1/24/00 Vol. 3
The official Friends of Benin Newsletter
News and Updates from the Executive Committee:
Election time is here! Elections will be held for the following FOB positions: President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, Deadbeat Editor, and Deadbeat Graphic Artist. Our current president Annie Rimoine will not be running due to time constraints.
The following nominations have been received:
President- Peter de Groot- (see his convincing campaign speech below.)
Vice President- Open (please write in a candidate)
Treasurer- Lori Killpatrick
Secretary- Open (please write in a candidate)
Deadbeat Editor- Chris Starace
Deadbeat Graphic Artist- Chris Robbins
Vote by E-mail to Lori Killpatrick at Lkillpat@aol.com or snail mail to: 3119 Clairemont Dr. #2 San Diego, CA 92117. All votes must be received within two weeks of receiving the Deadbeat. Keep FOB alive and well by voting and volunteering to help with the club’s activities!
Campaign speech from Peter De Groot.
Fellow Fobers –
So I here I go, throwing my hat into the ring.
An empty ring, it seems. My first thought was, well, maybe I should participate in FOB and help out a bit, maybe by filling one of the official posts. Now here I am, standing quite alone on the election platform. I can only imagine the cheers of the adoring crowds, as it becomes clear that my chances are quite good of making it to the absolute top, the pinnacle of FOB authority, the PRESIDENCY.
I’ve never actually been president of anything. This is my big chance.
Well first off, here’s what I bring to the post. I was indeed a Benin volunteer. In fact, I am proud to call myself one of LES ANCIENS, a Camarade de Lutte, a veteran of the front-line wave of volunteers that landed on Benin’s shores in 1980. This was the same year that Benin introduced the first Marxist-Leninist national cash lottery and the year that Ronald Reagan was elected. That was twenty years ago. I was only a small child at the time, but Peace Corps is a very progressive organization.
After two years as a teacher in Ouidah, I traveled to France, completed my Licence de Physique at Grenoble, and then continued graduate school in the states, finally completing my PhD in 1987. Since then I have worked as a research scientist, inventing optical instruments that generate a great deal of money, which I cheerfully donate directly to my employer in exchange for a chic, modern cubicle. I have also been lucky enough to do a host of personal service contracts over the years for Peace Corps, working in Burkina, Gabon, Rwanda, Chad and Swaziland, training new volunteers, organizing workshops, and evaluating education programs.
One of the big events of the past 20 years, in my view, was the celebrated 10-year Benin reunion in Washington, DC. At that time a core group of famous Anciens in Washington DC, including George Monagan, Roger Eckert, Libby Ward, Barbara Ehst Glomb, Mark Hall and Mary Lou Weathers, energized the first FOB organization that kept us all in touch. I still have the newsletters from those days, and a fantastic stenciled reunion tee shirt designed by Jane Cowen-Fletcher. Time passed, people moved, and the organization faded away.
Now it’s back, with a new group of energizers, including our current president Annie Rimoin and other members of the Executive Committee. So what will I do as Commander and Chief? I mean, if elected? I view FOB principally as a way of keeping people who have a very unusual shared experience in contact with each other and with the place and time that means a great deal to them. An FOB member has no duties, apart from reading the Deadbeat and sending in his $15 every year, but there are so many opportunities for keeping the experience alive. These opportunities include support for current and future Benin volunteers, re-entry networking for returned volunteers, recruitment of new FOB members and reunions. These activities follow naturally from keeping people in contact, sharing what they know, taking initiatives and getting things going. Keeping people in touch, therefore, is the primary goal. This is easier to today than ever before, thanks to the Internet. The Internet was not, by the way, invented by Al Gore. I invented the Internet. Therefore, as PRESIDENT, I would expand upon what Marcus Chance and John Boe have already done, providing as much information as possible at an FOB Web site to supplement mailings. The expanded site or collection of sites would include, for example, a page detailing the history of Peace Corps/Benin, with photos and articles from the various generations of volunteers. These, then, are some of my ideas.
Now for my full disclosure statement: Unless I become dramatically smarter at investing money in high-risk technical stocks, I will continue to work for a living. This means that I have very little time to devote to FOB. If someone… anyone else steps forward to challenge my candidature for president, I urge you to vote for them. Otherwise, I believe I am the best-qualified candidate, and in the tradition of one-party government, your election choice is clear.
Peter de Groot, Camarade Professeur
FOB Membership Dues are $15 and are payable to Lori Killpatrick, 3119 Clairemont Dr. #2 San Diego, CA 92117, (Lkillpat@aol.com ). Make check out to Friends of Benin/Lori Killpatrick so you can get on the mailing list for the next Deadbeat issue. Please encourage your fellow non-member Benin RPCV’s to join.
Fob Upcoming Activities and Events:
No events scheduled- please take the initiative to schedule one.
