Benin RPCV Bio Info by Stage:

 Find out what your Fellow Benin RPCV's have been up to since COS (Close of Service):

  (Send your Bio info to Cstarace@yahoo.com and I'll post it.  Please keep it to one paragraph)


2008-2010

Albrecht, Diane  I was in the EA (Environmental Action) sector and worked in Bembereke doing environmental education. I'm currently in DC working as a Program Associate in the Africa Division of the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI).


Stage 97-00

Shev Dalal-Dheini  I was an RCD volunteer in Pehunco and then served as the national WID Coordinator in Cotonou.  Post-Peace Corps life has been swallowed up in school, but I recently graduated from American University with a JD and MA in International Affairs.  Now I work as an attorney in Baltimore.  I spend a lot of time with my Benin cohorts, including my husband Raed, who I met in Benin, and the large number of RPCVs in the DC Area.

Stage 96-98

Holly Dreier  I was a math teacher at CEG-2, Abomey (96-98).  After COSing and traveling the world, I settled in San Francisco.  There I taught high school for a few years and worked as a Math Specialist at UC, Berkeley for a few more.  I now live in SoCal teaching at Santa Monica High.

Spencer Johnson  I was a math teacher a CEG Pobe.  After Peace Corps I went back to being a naval architect, eventually ending up in New York city working at a shipyard in Westchester.  I'm married to Nicole Youell, another Benin RPCV (Chabi Kouma '97-'98).  We have a dog and a cat.  At the moment I'm unemployed and we are working on moving out of New York, hopefully to Miami.


 Stage:  Oct. 95-97  

Chris Starace- 3/15/08--I'm married, have a beautiful 15 month old daughter and I live in Ossining NY.  I worked in "Intl Business" for  four years after PC and found that the corporate environment wasn't for me.  For the past 6 years I've been teaching High School Spanish and French.   I taught for 3 years in the Bronx and the last 3 years I've been teaching in Westchester county.    I am the FOB webmaster and am the author of  the Fon is Fun website:  www.fon-is-fun.org  .  I went back to Benin for two weeks in 2004 and I created a 5 episode documentary video called discovering Benin.  I sell it on Fon is Fun and I've donated all proceeds to my needy friends in Benin.  They've used the money for mosquito nets, emergency medical expenses, tôles for their roofs, school supplies for the children and school fees.   I've supported one friend through a private High School. He passed evening gowns cheap the BAC and he's currently in his fist year of college in Abomey Calavi studying accounting and management.  

 Stage:  June 95-97  

John Finarelli6/9/04- I taught math at CEG Abomey-Calavi form 1995-97. After COS-ing and bumming around for the better part of a year, I went back to school in new Hampshire, where I got my MS in geology. I am currently going after my PhD in Evolutionary Biology at the University of Chicago. That should fill up the next five years... I got married in 2003, and currently live in a small apartment on Chicago's north side, near Wrigley Field. Life is good. Check out http://home.uchicago.edu/~johnf/

Cindi Hounton (formerly Cindi Advent)   I taught math for three school years in Dassa from 95-98.  In 98 I married Rogatien Hounton, a Beninese from Ouidah, and brought him home.  I did a RPCV fellowship at the University of New Mexico and received an MA in ed in 2000.  I taught Native American children for two years in Gallup.  We returned to my home in Portland where I spent a hellish year teaching at an inner city school and finally landed a job teaching physics at an all girls Catholic school.  I gave birth to Sophia in 2003 and I am currently pregnant with twin boys!  I knew I shouldn't have brought those fertility souvenirs home from Benin!  :)


Stage 94-96

John Clark (94 - 96 stage) - I taught Physics/Chemistry in Parakou at CEG1 from 1994 - 96 - easily the two most memorable years of my life!  I took the cash instead of the 1-way ticket home and traveled Morocco and Europe. I joined a high tech startup company when I returned in '96, where I met my then to-be wife Lisa.  Our 2 1/2 year old daughter Caroline is the joy of our lives...when she's not being naughty. I am still enjoying my work as a product manager in high tech, but itching for more adventure...and plotting my first visit back to Benin since I left.

