Welcome to the Portland Peace Corps Association

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

Welcome to the Portland Peace Corps Association (PPCA) 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.

December 2019 Book Club Selection

What is the What
Gimlette, John: At The Tomb Of The Inflatable Pig: Travels through Paraguay (2003)

Discussion: Tuesday, December 10, 2019, 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: © Publishers Weekly: Over the past 500 years, Paraguay has been invaded by successive waves of conquistadors, missionaries, Mennonites, Australian socialists, fugitive Nazis and, perhaps most improbably, Islamic extremists. “An island surrounded by land,” bordered by vast deserts and impenetrable jungles, Paraguay is a country uniquely suited for those seeking to drop out of sight or, like Gimlette, find themselves. The author was 18 when he first traveled to Paraguay more than two decades ago; return visits only deepened his appreciation for the nation and its tragicomic past. Gimlette seems to have gone everywhere and talked to everyone. He boats down piranha-infested rivers, hobnobs with Anglo-Paraguayan socialites and hunts down the former hiding place of notorious Auschwitz doctor Josef Mengele. Gimlette, a travel writer and lawyer in London, proves a chatty, amiable guide to local institutions like the national railway (which has no running trains) and native wildlife, like the fierce, raccoon-like coatimundis (who, Gimlette writes, “make up for their absence of pity with fistfuls of dagger-like claws”). Yet he doesn’t shirk from the nastier aspects of Paraguay’s bloody history. Gimlette describes in horrific detail, for example, the rape and conquest of the Guarani Indians as well as the brutally repressive regime of Don Alfredo Stroessner (whose U.S.-backed dictatorship lasted longer than any other in the Western Hemisphere). Gimlette could have used some judicious editing-the narrative drags in parts, and its scattered chronology can be confusing-but he never fails to impress with his ingenuity, sincerity and sense of humor.

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

Like to read?

PPCA’s Book Club is no exclusive group! Participation is open to everyone who has read a given month’s book. We discuss books set in parts of the world in which Peace Corps Volunteers have served, and we also consider books on any subject authored by RPCVs.

If you like to read, please consider taking this month’s survey! All 33 options, from Abouzeid to Zeppa, are listed in the PPCA Book Selection Survey for 2020http://www.portlandpeacecorps.org/book-club/book-selection-survey-for-2020/, and have wide availability in local libraries. 

Through 5:00 pm PST on Friday, November 15, 2019, we are inviting each survey taker to select up to 10 books and then progress to the survey, which has a link at the bottom of the page. 

November 2019 Book Club Selection

The Fall of the Stone City
Kadare, Ismail*: The Fall of the Stone City (2008/2012)

* 2005 Man Booker International Prize

Discussion: Tuesday, November 12, 2019, 6:30-8:00 pm. Location at the home of Jackie and Mike Spurlock, 2211 SW Park Pl (unit 902, with a view) in Portland, 503-827-4126. This gathering will be 90 minutes certain, as that’s the limit for on-street parking in this area. Feel free to bring snacks to share.

Review: © Kirkus Review: An ironic, sober critique of the way totalitarianism rewrites history, from an Albanian author who’s long been the subject of Nobel whispers. The novel opens in 1943, as the Nazis are poised to move into Albania, retaking the country from Italy and invading the city of Gjirokastër. The locals are understandably restless, and an advance party is fired upon. Hostages are taken, and bloodshed seems inevitable. But in an effort to calm tensions, a leading doctor, Gurameto, meets with the Nazi commanding officer, Col. Fritz von Schwabe, who also happens to be an old college classmate. The loose plot of Kadare’s novel (The Accident, 2010, etc.) turns on the question of what exactly happened at that meeting. Various theories circulate among the citizenry: the invasion was all about locating and handing over a prominent Jew, Gurameto was angling for a governorship, the Albanians were being punished for their own incursions into Greece, and so on. Through these stories, Kadare explores the way people project their own nationalistic anxieties and prejudices onto every situation; the lyrics of a local bard turn the events into a kind of folklore. Kadare’s omniscient view emphasizes political processes at the expense of characterization, but if we don’t get to know the doctor, the colonel or the residents very well, Kadare is still a potent storyteller, and as the story jumps to 1944 and then to 1953, he reveals the grim consequences of dictatorships on identity. The tail end of the novel focuses on Stalinist interrogators’ efforts to bully and torture the truth about the meeting out of Gurameto, and his refusals don’t symbolize heroism so much as resignation—a realization that the facts will never be clear in the face of anti-democratic thuggery. A harsh but artful study of power, truth and personal integrity.

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