August 2014 Newsletter

  • Letter from the editor
  • Call for host families
  • Special Guest at Kenilworth Picnic
  • Cascadia Cave Survey
  • Panelists still needed for career event
  • Patrice Hudson on “Women in Black”
  • “The Navigator” a poem
  • CRPCA August to October events

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Letter from the editor

A quieter newsletter this month, with some submissions from the CRPCA writing groupand a few announcements, not the least of which is a call for host families for ASF students. Please also be sure to fill out the survey for the Cascadia Cave trip by August 3. For the September newsletter, we're looking at the different ways RPCVs maintain a life-long engagement with their country of service. If this sounds like you, please get in touch; I'll also be sending out reminders in the weekly update. If you have any announcements or information that you'd like shared in the newsletter, be sure to get that to me before August 25, 2014. Keep cool!

— Meaghan Corwin, Armenia 2008–2011 & Mongolia 2011–2013

Call for host families

Become a global family by hosting an AFS Intercultural high school student from Pakistan for 12 weeks. AFS USA International exchange program is looking for families to Welcome our students to the NW.

These kids are amazing – they’re choosing to give up everything they know for a year to walk in the shoes of students from a different culture. They will work as ambassadors from Pakistan while they are in America. They are scholarship students.

Local AFS Volunteers will support you and your hosted student throughout your experience to help you both receive the most from your time together. You provide a bed and meals for your student, but most importantly, you should be eager and excited to share your life and activities while providing the same kind of care, support, and comfort as you would to your own child or family members. AFS welcomes all kinds of families. Single people, single parents, couples with young kids, retired couples – there are no constraints on the family configuration. You can even consider buddying up with another family and splitting the year.

Students study in high schools and are eager to experience what it’s like to live in America. Sharing daily life with a teenager from another country and culture is a rich and rewarding experience and is a wonderful way for you and your family to build a more just and peaceful world. Please consider it and talk it up with your students, neighbors, and friends. Let me know if you have questions or check out this website:

AFS-USA works toward a more just and peaceful world by providing international and intercultural learning experiences to individuals, families, schools, and communities through a global volunteer partnership.

Start the process at, or call 646-381-3384 or email the local Portland Oregon contact at for more information.

Special Guest at CRPCA's August 3 picnic at Kenilworth Park

Susan Caster (RPCV Ghana 1977-1981) was the driving force beyond the founding of the Atlanta Area Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (AARPCV) and of AARPCV's hosting of the 1994 National Peace Corps Conference.


CRPCA's Bill Stein met Susan while playing a bit role in the coordination of that awesome gathering 20 years ago. Susan recently reconnected with Bill as she hikes north on the Pacific Crest Trail. Bill is pleased to announce that Susan ("Rewind" to other PCT thru-hikers) has accepted his invitation to spend a "zero-day" in Portland, timing her visit around an appearance at Portland's Peace Corps picnic at Kenilworth Park, Sunday 8/03 starting at 4pm. Susan looks forward to meeting our vibrant RPCV community. In the interim, you can track her progress north at

This picnic is a joint effort of the CRPCA and the Portland Peace Corps group, and is an opportunity to gather and enjoy the company of your fellow RPCVs and celebrate the lovely NW summer season. It will be held at Kenilworth Park on SE Holgate. This is a potluck event will take place on Sunday August 3rd from 4pm until 7:30 or so; please bring a dish to share, your own plates, cups and utensils, and a BBQ grill if you wish to grill. We will gather in the SW corner picnic area of the park and will have access to some tables but please bring a picnic blanket if you have one to relax on. This is a great area for Bocce and croquet and this is a family-friendly event so feel free to bring your outdoor games! Contact Sarah at or Patrick at with questions. We hope to see you there!

RPCVs wanted to speak on panel in November

Planning has begun for a very exciting event co-hosted by CRPCA, the United Nations Association, and the World Affairs Council:

Theme: Careers Built Out of the Peace Corps Experience
Target Audience: HS Seniors & College students
Date: 1/2-day, TBD Saturday in November

We are seeking 8–12 highly dynamic RPCVs to serve as speakers for this event. Four will participate in a one-hour, moderated panel discussion on how their Peace Corps experience set the foundation for further career pursuits, and how international experience is valuable to a wide range of careers. Four to eight others, depending on interest, will lead one-hour breakout sessions, speaking more deeply about their career path within a particular field (e.g. international development, education, government, etc.). These speakers should be highly comfortable engaging with the target audience, willing to commit 4-5 hours of a November Saturday, and willing to share their PC and career experience with a focus on career counseling. If you are interested in learning more or would like to suggest someone who'd be a great speaker, email

Cascadia Cave Survey

We learned of public tours of Cascadia Cave around the time of CRPCA's Local Campout 2014, which was held at nearby Cascadia State Park, a 2+ hour drive SSE of Portland. Oregon State Parks' Tony Farque offers informative cave tours to community groups between late spring and early autumn.

