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November - December 2006— Volume 19, Number 6
Important Notice About Dues For SDPCA and NPCA
by Lynn Jarrett, Ukraine (2001-03), Membership Chair
At the last Board of Directors meeting, it was decided that as of January 1, 2007, we will begin recording dues on a calendar year basis. At that time SDPCA dues will be:
As we transition into this new dues structure, those who have already paid dues that expire in 2007 will get a pro-rated fee according to their due date. This will be a little more work this year, but in the long run we feel that it will be convenient for all members to know that their membership fees will be due at the beginning of each year.
NPCA has also voted to change their membership fees. Their dues will remain the same at:
They are eliminating the family membership rate and the 3-year subscription. In other words, there will be NO benefit to paying your dues ahead of time with NPCA.
From now on, you have two payment choices.
NPCA is having a very difficult time with their system in keeping up with a total of 138 affiliates nationwide. Their system is archaic and they are understaffed. They have no way of changing their system to accommodate a $20 rebate back to us for our fees.
For those of us who have already paid the 3-year dues to NPCA including SDPCA dues, SDPCA will still receive $15 rebates.
If you have any questions about your dues, check out the updated forms online or on the inside back page of the newsletter, or contact me, Lynn, at
–Kelsey Watters, RPCV, Ukraine
School started on September 1st, just like it has for decades (it’s tradition, regardless of the fact that Sept. 1 was a Friday, so the logic behind it wasn’t quite there, but sometimes tradition and logic do not go together. Like my language teacher told me: don’t ask why, just ask where and when!).
The 1st day of school is really just a holiday. They plan a concert, give a few awards, welcome the 1st graders and recognize the 11th graders as they embark on the last year of their studies. One might think that with the whole summer to plan classes, scheduling and the like that everything but the last few bits and pieces would be ready by the first day of school. Well, not so here in Ukraine. Everyone sort of accepts the chaos and uncertainty of the first month of school. Ukrainians take their vacation time very seriously. When you are on vacation, you are on vacation, and that means you don’t work. During the summer, it’s vacation for all educational staff members, so no scheduling is done until the summer break is over.
It wasn’t until the afternoon of Sept 1st that teachers and students knew what the class schedule would be for the first day of classes (but only the first day…not the 2nd or 3rd. We were all left waiting for the first 2 weeks of school, learning the final schedule the night before classes began.
I observed the first week, so sort of eased my way in from the summer break. (I almost typed “holiday”… I’m starting to pick up some of the British English that my students speak. When American English is hard to come across…I speak the only English I can and tend to pick up the British “variants”—another term used by my students—man oh man, I’m going to forget this language that I thought I knew so well!! A few students asked me what a “windowsill” was in English the other day and I straight up forgot!)
I am teaching 3 classes regularly: 9th grade English twice a week, 10th grade Computer twice a week, and 9th grade “O-B-JE” every other week. This OBJE class is hard to explain. I think the theory is something like our health class, but the topics are quite interesting. For example, the title of one topic was “Emergency Situations of Natural Origin”. I translated this into normal English as “natural disasters”. I didn’t want to talk about floods and tornados the whole time so, with the suggestion from another volunteer, I talked a little bit about hurricane Katrina and then about volunteers.
It was interesting to see what the kids thought, but as I’ve realized, my teaching style is a bit of a shock to most kids and they think that they can do just about anything in class because I’m not yelling at them and I’m not lecturing… I am interacting with them.
I’ve made a rule that they have to call me “Miss” Kelsey, but it doesn’t help much. In Ukrainian there are 2 forms of “you”, the formal and informal, and at school students refer to teachers in the formal form and call them by their name and “pobatko” name… this is the middle name of sorts in Ukraine. Take your father’s name, and add an “ich” for a man on the end and an “ivna” for a woman. The kids at school sometimes call me by the informal form and while it doesn’t bother me too much, the lack of respect for me as a teacher that is attached to that form is huge.
I think I’m still just fighting the system and getting used to how things work. I’d rather work with the system, but the system is still confusing to me and until I learn it, it’s a bit of a battle. I realize that I may have been a bit more motivated than the average student, and I actually enjoyed studying and learning and the like. I expect my students to do the same, but let me tell you there is a serious lack of motivation in the small town life here in my town. There are some extremely motivated kids, but there are some that aren’t so motivated and as a result, lessons are hard.