Hugh Smeltekop  2/5/04  --I was a volunteer in Pehunko/Beke from 1994-96 in the Environmental Education/Forestry program.  I live in Ann Arbor, Michigan now, and am getting a PhD at Michigan State University in agronomy.

Since I left Peace Corps, I went to South Dakota State Unversity for a MS in Soil Science, then volunteered for four years at a small rural university in Bolivia, teaching, managing laboratories and running an extension project designed to help students learn while helping communities improve human health and nutrition and farming practices.  

Margaret Main (95-97) and I went back to Benin last August, 2003.


Stage  93-95

Matt Price-I finished my PhD in epidemiology from UNC Chapel Hill in 2003.  I’m now in San Francisco , CA and work at IAVI (www.iavi.org) as an HIV/infectious disease epidemiologist.  I travel to Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Zambia regularly, and do a lot of work with improving clinical research facilities.  The best email to reach me is mattalexprice@gmail.com (personal email).

Robin White '92--I can't remember if it was 1992 or 1993--at any rate, I was in Bembereke. I came back to the US and begin a Ph. D. program in French in Louisiana in 1996--got my doctorate in 2004. I live in New Orleans and I teach French and survive hurricanes!  Louisiana reminds me a lot of Benin--sauce and rice is a staple here, and the corruption is constant, sugar cane is the big agricultural commodity, it is humid, and people do like to drink, let's not even talk about
the old colonial French architecture and the voodoo! Stay in touch
everyone. robinanitawhite@gmail.com


Stage 90-93

 

Jeff Brooks (Jeffrey J. Brooks) Peace Corps Benin 90-93

 Since COS in January 1993, I have worked in Michigan, Georgia, Florida, Colorado, and Alaska in the area of natural resources. I earned two graduate degrees and now work in Alaska as a social scientist. I have two great people in my life – Robin, my wife and Anna, my daughter.  We like to play in the snow but do not do it often enough.  I ended up being a Peace Corps recruiter at a university campus, 2000 to 2003.  I really enjoyed telling my tales in the classroom!  I did not tell all, but I sure as heck had to chuckle to myself a few times while telling those stories.  I think about Benin every day, and I hope that everyone in my cohort and our various associates are doing well!  By-the-way, I really did enjoy hosting the Mono Babes and the rest of our VAC in Lobogo that one time. 

Christophe Gilbertson-  I was in the 1990 summer stage and an agroforestry volunteer from 1990-1993.  I was based in Tanongou, which sports the beautiful set of waterfalls and is only 10k or so from the Parc de la Pendjari entrance. After service I reupped and did about eight months in Mali where I was an assistant trainer for the foresters. I then returned to Benin and married a woman from Tanongou and have two wonderful girls, Viviane Lambitou (10) and Freya Philomene (5). I have been back to Benin many times since the mid-90's, most recently in February 2007 when I went with Viviane to visit family and show her where she was born in Tanguieta. We live in a modest Norwegian town in southern Wisconsin and I work as a manager in a long-term care pharmacy in Madison. We have bought land in Natitingou and Tanguieta and have a house in the center of Tanongou. So if anyone is looking for a nice place to stay on their way to the park, let me know. Peace.

Nancy (Scherer) Connolly-   1990 - 1992 I was based for most of the time in Dassa-Zoume and worked in Guinea Worm Eradication.  My name at that time (now married) was Nancy Scherer - now Connolly.  I currently live in Seattle, WA and am a physician.


