April 2017 Book Club Selection

Phobos & Deimos
Moehl, John*: Phobos & Deimos: Two Moons, Two Worlds (2016)

* RPCV Cameroon (1974-1980)

Discussion: Thursday, April 6, 2017, 7:00-8:30 pm. Location at the home of Carole Beauclerk, 1500 SW Park Ave in Portland. 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. Participating in our discussion–in person–will be John Moehl, the book’s author! Feel free to bring snacks to share.

Synopsis: Many of us live dual lives, as though we live in two worlds. This divergence is perhaps greatest for those embedded in what may be called “multiculturalism.” Multicultural people, with their unique life experiences, are migrating around the globe, carrying their own baggage while they face the demands of living in new and strange lands. The short stories in this collection look at the daily tests facing people, frequently in Africa, as they struggle to survive, often in a rapidly changing world. These observations are made through the lens of an outsider–someone from a different culture, with different habits, seeing and learning how these trials are met–seeing and learning that people, regardless of ethnicity, share a common humanity that makes taking these tests poignant and, at times, a true reflection of the human condition. The stories focus on farmers and families, business and traditional leaders, the poor and the rich as they move through life’s pathways, not knowing the changes in store for tomorrow. The stories tell tales of sadness and success, while underscoring the common denominators we all share. The stories may be seen as representing a different world, but they most likely represent the whole world.

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

April 2016 Book Club Selection


Beebe, James*: Those Were the Days: A Peace Corps Volunteer in the Philippines in the Late ’60s (2014)

* RPCV Philippines (1968-1973)

Discussion: Tuesday, April 19, 2016, 6:30-8:00 pm. Location at the home of Maria and James Beebe, 2373 NW Pettygrove St in Portland, 971-229-0780. Participating in our discussion–in person–will be CRPCA’s James Beebe, the book’s author! Feel free to bring snacks to share.

Abstract: A series of vignettes of significant, often funny, sometimes quite serious, events and encounters based on James’ Peace Corps experience in the Philippines. As a Volunteer from October 1968 to May 1973 James was profoundly changed by the joy of life and economic inequality he discovered while serving in the Philippines. He helped introduce a new activity-based approach to science teaching, learned the truth of the children’s rhyme that “Planting Rice is No Fun,” and taught part-time at a College. Life included buying a one-of-a-kind mosquito net, being offered a love potion, witnessing the funeral processions of poor babies, holidays, and being attacked by dogs after eating dog meat. The cloud of the Vietnam War had a significant impact. The most life-changing event almost didn’t happen when Maria, the “matchmaker’s” intended choice, accused the Peace Corps of “fascism, imperialism, and neocolonialism.” Renewed efforts the next year resulted in an accepted marriage proposal 6 weeks later. James then had to secure the blessings of her grandmother, Huk Kumander Dayang-dayang, for a marriage 2 weeks later. They had to wade through a waste-high flood on their wedding day and spent their honeymoon in a 350 year old Catholic convent. Maria’s naturalization as a US citizen and acceptance into Peace Corps occurred during a 6 week trip to the US after which they returned as Volunteers to the Philippines.

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

June 2015 Book Club Selection

When the World Calls
Meisler, Stanley: When the World Calls: The Inside Story of the Peace Corps and Its First Fifty Years (2011)

Discussion: Tuesday, June 9, 2015, 6:30-8:00 pm. Location at the home of Lesly Sanocki, 2090 NW Overton Ct in Beaverton, 503-690-3391. Participating in our discussion–via Skype–will be Stanley Meisler, the book’s author! Feel free to bring snacks to share.

Review: © Booklist: Few government programs enjoy the reputation of the Peace Corps, a political afterthought by President Kennedy that became one of the more enduring legacies of his administration. Succeeding administrations have had testy relations with the Peace Corps. Johnson railed against volunteers’ opposition to his invasion of the Dominican Republic, and Reagan tried to use the program to advance his agenda in Central America. Since its 1961 inception, the Peace Corps has had to manage its mission to advance peace and provide development assistance, from teaching to building wells, against political onslaughts within the U.S. and host nations even as it managed its image as symbol of American idealism rather than tool of the CIA. Meisler, a deputy director during its early years, offers informed perspective from the turbulent years of the Vietnam War, when many volunteers were conflicted about their government, to the future direction of the Peace Corps. Drawing on his experience and interviews with former volunteers, he presents the fascinating characters, locales, and political background noise from a near-universally admired program’s 50-year history.

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