10/15/00 Vol. 5
The official Friends of Benin Newsletter
Official Friends of Benin Website- www.friends-of-benin.org (Check it Out!)
News and Updates from the Executive Committee:
Pres. Peter de Groot- firstname.lastname@example.org
VP- Jessica Duke - email@example.com
Treasurer- Lori Killpatrick- Lkillpat@aol.com
Deadbeat Editor- Chris Starace- CStarace@yahoo.com
Grapic Designer- Chris Robbins- firstname.lastname@example.org
Web Master- John Boe - email@example.com (pending vote)
Social Committee- open
Membership Committee- open
Current Volunteer Support- open
Join Friends of Benin Group!
Friends of Benin is a group of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers who have served in Benin as well as anyone who has an interest in Benin. Some of our goals are to help members keep in touch with each other through the FOB website, this newsletter, reunions, keep up with what’s going on in Benin, support current Benin PCV’s, support Peace Corps’ third goal of brining our experiences back home, and to help members keep their Peace Corps experience alive. We are a young group and need your participation!
We will be sending several free copies to PC Cotonou for every edition and we encourage current volunteers to send contributions to the U.S. “Deadbeat” to Chris Starace, 124 Shippan Ave. Stamford, CT 06902. Let us know what you are doing, give updates on what’s going on in Benin, PC Benin (most of us are quite out of touch), and let us know how we can support you. Send us copies of your “Deadbeat” so we can include portions of it in ours. Feel free to include articles from the FOB “Deadbeat” in the PCV Deadbeat.
Friends of Benin National Peace Corps Association
City, State, Zip:____________________________
Peace Corps Job:___________________________
PC Country:________________Years of service:__________
___Associate members - I am not an RPCV nor RPCS
I am interested in: ____________________
Select one membership category:
___Newly returned RPCV - 6 months free
___$40 NPCA/FOB dues (this is fixed by NPCA and can't be changed!)
___$55 Family NPCA & FOB
___$22.50 Family FOB
Additional contributions for NPCA:
___$1000 Director's Circle
___$250 Leadership Club
___$10 Overseas Mail
___$20 (member of NPCA)
___$30 (other RPCV)
Make check payable to Friends of Benin and send to: Lori Killpatrick, 3119 Clairemont Drive #2, San Diego, CA 92117 so you can get on the mailing list for the next Deadbeat issue (published quarterly more or less). Membership begins on the date in which payment is received and ends one year later. A reminder will be sent before your membership expires. Please encourage your fellow non-member Benin RPCV’s to join.
Send or E-mail articles, ideas, comments, photos, etc. for the next FOB Deadbeat to Cstarace@yahoo.com. or 124 Shippan Ave. Stamford, CT 06902.
There are only a few Friends of Benin t-shirts left! Get yours before we run out. The beautiful khaki shirts with forest green design are only $15. Please include $2.50 for shipping and handling and mail your check made out to Friends of Benin to: Lori Killpatrick, 3119 Clairemont Drive, San Diego, CA 92117. Don't forget to include your size
Welcome new members!
A big thank you to all who joined as a result of our
last Deadbeat mailing. We are excited to have you on board.
68-69 Dahomey I
68-70, Economic Development
Judith Rooney (Scrudato)
81-83, Science Teacher
Bill and Susan Hogan
90-92, Guinea Worm
68-70, Grain Storage
94-96, Science Teacher
Peace Corps Doctor
90-92, Guinea Worm
68-72 Dahomey I
76-78, Primary School Health Education
R. Steven Taylor
Anne Holic (Mullen)
Kristin Crinot (Cook)
News from the
(well, more like a cubicle…)
Greetings from the Office of the President! -
Here are the proposed Bylaws for FOB. Comments, suggestions,
complaints are welcome!
The New FOB Website
Submitted for approval by the Board of Directors July 20, 2000
Submitted to general membership for discussion August 27, 2000
Note- the board of directors position of Webmaster has been
added to the bylaws and John Boe is the candidate who is running for this
position. Voting for the bylaws
includes a vote for John Boe as webmaster unless you specify another person in
your vote. (see details below)
Article I: Name
The organization shall be named "Friends of Benin" or FOB.
FOB is a nonprofit organization open to anyone having an interest in Peace Corps programs in the West-African nation of Benin. The primary purpose of the FOB organization is to establish a community of Peace Corps Benin alumni, volunteers, staff and supporters.
