NPCA 55th Anniversary Celebration at the Ethiopian Embassy
Over 115 Returned Peace Corps Volunteers from Ethiopia and Eritrea, family, and friends attended the banquet reception hosted by Ambassador Girma Birru on Friday, September 23rd in conjunction with the National Peace Corps Association Conference: Peace Corps Connect held in Washington, DC. Returned Volunteers from the 1960s mingled with Volunteers who left Ethiopia in just the past year and shared experiences.
Never one to miss a gathering of his Ethiopian RPCV colleagues was Senator Harris Wofford, former special assistant to John F. Kennedy, one of the founding fathers of the Peace Corps, former Director of Operations in Ethiopia from 1962 to ’64 and Associate Director of Peace Corps from 1964 to ’66. The National Peace Corps Association’s Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award named in his honor, is awarded each year at the NPCA annual conference. Last year’s recipient was Ethiopian Berhane Daba, President and Founder of Ethiopian Women with Disabilities National Association (EWDNA), an organization that works to empower women with disabilities.
Also spotted in the crowd were E&E RPCV past-president Marian Haley Beil (Debre Berhan 1962–64), Barry Hillenbrand (Debre Marcos 1963–65), past editor of The Herald, and board member John Coyne, author of many novels, books on Ethiopia, and golf.
Theodore Vestal (Associate Director, PC/Ethiopia 1964–66), Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Oklahoma State University author of The Lion of Judah in the New World, among others (Addis Ababa 1962–64) was also there.
A vast array of Ethiopian food, including doro wat, kitfo, atakilt wat, miser wat, and injera, was served buffet style to the delight of all of the guests. Ethiopian wine and beer were also available. Good company. Good food. We were all in Ethiopian foodie paradise.
Stephen Cristofar (Asmara, Adi Quala, Debarola — Eritrea 1962-64) served as Master of Ceremonies for the evening’s program. Ato Misgina Tesfay Gebreselassie, Minster Counselor at the Ethiopian Embassy, introduced Ambassador Girma Birru, who in turned welcomed the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and spoke of the ongoing relationship between the RPCVS and the people of Ethiopia. E&E RPCV Vice President Leo Cecchini followed with short remarks.
Janet Lee (Emdeber, 1974–76) and Dwight Sullivan (Yergalem, Dodola, 1970–72) made a presentation about their new Legacy Project, Axum Children’s Library Enhancement. The Embassy staff presented to the community a short video travelogue that highlighted the country that we have all grown to love.
Amanda Sutker (Adaba, West Arsi, 2012–14) eloquently closed the program through words of appreciation of the efforts of the Volunteers who broke ground in Ethiopia in the early days and the opportunities ahead for all Volunteers to work together on common goals.
Many thanks to the local arrangements committee: Stephen Cristofar, Amanda Sutker, and Randy Marcus (Asella 1966-68) for organizing this event for all to share.
In closing, the Ambassador and staff gathered all those resplendent in their habesha libs to join him for a final photo.