CAPCA September 2014 Newsletter
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Attend the CAPCA Annual General Meeting and Board Election, October 21

The Chicago Area Peace Corps Association (CAPCA) will hold a general membership meeting and election of a new Board of Directors on Tuesday, October 21 at 6: 00 p.m. in the Peace Corps Office, 5th Floor Conference Room, 55 West Monroe St. in downtown Chicago.
CAPCA strives to serve and support local, global, and RPCV communities. In an effort to accomplish this, CAPCA relies upon the leadership of a volunteer Board of Directors.  CAPCA Board Members play an instrumental part in accomplishing these goals. 
If you are interested in running for a seat on the CAPCA Board of Directors, please send a short biography to Kathy Kacen, at
Listed below are some guidelines and expectations for Board Members:
  • Board meetings are held on the third Tuesday of every month.  Attendance at all board meetings is required.  If a board member has to miss a meeting, the member should submit a report for their particular area and review the previous board meeting minutes.  A board member should not miss more than three board meetings annually. 
  • Attendance at board committee meetings, as well as social, service, and fundraising activities is highly recommended.  Board members should strive to attend, at a minimum, 75% of CAPCA functions.
Committee Responsibilities
  • Each board member has an area of responsibility and assists in other areas.
  • Board members are expected to serve on two committees and chair a committee or executive role.
  • Each board member is expected to be heavily involved in supporting (working, calling, organizing, soliciting, etc.) CAPCA fundraising.  Attendance at fundraisers is highly recommended.  If attendance due to financial or logistical reasons is not possible, the board member should actively recruit one or two individuals to attend the event and/or make a contribution equivalent to the donation part of the ticket.   
 Third Goal Activity
  • As an important part of our commitment to the Third Goal, each board member is required to complete and document one Third Goal activity a year. 
  • All CAPCA board members must maintain current membership in CAPCA.
  • CAPCA is an affiliate of the NPCA; therefore, we strongly encourage, but do not require, CAPCA board members to be members of the NPCA.

CAPCA Annual Founder’s Day Dinner

Please attend the CAPCA Annual Founder's Day Dinner:
Friday, October 17,
6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Pho Viet Vietnamese Restaurant,
4941 N. Broadway, Chicago.
Guest Speaker:
Jerome McDonnell,
Host of WBEZ’s “Worldview”.
Master of Ceremonies:
Scott Waguespack,
Chicago Alderman (32nd Ward),
RPCV Kenya, 1993-1995.
Tickets include a vegetarian-friendly Vietnamese buffet dinner to be served at 7 p.m. Stay for an after-party with world music, 9:30 p.m. to 11p.m. This event is BYOB, so please feel free to bring drinks for yourself or to share! Please purchase tickets by October 12. Proceeds benefit Peace Corps Partnership Programs led by Chicago area PCVs abroad.
Questions?  Email

Founder's Day Dinner
Each ticket includes admission and Vietnamese buffet dinner.
Founder's Day Dinner + 1-year membership
This includes admission plus a one-year membership to CAPCA for the purchaser.
Ticket donation for recently returned RPCV
Your donation allows one recently returned RPCV to enjoy Founder's Day.
Donation for PCPP project grant
$25.00 (or any amount) 
Your donation supports a Peace Corps Partnership Program (PCPP) project led by a Chicago-area Peace Corps Volunteer serving abroad.

How I spent my Summer….
By Kathy Kacen, CAPCA Board President

CAPCA and Peace Corps were very much a part of my summer activities.  A short recap:
CAPCA Board member John Beasley and I held the RPCV Job Support session in June and July. These sessions are scheduled for the 2nd Tuesday of each month at the Peace Corps Office at 55 W. Monroe Street in Chicago at 12 noon.  These sessions are a great place for newly COS’d PCVs to connect with CAPCA and start to network into the area job market.  CAPCA Board members have been great resources for information and assistance.
CAPCA Happy Hours are held on the third Wednesday of each month at the Plymouth Rooftop Bar, 327 S. Plymouth Court, in the Loop.  At the August Happy Hour we had over 40 people, including City Year Staff, PC office and HQ staff, and RPCVs.  Lots of conversations and connections happened. 
CAPCA nominated Leslie Piotrowski (RPCV Philippines 83-85) for the Franklin H. Williams Award, which recognizes ethnically diverse Returned Peace Corps Volunteers who exemplify a commitment to community service and the Peace Corps Third Goal of promoting a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.
CAPCA continues to work with the Peace Corps on recruiting.  Peace Corps recruiters will often encourage those interested in the Peace Corps to talk to an RPCV.  I have had two great conversations this summer.  One of my colleagues from the US Census Office contacted me, and we had a long talk at the Waterfront Café about the Peace Corps.  Another contact came through our website, and I had a truly delightful conversation with a retired female executive who is in the invitation process.  Both occasions allowed me to remember and share some of my great Peace Corps experiences.
CAPCA is also working with the Chicago Peace Corps to help establish an RPCV Resource Lounge in their offices at 55 W. Monroe St.  Hopefully, it will be a place where RPCVs can drop in to use and share the resources. 
In our Advocacy efforts, Cedric McKay, Mary Owen, and I had a short meeting with Senator Mark Kirk’s staff concerning upcoming Peace Corps funding.  We asked for the Senator’s support for next year’s budget request of $380 million.  Sen. Kirk has previously been supportive of the Peace Corps and its requests.

