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Peace Corps Newsletter June 2003

Peace Corps Newsletter June 2003

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Published by Ercilia Delancer
This is a preliminary account of my two years teaching English as a Foreign Language in Nepal as a Peace Corps volunteer.
This is a preliminary account of my two years teaching English as a Foreign Language in Nepal as a Peace Corps volunteer.

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Published by: Ercilia Delancer on Oct 28, 2009
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June, 2003
RPCVSF Calendar
JUNE 21stPartnership Dinner
Bring a friend and join RPCVSF at the House of India, 22 Merrick Way in Coral Gables (across from Sears) -- 6:00 to9:00 PM.RSVP to Farley at: (954) 927-8819 or ferrantf@bellsouth.net. Cost is $20 which includes dinner as well as a donationto support a Peace Corps partnership project.
JUNE 28thPalm Beach Pot Luck !!!
Marlene Syverson will host a pot-luck social at her home-- 6103 Island Way, West Palm Beach from 6 - 10 p.m. onSaturday, June 28th. Please bring food, snacks or soft drinks/alcoholic beverages to share. To RSVP and fordirections, contact Marlene at Msyverson@bellsouth.net or (561) 965-4643
A Recap on recent RPCVSF events!In Case You Missed IT
Cinco de Mayo
came two days early this year when 70+ RPCVSF members, family and friends gathered at the
Peace Corps Compound 
on May 3
for piñatas, Margaritas, fajitas, chips, salsa good friends and a good time. ThePCV class of 2020 provided first rate entertainment as they took their swings and demolished 5 piñatas under thewatchful eyes of Forrest Hoover and Susan Walton. Thanks to all those who donated and/or bought at the SilentAuction, this event also raised $136 for The Colombia Project as well as collecting used eyeglasses, foreign coins andbooks for various RPCVSF projects.The May 18
NOM Picnic
at Secret Woods brought out a lot of new faces including invitees Christine Beardsley(Paraguay), Amy Sindler (Lesotho), Phil Thoms (Kazakhstan), Christine Kerwin (The Gambia) and Hillary Renaldy(The Gambia). and a number of prospective nominees at varying stages in the recruitment process. Peace Corpsrecruiter John Eaves made the trip from the Atlanta regional office to meet with RPCVSF and the nominees and share
a personal story about his nephew, currently serving in Paraguay.Among the recently returned RPCVs were Aurora Fernandez (Morocco), John Lederman (Philippines), Luz Monte(Honduras), Linda Sagaille (Liberia), Ray Obregon (Uruguay) and Curtis Jepsen (Nicaragua) and Alissa Fiss who hadattended a Nom picnic three years ago, just before leaving for UkraineSpecial thanks are in order for Erin Seiler (Mali) who organized the event and to George, husband of RPCV MaryLamberts who taught basket weaving for the 3
year in a row - always a highlight of the Nom Picnic.
RPCV's Visit Mason Lodge
By Emily Eisenhauer - China
RPCVSF connected with a new audience last month, The Free and Accepted Masons, in Miami Shores. Bob Anderson- Gabon and Ghana, Steven Orr - Panama, Heather Blank - Paraguay, Kathleen Smarsh - Cote d'Ivoire, and I attendedan open house at Mason Lodge #315 on March 25 to talk about our PC experiences. About 30 Lodge members were inattendance.We were treated to a pot-luck dinner thoughtfully prepared by the Masons and their families, and afterward shared ourexperiences from Africa, Asia and Latin America.The Masons are a fraternity of hand crafters that trace their founders to the builders of the Temple of Solomon. TheMasonic Order has lodges all over the world that meet for community service and social functions. Historically, allmembers were men who worked with their hands and passed down their trades to their sons. In recent decadesmembership was extended to all other occupations as well. The Masons count many famous historical figures amongtheir members, men as different as King James and Jose Marti.
Bob Andersen, RPCV Gabon and Ghana, and a long time Mason organized the event. He was recruited by the PeaceCorps in 1960 to build schoolhouses in Gabon. He worked with a team of five volunteers who traveled around Ghanaerecting buildings at sites where Education volunteers would be assigned.Many thanks to Lodge 315 for hosting the event and for presenting RPCVSF with a check for $130 as the Lodge'sCharity of the Month.
Since several RPCVs have recently sent letters and descriptions of their service in Nepal, TROPICAL CURRENTS isintroducing a new feature to showcase a country or region in each issue. Many RPCV's have remarked that they wereunaware just how different their experiences were from those of other volunteers -- even from other volunteers in thesame country. Due to space constraints, all submissions may be edited. We will try our best to maintain the integrity of  your work. The next issue will focus on countries in Central America, including Honduras, Nicaragua, Belize, Costa Rica, Panama and Guatemala. Please send your letters to helenedudley@yahoo.com
A brief history of Peace Corps in Nepal
The first Peace Corps Volunteers arrived in Nepal in 1962, making the country program one of Peace Corps' oldest.Those Volunteers trained their national counterparts in building infrastructure and in basic programs such asagriculture and education. Since that time, the population in Nepal has increased from nine to twenty million. There
are currently 89 volunteers in Nepal and as of January 2003, the total number of Volunteers to have served in Nepal is3,709.
Basic Country information:
Nepal is among the poorest and least developed countries in the world with nearly half of its population living belowthe poverty line. Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy, providing a livelihood for over 80% of the populationand accounting for 41% of GDP. Industrial activity mainly involves the processing of agricultural produce including jute, sugarcane, tobacco, and grain. Textile and carpet production, accounting for about 80% of foreign exchangeearnings in recent years, contracted significantly in 2001 due to the overall slowdown in the world economy andpressures by Maoist insurgents on factory owners and workers. Security concerns in the wake of Maoist activity, theJune massacre of many members of the royal family, and the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US led to a decreasein tourism, another key source of foreign exchange.The government has also been cutting expenditures by reducing subsidies, privatizing state industries, and laying off civil servants. More recently, however, political instability - five different governments over the past few years - hashampered Katmandu's ability to forge consensus to implement key economic reforms. Nepal has considerable scopefor accelerating economic growth by exploiting its potential in hydropower and tourism, areas of recent foreigninvestment interest. Prospects for foreign trade or investment in other sectors will remain poor, however, because of the small size of the economy, its technological backwardness, its remoteness, its landlocked geographic location, andits susceptibility to natural disaster. The international community's role of funding more than 60% of Nepal'sdevelopment budget and more than 28% of total budgetary expenditures will likely continue as a major ingredient of growth.
Letter #1 From Ercilia Delancer, who served in Nepal from 2000 to 2002.
I first became aware of the Peace Corps in 1976 when journalists covering Jimmy Carter's presidential campaigninterviewed his mother about her two-year stint as a volunteer in India. As a recently arrived immigrant from theDominican Republic, I was very impressed by Ms. Carter's and the Peace Corps' dedication to helping others anddecided right then and there that one day, I too would be become a Peace Corps volunteer. Twenty-four years andseveral exhausting flights later I descended into Kathmandu, Nepal to begin my Peace Corps experience. Myassignment entailed teaching high school English in a small village near the Indian border.
The following are excerpts from several of my letters home.
My first exposure to Nepal and its people occurred at the international airport in Bangkok, Thailand as I waited for thedeparture of the final flight segment of the flight to Nepal. A few of my fellow volunteers who had traveled to Nepal astourists earlier in their lives pointed out the Nepalese who they easily recognized by their physical appearance, speechand mannerisms. Most of the men were short by western standards, dressed in western clothes and smoked nonstopwhile gesturing and talking loudly. The women sat nearby dressed in saris and kurta surwals (pants and tunic

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