Cascadia Cave is the largest and most complex rock art site in western Oregon, and tribes consider it among the most important ancient sites in Oregon.

Tony Farque is holding twelve weekday dates for CRPCA until we determine when we'd like a group tour or tours of this special place that's otherwise closed to the general public. The tours are free and generally run from 10am to 2pm, and they're aimed at everyone from adults to school-age children.

If a group tour of Cascadia Cave interests you, please take our Cascadia Cave Tour survey no later than Sunday, August 3, 2014. We're fishing for a date or two when we can pledge 15-30 attendees. Please get out your 2014-2015 work/school/vacation calendars and proceed to the survey today. Thank you!

Volunteer in Costa Rica

Interested in volunteering in Costa Rica in January 2015? Oregon Partners of the Americas and Peace Corps Costa Rica are seeking TEFL volunteers to work in rural areas with students graduating from elementary school to introduce them to basic English through “JumpStart” camps. JumpStart occurs in the month of January. We need volunteers with at least some basic Spanish and some teaching experience. TEFL experience would be helpful. Contact Char McKay (RPCV – Micronesia): or 503-333-6445 for more information.

I Cannot Commit to Another Two Years, But 30 Minutes I Can Do!

Patrice Morris Hudson on “Women in Black”

Remember Apartheid? I marched against it with hundreds of other college students back in the 1980s. I grew up fiercely opposed to “apart-hood”, nurtured by my mother to dream about other lands and far off people, to read about them in books, and to travel in my imagination until I could travel with a passport. My childhood drawings are of happy, playful children of various skin tones, my ‘someday’ friends. I grew up knowing I would join the Peace Corps, especially after learning it was ‘born’ in 1961, just like me!

As an undergrad, I also marched against oppression of the Palestinian people in 1988, during the long months between submitting my Peace Corps application and learning of my assignment as a Volunteer. When the media showed up I spoke out in front of the cameras, and when the footage aired I was warned by a friend that I’d probably ‘killed’ any future I may have had as a Peace Corps Volunteer. That same year, a group of women in Israel/Palestine began ‘Women in Black’, responding to what they considered serious violations of human rights by Israeli soldiers in the Occupied Territories. The women held a vigil every Friday in central Jerusalem, wearing black clothing in mourning for all victims of the conflict; a movement that quickly spread to other conflict areas throughout the world.

My public comments aside, I was assigned to serve a few months later. Peace Corps changed my life. That phrase is surely voiced by nearly every RPCV out there, but that’s not what I’m writing about today. In the past weeks news of war and violence in various places around our shared globe fill every moment of media broadcasts. Apartheid may have been abolished in South Africa, but “apart-hood” lives on in Israel and Palestine. I can’t begin to claim full knowledge of the region, but I travelled to Ramallah in 2012 and experienced the delay and intimidation of officials at border crossings between Palestine and Israel. What I do know is that Israel continues to build illegal settlements within the Palestinian borders, and that Israel’s occupation of the Gaza strip has been condemned by the United Nations as a violation of international law.

What can we do? What I do is make an effort to join the ‘Women in Black’ on Fridays in downtown Portland. On the days I can attend, we total four, standing in silent vigil for peace and justice. Judy is the eldest. In her 80s, she is the petit woman who eagerly hands out printed information to any passerby who slows or stops to read our simple sign. Before or after our 30 minutes of silence she shares with us bits of inspiring poetry or moving literature. Ann, the tallest among us, is in her 70s. She was a nuclear migrant to Australia in the early 60s, in anticipation and reaction to the Cuban missile crisis. Marly, in her 60s, is the energetic contact person. She brings the simple poster for display, and sometimes a folding chair for Judy. When one of these women cannot attend, they notify Marli so as to avoid concern. I, in my 50s the youngest of this foursome, make it a priority to attend at least twice a month, and am treated to the warmest set of smiles as a dear welcome whenever I arrive.

Those who walk past during our silent vigil vary from hurried office workers, vacationing tourists, art museum visitors, and downtown residents of varying social class. Some rush past, clearly avoiding eye contact. In my unscientific survey, it seems women are less likely to slow down and glance in our direction, while men will generally give our sign a quick glance. None should fear, as they will not hear a lecture or passioned argument pass our lips. Including those few who mock us for our effort, or comment negatively about the peoples involved in the violence. Children who make puzzled queries are sometimes swept away by their parents, while others receive a simplified explanation by a parent who stops to read the printed information offered by Judy. Each week, and perhaps more than usual this week, many who cross our path smile and give us a ‘thumbs up’ or a verbal ‘thank you’.

