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.

January 2019 Book Club Selection

The Bad-Ass Librarians Of Timbuktu
Hammer, Joshua: The Bad-Ass Librarians Of Timbuktu: And Their Race To Save The World’s Most Precious Manuscripts (2016)

Discussion: Tuesday, January 8, 2019, 7:00-8:30 pm. Location at the home of Carol McCormac Wild, 7865 SW Parrway Dr in Portland, 503-292-3385. Feel free to bring snacks to share.

Review: © Publishers Weekly: Journalist Hammer (Yokohama Burning) reports on librarian Abdel Kader Haidara and his associates’ harrowing ordeal as they rescued 370,000 historical manuscripts from destruction by al-Qaeda-occupied Timbuktu. Hammer sketches Haidara’s career amassing manuscripts from Timbuktu’s neighboring towns and building his own library, which opened in 2000. Meanwhile, three al-Qaeda operatives, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, Abdel-hamid Abou Zeid, and Iyad Ag Ghali, escalate from kidnapping and drug trafficking to orchestrating a coup with Tuareg rebels against the Malian army and seizing Timbuktu. The militants aim to “turn the clocks back fourteen hundred years” by destroying revered religious shrines and imposing Sharia law, which includes flogging unveiled women and severing the hands of thieves. Fearing for the safety of the manuscripts, Haidara and associates buy up “every trunk in Timbuktu” and pack them off 606 miles south to Bamako, employing a team of teenage couriers. Hammer does a service to Haidara and the Islamic faith by providing the illuminating history of these manuscripts, managing to weave the complicated threads of this recent segment of history into a thrilling story.

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

December 2018 Book Club Selection

A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush
Newby, Eric: A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush (1958)

Discussion: Tuesday, December 11, 2018, 6:30-8:00 pm. Location at the home of Ann and Roger Crockett, 1922 NE 12th Ave in Portland, 801-388-8235. Feel free to bring snacks to share.

Synopsis: A classic of travel writing, A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush is Eric Newby’s iconic account of his journey through one of the most remote and beautiful wildernesses on earth. It was 1956, and Eric Newby was earning an improbable living in the chaotic family business of London haute couture. Pining for adventure, Newby sent his friend Hugh Carless the now-famous cable – CAN YOU TRAVEL NURISTAN JUNE? – setting in motion a legendary journey from Mayfair to Afghanistan, and the mountains of the Hindu Kush, north-east of Kabul. Inexperienced and ill prepared (their preparations involved nothing more than some tips from a Welsh waitress), the amateurish rogues embark on a month of adventure and hardship in one of the most beautiful wildernesses on earth – a journey that adventurers with more experience and sense may never have undertaken. With good humour, sharp wit and keen observation, the charming narrative style of A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush would soon crystallise Newby’s reputation as one of the greatest travel writers of all time.

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

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