Our Objectives Include:
1) Improve and maintain communications between FOB members, through electronic mail and other Internet services, as well as through printed newsletters and mailings.
2) Organize meetings, reunions and other events to bring members together.
3) Keep the Peace Corps/Benin experience alive for returned volunteers and staff.
4) Sustain our commitment to international service and understanding through the exchange of information and materials.
5) Support the Peace Corps' third goal - to bring the world back home, by
Encourage members to share their experiences with their own communities.
6) Support of the
Peace Corps mission in Benin, including the financial support of specific
7) Support recently returned volunteers as well as volunteers who are about to leave for Benin.
8) Distribute news and information about the Republic of Benin.
Article IV: Membership
An FOB member in good standing supports the FOB mission statement and is current in their dues, according to the fee structure and procedures established by the Board of Directors (see Article V).
Article V: Board of Directors
FOB shall be governed by a Board of Directors, comprised of a minimum of three and a maximum of nine Directors, all or some of whom may be Officers (see Article VI).
The Board of Directors conducts, manages and controls the affairs and business of the FOB.
Any FOB members in good standing may nominate themselves or other FOB members in good standing as candidates for the Board of Directors.
Officers shall be elected by a majority of members voting for two-year terms by conventional or electronic mail. Officer positions left vacant may be voted on at any time.
Decisions regarding FOB activities, including in particular the collection and allocation of funds, requires a minimum 2/3 majority vote of the FOB officers, including the President (see Article VI).
At the discretion of the Board of Directors, specific actions by the FOB may be presented to the membership for comment, polling vote or decision vote.
Any member in good standing may request the Board of Directors to perform a general polling or decision vote of the membership on a specific action. However, acting on this request is at the discretion of the Board of Directors.
Article VI: Officers
FOB officers, who are all members of the Board of Directors, include:
A President, responsible for providing direction to the FOB organization, and shall use his/here discretion in determining the activities that will further the purpose of the organization. However, any decision involving the collection or expenditure of funds requires a vote by the Board of Directors. The President must take part in any vote by the Board of Directors;
A Vice President, who assists the President and in the absence or disability of the president, performs all the duties of the President;
A Secretary, responsible for keeping a full and complete record of FOB membership, as well as a partial record of PC/Benin alumni and friends who are not currently FOB members;
A Treasurer, who collects membership dues and other sources of revenue, maintains an account and a balance sheet on behalf of the FOB, and has oversight over fund raising activities. The Treasurer also disburses funds as may be ordered by the Board of Directors;
A Newsletter Editor, who oversees the publication of the FOB newsletter (the "Deadbeat"); and
A Newsletter Graphic Artist, who formats the FOB newsletter (the "Deadbeat").
A Webmaster, who is in charge of maintaining, designing, and
updating the FOB website. He or she may
appoint co-webmasters to aid in this task at his or her discretion.
The Board of Directors may vote to create new or retire existing officer categories at any time.
An individual Director may fulfill the duties of two or more Officers.
Article VII: Adoption and Amendment of the Bylaws
Adoption and/or amendment of the bylaws requires a ½-majory vote of all members in good standing.
Article VIII: Communications
Ordinary activities of the organization may be conducted by electronic or conventional mail. This includes discussions and voting by the FOB officers.
Decisions of the Board of Directors shall be communicated promptly to the membership.
Article IX: Nature of the Organization
The FOB is organized exclusively for charitable and educational purposes. Directors do not receive any monetary compensation, nor are the FOB funds used for any other purpose than to further the mission and objectives of the organization as set forth in Articles II and III.
FOB is not currently officially incorporated in any state. The present Bylaws are informal and provisional, until such a time as the membership decides a more formal organization is required to pursue the FOB Mission.
The above Bylaws were approved by the Board of Directors.
Peter de Groot - President
Jessica Duke - Vice President and Secretary
Lori Killpatrick - Treasurer
Chris Starace - Newsletter Editor
Chris Robins - Newsletter Graphic Artist
The Bylaws will be presented to the FOB membership via the Deadbeat
newsletter for a ½ majority vote.
Please send your votes Yea, or Nay (If Nay- say what you want changed) to Lori Killpatrick at - Lkillpat@aol.com or, 3119 Clairemont Drive #2, San Diego, CA 92117 by the end of the third week from which you received this edition of the Deadbeat.
Check out the New Official FOB website at www.friends-of-benin.org ! John has done a great job of putting
together an interesting website and he needs our help to ensure it will
continue to improve. If you have web
master skills and would like to help John Boe, be sure to let him know at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. We should have past copies of the Deadbeat
posted soon incase you missed some editions.
