Gerry Gillio, past President of the RPCV-NJ organization for many years, served in Iran from 1966 to 1968. She was very gracious to share her home and Peace Corps experiences with a group of RPCV’s (and their family members) on Saturday evening, April 2. The special event was in honor of the Persian New Year known as “No Rooz.” No Rooz is the first day of spring each year and people celebrate for ten days. There are traditional ceremonies, games and lots of special holiday foods that are associated with the celebration.
The room was filled to the max with guests and we all got a meaningful glimpse into this joyful occasion at Gerry’s home where she had prepared a variety of delicious Iranian dishes and desserts. Several people opted to eat dinner on the floor in traditional Iranian style, as Iranian music played in the background. We also drank tea in traditional style by putting a sugar cube in the front of our mouths and letting it dissolve as we sipped the hot tea through it (not an easy task!).
The host also put out a “7S” display of food and other items that had significant meanings related to the holiday.
The evening ended with a slide show of photos taken when Gerry was in Iran. She showed us pictures of many historical places and also pictures of people with whom she became friends during her Peace Corps years (and beyond.) We heard insightful stories about the Iranian people and some humorous stories about the good times that Gerry enjoyed during her stay in Iran.
Another highlight of the evening was the opportunity to meet several RPCV’s that most of us have never met before (even though they had been to RPCV events in the past.) It was great to meet new people who have also served in the Peace Corps, and share some common experiences that typically join RPCV’s with each other.
One of the guests at the celebration, Jim Sutherland, would also shared his views on the event:
“Besides the delicious ethnic food, Bron [my wife] and I were particularly impressed by the slides Gerry showed from her time in Iran and the stories that she and Nick and Gloria Montaldo [Iran 1969-71] told of their more recent trips to the country. It was very interesting and enlightening. It was good to be among people who have an interest in and appreciation for other cultures and countries.”
Events of this type, at which volunteers share their Peace Corps experiences with others, are always very rewarding and informative. They highlight the unique aspects of each Peace Corps Volunteer’s experience, as well as reveal the common threads that span the Peace Corps experience in general.
If you would like to host one of these events, please contact Doug at firstname.lastname@example.org.