and adorn their heads with feather or beaded bands. Around the ankles of the men are bracelets filled with hollow seeds which rattle as the men dance about. The women wear a belt made with the same noise makers. To make the rattle dances they must perform a sort of jig, bouncing from one foot to the other. It was a beautiful demonstration! Not drinking the chicha is considered rude so I went ahead and followed about 100 people drinking from a gourd that women served the crowd. The women strain the juice from the pulp before serving it, but the children were ready and waiting to eat the sticky pulp.
May 5th and 6th are the festivals of Pumpuis, which is the town where I live. Needless to say there is a lot more chicha drinking to come in the near future as well as dancing so the gringa show will go on. I went to the community of Tiink´yesterday because there´s a possibility I will stay there for a month with a family. It took 45 minutes to walk to the ¨bus¨ stop, an hour ride on the bus and then a 20 minute walk across a bridge and up a muddy hill to arrive to a quaint town which overlooks the River Zamora. I believe it is situated in the Cordilla del Condor, which is home to soapstone mountains that contain their very own variety of species that can tolerate the specific environment. I think I had been there before because there were flat topped formations all around and some brilliant white rock peeked out in the few clearings that I recognized. I am going back to Tiink´tomorrow: hopefully to stay!
Although you can´t
see the bugs you can feel the bites which are horrendous. I had to take
a Benadryl to get to sleep last night. I watched my first rabbit skinning
the other day and then we ate the rabbit for dinner. I think I can handle
killing the bunnies so I am going to keep the breeding pair. Before Janet
and Pete leave we´re going to eat four more rabbits they have so
he´ll be able to talk me through the process. I ate tilapia from
his pond another night. Even though I grew up on a lake I´ve never
prepared fish so I have to learn that too. I went swimming in the River
Bomboiza. The current was fast enough to pull at you a bit but not dangerous
and it was very cleansing and refreshing. I have barely been speaking
Spanish. It is hard to integrate in indigenous communities; I have to
initiate communication and I´ve been happy just getting to know
the gringos a little better.
It’s time for lunch. Hope all is well!
Zoe is from the San Diego area and a graduate of California State University at San Marcos.-ed. [Pictures from author]
Thousand Welcomes! -in Irish
by Ellen Shively,
When my sister and I planned a two week vacation to Ireland, I contacted our wonderful newsletter layout editor, Don Beck who retired from teaching in San Diego School District four years ago and probably never expected to see someone from the SDPCA group again in his out of the way northwest home in County Sligo! But friends who move away to more exotic places are not easily forgotten, and we were tickled to have a reunion and spend the better part of a day together.
Toni may have had her doubts when we studied the map to see places of interest in our guidebook. Aclare wasn’t one of them. On smaller maps, the village is a dot off a very minor farm road, so we were pleasantly surprised to drive on paved roads to the main thoroughfare, which was flanked by a pharmacy, one pub, a grocery store and post office. We had spent the previous night at a lovely B & B in Tobercurry, a booming metropolis in comparison to the farming community where Don shares a spacious country home with the regional large animal veterinarian. The day was sparkling bright and clear and set off the uniquely Irish blend of surrounding greenery of the grasses and trees.
Toni and Ellen outside Hennigan Heritage Center, Kilasser, Ireland. [Photo by Don Beck]
Don spends his time putting together our newsletter, running a household with two cats and volunteering at the nearby Heritage Centre run by his friend Tom Hennigan. Heritage Centres may be found in many historic places around the island nation and serve to educate people by preserving estates and demonstrating the ways and artifacts of life in the last century. Don was anxious to show us Tom’s place, so after helping unload Toni’s digital camera to a disk, off we went about 15 miles on some narrow paved roads. Mud could be a problem on side shoulders when the road is really only wide enough for one car so we were doubly thankful for the sunny weather and the sparse traffic.