And last week, I had an opportunity to talk to four West African volunteers who were evacuated from their countries.  Nick (Liberia) and Kyra (Guinea) were both in PST, waiting to hear the status of their programs.   Matthew (Sierra Leone) was one month from COS, so he is settling back into Chicago.  Ron Cox, a Peace Corps Response Volunteer, knows that his program in Sierra Leone has ended.
Among the many BBQ’s this summer, Lee Losey’s was the site of a planning meeting for Founder’s Day, CAPCA’s annual fundraising dinner.  The keynote speaker for Founder's Day will be Jerome McDonnell, host of WBEZ Worldview.  Join us on October 17th at Pho Viet Restaurant, 4941 N. Broadway, in Chicago.
In early September CAPCA will assist the Peace Corps and the NPCA in distributing Google-donated tablets to the Nepal training group staging out of Chicago.  We wish them luck.

       CAPCA members participated in this year’s Gay Pride Parade on Chicago’s north side.
Nashville Conference (June 19-21) Recap
By Margaret Sheridan, RPCV Albania

Vanderbilt University, the host site for the three-day NPCA conference, welcomed hundreds of RPCVs with tree-shaded walks and the intoxicating perfume of magnolia trees.  

Melissa Shoemaker and I anticipated programs, speeches, networking opportunities, great music and camaraderie, and we were not disappointed. OK…the drive to Nashville, Tenn. from Chicago fades quickly from memory. Oh, those detours and construction hurdles, but our Hertz rental car didn’t let us down. Neither did the programs and events organized by RPCVs from the host groups of Tennessee and Atlanta.  

Highlights included presentations at the Country Music Hall of Fame by newly appointed Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet and the outgoing Chief of Staff Stacy Rhodes. They also included an awesome "Five Great Ideas", individual presentations that blew us away by Liz Fanning of Corps Africa, Jeffery Ashe of ARC, and others.

Featured guest and entertainer Emmylou Harris saluted her cousin, the late Phill Robinson, an RPCV (Kenya) who later worked for Habitat for Humanity.

Major progress was witnessed in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the NPCA and Peace Corps which will open more doors to strengthening the relationship between the two organizations.

The display of solidarity was impressive in special sessions organized by Friends of Liberia, Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Columbia, Niger, Afghanistan and Uganda. Wow!

Participants had options for accommodations--nearby hotels, or the campus dorm where we used flip flops for showers, and wiped magnetic cards for meals. It resurrected memories of sharing space in college.

Last minute updates to the schedule included a talk and book signing by RPCV Mike Tidwell, author of The Ponds of Kalambayi. Vendors included Global Mamas, a fair trade initiative by RPCVs in Africa. Peace Corps Response announced that it is actively seeking more engagement by RPCVs, and Jodi Hammer represented the Office of Returned Volunteer Services.

Too much going on, too little time! Peace Corps networking delivered the energy and reminded me why I joined. It is ageless, powerful and produces ripples…

