Annual Summer Picnic

Our annual summer picnic was held on July 12th at Bob Crowley’s house in Poestenkill. 25-30 people were in attendance, including RPCVs, one current PCV, husbands and wives, and plenty of friends and family. A good time was had by all as we ate, drank, swam, and talked the day away. Until next year, everybody!

 

Good discussion

Good discussion

Good food

Good food

And a great host! Thanks, Bob!

And a great host! Thanks, Bob!

Peace Corps Happy Hour at Umana Restaurant and Wine Bar

A great time was had by all who attended the Peace Corps Happy Hour last night! Thanks again to Umana Restaurant and Wine Bar for hosting us and to RPCV Heather Senecal for organizing the event.

 

The restaurant created a special menu just for our event.

The restaurant created a special menu just for our event.

236 Washington Ave., Albany, New York 12210

236 Washington Ave., Albany, New York 12210

Bob Crowley and Joe and Pat Doherty

Maseeh Mukhtar and Steve Gottlieb

A tableful of RPCVs!

Tessa Eckholm, Sarah Janeski, and Eliot Cresswell

Cheers!

Happy Hour Update – Menu attached

Hi Everyone,

Just a quick update on our Happy Hour Event next Friday (May 2nd) at 6 PM. First, thanks to everyone who RSVP'; it is going to be a fun night. Umana has reserved us the ‘back room’ in the restaurant. It’s a nice open space and we can definitely mingle. We have let the local PCMI programs (School of Public Health and Rockefeller) know about our happy hour and hopefully we will have some future PCV-ers there too.

If you are not sure about whether you can attend, there is still time! As further enticement, Umana has sent us a menu of special small plates they will have for us to order (attached). All prices are inclusive of taxes (but not gratuity). You can also order larger plates off their menu. We decided people can order the wine on an individual basis (rather than trying to find wines that everyone will like) and they will have a bartender available to our group.

We don’t need to order anything in advance; however, Umana asked that I update on approximate numbers by mid-week so they can have ample food on hand. You can order and pay directly at the restaurant.

Hope you can make it. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

See you Friday,

Heather

Click here to view menu.

Habitat for Humanity Build – Saturday May 10th

Looking for (another) way to Volunteer?

Some of you may have met our member Tessa Eckholm (RPCV Mexico). She is looking for some folks to help out on a Habitat for Humanity build. Habitat for Humanity is celebrating National Women Build Week May 4th – 11th. They are looking for 5-10 volunteers (open to everyone, not just women) for Saturday May 10th at the Sheridan Hollow Project site. Building will take place from 8am-3pm and they are having an after party at the Habitat for Humanity offices, just up the street at 3:30 as a thank you for all the Women Build volunteers.

If you are interested in participating or have any questions please email Tessa directly: tessaae@gmail.com. For planning purposes it would helpful if you could RSVP to Tessa by Thursday May 1st.

Here is some information about Women Build Week:

May 4th – 11th is National Women Build Week.  Women Build is a Habitat for Humanity International program that encourages women to make a difference by building homes and communities. The program seeks to encourage women volunteers to further the home-building mission of Habitat for Humanity. Since Women Build’s official creation in 1998, Women Build volunteers have constructed more than 1,600 homes around the world. Women Build 2014 will be taking place in the Capital District May 6th through May 10th, 2014 in Sheridan Hollow. This is a 60 house neighborhood revitalization project in downtown Albany. There is a suggested donation of $25/volunteer for this build to help empower women in the Capital District through home-ownership!

Survey request from PhD candidate Meghan Kallman – Brown University

Dear RPCVs of Northeastern New York,

My name is Meghan Kallman, and I am a PhD candidate in the department of sociology at Brown University, in Providence, Rhode Island.  I am writing a dissertation about the relationship between organizations and social change work. I am interested in civic participation, the third sector, and development; in other words, what happens when people try to make their worlds better, and what do formal organizations have to do with that process?

I have elected to write my dissertation on the Peace Corps because I am interested in the effects of volunteering on people’s lives: how are volunteers’ biographies, identities, and politics shaped by participation? How do individual volunteers carry their Peace Corps experience with them throughout their lives and careers? How does this sort of international service experience permanently affect people?

As a part of it, I have created a survey for RPCV’s asking about their experiences abroad. I would be extremely grateful if you would distribute it to your listserv, via Facebook or your social media outlets, and to any other RPCVs in your personal or professional networks. The link is here: https://brown.co1.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_0v3sObMYOUf8N0N

You should find the survey intuitive and enjoyable, and it should take about twenty minutes to complete.

