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.

December 2017 Book Club Selection

The Embassy
Paradiso, Dante*: The Embassy: A Story of War and Diplomacy** (2016)

* RPCV Kenya (1993-1995)

** Winner of 2017 Paul Cowan Non-Fiction Award

Discussion: Tuesday, December 19, 2017, 7:00-8:30 pm. Location at the home of Jane and Mike Waite, 7008 Kansas St in Vancouver WA, 360-314-4117. Participating in our discussion will be Dante Paradiso, the book’s author, via Skype from Hong Kong. Feel free to bring snacks to share.

Review: © Kirkus Reviews: Paradiso (The Pure Life, 2005) tells the story of how the staff of the American Embassy in Monrovia attempted to halt the second Liberian civil war. By the summer of 2003, “the Liberian civil war had lasted three years, or thirteen, or twenty-three, depending on how you counted.” As two different rebel armies approached Monrovia from different directions, the government of the corrupt, violent president Charles Taylor was struggling to hold onto power. The capitol was filled with militias loyal to Taylor, including units composed of child soldiers, whose unpredictable behavior made them as fearsome to the local populace as the rebels on the city’s outskirts. When word reached Liberia that an international criminal court was seeking to indict Taylor for war crimes, the fragile situation exploded: the rebel armies attacked and plunged Monrovia into heated combat. The last bastion of reason and hope for the city was U.S. Ambassador John William Blaney III and his team, holed up in the American Embassy. As the neighborhoods around them descended into chaos, this disparate group of diplomats, soldiers, and contractors worked to broker a cease-fire and provide a beachhead for the West African peacekeeping force that was attempting to restore order. Paradiso’s book tells a story about people who took on the seemingly impossible task of keeping all hell from breaking loose. He has a novelist’s sense of pacing and character, assembling the story from the perspectives of the various people involved—from those who witnessed the events from the embassy offices to others in the streets of the capital. Paradiso’s prose captures the surreal landscape of his subject, although he takes pains not to exoticize or romanticize the various groups involved: “The world press, which otherwise ignored the country, was quick to run images of child fighters dressed in lurid wigs and wedding dresses, wearing necklaces of human fingers.” Overall, this book offers an engaging story that will be unfamiliar to many American readers as well as a nuanced look at the grittiness and complexity of war and diplomacy. A compelling account of an obscure international crisis.

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

November 2017 Book Club Selection

The Nightingale of Mosul
Luz, Susan*, with Marcus Brotherton: The Nightingale of Mosul: A Nurse’s Journey of Service, Struggle, and War (2010)

* RPCV Brazil 1972-1975

Discussion: Tuesday, November 14, 2017, 7:00-8:30 pm. Location at the home of Carole Beauclerk, 1500 SW Park Ave in Portland. Note the change of venue and time. On-street parking in downtown Portland is free beginning at 7:00 pm. Upon arrival, call 503-780-2722 to be buzzed in, then turn right into the building’s lobby and then take an immediate left into the community room. Feel free to bring snacks to share.

Review: © Booklist: Colonel Luz of the Army Nurse Corps has enjoyed a long, happy marriage to the son of one of the original “Band of Brothers.” She also enjoyed hard-won success in the Peace Corps, as a nurse in an inner-city high school and at a hospital for the criminally insane, in the Army Reserve, and in being there for three nephews with cystic fibrosis. Then in 2006 she went to Iraq and combined public health and psychiatric work with handling a steady stream of casualties from combat and terrorist incidents. And she became the unofficial morale officer, responsible for, among other things, organizing a vocal group among the nurses, in which capacity she earned the moniker that entitles her book. Another Nightingale, the one who founded modern nursing, would have approved of Luz’s work; the army’s approval took the form of the Bronze Star. Readers will most likely approve of her addition to knowledge of the humane aspects of the Iraq War.

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

RSVP today for our next Habitat build

As of October 18, 2017, CRPCA seeks 8 more volunteers for our 15 volunteer shift at a Habitat for Humanity build on Saturday, November 4. Note the firm RSVP deadline!

We’re volunteering at the Helensview Build Site, 6328 NE Killingworth Ct in Portland. The day begins at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 3:30 p.m.

In order to volunteer, each participant must register through Habitat’s online system using the link below. A strict registration deadline ensures our ability to provide your team a safe and fun volunteer day, and makes check-in the morning of your build quick and easy. Participants who have not registered before the deadline will be unable to volunteer. Thank you for your cooperation!

Build day: Saturday, November 4th
Registration Deadline: Friday, October 27th
To register, please visit: http://columbiariverpca.pdxhabitat.volunteerhub.com/

If you already have an account on Volunteer Hub, skip to step 4.
If you are new to Volunteer Hub, follow steps 1 through 8 below:

1. Click the “register” button. Create a username and password (make a note of this information so you can access project details at a later time) and click next.
2. Fill out the required User Details, review the waiver liability form, and click next.
3. Review your entered information and confirm your registration by clicking next.
4. Log in to your account
5. Your project should be listed near the bottom of the page under Upcoming Events. Review the project date and time, then click “sign up.”
6. Review the Event Registration information and click “next.”
7. Review the confirmation of your registration and if correct click “finish.”
8. You will shortly receive an email with project details. Please click “continue”

If you are having trouble completing registration please email Tor Ostrom at tor@habitatportlandmetro.org.