John said, “I would also love to have artwork, pictures, original
compositions, etc. to post. Just send it to me and you will see it in one to
I have no problem adding things to the webpage--- it is just the creative part that slows me down.
FOB Upcoming Activities and Events:
None planned so far so please volunteer to organize 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.
Thought this might be of interest… I am an active member of the Louisiana Peace Corps Association and a new member of FOB. The LPCA group is putting together an exhibit of art and objects brought home by African volunteers. You can check out the website of the museum [noaam.org] where this will be presented and click on "exhibition schedule" to see Benin's own tapistry of the Kings of Abomey [compliments of yours truly]. I have submitted several other items from Benin and we have many countries represented in the exhibit. The opening event is in September. If you need any more info on this event, let me know, or pass it on.
Mary Cooper Fitzpatrick
Updates on Members/ Message Board
Announce Marriages, moves, engagements, new addresses, new children,, new jobs, say hi to old friends, locate a long lost postmate ...
Kristin Szak (90-92) married Matt Kaser on September 30, 2000 in Dallas, Texas. Kristin is a pediatric nurse practitioner and works for the City of Dallas in a child health clinic. Matt is an artist and has his own industrial design business. They will be living in Coppell, Tx with their dog Elsie.
Paul Lavigne (Cove Math Teacher 95-97) married Vandana Saraswati in New Deli India on July 18, 2000. He explains the very interesting cross-cultural wedding ceremony in his own words:
“…The main religious ceremony, … "Puja" …was the
traditional Hindu ceremony where the bride and groom sit around a fire with the
priest exchanging vows. Vandana's family and my family joined us. The scripts
were read from the original Sanskrit and then translated into Hindi and English
for those of us not so conversant in Sanskrit. We, in this process, promised to
each other, to our families, and to god that we would spend our life
together. In the process of building the fire we expressed our devotion
to this cause. The event had concluded
by mid-afternoon which allowed us to prepare for the evening gala event.
The reception was held in the evening at the Taj Palace hotel. Vandana and I entered the hall and were greeted by a cheerful group of about 80 people. We sat together on a stage decorated with flowers, which made us feel much
like a king and queen (yes I the king and her the queen). We had a chance to greet each family, one by one. Brother Brian gave a toast and the feast ensued. We fed each other wedding cake, which displayed a lovely statuette of a bride and groom. The cake topper had, by the way been brought all the way from Connecticut. Many enjoyed the dancing to various types of Indian and American music. The favorite of the night was the Punjabi dance music, which kept everyone moving, from hand to toe until the wee hours of the morning.
Anyone travelling to
Nepal? Monica Carter-Justice (AKA Assiba from Bopa) and her husband Scott
would love to welcome you. Just email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Benin Baby Boom:
August 9 -
Gabriel Francois Poidatz
born to Jennifer George (RCD 89 - 91) and Francois Poidatz
August 9 -
Wesley Bennett Smith
born to Meredith McCartney - (RCD 89 - 91) and Brian Smith
August 15 -
Gunnar John Bodvarsson
born to Mary Meldahl - (Education 90 - 92) and Orn Bodvarsson
AND - bringing in the rear of the Benin Baby Boom
Gabriel Herman Urbatsch
Gabriel was born on August 23. 9 pounds 2 ounces, 22 inches
born to Jessica Duke (RCD 89 - 91) and Scott Urbatsch
Want more details and pictures??? Feel free to check out www.urbatsch.com
News From Benin:
Transmit news from your in-country contacts and post messages from current Benin PCV’s: Current PCV’s: Send us letters and articles from your Deadbeat!
Reflections on Being a PCV and the Life Long Task of Readjustment:
Send your submission to Cstarace@yahoo.com.
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)
French Lessons in Africa, by Peter Biddlecombe, published 1995. The first chapter is on his experiences in Benin. Very interesting, especially the story on the Catholic Church being across the street from the snake temple. It covers quite a bit of territory.