Tom greeted us warmly in front of the thatched cottage where five generations of his family had been born and raised. In fact, the farm had only ceased operation in the 1970’s when the property had been subdivided between sons and brothers so many times it was no longer possible to support the family. He led us into the farmhouse, now decorated with the tools for cooking, and weaving wool. The fireplace was the centerpiece, providing the heating, cooking space and central meeting place. Tom related that the family would place a coin on the left-side bench to ensure a good crop, another on the right-side for health, and one in the front for a good life. Tom himself was born in the same room where his grandmother had been born and other family before.
A later addition was made when the farm was turned into a Heritage Center in order to display a typical classroom, clothing and a cobbler’s bench. There was a book on sewing, which showed various stitches, a handwriting primer which displayed beautiful penmanship and the student desks which were surprisingly small. On the wall a mural was painted of a popular cartoon depicting a school master asking a student why he was late to class. The student replied, “Had I a spoon, had I.” Tom explained that any Irishman would understand this, because in a household of twelve children some would have to wait their turn at the table until a silverware utensil was freed up for the second round sitting.
The section on farming was particularly informative.. Most Americans have heard of the “potato famine” of 1845-48 when Irish society changed forever. Millions died and millions of others were forced to immigrate to Canada, Australia or the United States. Ireland had actually been self sufficient until the blight destroyed the potato crop during those years. The hardship came when the British mandated that their other crops be exported to support the British military exploits around the world. The Irish were left with little to eat. Tom said that it was the Irish “starvation” rather than the “famine,” as the trouble was imposed by an outside government.
Tom Hennigan telling Toni and Ellen about the Irish "starvation." [Photo by Don Beck]
I was impressed with the educational value of this heritage site. It is located on the actual farming land rather than in a museum, so there was something very authentic about the whole experience. Don said that he has helped advertise the centre through creating a beautiful brochure which is a comprehensive guide to the farm, and postcards which show each of the rooms. I noticed that busloads of school children visit on field days as well as small groups such as we were that day. Don included a comment from another San Diego visitor in the brochure—his former school principal!
We finished up the day in the gift center, where Tom’s wife had brought fresh baked scones and the ever welcome pot of tea. Outside, I could see two workmen tilling the soil in preparation for growing the vegetables to be used by the family. Nearby was a herd of sheep and two cows. Chickens were scratching the ground and the lake looked like a good source of irrigation. Some things don’t really change much!
I knew Don was enjoying showing us his new life when he urged us to stay longer and go over to the Foxford Woolen Mills not too far away. It was tempting, as we had noted the softness of the wool in other stores, but the road was calling and we had miles to go, so we hugged and promised to keep in touch. I think both of us were pleasantly surprised at how much we learned and how much we felt we had been taken back in time at this very “real place” of Irish history.
Thanks, Don. – Goodbye! (in Irish)
26, 2006; Page A11
Your article “Kids & Money: Do Service Trips Make Sense?1” (The Journal Report, Jan. 16) didn’t question whether the $7,500 spent by an American family to send their child to the Third World to help the starving masses would have done vastly more good if it had been donated to a charity in that Third World country.
I am a retired American diplomat and have spent some time in the Third World and have questioned the value of money spent to help the needy. My last overseas assignment was in New Delhi from 1997 to 1999. I remember an email exchange with a parent who wanted to pay for his kid to come empty bed pans in one of Mother Teresa’s orphanages. I told him that for the same money he would spend to send the kid to India to work one month, the orphanage could hire either a local worker who spoke the language to do the same work, and do it better, for 20 years or a local full-time physician for two years.
While stationed in our embassy in the Philippines, I had some contact with the Peace Corps there. The group had about 65 volunteers, each paid about $10,000 a year, in addition to 69 local-hire full-time employees and one full-time career American. The typical Peace Corps volunteer served two years, but was in country only about 20 months and typically spent four to six months learning the local language and ways. The volunteers were productive for only about 14 months. But even their tiny salary (by U.S. standards) of about $20,000 for two years would have hired equally qualified, locally educated workers for five years.
