Monday, August 22, 2011

Interlude: About Us

These are the bios we sent to JHC to tell them a little bit about who we are and why we wanted to go to Nicaragua:

Becca Cooper
I am excited to be part of this delegation to support the JHC in its work toward community health guided by the needs of locals with a goal of sustainable health care, education and habitation. I have been fortunate to have traveled extensively but I am looking forward to visiting a new part of the world and learning about the culture and life in Central America. Most notably I have spent time in West Africa doing nutritional research on viable protein replacement strategies in indigenous protein-deficient diets. I am eager to learn more about NGOs with a focus in health care and how my role as a health care provider can be of use in other areas of need. I currently work for Oregon Health and Sciences University as a Registered Nurse in the Cardiac Surgical Intensive Care Unit, so I hope to spend as much time as I can in the clinic helping there. I am very familiar with wound care and hope my experience as a surgical nurse will be useful. I see a lot of patients with chronic health issues, esp. diabetes, heart failure, vascular disease, etc. I am also happy to help in the pharmacy or whereever else there might be a need. Please just put my willing hands to work. I am fluent in French, and speak some phrases of Spanish.

Betsey Kenworthy
After years of hearing about the Jubilee House, as well as knowing some of the folks who are a part of the community, it’s a great joy to be coming to you. I haven’t traveled internationally since 1964, and never to Central or South America, so it will be an adventure for me. I speak some French, but not Spanish. I’ve taught various age levels and continue to be interested in storytelling, movement and drama, healing and energy work, building community and sharing our spiritual discoveries. I would be glad to do childcare, office work, cook, clean or whatever is helpful, though at age 70, I’m not well suited for heavy physical labor. It is especially meaningful to share this experience with others from our Meeting.

Meghan O Flaherty
I met Becca and Paul Mohally-Renk when they came to Portland last year and was immediately impressed with the work they are doing with JHC-CDCA in Nicaragua. Recently members of my Quaker Meeting began to talk about the process you use to organize communities and develop self-sustaining worker-owned cooperatives, and how that process might be replicable in other settings such as our own work with the homeless in Portland. As a writer, photographer, and former research librarian, I thought it might be useful for me to join the delegation to Nicaragua to learn more and bring the story back. I applied for and received a grant from the Lyman Fund to participate in this delegation and document the work of JHC-CDCA in Nicaragua through photographs and the written word. I have travelled extensively outside the U.S., primarily to countries in Europe, and also visited Mexico often when I was young. I am not fluent in Spanish, but I was raised in Southern California and know a few words and phrases. Except for Type II diabetes I’m physically healthy for my age, which is 64.

MariRuth Petzing
My name is MariRuth Petzing. I am a law student and prior to that I was a teacher. I am especially interested in learning from you about how you combine the local community standards, legal requirements of Nicaragua, and spiritual leadings when creating your projects and co-ops. I have extensive independent travel experience and am fluent in Spanish. I had agreed to help Meghan with interviews for her project documenting your work.

Claire Riggs
I am very excited by the prospect of traveling with Friends from MMM to Nicaragua. I am graduating from Kalamazoo College with my degree in Biology. I will be moving back to Portland this summer, and starting a Master's in Biology at Portland State University this fall. I am very interested in developmental physiology and to see where it and other interests take me. I also have a strong interest in Latin America and the culture of the Spanish-speaking world. In high school I volunteered in a small rural community in Mexico for 6 weeks--the time I spent there sounds very similar to the work of JHC. In college, I studied abroad for 6 months in Ecuador and lived in Venezuela the following summer where I had a biology internship. I also have tutored 3rd-grade students at a local Spanish-English immersion school in Kalamazoo. I am fairly fluent and quite confident speaking in Spanish and I absolutely love to chat with people and hear their stories--I look forward to that in Nicaragua. I can be useful in many capacities on this trip, including talking with people in Spanish (and helping translate where necessary), working with children, doing physical labor, cooking, cleaning, listening, helping with work pertaining to biology or the environment, or whatever else.

