Ken Lockwood Gorge & Columbia Trail RPCV-NJ & Future PCV Hike

On Saturday, December 3rd, 2016, Violet Esipila, a future Peace Corps Volunteer, joined with a total of 13 RPCVs, friends and family members for a wonderful 8-mile hike at Ken Lockwood Gorge & Columbia Trail.  Following the hike we had a great Mexican lunch at Casa Maya Restaurant in High Bridge, New Jersey.

Violet (a future PCV) was pleased to meet everyone on the trail and was given great advice. She will be departing on March 15th , 2017 for Ukraine to serve in Community Youth Development for the next two years and three months.

The group had a beautiful day for hiking and they were able to explore and learn a great deal about Ken Lockwood Gorge & Columbia Trail.

Advice Given to Violet by RPCVs

  1. Always take one step at time
  2. Take time to get to know the community and their culture
  3. Earn the community’s trust
  4. Patience – as one RPCV stated – is needed because it would take time to implement ideas that would be acceptable within the community.

Overall, the trip was a great way for a future PCV to hear positive words of encouragement from RPCVs. Each RPCV gave helpful advice to Violet as she prepares to travel abroad. As a future PCV, Violet would like to thank all of the RPVCs for inviting her, along with her family and friends, to such a wonderful hiking and dining experience at Ken Lockwood Gorge.

Dining at Casa Maya Mexican restaurant

Following miles and miles of hiking and seeing the most beautiful views at Ken Lockwood Gorge, we ended our day by having lunch at Casa Maya Mexican Restaurant in High Bridge, New Jersey. The food was delicious! The group had a wonderful time relaxing, eating, speaking about the nature of the Peace Corps and just enjoying each other’s company.

Thai Kitchen Dinner Recap

by Doug Garatina

On Saturday, November 12, the Board Members of the RPCV-NJ Organization had a regularly scheduled meeting at the Bridgewater Library.  Since these meetings always stimulate our hunger, we retreated to the nearby Thai Kitchen Restaurant for dinner,where we were joined by several other RPCV’s and their family members / friends.  We numbered 14 in all.

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We were the only people in the restaurant at 5 PM when they opened, but within 30 minutes the place was packed and remained full all night — the food and service was that good.  If you have never been there, it is certainly worth the trip (just Google it.)  

The attendees included a 12 year old (son of an RSVP)—- a very adventurous eater who ordered a “sizzling platter”.  And we had an RPCV couple who served together in the 1960’s.  They had the honor and privilege of having the first Peace Corps baby born in service.  In addition to that, another attendee (Bob Goodsell) was recently accepted into the Peace Corps and will begin his tour shortly in Tanzania.  He got an earful from us and promises to keep in touch throughout his tour of service in the field of agriculture.

Please consider joining us at some or all of the varied activities that we sponsor.  Just refer to the emails and newsletters that you receive from us.

Hike the Beautiful Ken Lockwood Gorge & Columbia Trail – December 3

Date:  Saturday, December 3
Start Time: 10 AM  SHARP !

From the quaint town of High Bridge, hike into the scenic Ken Lockwood Gorge along the bank of the South Branch of the Raritan River and return a level up on the Columbia Trail.

Duration: 3 hours
Difficulty: Easy ( most of trail is on a wide, flat, gravel railroad bed)
Length: 7.5 miles  (feel free to return to starting point at any time)
Features:  Waterfall, River, Gorge, Historic Feature

Optional:  
Upon completion of hike we can have lunch at Casa Maya ( Great Mexican Restaurant), which is only 2 blocks from trail parking lot.

Driving Directions:
Take I-78 to exit 17 (westbound) or exit 16 (eastbound) for Route 31 towards Washington.  Drive about 2 miles on Route 31 then turn right on Main Street.  In 1.1 miles turn right on Bridge Street, proceed 390 feet, then left on Main Street.  Continue for .2 mile through town then turn left at The Commons sign to the parking lot.  If you pass Church Street, you just missed the entrance to the parking lot. Main Street dead ends in another block so there is an opportunity to turn around and approach from the other direction.


RSVP to Doug at rpcvnj.social@gmail.com 
by Thurs, December 1 at the latest.

Spouses/friends/family members are welcome.

November 6 Bill & Harry’s Chinese Lunch Recap

by Barbara Kelly

On Sunday, November 6, seven RPCVs and four family members met for a delicious mid-afternoon meal at Bill and Harry’s Chinese Cuisine in East Hanover.

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Our service spanned the years and the world.  The earliest volunteer began in 1965; the newest volunteer in 2008.  Our countries included multiple African nations, Honduras, Iran and the Philippines.

