Ethnic Dining – Topo Vietnamese cuisine in Hackettstown, NJ

On a beautiful spring day, April 19, 2015, RPCVs and family members gathered in Hackettstown (Warren County) to enjoy Vietnamese food at Topo Restaurant  recommended by Allison Wawrin. The restaurant was easy to find and the décor bright and cheerful with setting was adequate for the eight attendees.

The food was excellent, from the Topo sampler (with fish, peanut and curry sauces) and pickled appetizers to the varied dishes ordered by attendees. A wide selection of foods from breakfast/brunch items to luncheon specials and regular menu items was available and by all accounts the food was delicious.

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As always, the camaraderie of RPCVs and friends was enjoyable.

RPCV-NJ Participates in 2015 Jersey Cares Day

On Saturday, May 2, 2015, seven representatives of RPCV-NJ participated in Jersey Cares Day activities.  The sun was shining and the weather was perfect for some outdoor work.  This year we chose the project “It’s fun to paint at the YMCA” in Hillsborough.  There were several projects to work on at the YMCA and the majority of our group chose painting a map of the world on the blacktop of the children’s playground.  Joining a group of about 20 volunteers from Novo-Nordisk we quickly worked collaboratively to make this project come to life.  We lined up and rolled out long white sheets across the playground and then painted in the many tiny circles with white paint.  When we took away the sheets, it revealed in the many dots a very rough outline of the world map.  We then had to connect the dots with chalk to form the outline of continents and countries.  Next was numbering each country to reflect the color that country was to be painted.  Then we painted each country with its assigned color.
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When it came to the continent of Africa, our Peace Corps experience gave us a bit of an advantage in identifying the countries from the outline.  In addition to painting many other countries, we made sure that Barbara painted Senegal, Lisa painted Ghana, Edie painted Malawi and Peter painted Sierra Leone.  You can see from the photos how things turned out. Anthony and Gabby worked on some different painting work at the Y but we made sure to stop and pose for a group photo.  A good time was had by all.

RPCV-NJ Family Picnic and Animal Bell Presentation – June 28

Sunday, June 28, 2015
11:00am to 5:00pm

Harmony Recreation Area Pavilion
Route 519 South, Harmon, NJ
**Note: if the address 3003 Belvidere Avenue, Phillipsburg, NJ is used, you can get directions online to the Harmony Recreation area (Phillipsburg street address but in Harmony Township- Route 519/Belvidere Avenue)**

Rain or Shine! Please bring some food and/or beverage to share, ethnic dishes welcomed. Crock pots and warming trays can be plugged in. If a grill is desired, you would have to bring one to use. Bring sports equipment, kites etc. A playground and large open fields are available for recreation. Picnic tables are available under the pavilion but also a large open grassy area if you want to bring a blanket or lawn chair(s).

Family and friends welcome! Prospective volunteers or those who have joined the Peace Corps and are preparing to serve are welcome too.

Please RSVP to Christie Musa or contact with questions:
Cell: 908.283.9990 or email

Jim Diamond & wife Betty (RPCVs Chad 1971-73) will share their collection of domestic animal bells from around the world. 20-25 of the bells from a collection of 82 bells from 29 countries will be displayed and Jim will describe where and how animal bells are made; why herders uses animal bells; then ring each bell and describe a brief story for each bell. Children are invited to take part in the presentation.

Lasting Impressions – Art Exhibit

Thank you to everyone for attending the “Lasting Impressions” Art Exhibit Reception on April 11th. Below are some photos from the event.



Owen Fitzgerald RPCV Mali speaking to a packed house at Lasting Impressions Art reception.




The Exhibit runs from April 11-May 26, 2015 

How artist’s perspectives were influenced by working in Peace Corps’ health, education, and development programs.Curated by returned Peace Corps volunteer artists Nancie Gunkelman and Adam Swart, this exhibition highlights the Peace Corps legacy in New Jersey and the surrounding region through the works of artists who have successfully employed alternative means to communicate with non-literate communities and diverse age groups on health care issues. These Peace Corps volunteers used visual and performance art in inventive ways to build understanding on health issues including HIV education, malarial prevention, vaccination programs, water and sanitation, and nutrition. The exhibition also showcases the profound effects that Peace Corps experiences have had on the artists themselves. These impressions, impacting the artists’ points of view, sensibilities, creativity, and methods of expression, are so powerful that they last a lifetime.

