El Bochinche Newsletter -- Peace Corps Panama Friends
Issue: 22   

2012 Quarter III

Fall/Otoño Edition  

In This Issue
PCPF Media
Bud Keith Scholars
50th Reunion
Panama Tourism
Quick Links


Dear Stephen,


This edition of El Bo is filled with both happy and sad news. I am happy to announce the results of our 2012 Directiva elections, as we welcome new members Sarah Strong (RPCV 2012) as Secretary and Florence Reed (RPCV 1993) as Panama Liaison. David Modzelewski (RPCV 1969) will now serve as Vice President, with most of his focus in coordinating for the 50th Anniversary Reunion in Panama next year. We are very excited to have these new members on the board, and look forward to their fresh ideas! If you are interested in getting involved in any capacity with PCPF, please just drop us a line.


As we celebrate change in the Directiva, we are also saddened by the recent loss of many of our Peace Corps Panama Friends.


In this edition we honor the lives of John Richard Fillis, John Fish, Carol Ritter and Allen Spurga, who are just a few of our fellow Peace Corps Friends remembered for their impact in the world, and in our lives. Many have asked about how commemorate their lives through a donation to Peace Corps projects in Panama. We are in the process of setting up a fund that will be utilized to funnel your donations into the provinces of Panama and types of projects that our friends who have passed would most appreciate, and will have information on this soon.


Please enjoy this Fall Edition of El Bo (though it still feels like summer in most places!), y qué les vaya bien en todos sus labores en el día de hoy.



Valerie Whiting

PCPF President

About PCPF


Peace Corps Panama Friends (PCPF) is a non-profit organization founded in 1986 consisting of returned and current Peace Corps volunteers, Peace Corps Panama former and current staff, and families and friends. Our mission is to help our members continue their commitment to international service and understanding, support the Peace Corps mission in Panama, and share knowledge of Panama and the Peace Corps with others.


The new PCPF Directiva consists of:

President - Valerie Whiting

VP -  David Modzelewski 

Treasurer - Jaime Clark

Panama Liaison - Florence Reed 

Secretary - Sarah Strong  


PCPF website:


Facebook group:


LinkedIn group: http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Peace-Corps-Panama-Friends-2316292?home=&gid=2316292&trk=anet_ug_hm 


You can help support PCPF by donating to either the PCPF Community Development Fund or the Bud Keith Scholarship Fund for the Blind.


 Official NPCA Member Group

PCPF Media  


With 564 Facebook members, if you're not part of the hottest social media for Peace Corps Panama Friends, you're missing current and eclectic postings like... 

PCPF on LinkedIn has 133 members, all who have access to relevant job postings around the world, webinars, professional conferences, and group discussions. If you're on LinkedIn, look for the PCPF group  as another way to connect to your fellow RPCVs in a professional format.


social media words


Organizations that have been featured in former job listings:

AtlasCorps:  http://bit.ly/ApplyToAtlas 
Encore Service Corps: http://www.encoreservicecorps.org/current.cfm  

National Peace Corps Association: http://jobs.peacecorpsconnect.org/


Volunteer opportunities wherever you are in the world:     

Kiva: http://www.kiva.org/about/translationFAQ  

United Nations: http://www.onlinevolunteering.org/en/vol/ 
Volunteer Match: http://www.volunteermatch.org/      


Books to check out:

Werner, D., Thuman, C., & Maxwell, J. (2011). Where there is no doctor/Donde no hay doctor.
Free download at http://hesperian.org/books-and-resources/?book=download_where_there_is_no_doctor#tabs-downloads.    

*Other titles on health issues in Spanish from this publisher: http://store.hesperian.org/HB/ctgy/ESP.html   


Other sites to check out:  

Team Snake Panama: http://www.lamica.org/teamsnakepanama.html      


Check out our recently updated PCPF website! http://www.panamapcv.net/   

Two New Bud Keith Scholars  
By Jerry Lutes
Ingrid and guide
Ingrid and her sighted guide

The Patronato Luz del Ciego, which administers PCPF's Bud Keith Scholarship Fund for the Blind in Panama, also organizes social and athletic events for the blind.  Two of the students receiving our scholarships participated in a race through the streets of Panama City.  Each was paired with a sighted runner (or walker) who kept them on track. Ingrid Rivas, our college student, took first place in the ladies' division.  Erika Pimentel, one of our high school students, took first place in the students' division.  Erika also participated in last year's race.