When the Peace Corps was created in the early 1960s there was a great shortage of educated people in the Third World. The opposite is true now, with our “volunteers” taking jobs away from the many college-educated local workers who have no hope of finding jobs and who would work for one-fourth or one-half or one-tenth the small salary of Peace Corps volunteers.
My view of the Peace Corps
is that it is really just a U.S. government program for paid vacations
in the Third World.
–Peter Rice, Sarasota, Fla.
9, 2006; Page A13
While I agree that sending monetary support to countries is admirable, Peter Rice (“Third World Aid: Send Money, Not Your Kids,” Letters to the Editor, Jan. 26) fails to recognize the often greater impact of sending people through organizations like the Peace Corps.
The Peace Corps today works in tandem with local and national governments to ensure that volunteer projects augment, and not replace, the work of local citizens. For example, in education programs, volunteers can be teachers of teachers, demonstrating innovative approaches that local educators then use in their classrooms. In small business development, volunteers assist local entrepreneurs as they start their own shop or they teach and demonstrate new marketing techniques. Peace Corps volunteers serve for two years, often in remote areas, following three months of immersion language and culture training.
Monetary aid is very different from working side by side with an American. In many communities where Peace Corps volunteers work, local partners have often never met another American -- strong friendships emerge. And the experience does not end after two years. Volunteers return to America, and then continue to stay close to, and give back to, their volunteer communities, through such endeavors as scholarships, libraries and school equipment. They have also shared their experiences in classrooms and community centers throughout the U.S., encouraging others to engage globally.
The small stipend volunteers
receive during their two years of service is more than returned in the
understanding fostered in communities throughout the world and here at
–Gaddi H. Vasquez, Director, PC Washington, DC
Thank you, Director Vasquez! -ed.
Rice is old news for some, perhaps; misinformation, for all, surely.
Write Pacific Waves to
post your response:
Capitol Hill Advocacy,
Peace Corps Association:
Join Us in DC this September 13-14
for Advocacy Activities
The Advocacy Program of the National Peace Corps Association is organizing activities in Washington this September for all interested RPCVs and former Peace Corps staff. These programs will coincide with NPCA’s Annual General Meeting, Group Leaders Forum, Board of Directors’ meeting, and Peace Corps 45th anniversary celebration events.
Central to the activities will be a Capitol Hill Advocacy Day on Thursday, September 14th. A full day of programming is planned, including a breakfast gathering, meetings with the offices of your Senators and Representatives, and post-meeting discussions, socializing and celebrating!
All participants are strongly encouraged to arrive early to take part in orientation programs on Wednesday, September 13th.
That’s not all. While details are still to be finalized, NPCA advocacy is planning to offer several other skill-building, educational or action opportunities in the days following the 14th.
“We hope to bring together as many advocates as possible, and offer a range of opportunities allowing people to take action with their lawmakers, meet other advocates, and provide input on our program,” said NPCA Advocacy Coordinator Jonathan Pearson.
Capitol Hill Advocacy Day participants
must pre-register no later than Monday, August 14th. You can find out
more by visiting http://www.peacecorpsconnect.org/advocacy2006.
Thanks to the RPCVs of Wisconsin-Madison for their generous contribution in support of this program.
On Sunday, June 4th, I volunteered to hand out water with the SDPCA at the Rock N’ Roll Marathon. We were positioned at the 20 mile marker at Ski Beach. We arrived at our water station at the early morning hour of 5:30. There were about 15 of us representing the SDPCA and we were accompanied by the marines, La Jolla High School, a church group, and representatives from the La Jolla Hilton Hotel. It was a fun day. We were all very excited when the first runners came by and were competing to hand out the first cup of water.
By about 1:30 when we finished we were all pretty excited about having handed out water to the runners, only wishing that there had been more takers, as we finished with a lot of cups of water left over. It was overcast most of the day which I am sure was great for the runners and also for us. We were all joking around how tired we were just standing there handing out water and I actually woke up with my arms sore the next day from holding the water out to runners. None of us could imagine actually running the race as we were exhausted from just working a water station.