Volunteer Visits Her Site in Namibia after Many Years
By Mary Chan, RPCV Namibia
An email to the CAPCA president, Kathy Kacen, started an email trail that closed an 8,000 mile gap to reach a Peace Corps Volunteer in Otjimbingwe, my old PC site in Namibia.  In two weeks, I would be heading back to my PC host country and site.  As PCVs, we leave, hoping that we had a positive impact and that our efforts continued and grew beyond us.  What did I expect to see?  What would I actually find?  Do I want to know?
When Apartheid ended in 1990, Namibia declared English as its new national language to separate itself from the imposed language of its oppressors and to position itself for the international future.  Back then, very few spoke (or even knew) English but today, English seems to be freely spoken or at least easily understood in the capital.  Namibia’s capital, Windhoek, is now hustling and bustling with people and cars at an unrecognizable pace.  What happened to the slow pace of “African-time”?
The Peace Corps office now looks like a typical government office in the USA, only with armed guards and a security fence all around it – guess this was a necessary change after 9-11.  It used to be a small house-like office with a staff of 10 supporting approximately 100 volunteers, but now it has tripled in both size and staff, although still supporting 100-ish volunteers.  At the old “medical office”, we had to change behind a curtain in the corner of the room, but now it looks like a real clinic with working medical equipment.  That would have been super helpful during the Blister Beetle incidents!
When I headed out of Windhoek, it felt like I stepped into a time machine. Getting back to site required the exact same hitchhiking procedure through the same hitchhiking points.  Memories of being tossed around the back of a "bakkie" came flooding back as I turned off the paved highway and onto the gravel road for the 70 km. bounce-a-thon into Otjimbingwe. Yes, dusty-lopsided-gravel roads are still the only way in and out of the smaller areas.
My old cement block house is now painted green and the fuchsia-colored bedroom is now muted, but everything else was exactly the same.  Still limited running water or electricity!  Herero women were still selling "fatcakes" to the school children.  And, the river bed was still dry as a dust bowl.
Being a hostel school location where teachers received higher (aka “hazard”) pay and students come from near and far just for school, I did not think there would be anyone at the site who would remember me, but I was wrong.  One of the teachers, now the headmistress, told me how I opened the door for the girls – for the first time, they believed there were things they could do or be after they finally met a woman who did.  Yes, I went to college.  Yes, I can drive a car and change a tire.  Yes, I can still cook and sew.  And yes, I vote!  We reminisced over stories from the past that were silly and inspiring.  I asked the headmistress how she could remember all that!  She asked how I could forget any of that!
Leaving was a lot harder the second time around.  I did not realize how much I missed the country and its people or how much it would feel like coming home despite the numerous challenges we faced.  I also learned that I was stronger and more innovative than I gave myself credit for.  I guess it really is the toughest job you will ever love....


RPCV Recipe: Filipino Chicken and Pork Adobo
Submitted by Leslie Piotrowski, RPCV 1983-85 Philippines
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons peeled and crushed garlic
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound chicken, cut into serving pieces
  • 2 pounds pork butt, cut into one-inch cubes
  • soy sauce
  • oil
  • 1/2 of 14-ounce can of coconut milk 
Add vinegar, water, garlic, salt, bay leaves and pepper into a large Dutch oven. Bring to a boil. Add the meat, cover and bring to a boil.  Add the coconut milk. Simmer and cook for about 30 minutes.  Sprinkle liberally with soy sauce and cook for an additional 10 minutes.  Remove meat and reduce sauce.  Remove sauce to a bowl.  Remove the bay leaves. Put oil into the Dutch oven and brown the cooked meat.  Drain oil from the Dutch oven and return the reduced sauce back with the meat.  Serve over rice.

RPCV Annisa Wanat Runs for 33rd Ward Alderman

Annisa Wanat, an RPCV who served in Bulgaria, is running for Alderman of the 33rd Ward.  She believes that after two decades of leading multicultural teams in strengthening citizens’ voices to get better public services from their government, serving as Alderman is the perfect way for her to make an impact in the Albany Park neighborhood and the diverse 33rd Ward.

Her passion for empowering communities originates from her Peace Corps service in Bulgaria, where she taught high school students, built a library, and advised municipal officials on public outreach.  After Bulgaria, she continued to serve in the Midwest by leading social justice communities as they advocated for poverty alleviation and health programs, mentoring university student groups on outreach, raising money for cancer research, and consulting with nonprofits on how to provide services more effectively.

RPCV Scott Waguespack Runs for Alderman Again

Scott Waguespack, the alderman of the 32nd Ward, is planning to run for office again in 2015.  He lives in Bucktown; his family has called Wicker Park-Bucktown their home for many generations.

Scott earned his undergraduate degree in Political Science at Colorado State University and his Juris Doctor from Chicago-Kent College of Law, Illinois Institute of Technology. After college, he served in the U.S. Peace Corps in Kenya where he worked with UNICEF and various women’s groups to build health clinics and water supplies, and provide training in primary health care. He remains active with the Chicago Area Peace Corps Association.

After law school, Scott helped create and implement Global Chicago, which fosters global collaboration with Chicago’s many economic, cultural, and intellectual institutions. He is also a member of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

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