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 2016 Book Club Selection

Kilometer 99
McMahon, Tyler*: Kilometer 99 (2014)

* RPCV El Salvador (1999-2002)

Discussion: Tuesday, March 8, 2016, 6:30-8:00 pm. Location at the home of Peggy McClure, 5450 SW 18th Dr in Portland, 503-453-2089. Participating in our discussion–via Skype–will be Tyler McMahon, the book’s author! Feel free to bring snacks to share.

Review: © Booklist: In his second novel (after How the Mistakes Were Made, 2011), McMahon once again focuses on an adventurous young woman, this time a Peace Corps volunteer in El Salvador. Hawaiian-born Malia has come to El Salvador with a newly minted engineering degree, and she throws herself into helping a rural village build an aqueduct to bring much-needed water to the villagers. She spends her weekends with her boyfriend, Ben, surfing the perfect waves just off the coastal city of La Libertad. Then a devastating earthquake wipes out a year’s worth of her work, and she finds herself reluctantly agreeing to spend the next year surfing with Ben, torn between her ambitions and her desire for the perfect adventure. But a robbery and an ill-timed meeting with a shady developer derail the couple’s travel plans. Instead of following the waves south, they find themselves desperately short of money and involved in a dangerous scheme to deliver drugs to renegade dealers. In this dark adventure tale, McMahon summons both the mystical joys of surfing and the angst of young people trying to navigate a treacherous world.

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

February 2016 Book Club Selection

Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight
Fuller, Alexandra: Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood (2003)

Discussion: Tuesday, February 9, 2016, 6:30-8:00 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: © Booklist: Fuller, nicknamed “Bobo,” grew up in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) during the civil war, and she watched her parents fight against the local Africans to keep their farm. Fuller writes from a child’s point of view, masking neither her family’s prejudices nor their passions. Fuller’s father, Tim, is a determined and strong man, married to Nicola, who is gradually cracking under the pressure of the civil war and also of the deaths of her children. The Fullers lost three children; only Alexandra and her older sister, Vanessa, survived. The losses take their toll on Nicola, who turns to alcohol to combat her overwhelming depression. After the white colonialists lose the civil war, the Fullers’ farm is taken away, and they move to Malawi, where Bobo begins to get a sense of the life of an average African. But the overbearing Malawian government motivates the Fullers to move on, and they finally settle in Zambia. Fuller is a gifted writer, capable of bringing a sense of immediacy to her writing and crafting descriptions so vibrant the reader cannot only picture the stifling hot African afternoon but almost feel it as well. Writing a memoir powerful in its frank straightforwardness, Fuller neither apologizes for nor champions her family’s views and actions. Instead, she gives us an honest, moving portrait of one family struggling to survive tumultuous times.

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

January 2016 Book Club Selection

And the Mountains Echoed
Hosseini, Khaled: And the Mountains Echoed (2013)

Discussion: Tuesday, January 12, 2016, 6:30-8:00 pm. Location at the home of Phyllis Shelton and Tom DeMeo, 1002 SE 50th Ave in Portland, 503-704-6298. Feel free to bring snacks to share.

Review: © Booklist: Saboor, a laborer, pulls his young daughter, Pari, and his son, Abdullah, across the desert in a red wagon, leaving their poor village of Shadbagh for Kabul, where his brother-in-law, Nabi, a chauffeur, will introduce them to a wealthy man and his beautiful, despairing poet wife. So begins the third captivating and affecting novel by the internationally best-selling author of The Kite Runner (2003) and A Thousand Splendid Suns (2007). An immense, ancient oak stands in Shadbagh, emblematic of the complexly branching stories in Hosseini’s vital, profound, and spellbinding saga of family bonds and unlikely pairings forged by chance, choice, and necessity. We meet twin sisters, one beautiful, one plain; one an invalid, the other a caretaker. Two male cousins, one a charismatic wheeler-dealer; the other a cautious, introverted doctor. A disfigured girl of great valor and a boy destined to become a plastic surgeon. Kabul falls and struggles to rise. Shadbagh comes under the rule of a drug lord, and the novel’s many limbs reach to Paris, San Francisco, and a Greek island. A masterful and compassionate storyteller, Hosseini traces the traumas and scarring of tyranny, war, crime, lies, and illness in the intricately interconnected, heartbreaking, and extraordinary lives of his vibrantly realized characters to create a grand and encompassing tree of life.

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