The Patronato also

organized a reinado, a popularity contest with voting by secret ballot.  Erika won "first princess", which probably means second place.  The competition got some press coverage and Erika was interviewed on the radio.

You can meet the first princess and some of the other Bud Keith scholars at our reunion in Panama next year.  Meanwhile, please donate to the scholarship fund.  

DONATE NOW!  (Please check website back later if we're still under construction)

Erika casts her secret ballot.
Erika being interviewed on radio
Erika being interviewed on radio
Erika being interviewed on radio
Peace Corps Panama 50th Reunion
The Reunion movie poster
The Peace Corps Panama reunion is next summer: June 26-30, 2013. Details at http://www.pcpanama50.com/.     

The reunion will take place in Panama City, with the Country Inn and Suites-Amador being the hotel for many of the events. Regional reunions will take place on Sunday, the 30th.


The Peace Corps Panama 50th Reunion Committee is planning an eclectic mix of activities: field trips, picnic lunch, dinner at Miraflores locks, visit to Peace Corps office, panel discussions, receptions, and other tours.  


Make sure to add your RSVP on the site! 


If you are interested in being part of the committee contact Valerie Whiting at president@panamapcv.net. We are looking for a team to work on reunion logistics, which could include tour arrangements, booking hotel blocks, coordinating transportation, contacting current volunteers, etc.    

Traveling with Toddlers Part II 
By Alicia Añino

Museum ceremonial site
Marley & Alicia at El Caño Archaeological Museum's ceremonial site

My two niñas now aged 4 and 7, a girlfriend, and I spent 10 days in Panama last month. It had been almost three years since we had been to Panama and so much had changed. We noticed at least three new skyscrapers in the city (one a Trump tower), the building of the new elevated and underground metro, less Diablo Rojo buses and more air conditioned megabuses, more mega-businesses along the Interamerican highway, and the construction of a new international airport in Farallón, Coclé. Unfortunately I also noticed a new skyscraper and multiple resorts on my favorite beaches, as well as a McDonald's and Subway in Penenomé.   


My daughters' birthdays are three weeks apart in August and September, so, as part of their heritage, I felt they needed to have a traditional Panamanian fiesta de cumpleaños - complete with chicha de arroz con piña, arroz con pollo, tamales, ensalada de papas, a $3.00 piñata, chairs in the yard, and tons of neighborhood kids. My daughters passed around the traditional bowl of "chiwi" to the attendees, sang happy birthday in Spanish, scrambled for candy, and played with their new friends until way past their bedtimes.  They, of course, especially loved eating cake before their dinner.   


Although the party preparations brought back memories of making food for the women to sell (I worked with CrediMujer communal banks for women with microbusinesses) my daughters' favorite time was their trip on the Chagres to visit the Emberá Puru village, a relatively new settlement of a small number of Emberá families, about a 30 minute motorized canoe ride from where we departed. On the way my girls were delighted by small birds walking on lily pads, spider monkeys in the treetops, and jumping fish. As soon as we arrived my 4 year old became instant friends with an Emberá girl of around the same age. She took her by the hand, showed her her house and toys, introduced her to her pet toucan, and never left her side until we departed. By the end of the trip my youngest had taken her shirt off to be more like her friend. As a foodie, I reveled in the fresh pineapple, papaya, bananas, tilapia, and patacones; but my children were more interested in the leaf "plates" and basil-water hand wash. 


Besides our tourist excursions, me and my children had the opportunity to spend time with great grandparents, grandparents, uncles, and cousins; and even snuck in a strictly educational trip to El Caño Archaeological Park. About 10 minutes from the Interamerican highway in Coclé, this museum has a beautiful new road (last time I attempted to visit my rental van got stuck in the mud and we had to turn back after we finally fished it out after an hour) that takes you to an open air and small indoor house that houses the museum. I'm not sure if my kids grasped the concept of 500 AD caciques and ceremonial sites, but they'll remember the fire ants and spanking they got for touching pottery in the indoor part of the museum ($1.00 entrance fee for adults). If you haven't been to the museum, check out the National Geographic January 2012 edition for a spread on this site.  


We had a great time and hopefully me and my girls will see you next year at the reunion!  


If you travel with kids as well,send me any tips, advice, articles, or photos to me at translations@linuxquestions.net for the next newsletter!  

