Welcome to the Columbia River Peace Corps Association

logo for Columbia River Peace Corps Association, Portland, Oregon President’s welcome, by Tom DeMeo (Ghana 1980-82 and Botswana 1982-84)

Welcome to the Columbia River Peace Corps Association (CRPCA), the returned Peace Corps volunteers living in the Portland, Oregon, metro area. We are committed to ideals of service and community, both at home and abroad. Connect with us if you are a potential volunteer wanting to talk with old hands, if you are an returned volunteer looking to connect with others who have shared the unique Peace Corps experience, or if you share our ideals and want to meet others of like mind! Take a look at our calendar to see what upcoming events we have planned: we hold regular service events, social gatherings, and educational opportunities that help us serve our community and engage with the world. Find something that suits your style, and join us – we’d love to have you!

Connect with us via Facebook, our website crpca.org, or by signing up for our newsletter and e-updates.

March 2018 Book Club Selection

The House at Sugar Beach
Cooper, Helene: The House at Sugar Beach: In Search of a Lost African Childhood (2008)

Discussion: Tuesday, March 13, 2018, 7:00-8:30 pm. Location at the home of Jane and Mike Waite, 7008 Kansas St in Vancouver WA, 360-314-4117. Feel free to bring snacks to share.

Review: © Bookmarks: In her warm, conversational tone, Helene Cooper vividly evokes the sights, sounds, and smells of Liberia for readers as she describes the customs, history, and culture of her native land. Indeed, she has a great deal of background information to convey to Western readers unfamiliar with the country, but she folds this material masterfully into the narrative. An accomplished storyteller, Cooper relates the arrogance and excesses of her family during her early years without losing her readers’ sympathy, and she likewise depicts the joys of friendship and the horrors of war without becoming melodramatic or maudlin. Like the best nonfiction—and journalism—Cooper’s gripping coming-of-age story enlightens and inspires, often reading like a novel. In sum, it is a very personal and honest memoir from a gifted writer.

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

February 2018 Book Club Selection

Secondhand Time
Alexievich, Svetlana*: Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets (2013/2016)

* 2015 Nobel Literature Prize

Discussion: Tuesday, February 13, 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: Already hailed as a masterpiece across Europe, Secondhand Time is an intimate portrait of a country yearning for meaning after the sudden lurch from Communism to capitalism in the 1990s plunged it into existential crisis. A series of monologues by people across the former Soviet empire, it is Tolstoyan in scope, driven by the idea that history is made not only by major players but also by ordinary people talking in their kitchens.

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

January 2018 Book Club Selection

Walled In, Walled Out
Marks, Mary Dana*: Walled In, Walled Out: A Young American Woman in Iran (2017)

* RPCV Iran (1964-1966)

Discussion: Wednesday, January 17, 2018, 6:30-8:00 pm. Location at the home of Jackie and Mike Spurlock, 4101 SW Hillsdale Ave in Portland, 503-827-4126. Participating in our discussion will be Mary Dana Marks, the book’s author, via Skype. Feel free to bring snacks to share.

Synopsis: When Mary joins the Peace Corps the shah reigns in Iran and John F. Kennedy has left his mark on the world. Sent to Kerman, a conservative city on the Iranian plateau, she teaches English to high school girls. In the classroom, or walking through the bazaar amid turbaned Baluchi tribesmen and chanting Sufi dervishes, she is the exotic one. The adobe walls that seclude women exclude her, a bareheaded foreigner. Woven throughout are dusty travels from the Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea, colorful feasts, rich history and hidden romance. Walled In, Walled Out recounts her convoluted, often humorous journey from ignorance to understanding in a country where the people speak with many voices.

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