Benin Related Web Site Reviews:
Send your favorite Benin related website and a short review:
****www.friends-of-benin.org - the official Friends of Benin Web page designed by John Boe. Contains photos of Benin, a link to the FOB E-mail list server, funny excerpts from past PCV deadbeats, links to News about Benin, Beninese recipes, travel info., message guest book Etc. Drop by for a visit!
www.wfdesign.com/togo/intro/intro.html- This is an interesting website about an RPCV and his African wife who returned to Africa to visit Togo and Benin. -from Pete, Gogounou, RPCV, SBD, 97-99
http://hermes.ulaval.ca/listserv/archives/benin.html- This is a very active list server comprised of about 250 people. Most are Beninese expats living in Africa, Europe, US, and, Canada. Most messages are in French and topics are frequently about current events in and issues relating to Beninese expats. I find it quite interesting. I subscribe to the digest which sends me all the messages posted for the day as attachments in one message.
http://www.h2com.com/lematinal/ - This is Le Matinal ( the Beninese Newspaper)’s web site. They update it daily. I have to say Beninese journalism is under-developed as is Benin but it is a good way to keep up on what’s going on in Benin and a good way to practice your French.
http://epa-prema.net/abomey/ - The Musee d’Abomey ‘s Website.- In English and French. Pictures of the museum’s exhibits, history of the Danhome Kings, and other info about Benin. Brush up on your Beninese history here.
http://www.sil.org/ethnologue/countries/Beni.html - This is an exhaustive list of all the languages spoken in Benin. All 51 are listed with linguistic roots, and brief info. on the population that speaks each language.
http://www.africanews.com/ - Links to other African news sources as well as some of their own news.
Radio France International.
Remember?… the only other
station on the dial in Benin besides the National Radio Station. If sure brings back memories for me hearing
it. You can choose to listen to
broadcasts by category such as Afrique Matin, Afrique Sorir, Magazine Afrique,
etc. in French, English or several other languages. You need Real Player and can download it for free (they provide a
link to it). Once you have Realplayer you can either listen through streaming
audio or you can download the whole audio file and save it to your hard drive.
Stories/ Articles of Interest:
RPCV Survey by William F Snyders:
(Requested by current PCV’s for their Deadbeat last year)
"Bembereke Beeeeel" Snyders
My email address is email@example.com
I am 27 years old....although soon to be 28 (10/02/72)
1729 Kenyon St. NW
Washington, DC 20010
(202) 232-9559 Home
My hobbies are:
Running, Golf, Art, Faisant de la Dance Beninois
Other interesting things I'd like you to know:
After a wonderful two years as a SBD volunteer in Bembereke, I spent a couple of months in the Pool and Hottubs Business back in good ole Des Moines, Iowa (yeeeeee!!). Not that I wasn't having fun as the glamorous "pool boy" (just like you see in the movies, hummm?), but I figured I should use my education learned throughout college and move to DC in hopes of a better career move. Lucky things worked out and I landed a job on the Hill before moving out there in July 1998.
So far so good...having a blast in our nation's capitol!! I am currently working as an Economist for the DOL/Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Much of my work involves the reporting of economic inflation (in particular the Producer Price Index) to the news media, government, general public, etc. and YES!!! Alan Greenspan. As hard as it may imagine to some, I actually enjoy my job as an economist!!
Aside from analyzing U.S. economic data every day, I am also currently on the Board of Directors for Fitness Association of the BLS. For those who don't know, I ran in the NYC Marathon last year and am currently in training for the DC Marine Corps Marathon scheduled this October 22. To keep myself even busier, I have enrolled in a part-time Master's program in Economics at Johns Hopkins University. Don't worry, I still manage to find time to catch a buzz....despite lack of sodabi!
Name: William F. Snyders
Dates of service (i.e. years that you spent in the Republic of Benin):
Post: Bembereke, BORGOU
Program: Small Business Development
Peace Corps nickname (besides "whitey" in local language): Bembereke Bill
(pronounced Beeeeeel), Bilbo Baggins, Bildo, Black Boney Bill, Darth
Vader....this list goes on too long!!
1. What do you miss the most about life in Benin? igname pilet and tchouck
2. Is your current salary more or less than your PCV salary? of course
more, who makes $6/day in the states? are you @*^%ing crazy?!
3. What was your first job after Peace Corps and how long did it take you to get it (don't lie)? My "first job" after Peace Corps was as a "pool boy" (does the thought "porno" enter your mind?). I was working on pools and hot tubs back in good ole Iowa.
4. How is your Peace Corps experience described on your resume? My Peace
Corps experience basically is my resume! Career Summary: Two years volunteer experience selected on the basis of excellent cross-cultural, language, and technical skills to serve as an advisor for small businesses in a developing country.