Panama Tourism 

PCPF hopes you plan to attend next summer's Peace Corps Panama Reunion! If you're an early planner here are some great places to put on your agenda:

Sustainable Harvest -- why not volunteer at a farm in Coclé while you're here?   


La MICA Biological Station in El Copé, Coclé welcomes researchers, students, guests, and general tourists. They can organize tours, guides, lodging, meals, and transportation for a one-of-a-kind experience.     


Punta Culebra Nature Center is an open air museum focusing on marine science (with bilingual exhibits!). 15 minutes from Panama City.    


Ecoline Panama - eco-tourism tour operator    


You also want to check out Keteka, a tourism project that a couple of Peace Corps volunteers are working on to support community-based rural tourism in Panama.


Fechas Importantes (September-November) 
November 3 -- Separation/Independence Day (from Colombia)
November 4 -- Flag Day
November 10 - First Cry for Independence
November 28 -- Independence Day (from Spain)




September 22, 1961: Peace Corps Legislation Congress approved the Peace Corps as a permanent federal agency within the State Department, and Kennedy signed the legislation on September 22nd.    

September 2005: Peace Corps Domesticated

For the first time, PCVs are deployed domestically when Peace Corps Response assists the Federal Emergency Management Agency's relief operations in the Gulf Coast region following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.


October 1977: First Female and African American Director

Carolyn Robertson Payton is appointed Peace Corps Director by President Jimmy Carter. She is the first female and the first African American to be Peace Corps Director.

November 1974: RPCVs in US House of Representatives
Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, RPCV (Dominican Republic, 1966-1968), and Paul Tsongas of Massachusetts, RPVC (Ethiopia, 1962-1964), are the first returned Peace Corps Volunteers elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. They both go on to be elected to the U.S. Senate.
Peace Corps Panama Calendars 

The Volunteer Advisory Council (VAC) put together the 2013 calendar with photographs from Peace Corps Panama volunteers which includes 15 full-page and 90 smaller photos. The 2013 calendars are the same price as last year, $18, which includes US shipping.
Shipping to non-US addresses is at cost.

Proceeds go to PCPF and to VAC to fund volunteer projects. Check out page 9 of the latest La Vaina (August 2012) to see what current projects are being funded:

Buy a calendar for your office, gift for your friends, and one for your mom and pops online at www.panamapcv.net.   



NPCA Minneapolis 2012 Convention

June 29-July 1, 2012 was the National Peace Corps Association's inaugural convention in Minneapolis. Convention recap
Florence Reed
Florence Reed accepts the Shriver Award

The second annual convention will be in Boston, June 28-29, 2013. More information at http://www.peacecorpsconnect.org/annual-gathering/. Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter using hashtag #PCCBOS13.

PCPF Group Liaisons  


If you are an RPCV from one of the groups below and have not contacted your liaison yet, please do so today.   


Group 4 - David Fishlow, david@fishlow.com 

Group 6 - Joe Looby, jtlooby@gmail.com     North America map

Group 7 - JoEllen Day Keating, jw4dk@aol.com, 540-882-3217

Group 14 - Carol Ritter, carolritter@ofp86.org 

Group 15 - Mike Webb, mmwebb53@hotmail.com  

Group 17  - Harry Fierman, harryfierman@gmail.com   

Group 43 - Kim Pasnik, pasnik09@gmail.com 

Group 48 - Claire Stienecker

Group 50 - Dost Bardouille, dost.bardouille@gmail.com 

Group 52 & 58 - Tess Sparks, tmsparks@gmail.com 

Group 55 - Mark Husfeld, mhusfeld@hotmail.com

Group XX (1998-2000, Small Business Group) - Brenda Almodóvar, balmodov@yahoo.com 


If you were in another group, please contact Florence Reed at flo@sustainableharvest.org  to find out who is the liaison for your group or to volunteer to be "the one."   A new shutterfly site, Mi Querida Panama  has been created for liaisons.  