One thing I have realized is that patience, breathing, and planning are extremely important (I haven’t actually learned how to do these…). When the kids ruffle my feathers I have to get calm because I know they know that it got under my skin. I remember the math teacher in my middle school who let the middle schoolers under his skin—it wasn’t pretty. So, time to learn how to breathe! I tried to have an English club with some 5th and 6th graders… let’s just say it was a nightmare. I hope the 2nd meeting works a bit better.
My new apartment is actually really big—maybe just by Ukrainian standards, but it’s big. It’s a 2-room apartment (which means not 2 bedrooms, but 2 rooms…). I have a kitchen, a “toilet” and a “shower” (in separate rooms), a short hallway, a bedroom, a living room/2nd bedroom, and a balcony. After living in one room for so long, this place feels like a mansion and I rarely go into the other room. My phone is a rotary phone and my TV looks like something from the 50s (I don’t watch it anyway…). The funny thing is I’m sure it was manufactured in the 1990s—most of the “extremely old looking” books I find here were really printed in the 90s. The technology here is just a little behin
My next-door neighbor “warmly”
greeted me the first day – she flung pen her door, asked me who
I was, gave me an up and down glare, and slammed the door. Luckily, my
host mama Tanya said I could call her whenever. Plus, I’ve been
adopted by my landlady, Alla. She lives across the street in her mother’s
house. Her mother is paralyzed and this apartment was hers until 7 years
ago. She moved to help her mom after she got hurt. She told me that she
and her husband would come over once a week to shower… not the best
situation, but it will do.
The arrival of October signifies the arrival of fall. I knew it was here… the leaves are now yellow and red and orange instead of the vibrant green and a few have begun dusting the ground. The mornings are chilly (around 3-4 deg C), but the days are still decent. The rain here has started… I’m not sure what fall is like—maybe it will get warm again, maybe it will just rain until it snows. The days are getting shorter… it’s now dark by 7pm and gets light by 6:30am (as compared to the 4:40am sunrise and 10:30pm sunset of summer). Rumor has it that in winter, it’s dark by 4:30pm and gets light around 8:00am. I guess this isn’t too far off home, but man oh man, it will be an adjustment. Now I really have to buy my guitar or start some cool clubs to keep busy during the winter!
I went to visit my 1st host family in Rokytne for a weekend and had a great time. They all commented on my language and I FINALLY realized that I wasn’t a complete idiot when I was living there before (I never understood them when they spoke to each other). Their dialect is heavily Russified, much like here in my town. Now I understand almost all of what they say – so if they want to talk about me, they better come up with another language to speak in! We went mushroom hunting and came across some pretty incredible patches of a few hundred mushrooms. There was one mushroom called “the tongue” which actually turned out to be quite tasty. I know there is a stigma of “shroom” hunting back home, but the people in Ukraine do it for the food value… they don’t have to pay for it and therefore it is good! I learned more about my family in a 2 day visit than I think I learned in 3 months. The gesture of returning because I want to brings an air of relaxation I think.
I did however have some “firewater”, aka samahone (the homemade vodka), and seriously almost had to call the fire department and have them put out the fire that started in my throat! If you ever try it, be prepared… it’s intense!
A few funny things:
(or ‘my little fish’ as one teacher calls me!)
by Mishka Martin, Health Program PCV, Turkmenistan
This country can be an interesting place to experience. However, it can be an intensely frustrating place to work.
As a political scientist, I was excited to be sent to a former Soviet Republic. It would be a highly valuable place to do research through observation, life, and work. I recently read the book The New Central Asia by Olivier Roy and would highly recommend it to anyone interested in the region. I found its descriptions of the Turkmen government to be quite accurate. However, I believe he fails to capture the complexity of the cultural atmosphere that exists. The Russian population of Turkmenistan is quite large and rather active. One can find many “Turkmenified” Russians, but one can also find many “Russified” Turkmen. Also, one tends to find Russians that are Turkmen nationals in more progressive institutions (AIDS centers, centers for the disabled, Red Crescent, WHO, etc.) attempting to push Turkmenistan in a more modern direction.
In addition, in the Northern Velayat of Dashoguz, there is an interesting relationship with current Uzbek culture. While there are some Turkmen who accuse the resident Uzbeks of being cheats and stealing jobs and money, there is a widespread fascination and acceptance of Uzbek culture. Based on personal observation and conversation, it almost appears as if a preference for Uzbek culture is in-vogue for young Turkmen. I found this very surprising given the emphasis on nationalism in the region. Perhaps it is an inadvertent rebellion to this wave of nationalism, given that the different cultures of this region have intermingled for so very long and were only separated officially by the Soviet Russians. In any case, the cultural and political atmosphere of the country (which are very much tied to one another in Turkmenistan) is a wonderfully fascinating thing to observe and is ripe for research and change. I will be watching this country long after my Peace Corps service has come to an end.