Send your overheards for the next Deadbeat. Keep your ears opened at the next RPCV fete or dig through your PCV journal for any unpublished ones.
by Jessica Duke and Steev Lynn:
I was in Benin from 89 - 91, so I knew some of the original Deadbeaters. The oral Deadbeat history (below) is from Steev Lynn (Forestry, Se 88 - 90). My stage thought the name quite appropriate. Someone sent one of us the B52's cassettes - COSMIC THING which includes the song "Deadbeat Club". The first lines "Get a job. What for? I'm trying to think". Actually, we were enamored with the whole dang album and had time (since we were all Deadbeats) to analyze the lyrics. From "Love Shack" - "wearing close to nothin'cuz it's hot as an oven", "tin roof...rusted". We wondered if the B-52's were RPCV's themselves
because all of the lyrics on the album directly related to our lives.
Steev Lynn wrote:
We did start the Deadbeat. There had been a newsletter some years before, only the 3rd year people could still remember it at that point, and I don't know what it was called except probably "The Benin Peace Corps Newsletter" or something original like that. Anyway, a bunch of us were sitting around in my living room in Se including Margo Kelly(88-90), Dianna Wilson (Aneho, Togo, 88-89), and
several others whom I can't recall. There was the strike that was idling many people including volunteers, but that wasn't all; we were also comparing Togo and Benin volunteers, to the disadvantage of Benin. Togo had 2 softball teams in the tournament while we had trouble getting one full team on the field on game day, and we never got together to practice. Togo volunteers were always partying and carrying on in Lome, while we were a bunch of boring deadbeats, etc. etc. We didn't even have a newsletter, while Togo had the Griot. We ought to have a newsletter; but then what would we call it, the Deadbeat, hah hah hah? I don't remember who first made the suggestion, but we were the kind of people who appreciated weirdness, so we carried it from the joke stage into execution. I remember drawing the covers for the first several issues and writing a few things, while different people took turns editing. We encountered some
resistance to the name from Director John Carter, who thought the "Deadbeat" didn't reflect well on the Benin Peace Corps program, but during a visit to my house I explained our point of view to him; he didn't look very satisfied, but he took a hands-off approach. Not all volunteers appreciated the tongue-in-cheek self-deprecating humor of it, either, some just thought it was an ugly name. But some changed their minds after a few months as it grew on them.
I was (pleasantly) surprised that the name had stuck for so long when I first came across a copy of it in the mid 90s, I guess it's been more than 10 years now. The current volunteers had made it much better than I remember it in the late 80s. That's the oral history as I remember it. -Steev
Updates on Members/ Message Board-
Marriages, moves, engagements, new addresses, new children, etc., new jobs, say hi to old friends, locate a long lost postmate ...
News From Benin:
Transmit news from your in country contacts and messages from current Benin PCV’s:
Reflections on Being a PCV and the Life Long Task of Readjustment:
How Benin Changed Me
by Chris Starace
More against waste and more likely to recycle.
I value human relationships and human interaction more.
I place a higher value on the simple pleasures of life.
Less superficial and more down to earth.
More in tune with the rhythms of nature.
More likely to speak to people who are different than me.
More sensitive to the feelings of a person in a minority situation knowing very well what it’s like to be a minority myself.
More open minded.
More likely to try to see a situation from the other person’s point of view.
Much more flexible and patient- go with the flow attitude when nothing can be done to change the situation at hand.
More resourceful and creative.
Stronger and more resilient in the face of adversity.
More worldly outlook and perspective- broader horizons quoi.
More appreciative of the efficiency, luxuries, opportunity, technology and wealth we have.
More aware of the faults of the American culture.
More aware of racial tension in the U.S.
More dynamic and spontaneous.
Unfortunately I’m feeling these traits are fading as time goes by and as I become more mainstream American again. I think it’s time to go back to Benin for a visit already!
A good Benin kids book -
IT TAKES A VILLAGE by Jane Cowen-Fletcher
The author was a volunteer in Se, Mono from 1981 - 1983. This book chronicles a child's adventures in the marché. The drawings are amazing - little boites à tomate, push-up lizards, OMO, La Beninoise. It's a perfect book for Benin RPCV's who are now parents. (Submitted by Jessica Duke, 1989 - 1991)
Benin Related Web Sites:
Check out the FOB web site at: http://php.iupui.edu/~jmboe/ John will gladly scan in any pictures that you would like posted on his web page photo tour. Marcus Chance also has created a web site at: http://www.terraworld.net/mdchance/mdchance/Unauthorized_Benin_RPCVs.html
www.afrikinfo.com- Has a list serve option where you can send and receive messages to all subscribers who have a connection with Benin. It is also the page for Le Matinal Beninese News Paper. Not all the articles are published on the web but it is a good way to keep up on events in Benin. The URL is WWW.afrikinfo.com and the list serve is www.afrikinfo.com/reclame/kwabo/index.htm.
Send your favorite Benin website address with a short description of its contents.