Fiftieth Anniversary

It’s Nearly Time

Preparations for Peace Corps’ 50th Anniversary Party are all but finished. Have you signed up for all the events?

by Barry Hillenbrand (Debre Marcos 63-65)

It’s September. This is the month. It’s less than two weeks until Peace Corps’ big 50th anniversary party in Washington. We’d like to bring you up to date on preparations and remind you that if you have not purchased tickets for the E&E RPCVs events for the September 23–25 weekend, TODAY is the day to do it.

The folks organizing the events need to confirm the numbers of people attending so they can order enough injera-and-wat for the dinner and secure plenty of chairs and breakfast fixings for the Saturday morning meeting. Also those organizing reunions of training group or towns need a head count for caterers and restaurants. SO TICKET SALES FOR EVENTS WILL CLOSE ON SEPTEMBER 16. You MUST sign up by the 16th or you risk missing the programs in Washington.

Here’s where you can purchase your tickets for the main events:

READY TO PARTY The Ethiopian Embassy in Washington

SOLD OUT The reception/buffet dinner at the Ethiopian Embassy, Friday, September 23, 6 to 9 p.m. No tickets will be sold at the door.

SOLD OUT The Saturday morning E&E RPCVs Program, at the Marriott on Saturday, September 24, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.  will include a continental breakfast and a long and varied group of speakers, presentations.  See below for a detailed updated schedule.

The good and exciting news is that lots of RPCVs  who served in Ethiopia and Eritrea are heading to Washington for the anniversary celebration. We are expecting a full house for the special Ethiopia and Eritrea RPCV events at the Crystal City Marriott and the Ethiopian Embassy. (We tried to get an Eritrean event scheduled, but never got beyond polite conversations with some Eritrean embassy officials.) So far more than 260 RPCVs and their guests have signed up for the Ethiopian Embassy reception/buffet dinner on Friday, September 23rd.  At last count nearly 200 people will be attending the Saturday morning program at the Marriott. While we tried to get big venues for these events, space is limited and we will have to close registration, so sign up TODAY.

E&E RPCV president Marian Beil (Debre Berhan 62–64) is ankle deep into the preparation of the programs and events.  It’s all coming together nicely. In Washington Judy Smith (Asmara 63–65) and Gigi Ott Wietecha (Makele; Dessie 63–65) — who negotiated out great arrangements with the hotel — are working with the Embassy on setting up the Friday dinner and reception.  Marian, from her base in Oakland, arranged a spiffy sound system for the Ethiopian music program that evening that will feature RPCV musician Charlie Sutton (Addis 66–68). LaDena Schnapper (Dessie, Awassa 63–66) will be using that system as she demonstrates an Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony.

Saturday Program — Potomac Ballroom

Nancy Horn (Addis 66–68) has rounded up speakers, experts and even a telephone link from Addis to allow us to hear directly from Peace Corps/Ethiopia Country Director Diallo Nwando, who will update us on what Peace Corps is doing in Ethiopia.  Nancy has lined up an impressive program. It’s still being fine-tuned and may change a bit, but here’s the present engaging line-up:

  • 8:00-8:15 – Welcome,  E&E RPCVs president Marian Haley Beil
  • 8:15-8:45 – Update on Health and Education in Ethiopia by Sean Tate (Kombolcha  66–68), Nancy Horn, and a recently returned PCV who has worked in health/HIV/AIDS.
  • 8:45-9:30 – Live Update on Peace Corps activities in Ethiopia from Diallo Nwando, current Peace Corps Director in Addis
  • 9:30 – 10:30 – Current involvement of E&E Projects:  Randy Marcus (Asella 66–68), Karen Blanchard (Asella 66–68), et al.; Neal Sobania (Addis 68–72); Haskell Ward (Nazareth 63–65); Gwen Williams (Makele 63–65) – 12 minutes each; Janet Lee (Emdeber  74–76), John Stauffer (Adi  Caieh 66–68), Lee Plate (Addis 66–69) and  Nancy Horn – 2 minutes each. Comments and reports will be welcomed from the floor during an open mike segment.
  • 10:30-10:45 – BREAK
  • 10:45 – 11:00 –  Mike McCaskey (Fiche 65-67) will show and comment on recent pictures taken in Ethiopia
  • 11:00 – 11:30 – Country Update on politics and economy, former U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia,  David Shinn
  • 11:30 – 12:00 – Country Update, Congressman (D- CA) and RPCV  John Garamendi (Metu 66-68) who recently visited Ethiopia.
  • 12:00-1:00 – Legacy Program Update, Leo Cecchini
  • 1:00-2:00 – Peace Corps  Authors talk about their books:  Dan Close (Bekoji 66–68), Ron Peterson (Nekempte, Dessie 73–75), Ted Vestal (Ethiopia staff 64–66) and Rob Albritton (Harar, Asmara 63–65)

Training Group Reunions

A series of reunions of training groups have been firmly scheduled. They include:

Ethiopia I will have a get together in the hotel pub — BELL20 Tavern — for food and drink right after the Morning Session ends, about 1 pm. Arranged by Leo Cecchini. This event will include the sharing of fond memories of staff member Ed Corboy who died recently.

