Author Archives: eerpcv

Editor’s Note

by Janet Lee (Emdeber 1974–76)

In this issue readers will find an article by recently returned Nikki Therrien (Masha 2009-2011 and Addis Ababa 2011-2013). Searching for a way to continue giving back to Ethiopia, she discovered United for Health Abyssinia, a nonprofit based in Boston, MA that focuses on diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis. Perhaps a Legacy Project is in the making.

We all know that Peace Corps Volunteers are innovative and creative, but who would imagine that one would discover his “Inner Wild Man” in a remote village? David Hunt (Debark 2008-10) did just that while working out in a local gym, using discarded car parts for weight. See how he used social media to raise funds for a versatile piece of exercise equipment called “Monkii Bars,” turning a passion into a small business.

Many of us have had opportunities to return to Ethiopia and have been blessed by the experience. Richard Sherman (Adigrat 1968—70) returned to Ethiopia in February, his tenth trip back since his close of service in 1970. In “Ethiopia Redux: An Extraordinary Month of Teaching,” Richard describes teaching a specialized course to a group of students at the Defense Engineering College in Addis Ababa as one of the most rewarding experiences of his life.

On occasion The Herald will reprint articles that have been published elsewhere. After reading “We Wait for the Sun: Fury is more tolerable than fear” by Carol Beddo (Bahr Dar 1964-66) and “The Lion in the Gardens of the Guenet Hotel” by John Coyne (Addis Ababa 1962–64), readers will surely agree that these pieces are worth a second look.

Dan Close (Bekoji 66-68), author of “The Glory of the Kings,” reviewed in The Herald in February, 2014  has once again had his creative juices flowing. We publish for the first time, a poem he wrote for the Ethiopia VII reunion in North Carolina, April 2013.

And last, but not least, Book Reviews! Two of the titles are by former Ambassador to Ethiopia David Shinn, whom I had the opportunity to meet at a presentation in Denver in February. Enjoy!

In Memorium

The Herald was recently made aware of the fact that Dr. Ed Cross (Medical Director PC/Ethiopia 62–64) died in August of 2012 at the age of 91. Dr. Cross made having tropical diseases less ominous with his cheerful demeanor and old-fashioned jokes. e.g. “When you find out what that [ailment] is let me know — my wife has it, too.” A terrific person.
Click to read Dr. Cross’s obituary.

Harris Mirkin (Dessie, Addis Ababa 62–64) passed away May 30, 2013. After his time in the Peace Corps he earned a Ph.D. in Political Science and a then became an associate profession for 45 years at the University of Missouri/Kansas City.
Click to read Harris’s obituary.

Nancy Guillet Winter (Addis Ababa 62–64) died August 30, 2013 after having been diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (A..L.S. – Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in 2011.
Click to read Nancy’s obituary.

Projects

Help students succeed through running

by Marian Haley Beil (Deber Berhan 62–64)

Tony and Erin Portillo began serving in Debre Berhan in 2011 as health Volunteers. During my visit to DB in September I had the opportunity to meet and have a delightful visit with them, and I mentioned that should they need help on a project they should contact me. And they have!

The Portillos live in the small agricultural community of Zanjera on the outskirt of DB, and they are working with several community leaders to build a running track  — a simple, 400-meter oval — for youth of the area on grounds donated by the kebele leader, Ato Lema, for this purpose, and he has provided a signed letter of promise that he will maintain the upkeep of the track and set aside future kebele funds for that purpose. Zanjera provides little hope for the future of the young people who live there, and it has been shown that organized sports increase self-esteem and development in youth, and improve decision-making in girls (a special target group for this project). In Ethiopia, if students show promise as a runner, it can also increase their likelihood of sustained school enrollment.

The Protillo’s project is seeking funding assistance for construction costs for materials, and renting of digging and pressing equipment for the track. The goal is to raise an additional $4,700.

Recently the project was approved by the Peace Corps to be a Peace Corps Partnership Project that provides  a link for fundraising. Click on Local Track Project to read the Partnership post, and to make an online donation if you would like to help out these PCVs — and the students of Zanjera.