Stage 92-95

Doug Elliott, Stage '92:  I served in Benin 92-95, mainly managing a small old-growth forest at the oil palm research station in Pobe (Oueme).  I am still a forester for the US Forest Service in California, Stanislaus National Forest, near Sonora, which is near Yosemite.  There I do timber sale layout and sale contract administration, usually using
timber harvests as an ecological surrogate for natural processes (mainly large-scale, low intensity fires) that are no longer socially accepted, in an effort to restore and maintain the forest as it was when Europeans
arrived.  I have a farm in Nicaragua near Leon, for ten years or so by now, and get down there for a month or two per year--my crops are very polycultured, with the goal of developing agriculture that fits well into the natural regional ecosystem, restores it.  It is agro-silvo-pastoral, a kind of permaculture, and VERY cool, one of the most interesting things I get to do.  I also volunteer as a Youth Mentor (in a Big Brother/Big Sister kind of program) where I live in Calif., eight years now, and that is really fine, except that I am gone more than I should be for the kids I work with.   I can be reached at <douglas.elliott.for.97@aya.yale.edu

 

Kevin Croft.  I was a forester in Benin from '92-'94.  My first post was at a place called Sori in the Borgou.  I was later moved to Ouake near the Togo-Benin border.  I've been all over the world since then and am currently living in Sydney, Australia. 

 


Stage: 89-91

Duke, Jessica My life post Peace Corps has been that of a public health geek (some would say "practioner").  I've worked for county health departments, university health programs and international aid agencies.  I now work for the State of Oregon.  I am one of two people that work for the "Women's Health Program".  I married an RPCV-Malawi, Scott Urbatsch.  We have one son, Gabriel.  We like to pretend that we take advantage of all the great outdoors Portland has to offer.  Truth is, we usually sit around the house dreaming of our next international trip.

Wendy Kaplan- Let's see, I divorced the Chinese man that I met and married there. I'm now remarried to a wonderful guy, Mark.  Mark and I bought a house two years ago. Since I left the PC, I've learned to cook (more than just tuna fish rice and spaghetti with fulani cheese), can jams and jellies and crochet. I'm taking classes right now to learn programming and also writing a book. If anyone out there knows the perfect pate rouge recipe, or one for atta (those bean balls), please send them on over!


Stage 88-90

Ray / Wendy Geiger -  We were both Forestry volunteers.  Wendy was stationed in Savalou, I was near Copargo, just north of Djougou.  After Peace Corps, I became an Outward Bound instructor in the Sierra Nevada Mtns. of California.  Wendy moved to Tucson to go to grad school.  In the fall of 1992 I  went to visit Wendy in Tucson, we fell in love and got married in March of 1994.  We now live in Western Maine.  Wendy is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and I'm a computer technician at a public high school.

Qui sait?  C'est Dieu seul qui sait...


Stage 87-90

Caron, Peter  From 1987 to 1990 I was stationed in Savalou as a technical trainer and clean water advisor working in a UN/USAID-sponsored Guinea Worm eradication program. My area of responsibility covered the then northern Zou province (now Collines) districts of Savalou, Dassa-Zoumè and Bantè. After my return I completed an MA in History at Tulane University on the slave trade between west Africa and Louisiana. I am especially interested in C18 west African and Fulbe/Fula History.
 

 

Ken Murray   I was a Rural Community Development Agent (a.k.a. proud owner of a useless liberal arts degree, Psychology in my case) in Benin ('87 to '90).   My post was Banikoara, 45 k's Northwest of Kandi, via dirt road (I use the term "road" loosley).  My "claim to fame" was a regular cartoon and two covers for the Deadbeat (see attachment).
    Since returning home, I earned my Master's and Ph.D. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Ohio University.  I currently work as a Program Director for a non-profit agency that provides in-home counseling for at-risk children and families.  I live and work in Southern Ohio.  We would like to move, but the economic crash has killed any chance to sell our house.
    I do miss Benin, at times, especially when I smell certain foul odors.  I would love to hear from fellow RPCV's.
 
Ken C. Murray, Ph.D., LPCC

 


Stage 86-89

Andrea Wojnar-Diagne:  Since leaving Benin, I have been working with various components of the International Red Cross, and currently reside in Dakar Senegal. My husband Moustapha and I have 3 wonderful children - one born in US (96), one born in Kenya (99), and the most recent born in Senegal (04). I still love moyo, pate, and sauce feuille, but rarely get it! I see lots of PCVs walking around Dakar and find it hard to believe I was one of them 17 years ago...makes me feel very old!  As of Jan 2006, I have returned to my PC roots as SRPTC - Sub Regional Program & Training Coordinator for the Sahel.