While an interesting phenomenon to observe, the political apparatus is very frustrating to work in, with, through, around, under, alongside, in front of, behind, without and whatever way you can find that works for you for this particular project in this particular region with these particular people involved at this particular time. If that was confusing, it was meant to be. If you come here expecting Peace Corps to give you a nice neat set of rules to work by, that is fine. You’ll get them. However, as soon as you set foot into site, those rules will dissolve into meaninglessness. You will find yourself irritated, frustrated, fed up, discouraged, outraged, you will discover that there are many ends to your proverbial rope, you will find yourself counting to 10, then 20, then 50, then 8,263,622,666,666,666, and at least once in a your service, you will scream “why are we here!?!” with your own superlatives added.
But then some really friendly, possibly crazy, old Turkmen woman will randomly hug you and say “I love you” in English, and then you will completely lose your mind. You’ll come back around to sanity and realize you are made of tougher stuff and you will finally see the wisdom of the phrase “There is more than one way to skin a cat.”
While I applaud those who attempt large projects here, I have found I can be far more successful avoiding the government than confronting it. While at first I felt that the Health program was a burden because there is zero guaranteed work (or workplace, or co-workers, or much of anything really), I have found that I also have very few restraints. For example, while I may not be allowed to teach in schools, I can go door-to-door with miniature health lessons. Given the culture, this is easier to do than one might think. Turkmen people are very open and warm. When you come to a house, you will be invited in, you will have a pot of tea, some bread, and cookies on a plate shoved in front of your face with demands to eat and drink, before they even ask you if you are married. Oh yeah, and then they might ask your name. As long as you keep it short, people are very good-natured about sitting through your health presentations, even if they are boring and your Turkmen is terrible.
Also, I am about to hold a small sports camp in a park in my village for about 40 students. I am working with some very intelligent and involved local youth to put the camp together and run it. It will be three hours a day for six days, and I will be teaching small health lessons throughout. I only had to get one person’s permission (to use the park), and by keeping it small and simple, I did not have to write a grant. Also, by working with local youths to do this camp, I am helping to increase their confidence and leadership abilities to run activities of this nature themselves. Small projects of this nature can be very successful and tend to keep you below the government radar, saving you many headaches and ensuring your project happens.
I have heard some people argue that the Health program should be eliminated or that Peace Corps should leave Turkmenistan altogether. However, I believe withdrawal would be a mistake. While it may be disheartening to look for that resource center that a former PCV set up only to find it was shut down by the government three months later, the story is not in the structures, it is in the people. Getting out into your community and talking to people who have had contact with PCVs is a remarkable experience. According to these locals, what made those PCVs great was that they were here. They spoke Turkmen and dressed like Turkmen and loved manty. And you know they remember funny American habits when the first question they ask you is “do you eat meat?”
Dealing with Turkmen people does not always produce these happy, sweet moments. I still remember how disgusted I was when I was propositioned by an old Turkmen male in the city, or when I was hit on by a married man with three kids at a wedding in front of a large portion of his own community.
But I also remember the elderly, half-blind man that told everyone around that I was a good girl after I helped him count out his money for the marshrutka (van bus) ride. And I remember every Turkmen stranger that chased me down to give me back a glove I had dropped during that first frozen winter. While many things can be undoubtedly infuriating about this country, the warmth of these people can often turn a bad day around. The opportunity to display that warmth in return through community-building and improvement is more than worth the expense and frustration of Peace Corps’ continued presence in Turkmenistan.
Romanian Baseball Update
by David Martinez, PCV Romania
In the end we made our budget, thanks to some generous donations made at the last minute. Thank you all for your support and faith in this project. With what we raised we sent 29 kids and 7 coaches from five cities to this camp. The place we stayed at was nice considering how cheap it was, but the food was amazing– some of the best food I’ve had in Romania. The location turned out to be ideal, however the weather was not so kind. For three days it rained off and on, but once the children got the taste of baseball, the rain wouldn’t stop them. We had kids waking up at 6am and trying to go down to the field and practice. All the coaches were very impressed at how quickly the kids picked up the sport, especially since most of the kids had never even touched a baseball before. This is also how most of the kids got their nickname (a requirement I made for the camp). The three team tournament was amazing, though the first game took all the special awards. Each game was supposed to have six innings, but the first game went ten innings with one pitcher pitching the whole game! There were many amazing plays even down to the final game of the “coaches versus players” game.