I also recommend that you read a terrific article that Erin wrote for the El Paso Times entitled Outrunning the Odds: Las Crucens Work in Ethiopia for change about the project, the community and Ethiopia.

E&E RPCVs Group News

Help build collaborative relationships between universities where you have worked or studied and universities in Ethiopia

by Marian Haley Beil (Debre Berhan 62–64)

Following the “Return to Ethiopia,” Steve Cristofar (Addis 62–64) — one of the organizers of the trip — sent a “thank you” note to Ambassador Girma Birru, Ethiopian Ambassador to the United States, on behalf of all those who had participated. On October 12th Ambassador Girma responded with a letter that included the following statement:

As I have indicated during my speech at the send-off gathering at our Embassy, The Peace Corps volunteers can help the Ethiopian people in areas of education by establishing collaborations between US and Ethiopian universities . . .

The letter also included the name of a gentleman on the Embassy staff, who should be contacted by E&E RPCVs to explore a possible program of educational collaborations at the university level facilitated by RPCVs.

I asked that Steve follow-up on this suggested effort, and the following is a portion of his report:

There are currently 33 universities in Ethiopia, including many new ones; total enrollment over 100,000. Big shortage of materials, teachers, etc. Several of these [universities] have already signed Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with US universities.

What Ambassador Girma is asking is for RPCVs with university connections to contact their schools & try to elicit interest in cooperative arrangements with Ethiopian counterparts, in the areas of exchanges of professors; of students; joint research efforts; etc. Also, for RPCVs to suggest US university partnerships with Ethiopian universities in towns where the RPCVs taught or otherwise served. Another possibility mentioned is library-to-library relationships. Improvements in the quality of education are a major goal of the program.

[Our contact] has sent me some information on the Ethiopian university system: specifics as to where the universities are, how big they are, any specialities they may have or desire to have, and any existing collaborative relationships between Ethiopian & American universities. He stressed that they are NOT looking for financial support for such efforts, as programs already are in place for same, ie, from USAID & Dept of State. They are familiar with the logistics of setting up university-to-university collaborations.

. . .

E&ERPCV efforts could be directed toward encouraging individual RPCVs with university connections, either directly or possibly through their alumni associations, to get their institutions (or, possibly, individual professors or experts) interested in collaborating with Ethiopian institutions of higher learning. An additional area might be research papers or studies conducted by American universities that either pertain directly to Ethiopia, or that could possibly contribute to research efforts in Ethiopia.

RPCVs — if you are interested in exploring how you might be able to facilitate US university to Ethiopian university linkages, please contact Steve at
u2u@ethiopiaeritrearpcvs.org

This is an exciting opportunity for us to continue our service to the people of Ethiopia.

E&E RPCVs Group News

You really should join our Facebook page

Go to http://www.facebook.com/groups/120114451456889/ and ask to join. Only those who have served or are currently serving with the Peace Corps in Ethiopia and Eritrea as Volunteers or staff may join. The official name of the page is “Ethiopia and Eritrea Returned Peace Corps Volunteers.”

Now that the trip to Ethiopia has passed (and the accompanying questions about where to stay and what to wear), you will find on-going discussions of Ethiopian paintings, job opportunities, the candidates to replace Secy. Hillary Clinton at the State Department, invitations to reunions — “and much, much more.”

We now have a great place to publish timely announcements between issues of The Herald.

RPCV Legacy Program

Eritrea Remembered elicits fond memories of PCVs

project a great success

by Marian Haley Beil (Debre Berhan 62–64)

You may recall that this past winter E&E RPCVs published the book Eritrea Remembered as an RPCV Legacy Program Project as the result of a suggestion by Scott Rasmussen at the American Embassy in Asmara. (You can read an earlier article about the project HERE.)

The American Embassy subsequently purchased copies of the book to share with Eritreans who have voiced their fond memories of their Peace Corps Volunteers to embassy staff. I have since received three notes from Scott about the book:

3/19
Hi Marian,
I just wanted to drop you a line to let you know the books came – they are beautiful! My staff has each taken a copy to review and they are so impressed with how well the RPCVs speak of Eritrea. We are planning an event with them in early May – we are trying to track down as many former Peace Corps students as we can for the event. I will keep you in the loop on this.

