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.

October 2016 Book Club Selection

The Drums of Africa
Schell, Tim*: The Drums of Africa (2007)

* RPCV Central African Republic (1978-1979)

Discussion: Friday, October 14, 2016, 6:30-8:00 pm. Location at the home of Teri Kaliher, 4841 SW Richardson Dr in Portland. in Portland, 971-302-0691. Participating in our discussion–-in person-–will be Tim Schell, the book’s author! Feel free to bring snacks to share.

Please note the change of date and venue for this event. The change was made to accommodate the author’s availability.

Synopsis: Tim Schell’s first novel, THE DRUMS OF AFRICA, is a gripping and timely tale of two young Americans, Val and Glen, arriving in Africa as Peace Corps volunteers in the 1970s, filled with altruism, naivete and a thirst for adventure. As the line between adventure and catastrophe narrows, Schell masterfully creates a mosaic of cultural perspectives and ethical tensions between faith and its lack, politics and revolutionary coups, lust and love set against an exotic backdrop rife with sorcerers, priests, corrupt politicians, poachers, coffee farmers, Peace Corps workers and prostitutes, a place leading each character inward to unexpected self-revelation and self-sacrifice. A richly panoplied novel, alive with sensuous detail and compelling narrative, THE DRUMS OF AFRICA is both an adventure tale and a philosophical rumination on the power of crisis and contradiction to test and ultimately transform ideals, laws, ancient instincts, faith and the challenges presented by human love met by human courage.

Where to find it:
Vendor: Amazon

September 2016 Book Club Selection

Waiting for Snow in Havana
Eire, Carlos N.M.: Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy* (2003)

* 2003 National Book Award for Nonfiction

Discussion: Wednesday, September 14, 2016, 6:30-8:00 pm. Location at the home of Teri Kaliher, 4841 SW Richardson Dr in Portland, 503-246-7103. Feel free to bring snacks to share.

Review: © The New Yorker: At the start of the nineteen-sixties, an operation called Pedro Pan flew more than fourteen thousand Cuban children out of the country, without their parents, and deposited them in Miami. Eire, now a professor of history and religion at Yale, was one of them. His deeply moving memoir describes his life before Castro, among the aristocracy of old Cuba—his father, a judge, believed himself to be the reincarnation of Louis XVI—and, later, in America, where he turned from a child of privilege into a Lost Boy. Eire’s tone is so urgent and so vividly personal (he is even nostalgic about Havana’s beautiful blue clouds of DDT) that his unsparing indictments of practically everyone concerned, including himself, seem all the more remarkable.

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

August 2016 Book Club Selection

Golden Leaf
Ung, Kilong: Golden Leaf: A Khmer Rouge Genocide Survivor (2009)

Discussion: Tuesday, August 2, 2016, 6:30-8:00 pm. Location at the home of Mari Levesque, 1946 SE 22nd Ave in Portland, 503-858-0621. Participating in our discussion–in person–will be Kilong Ung, the book’s author! Feel free to bring snacks to share.

Synopsis: This is a first-hand account of the life of Kilong Ung who grew up in Battambang, Cambodia and whose life dramatically changed in 1975 when the Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia. Told from the eyes of the boy that he was, this is an honest, real account that takes the reader through Kilong’s experiences as if one were actually there, without any need for embellishment of the story. This book gives the readers an insight that no history book could. It provides not just an insight into the Khmer Rouge and the terrible extermination of two million people but an insight into humanity, how it is possible for a people to be subjected to mass cruelty and hardship by a ruling power, and yet how an individual against the odds could endure this and do what it took to survive, even as tragedy befell his family. Kilong saw himself as a leaf, a golden leaf, at the mercy of mercurial winds. Yet through fortune and the help of others he survived against the odds, and was able to come to America, penniless and unable to speak English. The tale follows how he adapted to the new culture and made himself a success. The story is filled with humorous incidents as he adapts to American culture as well as poignant emotional times where he grapples with the demons of the past, struggling to overcome the terrible experiences and memories, even as he gains material success in American life. Then when an opportunity for revenge presents itself he is faced with a moral dilemma that will decide his life. Kilong has painstakingly composed a chronicle of his life over countless hours, testing the limits of his emotions. Much of this book was written in an unlikely environment; Starbucks café, whom Kilong publicly thanks for “providing power outlets, public restrooms, soft music, and Americano-inspired recoveries from writing blocks.”

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