Jan 2014 Newsletter

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Acting Peace Corps Director Pays Visit to Oak Park by Mary Owen
CAPCA board members, and other Chicago area RPCVs, attended the Oak Park Council on International Affairs dinner last November to hear Acting Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet speak.
During the dinner at the Nineteenth Century Club in Oak Park, Hessler-Radelet recalled a poignant conversation with Guinea President Alpha Conde. During his visit to Washington, D.C., Conde told Hessler-Radelet that he lived next door to a volunteer named Joe when he was younger. The volunteer tutored him, helped him find a college and supported him in his endeavors after leaving his village. He said he would never have been president without Joe.

“Because you have sent us your most important asset – your sons, your daughters your mothers and your fathers, you tell us that America cares about us,” Conde told Hessler-Radelet.

Hesller-Radelet said that thousands of people around the world have been positively impacted by PCVs because they are willing to live among average citizens, eat their food, ride their chicken buses and experience poverty like they do.

The acting director gifted the Oak Park organization with an original signed Peace Corps poster portraying a volunteer in Senegal. “You’ve been there with us from the very beginning in a very special way,” she said of the Council. “There is really no other local club like yours that has had such a powerful influence on Peace Corps programming.”

Hessler-Radelet, who served in Western Samoa from 1981 to 1983, has been acting director since September 2012 and is awaiting confirmation.

“Fiesta for the Philippines” Raises Funds for Typhoon Relief Effort

A fundraiser organized by a group of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers who served in the Philippines raised more than $1,000 to support relief efforts in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan devastated numerous areas of the country.  The event, which took place on December 17, featured a story slam in which returned Peace Corps Volunteers were each given seven minutes to tell their best stories related to their Peace Corps experiences. The story tellers included Blake Van Fleteren, Cary Bolnick, Samantha Kyrokostas, James Baldwin, Ashley Lenihan and Kathy Fidler. 100 percent of the proceeds went directly to the Philippines for a Peace Corps Partnership Project organized by  Peace Corps Volunteers currently serving in that country.  In addition to Peace Corps volunteers and CAPCA, the event was supported by Overflow Café, Rockbottom Brewery, Haymarket Brewery, Little Quiapo, the Drinking and Writing Theater, the Massage Space and Haymarket Brewery. The organizers included Melissa Shoemaker and Blake Van Fleteren.

Restaurant Review by Alice Geglio

Lao Shanghai
2163 South China Place
I heard the delicious dim sum calling, but Chinatown’s intimidating maze of restaurants kept me away. How to choose the right place? I finally got my good Chinese-American friend, Susan, to be my guide, so I’m sharing her expert advice for any fellow Chinatown beginners. Lao Shanghai is unassuming and relatively quiet on a Sunday afternoon, especially compared to its crowded neighbors. MingHin Cuisine, just across the street, might be the right choice for dim sum aficionados who can handle the overwhelming menu and long wait. To continue reading, click here to view the review on CAPCA’s website.


Largest Group Ever Attends Camp Vista by Ron Cox

The 2014 winter trip to Camp Vista provided an escape from Chicago with great food and company.  About 30 people started the weekend at a traditional Wisconsin Fish Friday at Benson’s Hideway (the UFO HQ of the area) with some of the best fried cod to found in Wisconsin and of course a few pitchers of shared brew.  The 26th version of the trip was the first with the Master Chef Ralph Mafucci in semi-retirement–just can’t keep Ralph out of the kitchen!!  The replacement cooks were extremely happy to see Ralph back in the kitchen enjoying himself and creating another memorable meal after meal!

The 75 people in attendance this year was possibly the largest group ever and all enjoyed the food and drink and fabulous company.  The 75 range in ages from 7 to 70 with all ages participating in the outdoor events—skating on the lake, sledding down the hills, cross-country skiing, or downhill skiing—as well as indoor activities—reading, puzzles, singing with guitars, games, fire watching, cooking, or talent show.  The crew playing telephone pictionary repeatedly erupted in laughter at the outrageous interpretations and drawings.  The comradeship and food are so memorable that the weekend attracted people from as far away as North Dakota and Minneapolis, as well as Madison, WI and Dekalb, IL.  Josh first came at age 8 and has been in attendance nearly every year for 19 years and several have been going for 26 years.