5. How do you describe Peace Corps to your friends after several beers? I wouldn't know because I don't drink (kidding). It is usually just easier for me to say "You had to be there. Thanks for not coming to visit me while I was there you losers!"
6. What is the most bullshit thing you say about your Peace Corps experience (in job interviews, to the grandparents, to prospective dates, etc)? I had to go out in the bush to hunt wild animals for food.
9. Flag or Beninoise? Sodabi with La Grande Beninoise as a chaser
10. What was your most AdSep-able offense? That is too dangerous for me to express through an e-mail!! But I did occasionally ride without a helmet on the back of a zemijan in Cotonou.
11. One sentence about life in America to make volunteers ravenously jealous: I'm not constantly sweating anymore (ha ha ha)!!!
12. How many small children did you beat while in Benin? Have your views on corporal punishment and child labor changed from before you were a volunteer? 1) I think about ten or so, 2) not really
13. Do you still wear your African clothes? yes
14. Which Beninois habits have you kept? drinking (many Ngomas, it’s hard to find sodabi here), dancing (are you familiar with the move that looks like you are about to fall over and at the last moment you catch yourself?), and eating (I still eat parts of the bones).
16. What did you always want to say to PC admin that you were never able to say as a volunteer? "I'd like to see you make it in my village!" How badly do you miss cluiclui and gari? I can buy gari about a block from my place here in D.C. However, it costs about a hundred times the price found in Benin. I strongly miss cluiclui!!!
18. What was the biggest shock upon returning home? Visitng New York City for the first time ever immediately upon arrival!--I almost took a growler in my shorts when seeing the city from the very top of the World Trade Center (I was also still suffering from Giardia at the time).
19. True or False: "Peace Corps is the toughest job you'll ever love."
False If false, please correct the statement to make it true. "Peace Corps is the longest vacation that kills your brain cells, drives you crazy, and makes you return to the states slightly stranger"
21. Tell your best Peace Corps story (with all its embellishments): There are many but I think our trip to Ghana for the softball tournament is pretty good. It all started at the tournament. Our Peace Corps Benin team, known privately as the "Sodabi Slammers", played in the social league therefore we were able to enjoy ourselves not really caring if we won or lost. As part as this enjoyment, Djim Karculias, playing our first base coach, enhanced my performances one game by giving me a "secret weapon" known as Sodabi. Much to my surprise it worked!! The following time at bat, I went up to the plate with a cigarette in my mouth and hit a line-drive up center field. The ball managed to escape through the legs of the second baseman and outfielder and to my excitement I began to run around the bases. It wasn't until I was cornering 2nd base that I realized that I still had the damn cigarette in my mouth. After reaching home with cigarette in mouth (an inside the park home run), I went over to the other team's bench and took a long hard drag on that cigarette, blew out the smoke, and stomped it out on the ground all---before their very eyes. It was hilarious!! I think we actually lost the game but that moment will always live with me. To top things off, I received the "Smoking Man" award during the Awards Ceremony that followed the tournament.
The rest of the vacation was eventful too. Due to much celebration,
I actually passed out in the back of the Peace Corps vehicle on our way to the US Ambassador's party. Being that she was so embarrassed, APCD Mary Dashbach, who was driving us, thought it would be more appropriate to present me as a "Togo" volunteer. The party has fun from what I remember(which was not a whole lot) up until the time I tried wrestling playfully with our Beninois teammate Cami (built like brick shithouse) who decided to body slammed me into the ground. I only got the wind knocked out me for about 15 minutes but I shook it off.
We spent the rest of our time in Ghana travelling around. Some highlights of the trip include me sleeping on my arm wrong and losing feeling in it for a couple days. I seriously looked like I was physically challenge and it almost came to the point where I wanted to go up to people and say "Il faut me donner l'argent". Having one good arm left, I still managed to have a great vacation. We also had an encounter involving a Tro Tro bus. The back left wheel broke off the axle as we were cruising along at about 75 kilometers/hour. We finally came to a stop after the axle had been dragging on the ground for at least 200 yards. We all thought we were going to die of course. Colleen Renk has a nice picture of me next to the smoking axle with my thumbs up.
Well---those are just of few stories but there are also others worth remembering (for those who were there): Banikoara Christmas, Niger
Softball, spooning in the Marine House--Black Boney incident, birthday party, etc.
For those of you who read this and don't know who I am---I really was a hard-working volunteer who never partied when I was in Benin!!!
B.P. 69 Shawshank Dr.
Bembereke, W. Africa