We were all cheering
when the SDPCA president, Nikol Shaw, raced on by on her way to the finish
line. It is amazing to see 17,000 runners go by and we enjoyed ourselves,
motivating them with our words of encouragement. I found it all very inspirational
and aspire to run in the marathon next year.
–Vicki Fields, Panama (2003-2006) [Photos by Connery Zepeda]
It was a perfect marathon day---overcast, breezy, and 17,000 excited runners. OR SO I THOUGHT. There was a brief moment of panic as I was running up Broadway and onto Highway 163 and the sun broke through the fog. It felt like Alabama on a hot summer day, and definitely not marathon weather! Fortunately the clouds ruled and by the time I reached the crest of Highway 163 it was once again gray and breezy.
After 22 weeks of training with the San Diego Track Club, it was time for business! No changes to the course this year, except for all of the friendly faces I had to look forward to. My coworker Steve Kingsley was waiting with banners and camera in front of the golf course on Friars Road, and my RPCV friends were waiting at Ski Beach. I had to at least put on a good show for them!
promise of a water stop (or saying hello to a friendly face) is the only
thing that can motivate a runner between miles! It was a long race, but
the training paid off and the entertainment, fans, and volunteers kept
me going. And despite the pain, I’m sure the high from finishing
will bring me back for another one. Thank you so much to all of the RPCVs
and friends who came out to support the runners. We would not be able
to have such a great race without you!
–Nikol Shaw, Mauritania (1999-2001)
Working with teenagers at the San Diego CHOICE Program is a fulfilling, thrilling challenge. CHOICE is a community-based intervention program for disadvantaged youth. As a Youth Service Worker/AmeriCorps Member, it is wonderful for me to be able to bring teenagers out to take part in events that are not only fun and educational but inspiring as well. While volunteering at the Peace Resource Center, these young women and men have an opportunity to learn about green building, how to work alongside adults in the community and of course to learn about the Peace Corps. Most of all, these kids help create something that they can take pride in for years to come. Sure, I might worry a little when I see one of my boys slinging a sledgehammer to break up concrete pieces! These kids work and they work hard. At the end of the day, I wish I could fully describe what I see once a particular project is completed: eyes beaming with pride, from a look that says, “Not bad” to “Hey everyone! Look what I just did!”
For some teenagers, this is their first experience volunteering in the community. When I told one particular group of boys how Hal, Ken, and Alvin, along with numerous volunteers, have been working at the site for almost two years now, one boy exclaimed, “You mean they don’t get paid? At all? Nothing?” There are some things in life you cannot teach; it just has to be seen and experienced, and what better way to have youth learn about volunteerism than to just go out there and do it? Yes, the overall project is not complete, but these kids can see the fruits of their labor; from standing back and viewing a newly-planted orchard to admiring the length of a brand-new concrete retaining wall.
I want to thank
Hal, Ken, and Alvin, and the SDPCA for being so open and making these
kids feel welcome. I can see that these teenagers are valued for the work
that they do. So many teenagers feel unappreciated and dismissed, especially
by adults. To have Hal shake their hand, for example, and thank them for
a job well done, I know that it fills them with pride and they take it
–Sira C. Perez, Kazakhstan (2001-‘02)
Photos by Connery Sepeda
This years SDPCA camping trip took an intimate crowd of campers to the warm waters of Agua Caliente. First time campers, the Bautista family, were joined by more experienced campers to enjoy a few nights under the starry skies. Campers were treated to delicious breakfasts prepared by John Leek who kept us from having to find a nearby Denny’s. During the day campers enjoyed hiking the nearby nature trails or reading under the shade of nearby trees.
In the evening
the group relaxed in the warm springs and enjoyed stories around the campfire.
We hope that more members will join us in the fall for another camping adventure.