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Mabel Douglass Library
8 Chapel Drive; New Brunswick, NJ 08901
Phone: 848-932-5008

You can park in the Douglass Parking Deck, or in Lot 70 (which is right next to the parking deck). There’s no proper address, but here’s three ways of finding it:
– Douglass Parking Deck, New Brunswick, NJ 08901
– Lipman Drive, New Brunswick, NJ 08901 (It’s a short one-way street)
– Or use these coordinates: 40.483611, -74.437861 or 40°29’01.0″N 74°26’16.3″W

Confirmed artists:
Adam Swart (RPCV Nepal)
Bernie Oberoski (RPCV Papua New Guinea)
Brian Knudsen (RPCV China)
Chuck Miley (RPCV Malaysia)
David Miller (RPCV Afghanistan)
Ellen Papciak-Rose (RPCV Botswana)
Ken Shuey (RPCV Malaysia)
Margaret Najjar (RPCV Tunisia)
Nancie Gunkelman (RPCV Kenya)
Owen Fitzgerald (RPCV Mali)
Patricia McLaughlin (RPCV Costa Rica)
Rosemary Venter (RPCV Colombia)
Rosalind Pace (RPCV Afghanistan)
Terese Maineri (RPCV Guatemala)

Read an article about the art exhibit on the Rutgers Library website.

Questions, contact Nancie Gunkelman

Peace Corps Commemorative National Design Competition

The Peace Corps Commemorative Foundation (PCCF) is sponsoring a two-stage, national design competition to select an artistically exceptional design concept for a permanent commemorative work in the heart of Washington, DC.

This competition will provide designers from all across the United States an opportunity to create a compelling work of public art that will be bold and inspirational.

The design should focus on and express American ideals and values that are the essence of the Peace Corps and Peace Corps service. It should be about America and our aspirations as a people, and about the Peace Corps as a manifestation of those aspirations.

Registration, entry fees and Stage I design concept submissions due on or before: June 12, 2015, 4 p.m. ET

For more information about the competition, visit the official website.

2015 National Day of Action Recap

NJ RPCVs Christina Tedder and Sharon Keld met with Congressman Leonard Lance, (NJ-7) and delivered packets in the offices of other New Jersey Congresspersons on March 5th for Peace Corps National Day of Action.

Pictured: Sharon Keld, Christina Tedder, Congressman Leonard Lance, (NJ-7)

Pictured: Sharon Keld, Christina Tedder, Congressman Leonard Lance, (NJ-7)

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Brief report from Sharon Keld:

Snow meant that the government offices were closed, but 70 of the 100 RPCVs (one back just two weeks, and another who is not an RPCV yet but is applying!) who were scheduled to be in DC made it by 8 am.  Many of the appointments we had were cancelled (Booker’s office and Melendez’s office included) but we made the most of it in the House!
We dropped off packets in the offices of every other New Jersey Congresspersons. In some cases we found staffers in – had a great talk with Kate in Sires’s office (he’s pro-Peace Corps). My Congressman, Leonard Lance (NJ-7) was available, and since he had no appointments to rush off to, he spend half an hour with us! Our three asks were joining the Peace Corps caucus, supporting Peace Corps funding, and signing the “Dear Colleague” letter. We didn’t get any promises, but he didn’t say no!

Thanks for all of your great work encouraging support for Peace Corps!

Paintings from the Peace Corps Experience – Event Recap

An exhibit of oil and watercolor paintings by Nancie Gunkelman were the focus of attention at the Zimmerli art library, Rutgers campus, New Brunswick on Saturday, March 7th.

IMG_8297 ppl and watercolors

The event was presented by Rutgers University in cooperation with the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of New Jersey. The exhibit took place as part of a celebration of National Peace Corps Week which commemorates the establishment of the Peace Corps on March 1, 1961. While the exhibit is in place until March 28th, the reception on Saturday was widely attended by the public including library patrons and staff, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, family and friends.  Continue reading

Ethnic Dining Following Peace Corps Art Exhibit & Reception

Come join us after Peace Corps Art Exhibit & Reception to share a meal and stories. All RPCVs, their family members and future volunteers are welcome!

Saturday, March 7, 2015
4:30 PM to 7:30 PM

Harvest Moon Brewery
392 George Street, New Brunswick, NJ

RSVP on our Meetup page!