Again, thank you!
Best,
Scott

4/2
Hi Marian,
I hope you are doing well. I wanted to let you know that we received the books – they are beautiful! The Embassy had a booth at the Eritrean Book Fair that just wrapped up yesterday and we displayed copies of the book at the booth. We signed up nearly 50 people [for the event] who stopped to look at the book and ask about it. My staff told me “Once people start talking about their Peace Corps memories they just can’t stop!” We are planning our event for the first week of May.

Best,
Scott

5/9
Hi Marian,
The event was a HUGE success! We held it last Thursday, May 3. We billed it as the 50th Anniversary of the Arrival of Peace Corps Volunteers in Eritrea. I offered a few remarks about the Peace Corps, the Peace Corps in Eritrea, and shared some stories from the book. We then distributed copies of the book to the 140 guests who came and then opened the mic for anyone who wanted to stand and share their memories of the Peace Corps. We had 15 people stand up and fill the next hour with their memories about the Peace Corps. One gentleman became emotional saying “They inspired me to be a teacher. I love teaching because of them.” Another gentleman ran to the microphone to get ahead of others coming up and said “I can’t keep quiet!” The participants credited the Peace Corps Volunteers with teaching them English, to be service oriented, and to speak passionately for oneself.

We are receiving more requests for the book — from individuals and libraries. Thank you for all your work on publishing the book. I will try to contact each of the contributors individually — we had several people come up afterward and point to names in the book saying “That was my teacher!” Some of them gave me their contact information and are anxious to reconnect with their teachers.

Thanks again! I first thought of this idea in early Spring 2010 – it was so fulfilling to see it materialize – and all because of you!

Thanks,
Scott

E&E RPCVs Group News

by Marian Haley Beil (Debre Berhan 62–64)

“Return to Ethiopia”

Planning continues for the trip to Ethiopia this fall that starts off with a reception at the Ethiopia Embassy the evening of September 22. The embassy generously invites any RPCVs living in the DC area to the reception. You must RSVP to Russ Misheloff ( rmisheloff@comcast.net ) if you would like to attend. More details to come later.

If you are hoping to travel with the group that departs on the EAL flight on September 23, you MUST contact Russ Misheloff ( rmisheloff@comcast.net ) by May 30.

All about the trip

We have a page of many details about the trip that you can access by clicking on “Return to Ethiopia” that is in the black bar above the photo header of each Herald page.

Who is going?

You can also see the list of those who have informed the planning committee that they are interested in making the trip. Let your cursor hover over “Return to Ethiopia” in the black bar above and “Travellers” will appear as a pull-down option. Click on it.

Facebook page

As part of the planning for the trip, E&E RPCVs has finally signed up for a Facebook page. At this time it is primarily being used by travellers to exchange comments, questions and suggestions.

The group will continue use the Facebook page to make timely announcements of interest throughout the year that can’t wait to be published in The Herald. Because this page is only for Peace Corps/Ethiopia and Eritrea Volunteers and staff, in order to be able to make post or make comments for our group on the page you must request to become a “friend,” and will subsequently be approved.

Finally a thank you to the Trip Planning Committee for all the work they are doing: Leo Cecchini who is heading up the operation, plus Sue Hoyt Aiken, Steve Cristofar, Nancy Horn and Russ Misheloff.

A follow-up on the Reunion Auction

Thanks to Nancy Horn (Addis 66-68) and some item donors and helpers who organized and those who purchased, the Silent Auction held during our 50th Anniversary Reunion was a wonderful success. In total E&E RPCVs receive $4498.98 for its RPCV Legacy Program projects. The projects and the amounts they received from the auction are: Borana Student Advancement $289.00; Ethiopia Reads/Awassa $2151.58; HIV and Other Healthcare Books for Rural Communities $1632.47; ITC for Metu School $290.00; and Publish Eritrea Remembered $135.84. (Item donors were able to indicate which projects they wished to support, thus the differences.)