–Elizabeth Brown, Kingdom of Tonga, (2001-03)
Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent. –Isaac Asimov
From the President...
Another year has come and along with it a new Board ard for the organization. I would like to welcome the new members for the 2006-07 year: Sharon Kennedy Darrough, Kate McDevitt, and Vickie Fields.
SDPCA has undergone some significant changes over the past year with regards to things like newsletter distribution and evaluation of grant proposals, and I am excited about the new ideas and enthusiasm that I see in store for SDPCA this year.
Members are organizing a kayak outing to a summer concert, preparing for the annual International Calendar and the Entertainment Book fundraisers as well as a continuing series of community action events helping the Peace Resource Center with their new haybale building.
Our Speaker’s Bureau will be reaching out to local schools to advertise the wonderful opportunities that exist by having an RPCV speak in classrooms. SDPCA’s partnership with the Los Angeles Recruiting Office also continues to strengthen, and I anticipate more co-sponsored events in the upcoming year as we both strive to meet Peace Corps’ Third Goal.
An organization can only be as strong as its membership; I encourage you to think about how you would like to be a contributing member of SDPCA and enjoy the satisfaction that comes with organizing and being a part of great things. There are so many upcoming opportunities—I look forward to seeing you at one!
–Nikol Shaw, Mauritania (1999-01)
Pancoast, Sira Perez, Lisa Rivera, Nikol Shaw, Rudy Sovinee. Sharon Darrough, Marjory Clyne, and Vickie Fields attended in June.
Minutes were approved as amended.
President’s Report: See articles
Financial Report: Gregg reported a good year; assets are up. If you make a deposit on behalf of the SDPCA, please tell him exactly what the deposit is for so he can credit it correctly. The checking account holds $3,255.68 and the savings account has $1,137.49.
Membership Records and Communications: Lynn reported that membership is down. Of the 115 current members, 9 are free. 75 out of the 115 are also NPCA members. 42 members are 6 months past due. In the last issue of the newsletter, it was announced that unless people tell us how they want the newsletter (electronically or paper), they will not receive future newsletters and they have to be current on their membership.
Community Action: There will likely be another Peace Resource Center work party in July. Peace Corps Recruitment is having an event on August 10th.
Fundraising: We don’t have a final report for the Entertainment Books or T-shirt sales. 2006 2007 calendars were ordered. $40 was raised at the Acapulco fundraiser.
Global Awards: Rudy reported that 2/3 of awardees have received their money. There are already requests for ISFs for November.
Speaker’s Bureau: Sira reported that she wants to connect better with local schools and not wait until Peace Corps Week to schedule speakers. Rudy mentioned that it is important to report the number of RPCVs who are involved in his outreach events, because his reports are being reviewed by Congress.
New Business: Kate McDevitt was officially voted in to be a board member.
Next Meeting: 6:30 PM 7/12/06 at Marjory Clyne’s home.
live in an era where masses of people come and go across a hostile planet,
desolate and violent. Refugees, emigrants, exiles, deportees. We are a
tragic contingent. – Isabel Allende
[Bogolan is profoundly embedded in traditional Malian practices, worn during Bamana women’s initiation ceremonies and used by hunters as spiritually charged protective garments. In villages where the cloth is still made for local consumption, bogolan is woven by men and decorated by women using symbolic patterns that refer to Bamana history and mythology.
Today in Bamako,
bogolan dyes made of carefully prepared mixtures of earth, leaves and
bark are used to paint elaborately detailed landscapes, images from Malian
history, and abstractions. The cloth is also fashioned into flowing robes
as well as Western-style miniskirts, and quickly produced versions of
bogolan are sold by the hundreds in tourist markets in Mali and abroad
Here are Katie’s instructions about Bogolan.-ed]
So you want to try some mud painting?? (bogolan) here’s how to get started. For the paint you will need:
For a liter bottle of paint, you will need a bushel of the ngalama, a pack of the acacia and 4 good sized chunks of dirt bon. Once you have all your ingredients, you need to pound up the acacia. Or find a kid to do it---but make sure she does a good job, cause if it’s chunky, you get chunky paint!
