Welcome to the Columbia River Peace Corps Association

logo for Columbia River Peace Corps Association, Portland, Oregon President’s welcome, by Phyllis Shelton (Honduras 1986-1988)

Welcome to the Columbia River Peace Corps Association (CRPCA) web page! We are a group of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers living in the Greater Portland, SW Washington area.

As you probably already know, those of us who share the Peace Corps experience have a unique bond, and it doesn’t matter what country you served in or what decade you were there, it just feels right to sit down, share a meal and a story or dive into a meaningful service project shoulder to shoulder. CRPCA is a place where people who served in the 60s are just as apt to attend a pub night, service event, book club, potluck or special fundraising event as the volunteer who is so freshly returned they are still suffering from reverse culture shock! Family friendly events are important to many of our members, and networking for jobs or making friends when you are new in town are a big attraction too.

We are committed to ideals of service and community, both at home and abroad. Every year we collectively spend hundreds of hours on local service projects, give out thousands of dollars in grants to well vetted projects sponsored by returned or currently serving volunteers, so the good work continues. We are also happy to welcome prospective volunteers at our events. Come meet us and find out what it is really like; we are happy to share stories.

Our calendar is full of interesting events, check it out and see what is coming up, we would love to see you at one of our events soon.

Connect with us via Facebook, our website crpca.org, or by viewing our 50+ years of newsletters.

November 2018 Book Club Selection

Writing Abroad
Chilson, Peter*, and Joanne B. Mulcahy: Writing Abroad: A Guide for Travelers** (2017)

* RPCV Niger (1985-1987)

** 2018 Peace Corps Worldwide Best Travel Book

Discussion: Thursday, November 8, 2018, 6:30-8:00 pm. Location at the home of Mimi Sanders, 318 SW Palatine Hill Rd (big yellow church) in Portland, 503-293-6195. Participating in our discussion will be Peter Chilson and Joanne B. Mulcahy, the book’s authors. This will be a joint gathering of CRPCA’s Book Club and Writers Workshop.

Synopsis: “Tell me all about your trip!” It’s a request that follows travelers as they head out into the world, and one of the first things they hear when they return. When we leave our homes to explore the wider world, we feel compelled to capture the experiences and bring the story home. But for those who don’t think of themselves as writers, putting experiences into words can be more stressful than inspirational. Writing Abroad: A Guide for Travelers is meant for travelers of all backgrounds and writing levels: a student embarking on overseas study; a retiree realizing a dream of seeing China; a Peace Corps worker in Kenya. All can benefit from documenting their adventures, whether on paper or online. Through practical advice and adaptable exercises, this guide will help travelers hone their observational skills, conduct research and interviews, choose an appropriate literary form, and incorporate photos and videos into their writing. Writing about travel is more than just safeguarding memories—it can transform experiences and tease out new realizations. With Writing Abroad, travelers will be able to deepen their understanding of other cultures and write about that new awareness in clear and vivid prose.

Where to find it:
Libraries: Multnomah Co | Washington Co
Vendors: Powell’s | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

October 2018 Book Club Selection

Tales of Family Travel
Dixon, Kay Gillies*: Tales of Family Travel: Bathrooms of the World** (2016)

* RPCV Colombia (1962-1964)

** 2017 Peace Corps Worldwide Best Travel Book

Discussion: Tuesday, October 9, 2018, 7:00-8:30 pm. Location at the home of Carole Beauclerk, 1500 SW Park Ave in Portland. Participating in our discussion will be Kay Dixon, the book’s author, via Skype. On-street parking in downtown Portland is free beginning at 7:00 pm. Upon arrival, call 503-780-2722 to be buzzed in, then turn right into the building’s lobby and then take an immediate left into the community room. Feel free to bring snacks to share.

Synopsis: Parents Kevin and Kay Dixon have always had a passion for travel that they love to share with their four daughters. In the late 1970s, a contract for Kevin to work in Saudi Arabia, that came with family benefits and a lucrative travel package, landed on their doorstep in an American suburb. The Dixons could not pack their bags fast enough. This was their opportunity to provide two fundamental values to their offspring — roots and wings. During their travels, the Dixons chose to spend little time wandering through archaic cathedrals, but looked beyond featured attractions for experiences to imprint into their children’s memories. Readers may find themselves holding their breaths or giggling as the family’s adventures unfold in Tales of Family Travel. Admittedly, successful globetrotting with young girls required patience and special considerations. Among them — always one daughter needed to use a bathroom, and never at a convenient time or place, and more often than not, it was the author who spent time searching for acceptable WCs or loos. Kay narrates this story with finesse and descriptions that take you along on a journey that includes travel by many means and experiences that including meeting a Baba in Nepal, checking out a diamond shop in The Netherlands, visiting a Maasai village in Kenya and more.

Where to find it:
Vendors: Powell’s | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

September 2018 Book Club Selection

Come to Africa and Save Your Marriage
Thomas, Maria*: Come to Africa and Save Your Marriage, and Other Stories (1987)

* RPCV Ethiopia 1971-1973

Discussion: Tuesday, September 11, 2018, 7:00-8:30 pm. Location at the home of Paul and Susie Robillard, 5405 NW Deerfield Way in Portland, 503-430-1776. Feel free to bring snacks to share.

Review: © The New York Times: In Come to Africa and Save Your Marriage, Ms. Thomas gives us a group of stories about…Peace Corps volunteers, foreign academics and Agency for International Development advisers, Indians and white hunters left behind by colonial empire, American blacks looking for a place where blackness is the norm. These people don’t belong to Africa. Most have come here with the purpose of doing good, curing disease or famine or inventing consistent technical vocabularies where language hasn’t caught up to imported technology. Others came, as expatriates always have, to be saved from some sickness of the soul – they seek a witch-doctor cure of one alienation by another.

Where to find it:
Libraries: Multnomah Co
Vendors: Powell’s | Amazon | Barnes & Noble