In the end I had one kid crying that it was the coolest thing he had ever done, and the rest chanting to have one more day. Even the Romanian coaches said they had never experienced anything that was so much fun. Everyone was asking when the next activity would be. And to think, back in the states two practices a day would be normal. Our schedule included two practices a day: 8am to noon and 1pm to 6, as well as evening activities 8 to 9 and lights out by 10.
We didn’t get the funds to do baseball cards and cracker jacks, Even all the t-shirts I ordered came in too late for the camp, but the kids didn’t mind.
One kid on the train fell out of his seat while sleeping. When the coach asked what happened, the kid said, “ I dreamt I was the catcher and I missed the ball.” This all just confirmed that I have to do this again.
The next step is to formally enter the baseball community. Paperwork starts at the end of the month to join the Romanian Baseball Federation. We have started our recruiting and will have tryouts for everyone at our October mini-tournament. Because of the camp, another city is interested in joining us and to start an official team. I also have plans to build the only standard-size field in Romania in my city. I already have approval from the grant committee. I need to write the grant and meet the local community to contribute. Finally, I need to look for US sponsor to help equip teams in Romania. I will be flying home around Christmas time and have plans to meet with several teams and high schools to donate old equipment. I’m also looking for someone to sponsor one of my Romania coaches to come to the states for two weeks of Spring Training.
Anything is possible.
–David Martinez, PCV, Romania,
Does This Mean I am Adjusting
Action Event–at Our Holiday Celebration Party Dec. 10th
Tijuana schools lack money for even basic supplies, so parents are required to pay for school fees and uniforms, as well as provide all school supplies for each of their children. This “luxury” can be an overwhelming burden on families, many of whom only earn about $30.00 per week. This year we are blessed with the opportunity to help them out. Working with Amor Ministries, we will be donating school supplies to our neighbors to the south.
Let’s help these children receive the education they deserve by donating backpacks and school supplies. Everyone can participate and the reward will be to know that children will not be turned away just because they do not have paper to write their homework on.
Our goal is to provide backpacks full of supplies, so any donation will be appreciated. Each backpack will contain the following supplies:
Backpacks can be pre-stuffed or supplies can be given individually. Any and all donations will help Amor Ministries reach their goal of providing 100 backpacks full of supplies!
Please bring your donation to our December Holiday party.
If you have any questions, or would like to make a donation and will not be attending the holiday party, please contact Lisa at
Congratulations to Hank Davenport and Bev Carson who were married on August 19th. Many people in the association know Hank who is one of the three RPCVs who signed our Articles of Incorporation in 1988. He has also been a director of the One World, Our World School Program since 1996.
As printed on their wedding announcement, Hank Davenport and Bev requested as follows:
Thank you, Hank, for all the hard work and inspiration you’ve given us over the years, and the members of San Diego Peace Corps Association wish you both many happy, adventurous years!
Six of us made it to the Hawaiian
luncheon on this beautiful day. It was great seeing our North County members
I hadn’t seen for months. (below) Michelle Lagoy brought her beau,
Bill Monohan and Paul Mullins, Gerald Sodomka, Jean Meadowcroft, and myself
all had a great time! Cool cars. The dedication and hard work involved
to restore these beautiful cars was absolutely amazing.
–Annie Aguilar, Honduras (1995-97)
(Below) Left to Right: Sira Perez, Lisa Rivera, Kate McDevitt, Sara Stillwell, and Shana at Tower After Hours August 31. First four mentioned are SDPCA members. [Photo taken by Connery Cepeda.]
Send answers to:
We’ll publish your best words in the next newsletter!
But I get to go first: my favorites
are “fooky jaay” in Wolof and “Gat!”
in Diola. You’ll have to wait until January for the translations…
–Joan Clabby, Senegal (1985-87), Editor
If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. –Mother Theresa (1910-1997)
Meeting Our Third Goal
We are coming to that time of year that keeps us busy with family, friends, and preparations for the New Year. My hope, however, is that we also take the opportunity to reflect on the Third Goal and how each of us can contribute to the goal, whether it be speaking to a scout troop, volunteering at a community action event, or donating food, toys or school supplies to those in need. It is actions like these, however seemingly small, that promote the peace, respect, and understanding that is so necessary in our world.