Sift out the seeds.
Then pound the dirt into powder too.
Sift out chunks–oat poo included.
Meanwhile, boil the ngalama in a large pot.
Let the color get well into the water.
Pour the acacia and the powder into your recycled-bottle-of-choice.
Fill up the rest of the way with the liquid.
Smell your mixture No! --just kidding! It smells like ****.
Let the bottle sit out in the sun two weeks for a dark black color–the longer the better. It is good to shake the contents of the bottle, open it, let the gas escape, and then pour a little of the leftover ngalama water in to fill up.
Last–but not least–have fun!
Also: for the fabric, cotton is the best to hold the paint. If you can only find white cotton in market, you can use the ngalama to dye it a nice, off-white color.
Dye it more than once if you
want it darker. Other color background dyes can also be used--- ie: batik
dyes, which can also accent your masterpiece.
–Katie Conlin, PCV, Mali
From the 2006 International Calendar:
Soak the beans one day before cooking. Let the beans boil unit
cooked (usually about two hours). Soak the tripe for an hour and
a half to remove the sand and wash well. Chop the tripe and sausage
into chunks and boil in water for two hours until soft and tender.
For each month of the International Calendar, there is a recipe corresponding to the country pictured. To download a file with recipes for all twelve months, go to: http://www.rpcvmadison.org/2006%20Recipes.doc
Small but deceptive
Crawling and creeping
Over my floor, across my wall
Rigid I become
Please, do not come near or jump
I look for something to use as a whack
Only him I hope-
Never come back!
--by Katie Conlin, PCV in Gao, Mali
Health issues have grown in the way they impact volunteer service today. If you or those you care about plan on going overseas again, this article may help you to better handle health issues abroad. We also need local volunteers to lend a few moments.
The SDPCA is working with the Peace Corps, UCSD and others to help create a new, international volunteer training program that will begin August 10. That day, the SDPCA will help host a panel discussion ending the first day of classes. We are seeking RPCVs to help with the logistics on this and the next two panels.
UCSD Health Course
- Aug 10-12
This three-day intensive course provides background information and practical advice concerning health and safety issues frequently encountered by volunteers working in developing countries. These issues may impact volunteers either personally, or by affecting the populations they serve. Major public health issues including HIV, TB (tuberculosis), malaria, and other tropical diseases will be reviewed. Personal safety issues will be highlighted such as injuries from accidents and assaults. Includes other health issues hylactic drugs for malaria, and management of gastrointestinal, genitourinary, skin and other common infections.
NOTE: This course will be the first module towards a Specialized International Volunteer Certificate. Only 100 students will be accepted. The UCSD Section ID is 057129. Course fee is $300/person. To enroll, call Student Services at 858-534-3400.
One of the best ways to assist those nominated or thinking of applying for Peace Corps service is to participate in a two hour panel discussion. Typically, three or four RPCVs take turns describing their programs for about an hour, followed by a Q&A session. Most panelists find the event a treat, a reminder of being the center of attention like when they were in-country. If interested, please contact Rudy Sovinee at email@example.com Three panels are planned between now and Thanksgiving:
USAID now offers free online
courses addressing global health issues. They currently have six courses
available, but will have 48 courses when all said and done. http://www.globalhealthlearning.org/login.cfm
–Rudy Sovinee, Ghana (1970-73)
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:
this issue are:
Rowena Castillo, Nikol Shaw, Rudy Sovinee, Katie Conlan, PCV, Sira Perez, Lisa Rivera, Ellen Shively, Lynn Jarrett, Zoe Underhill, PCV, Gaddi Vasquez, Dir. PC, Peter Rice, Sharon Kennedy Darrough, Elizabeth Brown, Blake Schmidt