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.

October 2018 Book Club Selection

Tales of Family Travel
Dixon, Kay Gillies*: Tales of Family Travel: Bathrooms of the World** (2016)

* RPCV Colombia (1962-1964)

** 2017 Peace Corps Worldwide Best Travel Book

Discussion: Tuesday, October 9, 2018, 7:00-8:30 pm. Location at the home of Carole Beauclerk, 1500 SW Park Ave in Portland. Participating in our discussion will be Kay Dixon, the book’s author, via Skype. 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.

Synopsis: Parents Kevin and Kay Dixon have always had a passion for travel that they love to share with their four daughters. In the late 1970s, a contract for Kevin to work in Saudi Arabia, that came with family benefits and a lucrative travel package, landed on their doorstep in an American suburb. The Dixons could not pack their bags fast enough. This was their opportunity to provide two fundamental values to their offspring — roots and wings. During their travels, the Dixons chose to spend little time wandering through archaic cathedrals, but looked beyond featured attractions for experiences to imprint into their children’s memories. Readers may find themselves holding their breaths or giggling as the family’s adventures unfold in Tales of Family Travel. Admittedly, successful globetrotting with young girls required patience and special considerations. Among them — always one daughter needed to use a bathroom, and never at a convenient time or place, and more often than not, it was the author who spent time searching for acceptable WCs or loos. Kay narrates this story with finesse and descriptions that take you along on a journey that includes travel by many means and experiences that including meeting a Baba in Nepal, checking out a diamond shop in The Netherlands, visiting a Maasai village in Kenya and more.

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

September 2018 Book Club Selection

Come to Africa and Save Your Marriage
Thomas, Maria*: Come to Africa and Save Your Marriage, and Other Stories (1987)

* RPCV Ethiopia 1971-1973

Discussion: Tuesday, September 11, 2018, 7:00-8:30 pm. Location at the home of Paul and Susie Robillard, 5405 NW Deerfield Way in Portland, 503-430-1776. Feel free to bring snacks to share.

Review: © The New York Times: In Come to Africa and Save Your Marriage, Ms. Thomas gives us a group of stories about…Peace Corps volunteers, foreign academics and Agency for International Development advisers, Indians and white hunters left behind by colonial empire, American blacks looking for a place where blackness is the norm. These people don’t belong to Africa. Most have come here with the purpose of doing good, curing disease or famine or inventing consistent technical vocabularies where language hasn’t caught up to imported technology. Others came, as expatriates always have, to be saved from some sickness of the soul – they seek a witch-doctor cure of one alienation by another.

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

August 2018 Book Club Selection

Whiteman
D’Souza, Tony*: Whiteman** (2006)

* RPCV Côte d’Ivoire, Madagascar 2000-2003

** 2007 Maria Thomas Fiction Award

Discussion: Tuesday, August 7, 2018, 6:30-8:00 pm. Location at Rose City Yacht Club, 3737 NE Marine Dr in Portland. Participating in our discussion will be Tony D’Souza, the book’s author, via Skype. When you arrive at the gate, call or text Liz Samuels at 503-701-6218, and she will give you the code for the keypad to get in. Depending on how hot it is, we will meet either on deck of the Club House or Liz’s air-conditioned floating home. Feel free to bring snacks to share. Feel free to bring snacks to share.

Review: © Booklist: Jack Diaz is a young American relief worker in a Muslim village in the Ivory Coast, part of an endeavor to bring potable water to the impoverished villagers. As it becomes more and more apparent that he cannot achieve his original goal, he drifts into various projects from hunting to farming to teaching villagers about AIDS prevention to taking up ill–advised love affairs. Tensions between Muslims and Christians mount and add to the layers of cultural and political nuances that Jack struggles to understand. Christened Whiteman by the villagers, who believe him capable of magic by virtue of his white skin, Jack feels his whiteness more than he ever has in his life. As he penetrates the culture–but never achieves complete integration–he discovers a people not as simple and uncomplicated as he had thought. With war threatening to hasten the end of his three-year commitment, Jack’s affection for the region and the people heightens, and he seeks forgiveness for his privilege and ineffectiveness.

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