I sometimes feel guilty I can’t do more toward peace at this time in my life. But 30 minutes I can do. You can too. It happens every Friday, all around the world.

Join us and wear black! The Portland (Oregon) groups stands from 12:15 to 12:45 pm every Friday at SW 10th & Madison by the Portland art museum. (A recent short video was posted here:

WOMEN IN BLACK (WIB) is an international network of women standing in silent vigils calling for peace, justice, and non-violent solutions to conflict throughout the world. We stand in silence, because words alone cannot express the tragedy that wars and hatred bring. We stand in black, mourning for lives broken or lost through violence in the United States, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine/Israel, and in all wars. We stand in witness to the suffering of victims of violence all over the world. We stand in solidarity with people all over the world who struggle for justice and peace. We stand convinced that the world’s citizens can learn the difference between justice and vengeance, and can call world leaders into accountability to employ nonviolent means for conflict resolution.

The Navigator

Jerry Gabay, Malawi 1984-86

I was in the Peace Corps in Africa
But did not meet a crocodile man, nor crocodile woman either.
My country was Malawi where the sun would radiate intense light
Which broke the morning calm like a claxon in the great bleached sky.
The same sun would in the evening plow back into the earth from which it had sprung
A rose glow as gentle as an elfin mate.

On the lake, Nyasa that is, bwatos dug out of soft wood
Plied the surface like Tibetan yaks on the plains below Machapuchare.
Fishermen paddled up to sell deadly foods to the streamer’s crew
Who were eager to buy; perhaps the toxins did not attack them.

The night sky below Livingstonia’s ramparts was full of fireflies
Which mingled with the stars as if the stars had deigned to populate

The air above the lake with diamonds to light our way to Bethlehem
On Christmas Eve.

CRPCA August to October events

August 2014

Sunday, 08/03, 4pm until 7:30 or so – Picnic. Kenilworth Park in Portland. Columbia River Peace Corps Association and the Portland Peace Corps group picnic at Kenilworth Park on SE Holgate on Sunday August 3rd from . This is a potluck event so please bring a dish to share, your own plates, cups, and utensils, and a BBQ grill if you wish to grill. We will gather in the SW corner picnic area of the park and will have access to some tables but please bring a picnic blanket if you have one to relax on. This is a great area for Bocce and croquet and this is a family-friendly event so feel free to bring your outdoor games!

Saturday, 08/09 – Service Activity: Habitat for Humanity Build. Location and time frame is not yet determined. The date is confirmed. We will need 8-10 volunteers.

Sunday, 08/10, 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm- Book Club – 4222 SE Morrison St. in Portland. The book to read is A School for Others: The History of the Belize High School of Agriculture by Belize RPCV George LeBard (2010). Participating in our discussion–via Skype–will be George LeBard, the book’s author! See our Upcoming Book Discussions page for more information. Feel free to bring snacks to share. Hosted by Patrice Hudson, (503-866-7020).

Thursday, 08/14, to Sunday, 08/17 – Northwest Regional Camp Out. Cougar Rock Group Campground, Mt. Rainier National Park. Peace Corps families from Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and beyond will gather at Cougar Rock Group Campground, between Longmire and Paradise inside Mt Rainier National Park. The host group for the 24th annual regional campout is SEAPAX of Seattle, Washington. Stay tuned to for more information.

Monday, 08/25, 6:30 pm to 9:00 p.m. – Soirée. Lucky Labrador Brew Pub, 915 SE Hawthorne Blvd. in Portland. This is a great way to link up with other RPCVs, hear interesting stories from around the world, and grab a drink and a bite to eat among good company. You can usually find us in the front room.

Tuesday, 08/26, 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm – Salon Francophone, 4311 Southeast 37th Avenue, Portland in Portland. The focus of this event is the French language. We hold fast to the simple rule – only French spoken here — from the first greetings to the final farewells. All Francophones in our CRPCA community are welcome, including family and friends. On se rassemble pour le dîner (potluck) à 18:30. Hosted by Diane Henkels in Kailash Ecovillage backyard garden, 541-270-6001.

Wednesday, 08/27, 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm – Job Search Support Group, Lloyd Center in Portland. Informal gathering of CRPCA members and friends who are seeking new work. Location at Lloyd Center in Portland. Meet 7pm at the Food Court (3rd floor) exiting the elevator to the left side of the food court, looking for CRPCA sign plate overlooking the ice rink edge, or call Gordon Young at 206-351-6465 for our location if you arrive later. Contact Gordon at networking AT for more information.