Stage 83-85

Timothy J. Bard-   Born and raised in Hazleton , PA.   Graduated in 1982 from Shippensburg University (BS Biology).  Served in Abomey-Calavi as a biology teacher (Niveau II) from 1983-85.  Teacher trainer for Biology in 1984 “Stage” at the “Centre Crétien d’Acceuil de Formation” known affectionately as the “centre” in Porto-Novo .  I was the Technical trainer for “Stage” 1985 at the “centre” also.  

Currently (July 1999 - present) I am a senior scientist at OSRAM Sylvania located in Towanda doing scanning electron microscopy on lighting and tungsten related products. 

 I was married in 2000 and have two children (5.5 and 3.5 as of Feb 2007).  I sing in the church choir and in the local choral group – Valley Chorus located in the Sayre-Athens, PA area (north central PA on the NY border).  

I enjoy playing with my children, loving my wife and playing a little guitar.  I am also committed to a relationship with Jesus, working towards grace and forgiveness with compassion.


Stage 1981-1983

Corinne Axelrod  I was a volunteer in the wonderful town of Dassa Zoume from 1981 to 1983.  When I returned I got a MPH from UC Berkely and have been an officer in the US Public Health Service for almost 20 years, working on health policy.  I am also a licensed and nationally certified acupuncturist and serve as a director of the professional association of Oriental Medicine practitioners.  I live in Kensington, Maryland, with my BF and 3 cats.  My email is corinne929@gamil.com.    

 


Stage 80-82


Peter de Groot-  Originally from California, I trained in Cotonou in 1980 and served as a Physics teacher in Ouidah until 1982.  For the following ten years I did contract training for the PC in Burkina Faso, Gabon, Chad, and Swaziland,
and did program evaluations in Swaziland and Nepal.  During this same time, I earned a PhD in Physics and began my domestic professional career as a research scientist in Optics.  Since 1993 I am Director of Research and
Development for Zygo Corporation here in Middlefield, Connecticut. From 2000-2002, I had the honor of being FOB President Friends of Benin.  Shannon and I have been married for 15 years and have a little boy, Nico.


Stage 74-76

William Hulsey   I served in Benin (Ouesse) from 1974-1976 in the animal traction program.  After serving in Benin I got a Masters in the Art of Teaching then went to Spain to become the principal of the American School of Mallorca .  I returned to the states in 1979 to attend law school at Northeastern University in Boston , MA .  I’m now the general counsel of Education Development Center , an NGO that is primarily funded by USAID.  I am married with two children, ages 12 and 10.  We live in Wellesley , MA .


Stage: 71-72

Beth McCammon  by Dick Feldman (husband) I and my wife are RPCVs Dahomey.  I was there from 69 to 71. She came in 71 and stayed through late 72.  We've been married for 25 years and met in Cotonou.  We were back with our four children in 95-96.  I was a Fulbright lecturer at the University.  I was in school gardens posted in Porto Novo.  She was an animal science specialist developing small animal feed rations for the FAO Ouémé rice project, now defunct.  She was also posted in Porto Novo. We had a very fascinating time back in 95-96.  


Stage: 69-71

Dick Feldman- I and my wife are RPCVs Dahomey.  I was there from 69 to 71. She came in 71 and stayed through late 72.  We've been married for 25 years and met in Cotonou.  We were back with our four children in 95-96.  I was a Fulbright lecturer at the University.  I was in school gardens posted in Porto Novo.  She was an animal science specialist developing small animal feed rations for the FAO Ouémé rice project, now defunct.  She was also posted in Porto Novo.
We had a very fascinating time back in 95-96. 


Don't be shy!- send you bio to me so your old PCV friends can see what you've been up to.   Also send in your contact information so they can get in touch with you.  Send your information to Cstarace@yahoo.com.