Yet we found many similarities, as we chatted over our meal and gave brief descriptions of our assignments in a fun “show and tell” accompanied by photos we had brought of our younger selves.  Two volunteers, a half a world apart (Sierra Leone and Philippines), had introduced tilapia fingerlings into the flooded rice fields of farmers to increase the protein in their diet.  Two volunteers (Honduras and Senegal) had worked with community/youth development.  And teaching was the most common thread (English and Math/Science) in Ethiopia, Ghana, and Iran.

We also reminisced about traveling throughout our regions, with hair raising hairpin turns in some places and flat sandy roads in others.  And about the local people who had been such an important part of our experience.

ASU Coverdell Master’s Fellowship for RPCVs – Apply now!

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The Coverdell Fellows Program (formerly known as Fellows/USA) is a graduate fellowship program that offers financial assistance to Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) who want to earn a graduate degree. All Fellows provide much-needed assistance to underserved American communities.

Arizona State University offers 12 Coverdell Fellowships per year that include:

  • tuition assistance for most or all of a master’s degree
  • increased earning potential in your career
  • expanding the experience and skills that you gained in the Peace Corps while serving your local community
  • real-world experience in solving economic and social challenges that face the nation and the world

Through the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows program, you can earn a master’s degree in several areas, including:

  • business (MBA)
  • education, including teacher certification
  • engineering
  • justice studies or political science
  • psychology
  • social justice and human rights
  • social technologies

Deadline for application is April 1 for 2017 fall semester and fellowships are limited. Review the ASU Coverdell website at graduate.asu.edu/coverdell-fellowship  for requirements, instructions, benefits and programs available to you, and to file an application. Questions? Please contact Christian.Ammon@asu.edu.

Learn to thrive at ASU, ranked the most innovative university in the country by U.S. News and World Report 2016.

RPCV-NJ Facebook Group

RPCV-NJ has a new Facebook Group!

Through this group, we hope to encourage more communication amongst New Jersey RPCVs regarding local events, outreach opportunities, jobs, and more. Please join and add your other RPCV-NJ friends!

In this closed group, anyone may post public event notices, social requests, housing offers, job postings, and anything else of wide interest to our members.

Please refrain from advertising products, services, or events which are political in nature. Basic etiquette rules are always in effect. Please be advised posts will be removed if they violate these rules.

Be sure to like the NJ-RPCV Facebook page athttps://www.facebook.com/RPCVNJ if you haven’t already. The Facebook page will continue to be a source for photos and videos from events as well as postings about future events.

RPCV-NJ Supports Two PCP Projects

Peace Corps Partnership projects in Madagascar and the Dominican Republic were both supported with donations from RPCV-NJ as of the August board meeting. Both projects are led by Peace Corps Volunteers from New Jersey.

1. Olivia Prentzel is the lead on a project in Madagascar “Give Access to Reading in Rural Madagascar.” Olivia, her counterpart, and community members are working hard to create a continuing learning center to support their youth groups’ activities and provide resources for adults and students looking to further their education.

2. R. Wright is leading a “Latrines Project” in the Dominican Republic. Due to poor conditions of or total lack of many latrines in a small rural community located in the northwestern part of the Dominican Republic, many individuals from families of low socioeconomic status defecate in their backyards, causing damage to the environment and to the community. Due to such negative impacts within the community, a Latrine Committee formed by the community’s health promoters of Hogares Saludables (Healthy Homes), are determined to build 16 new pit latrines with the help of two local masons. Each step of the process to build the latrines requires participation from the community, primarily from the Latrine Committee, the local masons, and the families receiving the latrines. The beneficiary families are required to pass health training and latrine maintenance classes presented by the women in the Latrine Committee. The latrine project will greatly help the beneficiary families by mitigating health risks such as the risk of fecal-oral disease transmission, improving overall sanitation, and helping implement basic health and hygiene practices.

Learn more about past funded projects by RPCV-NJ

Around the World / International Day of Peace

An Outreach event took place at The College of New Jersey on September 20, 2016. A collaborative effort between The College of New Jersey (TCNJ- Administrators and Professors who made their students aware of the event), the Peace Corps (Recruiter Dan Turkel and two PC Student Ambassadors at TCNJ who worked to promote the event) and RPCV-NJ proved to be very successful. Too many to count, there were at least several dozen attendees at the event, some waiting in line outside the room before it actually began at 5pm. The activity continued throughout the two hours of the event.

Thanks to all NJ RPCVs who helped out with this event!