|Issue: 22 ||
2012 Quarter III
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.
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.
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
The new PCPF Directiva consists of:
President - Valerie Whiting
VP - David Modzelewski
Treasurer - Jaime Clark
Panama Liaison - Florence Reed
Secretary - Sarah Strong
can help support PCPF by donating to either the PCPF Community
Development Fund or the Bud Keith Scholarship Fund for the Blind.
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.
Two New Bud Keith Scholars
By Jerry Lutes
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 alsoorganized
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 being interviewed on radio|
Erika being interviewed on radio
Peace Corps Panama 50th Reunion
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.
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
Make sure to add your RSVP on the site!
If you are
interested in being part of the committee contact Valerie Whiting at
firstname.lastname@example.org. 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
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
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 email@example.com for the next newsletter!
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
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
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
September 2005: Peace Corps Domesticated
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
October 1977: First Female and African American Director
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
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
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
NPCA Minneapolis 2012 Convention
June 29-July 1, 2012 was the National Peace Corps Association's inaugural convention in Minneapolis. Convention recap.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org
Group 6 - Joe Looby, email@example.com
Group 7 - JoEllen Day Keating, firstname.lastname@example.org, 540-882-3217
Group 14 - Carol Ritter, email@example.com
Group 15 - Mike Webb, firstname.lastname@example.org
Group 17 - Harry Fierman, email@example.com
Group 43 - Kim Pasnik, firstname.lastname@example.org
Group 48 - Claire Stienecker
Group 50 - Dost Bardouille, email@example.com
Group 52 & 58 - Tess Sparks, firstname.lastname@example.org
Group 55 - Mark Husfeld, email@example.com
Group XX (1998-2000, Small Business Group) - Brenda Almodóvar, firstname.lastname@example.org
If you were in another group, please contact Florence Reed at email@example.com 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, 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
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:
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