Peace Corps Panama Directors


Brian Riley, Peace Corps Panama director
Brian Riley, current Peace Corps Panama director

There have been 12 Country Directors of Peace Corps Panama In the past 50 years:

1.    David Boubion 1962 - 1966  * 

2.    Weston Ware  1966 - 1967
3.    John Arrango  1967 - 1970
4.    Hal Crowe  1970
5.    Eliseo Carrasco  1970 - 1971  * 

20-year gap (program suspended)

6.    Michel Holsten (Reentry of PC/Panama) 1991-1992 

7.    Joseph Hindman 1992-95   
8.    Bill Dyal 1995-97   

9.    Janice Jorgensen  1997 - 2003
10.  Jean Lujan 2003 - 2005
11.  Peter Redmond  2005 - 2009
12.  Brian Riley  2009 - present  


*  Deceased


Friends Remembered

goodbye and rose


John Richard Fillis, who first came to Panamá as a member of Peace Corps Group IV (Volcán 1964-1966), died the morning of July 30 at the age of 74, at the home of his son Juan Gregorio in David, Panama after a long bout with pancreatic cancer. A funeral mass was held in Volcán on August 1st. He leaves his wife Mercedes ("Mechi") Romero de Fillis, daughter Cristina, son Greg several grandchildren and other family in the the US.    



Bob Fish, RPCV with Group 8 died, on March 31, 2012. He and his wife Jan served the Chocó (Emberá) in Darien, from 1965-67. He is survived by Jan and children Deborah, Vicki, Risa, and Mickey, as well as 7 grandchildren.


Carol A. Ritter, Registered Nurse at Overbook Friedlander Programs, and RPCV of Group 14 (67-69) passed away July 15, 2012 at the age of 67 near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is survived by 3 sisters, a brother and their families. A memorial fund is being planned by PCPF and will be part of the June, 2013 reunion. Carol worked as a volunteer in Panama City at the Peace Corps office and was the informal liaison for all of the city and Interior volunteers then and continued after her years in Panama. She returned to visit Panama in January, 2009. Group 14 RPCV, Pat Pitt - also of the Philadelphia area, courageously and tirelessly was by Carol's side for the past year during her illness with cancer.


As always, Group 14 RPCVs have rallied with moving words as they remember Carol, "the BEST FRIEND EVER for 45 years":

"It was so sad to hear of Carol's death. Panama Group 14 reunions will not be the same without her. We will treasure the time we spent together in Panama Peace Corps days and at reunions in the U.S. (especially the one last September) and in Panama. Carol was a very special person and we were glad that she was part of our lives...Sweet memories of much laughter, friendship and sharing.. .Carol had such a big heart and not a mean bone in her body. She was the glue who held our Peace Corps group together. I feel her loss so deeply. It feels like the end of an era...I will always keep Carol in my heart and remember her dry and quirky sense of humor, penchant for a good time and, especially, her genuine care and concern for me and for all her friends and family...Carol was a wonderful friend whose physical presence will be missed by all of us but whose strong and sweet spirit will continue on. She will continue to be the heart and soul of Panama 14. She loved her family and she loved her friends and we all loved her...Carol truly never gave up on me and without her attention and urging, I probably would not have reconnected with our Peace Corps group and returned to Panama for the wonderful visit...Rest in peace, dear Carol." 

Allen Spurga died of a heart attack in his sleep on July 31, 2012.  He was 64 years old and a RPCV from Group 18.  


Brian Moore (Group 18) sends us this remembrance of Allen: 

"Allen was active in the barriada of Marañón, was an antiwar activist in Panama, and ultimately was sent home by the doctor due to emotional problems.  Allen remained in New York City the rest of his life.  He worked for the law department of the City, was a union spokesperson for his fellow employees, and continued in his social service endeavors and civil rights activities the rest of his life. Allen never married.  He had a brother and two sisters in New York City, and lived with his mother until her death about 10 years ago. Allen wrote of his Peace Corps experience in Panama, submitting the manuscript in the 1980's or 1990's, to the United States Library of Congress, where it is cataloged now.  He had a difficult life, in and out of halfway houses, hospitals, institutions, and battled the demons when they occasionally arose, especially when he did not take his medications.  Allen had a brilliant mind, a kind heart, and was a kindred soul.  He had many human limitations, but his virtues were numerous and out-of-this world also.May he rest in peace."


Carley Stough (PCV 1964-1966, Group 6) died November 22, 2011 at Miami Valley Hospital as a result of complications from cancer treatment. He was 67. Full obituary and some  La Vaina cartoons.

Charley Stough cartoon
Charley Stough cartoon
This email was sent to stephen.spangler@gmail.com by editorelbo@gmail.com |  
Peace Corps Panama Friends | 3858 N. Tazewell Street | Arlington | VA | 22207