Ethiopia II will have a pool side reunion, Saturday 3-5 p.m,  at the Marriott. About 50 people have already signed up so far. You can purchase tickets and view the names of those already signed up at

The Ethiopia II group is also planning a dinner Saturday evening  at 6:30 p.m. at Haar Mesob, an Ethiopian restaurant near the Marriott for those passing on the NPCA Gala. For those Ethie IIs interested in attending, please send an email to: by September 20th to sign up. Space is limited, so sign up now.

Ethiopia III will get together on Saturday after the Morning Session of E&E RPCVs. Dianne & Al Brandhorsts plus Betty McLaughlin Hagberg are organizing a lunch meeting ($30.00) of fellow Ethiopia III’s and guests at Cucina Vivace.  See details and payment information at our web site: or email us at:

For those of you who may have missed it, a full schedule of events during the 50th Anniversary weekend  can be found by clicking on “50th Schedule” in the menu bar at the top of the page of the HERALD.

NEW Tour of Museum of African Art

Judy Smith (Asmara 1963–65) is conducting a tour of the Smithsonian’s Museum of African Art — where she is a docent — for E&E RPCVs on Friday morning at 10 a.m. Please take the Metro from the Marriott to the Smithsonian stop. Judy will meet you in the entrance. The tour will be one hour. There is a small Ethiopian display with two paintings, but the main exhibit is a newly opened show of art from Central Nigeria.

Hospitality Room

The Virginia Room on the 2nd floor of the hotel will be our Hospitality Room. It will open on Thursday afternoon. Name tags can be picked up there — then at the Embassy event and the Saturday Program. If you have photos to show, there will be a TV with DVD player available. Bring snacks, drinks to share.

And there will be the Silent Auction!

Silent Auction

There are more than 100 items up for bid in the silent auction. Because all items have been donated, all proceeds from the auction will go to  supporting the current RPCV Legacy Program projects.  You can view the items and learn how to make bids now by clicking on “AUCTION”  at the top of this page in the menu bar.

The real life silent auction will be set up in the Hospitality Room of the hotel. Bidding ends Saturday evening, and winning bids will be announced.

Bid early, bid often, and bring your checkbook.

More Details

For other details about the 50th, click on “Fiftieth Anniversary” in the right column under “Categories” on any page and read all articles we’ve published on this topic.

3 responses to “Fiftieth Anniversary

  1. I think that the location of the celebration is a slight to all of those Volunteers who don’t live in proximity to the Washington DC area and who do not have the funds to attend. If the Peace Corps really wanted to Celebrate the Volunteer’s contribution to the host counties they would have paid to have all of us attend. What kind of celebration is it that keeps a majority of the volunteer pool at home while those with better means can attend? Sincerely, Bruce Elowitt, Ethiopia X

  2. Bruce – the Peace Corps does not “want to celebrate the Volunteers’ contribution to the host countries” – they are doing next to nothing for this event. And even if they were they would never consider paying for RPCVs to travel for anything. The with the exception of the NPCA’s $300 per person Gala, events for this weekend are being planned by the country-of-service groups like E&E RPCVs and individual RPCVs. The choice of DC – it has been the location for the large celebrations – 25th, 30th, 35th, and 41st (out of sync because of 9/11) – which used to be called conferences when the National Peace Corps Association and the Peace Corps worked together to present programs, and event – because it is there that we can connect with Embassies, international organizations, restaurants of many cultures, the agency, etc. There is not a city that can be chosen that would not “slight” those who live elsewhere.

  3. Hello All,
    I’ve done it again! Searched “Peace Corps” off and on during spring and summer to find out about the big 50th, but saw nothing. I was bewildered, but that happens lately. Last night I called RPCV C.J. Smith Castagnaro, and realized I wasn’t searching right. I would love to come to anything that’s going on, but am obviously way too late. IF YOU KNOW OF ANYONE WHO AT THE LAST MINUTE CANNOT MAKE IT AFTER ALL, I’D LOVE TO BUY THEIR TICKETS.
    I’M, home number (540) 297-2337; cell phone (540) 238-8235.
    Thanks so much!
    Penne Rude Scott
    Ethiopia 65-66 (IV)

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