Always great to meet those who join in the festivities for the first time–all are welcome and encouraged to join us next year!  It has become the highlight of my winter experiences and I look forward to seeing everyone again next year.  About half will probably be there for the summer version of the event, but difficult to match the winter experience.  The summer trip will be June 13, 14, and 15 of 2014 (Fathers’ Day) with winter trip falling on ML King Weekend so people can stay three nights if they so desire, as a group of a dozen chose to do this year.  Winter Vista is Jan 16, 17, 18, and 19 of 2015.

Groundnut Stew
Recipe submitted by Virginia DeLancey

This recipe comes from Nigeria, but variations of it may be found throughout the African continent, wherever groundnuts (peanuts) are grown.  In particular, many variations may be found up and down the West Coast of Africa.
¼ cup oil 
1 pound stew beef, cut in 1-inch cubes
2 cups water (or more, if needed/desired)
1 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter
1 4 oz. or 6 oz. can of tomato paste
1 medium onion, chopped
1 10 oz. package (or more) of frozen, chopped spinach
1 tsp. salt
Cayenne pepper to taste
A few dashes of Maggi Sauce, if desired

Heat oil in cooking pot over medium heat and brown beef on all sides.  As beef is beginning to brown, add chopped onion and cook until it is limp and beginning to brown.  Add water and simmer for 45 minutes, or until meat is tender.  Stir in tomato paste, salt, cayenne pepper, and peanut butter.  Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring to make sure that the peanut butter does not burn on the bottom of the pot.  Then add spinach and continue to simmer until spinach is cooked.  Serve over rice (or with other starch food).

Note:  This stew may be made with whole chicken legs, thighs, etc. or with cubes of skinless chicken breast, reducing cooking time as appropriate.  It may also be made with lamb or goat meat.  Instead of tomato paste, a large, diced tomato may be used.  Chopped, fresh greens may also be substituted for the frozen spinach.

When in Africa, where peanut butter may not be available, shelled groundnuts are normally roasted in an oven (if available) or in a pan over a cooking fire, after which the brown skins are easily removed and blown away.  The groundnuts are then pounded in a mortar or run through an old-fashioned, hand-turned meat grinder (often found in use in local markets) about three times, until peanut butter is created.

CAPCA Members Assist with Homeless Count

CAPCA members volunteered with the City of Chicago’s point-in-time homeless count during the late night/early morning hours of Jan 22 and 23.  In order to receive federal homeless funding from the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, Chicago and the continuum of homeless service providers must demonstrate need by collecting data on how many persons experience homelessness on one given night.  We looked for and interviewed folks spending the night on the streets, with the hope that we can help make a difference by demonstrating the needs for programs to assist these folks.  It was a powerful (and very cold) experience.

Holiday Potluck Draws a Crowd
CAPCA’s holiday party on December 10 was a time for great food and conversation.  More than 20 people attended and shared food from around the world.
Peace Corps Week is Around the Corner: February 23 to March 1, 2014Peace Corps Week celebrates President Kennedy’s establishment of the Peace Corps on March 1, 1961. During this annual event, the Peace Corps community celebrates all the ways that Peace Corps makes a difference at home and abroad and renews its commitment to service.
This year, Peace Corps invites current and returned Peace Corps Volunteers to get involved in Peace Corps Week 2014 in several ways.  Click here for some ideas on how you can get involved in Peace Corps Week.
Save the Day for February Happy Hour! Wednesday – February 19, 2013 5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Plymouth Rooftop Bar
327 S. Plymouth Ct.
Get off the Red/Blue line @ Jackson or Brown/Orange/Purple/Pink @ Library
Be a happy hour regular – It always takes place the 3rd Wednesday of the month, always 5:30-8 p.m.
Drink and food specials are available.
CAPCA Job Support SessionLooking for a new job?  Please join us at 12 p.m. on February 11 for a lively discussion and help with resumes, networking and other related topics.  As usual our session will take place at the Peace Corps office located at 55 West Monroe (4th Floor) in Chicago.  Please RSVP to John at johnbeasley@comcast.net if you plan to attend. This job support session always takes place on the second Tuesday of the month.
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