This research has been approved by the Brown University Institutional Review (ethics) Board and is supported by the National Science Foundation and the Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy. Please contact me should you have any questions or concerns. I very much appreciate your consideration.

Regards,

Meghan Kallman

Greetings from Becky Raymond in Blantyre, Malawi

The following is an excerpt from a recent email from longtime RPCVs of NENY member, Becky Raymond. Becky is currently serving in Blantyre, Malawi on a Peace Corps Response assignment.

______________________________________________

All is well. We arrived 2 weeks ago, 8 Peace Corps Response volunteers; 4 “older” and 4 “younger”, all women. The group includes 2 PhDs, 1 MD, 1 former Associate Peace Corps Director (me) and four out of 8 are former PC volunteers.

We had a 10 day orientation/training at a hotel/conference center in the capital Lilongwe, focusing on Peace Corps admin policies, Malawian government structure, district level structure and resources (or not), cross-cultural orientation, and Chichewa language (I am having a harder time learning a new language this time around.)

We met with USAID and Embassy officials, got fitted for bikes, went to the market on a crammed mini-bus and bargained as best we could, all in the first week.

Then our Malawian counterparts (District Directors of Planning and Development) arrived for two days of collaborative orientation. It focused on understanding American and Malawian work styles, helping recognize cultural differences that might create barriers, reviewing District Implementation Plans and beginning to develop a work plan for the next 12 months. The work plans will be further developed over the next weeks as we do an organizational assessment, attend many meetings, and learn the assets and challenges of the district council to which each of us is assigned. HIV and AIDS prevention is under the National AIDS Commission and implemented through local district or municipal councils. (It’s always HIV and AIDS here, not HIV/AIDS)

We left Lilongwe on Wednesday the 19 with our counterparts and were driven to our assigned sites. I have been assigned to Blantyre, the second largest city. It’s the commercial capital of the country, so think of me as living in the New York City of Malawi!  I live in a house vacated by the previous PC Response volunteer. It has 2 bedrooms and a large yard with fruit trees and, get this – a garden!!! At the moment my furniture consists of a bed, a table and 5 chairs. Peace Corps provided us with a medical kit, water filter, bike, helmet and mosquito net. We also were given a “settling in allowance”, the equivalent of $290 to purchase supplies and get through the month. Budgeting is challenging, there are many initial expenses. Our monthly “salary – living allowance” is $212. We are expected to live at the level of our counterparts.

I have purchased a mini stove/oven (like a large toaster oven with two burners on top) and a small dorm-size refrigerator, plus many kitchen and cleaning items. For food there are two large but expensive grocery stores; Shop Rite and Game (South African). There are smaller Malawian groceries throughout the city, one not far from my house. In addition, I purchase many staples at the local market. The variety of vegetables and fruit is just wonderful. The market also sells used clothing (you know those bags of clothes we all donate to Goodwill, etc.) plus hardware, cloth for whatever article of clothing you may want to have made by a local tailor, and beautiful local crafted baskets, wooden furniture, etc. The wood products are an issue because Malawi’s forests have been largely depleted due to cutting for firewood – over population. I am trying to get used to the vagaries of water and power outages, washing my clothes by hand, city noises, walking or biking everywhere (good for my health), not getting run over because they drive on the left side like the British, and how to look “professional” while sweating. The only air conditioning I’ve experienced was at a bank.

I am enjoying being in Malawi. The people are friendly and welcoming. They appreciate that we make an effort to speak Chichewa, however badly we mispronounce. My first day of work is tomorrow, so expect much more detail about what I’m doing the next time I write.

-end-

RPCVs of NENY and the US Committee for Refugees and Immigration – How We Can Help

Hi all,
Several meetings ago we had some speakers present to us from the Albany branch of USCRI (The US Committee for Refugees and Immigration). One of the ways they thought our RPCV community might be able to help was with language skills. They sometimes need volunteers to help translate. I will compile a list of people who are willing to possibly help and then I will share the information with USCRI.
If you are interested please send me your full name, phone number &/or email, and languages. Also please specify your language level – beginner, intermediate or fluent.

You can send your information to: sypoggi@gmail.com or rpcvneny@gmail.com

Let me know if you have any questions.

Peace,
Sara Poggi

Legislative Victory for Peace Corps Commemorative!

Congress 1

Reposted from: http://www.peacecorpsconnect.org/2014/01/legislative-victory-for-peace-corps-commemorative/ 2014 is off to an excellent start for the Peace Corps community. Monday evening, the U.S. House of Representatives gave final approval to Peace Corps Commemorative legislation. The measure was approved by a vote of 387 to … Continue reading