Lew Scholl
Latin American countries have called to me in many ways over the years. From as far back as I can remember I was fascinated with the half-Panamanian family of an uncle. Knowing them inspired my interest in learning Spanish and learning about the many cultures of Latin America. I have traveled in Central and South America and studied Spanish off and on over many years. I find something special and poetic about the Spanish language. The mixture of people, cultures, and ethnicities is rich and complex there and I find people fascinating wherever I travel. I went through Nicaragua in 1973 during a 3-month solo hitch-hiking and mountaineering trip. I thought then that I could do something in Managua to help out after the 1972 earthquake devastated the city. I had not planned well for this part of the trip and did not know how to help - so I went on down the road. Seeing the poor people and the crumbled buildings has stayed with me. I returned from that trip aware that no matter how poor I feel in my life, that I am very rich in comparison to many in this world. This awareness is partly what draws me there. We have so much and they have so little! I have long had a desire to do something with my civil engineering background that could make a difference for people where much of the public infrastructure that we take for granted is virtually non-existent. After participating in a couple of water projects with "Engineers Without Borders" and traveling to Guatemala, I felt that - while their approach is OK - there should be a way to do something similar that is more connected with the local culture, provides a two-way cultural exchange and grows more directly out of the local culture and their needs. I am impressed with what JHC has done and feel that the approach they take is more aligned with my philosophy.

Carl Thatcher
I have felt drawn like a magnet to participate in this project from the moment I heard about it.  Central America and Nicaragua have been interests of mine ever since I investigated the
Contra War to learn the real truths behind that shameful part of the many US interventions there.  I went to Nicaragua then for a week (1984) with other journalists and activists of like bent, was able to talk to government officials and ordinary people from all over, see and feel their resolve to make a new nation. The experience changed my life and vision for good.

I am a physical therapist in a long-term care facility.  I have already discussed with Becca Mohally Renk the possibilities of working there in the clinic and of doing some home visits to elderly folks in the community.  I would need a translator for this since my Spanish is very

I want to make a video journal of our delegation and the community there so far as that's possible without undue intrusion into people's privacy.

Tara Urner 
I'm very drawn to the Jubilee House Community for several reasons. I am deeply interested in community development and dynamics, especially sustainability. Building strong, sustainable communities is a mission that resonates very strongly with me. I would very much like to learn about and help with JHC projects in any way possible. I am a student in high school. I have done international volunteer work before, specifically in Jamaica. I have experience with children in the 1- to 3-year-old range from working at a daycare facility. I am physically able and willing to do hands-on work and construction. I do speak some Spanish, but I am not fluent. I am very excited to come and learn from the people at the Jubilee house and help with their mission in any way I can.

Laura Vail
I am drawn to be part of the delegation because I seek to understand how others live in different cultures and places, and to appreciate how we can learn and collaborate.

Professionally I do medical records and scheduling in an outpatient clinic; I am familiar with medical terminology and procedures and the needs of medical clinics that work with many disciplines, and hope to offer organizational support with CDCA's practice. I have worked as a grant writer and journalist with nonprofit organizations in Bulgaria and the Middle East, focusing mostly on human rights issues and political freedoms.

My interests include health care and public health; I am involved in community governance here in Portland in both my neighborhood association and our city district coalition, and enjoy learning about and working to improve communities; I care about learning with others how to live sustainably for both environmental preservation and appreciating what is truly important; I enjoy distance running and cycling and am familiar with basic bike mechanics.

My Spanish is very rusty but I aim to be back to 'conversational' by the time of our trip.

Josh von Kuster
I am drawn to be a part of the delegation because I want to make a difference in central America, I want to see how youth in Nicaragua live and relate with each other and because I am very interested in their sustainable model, particularly in coffee. I am currently a nursing student and am a trained pilot. I have extensive experience in international travel, particularly in Latin America, although mostly in an official capacity. I have rudimentary carpentry, building, gardening and coffee-roasting experience. I am a quick learner at almost every task and with language acquisition, and anticipate being a linguistic asset to the group, even though I have limited experience with Spanish.

Avery Welkin
My name is Avery Welkin, and I currently work in event coordination, and nonprofit development and administrative work. My work with The Pangaea Project might particularly be of interest to the JHC, here is my bio on their website with a wealth of other info:
I have never been to Central America, though I've been to Mexico twice, and Brazil this past fall for an ethnomusicology interest. I've studied international development work, nonviolence education, cross-cultural communication, Theater of the Oppressed, and organizational development, and all of these things interest me in the context of Nicaragua. I'm excited at the possibility of traveling to see the work of the CDCA in Ciudad Sandino, to learn more of the history of the people, and to learn more about how the Spirit moves in the JHC. My Spanish is currently rudimentary, though I've studied it on and off again throughout my life enough to be able to pick it up in a short amount of time. I appreciate this opportunity and welcome from the JHC and the people of Ciudad Sandino, and I look forward to sharing stories, support, and real solidarity.

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