I feel as though each one of my messages to you says “Look for upcoming changes,” and yes, I will say it again. Our organization is made up of many busy members and we want to make it easier for you to keep track of and renew your membership. Starting in January 2007, we will move to a calendar year-based membership cycle; memberships will be valid from January 1 through December 31. Fees will be prorated for anyone who joins in the middle of the year. You will read more about this in this issue of the newsletter (see article), but I hope that you will find the new system easy to keep up with!
Our committees have been busy planning many great events, including the December Holiday Party, so I hope to see you soon!
–Nikol Shaw, Mauritania (1999-01)
Marjory Clyne, Lynn Jarrett, Kate McDevitt, Sharon Darrough, Lisa Rivera, Gregg Pancoast, Nikol Shaw, and Sira Perez attended in September. Marjory Clyne, Lynn Jarrett, Kate McDevitt, Sharon Darrough, Lisa Rivera, Nikol Shaw, Joan Clabby, Rudy Sovinee, Sira Perez and guest Hank Davenport attended in October.
Important Events from the Meetings:
Membership: SDPCA has 113 current members of which 16 are free. NPCA membership is at 72. Past due membership is at 51. We have 5 new members.
Fundraising: Entertainment Books are in Postal Annex Stores all across the county. RPCV Calendars are here and ready for purchase: $10 for members, $12 mailed, $15 for non-members. Marjory is ordering more t-shirts – including women’s sizes. These will be for sale at the general meeting.
Social: Please see articles on page 4 for upcoming events.
Community Action: Upcoming events include Peace Resource Center Work Party on October 28 and School Supply Drive at annual meeting on December 10th – see Supplies Drive article.
Next meeting: November 1, 2007, at 6:30 pm. All members are welcome to attend.
–Sharon Kennedy-Darrough, Thailand (1989-91), Secretary
object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only
temporary; the evil it does is permanent.”
............................................................. – Mohandas K. Gandhi
for the Hliday Season...
Get your gift shopping done early and support current Peace Corps volunteers from San Diego by purchasing the 2007 Calendars and Entertainment Books. All profits from both go into our International Support Fund to help these volunteers with in-country projects.
SDPCA T-Shirts Available
I have ordered more T-shirts, this time in baby blue with a dark blue logo. And now we have a ladies fitted style too! They are nice!! Sizes are medium, large, & xlarge for men, and small, medium, large, and xlarge for women. The price is the same, $15 each. “Viewing” is by appointment. Email your order or make an appointment at. You’re going to love these, I guarantee it!! I will have whatever is left for sale at the Holiday Party as well. What a great way to celebrate your years of service and your involvement with our local Peace Corps group!
–Marjory Clyne, Western Samoa (1972-74), Fundraising Chair
• 2007 Entertainment
Books On Sale
There are 25 Postal Annex stores countywide to buy Entertainment Books. See the list of locations to find one near you.
• 2007 International
And they are as beautiful as ever. Do your Christmas shopping early; these are definitely a gift everyone will appreciate. It is always smart to give the boss something, grandma will appreciate your thoughtfulness, your teacher- friends will make good use of it all year long---the list is endless. Email me with your orders today. Calendars are $10 each for SDPCA members, $12 if you want them mailed, and $15 for non members. Contact
–Marjory Clyne, Fundraising Chair
We are currently looking for help in the disbursement of our newsletter. We need individuals who are willing to assemble, fold and place labels on our newsletters. This task usually takes between 1-2 hours with the help of 2-3 people. Once assembled, newsletters need to be taken to the main post office and shipped out. For the past year the editor and Lynn Jarrett have been coordinating this effort and more help is needed! If you will help in the distribution of the newsletter please contact Lynn Jarrett at or Joan Clabby at for more details.
and Thanks to Vicki Fields!
Many thanks to Vicki Fields who was Editor of Pacific Waves from June through August, for the past two issues. Vicky was accepted into graduate studies in Veterinary Medicine and is now pursuing those studies. Thanks, Vicki, for your work!
Joan Clabby, who was Editor a number of years ago, has stepped up to fill the position once again. Welcome back and thanks, in advance!
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!
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:
Nikol Shaw, David Martinez, PCV, Rudy Sovinee, Mona M. Melanson,
Kelsey Watters, Mishka Martin, PCV, Lynn Jarrett, Lisa Rivera, Annie Aguilar, Sharon Kennedy Darrough, Kate McDevitt, Marjory Clyne, Sira Perez, Carolyn Berger, PCV