Reunion planned for inaugural Peace Corps volunteers - Etcetera - 9/25/13

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It’s been 52 years since Group One Peace Corps volunteers went to the Philippines.

Bruce Campbell of Milton-Freewater said he organized a reunion for the participants who arrived at Wildhorse Resort Sunday and will stay through Thursday.

“For most, it will be their first trip to the Northwest,” he said. “They are coming from New York, Washington D.C., Florida, Texas, Southern California and points in between.

On Bruce’s itinerary the group had the option to visit Tamástslikt Cultural Institute and hear from tribal leaders, go on a wine tour of the Walla Walla Valley, including at Watermill Winery, Blue Mountain Cider and Zerba’s Winery in Milton-Freewater, Basil Cellars at Stateline and the Marcus Whitman Hotel plus a light dinner at Hamley’s in downtown Pendleton.

Their visit coincides with the anniversary of when President John F. Kennedy signed the Peace Corps Act on Sept. 22, 1961. Bruce’s group completed its training at Pennsylvania State University prior to the signing, under executive order.

A salmon on the Tamástslikt Memorial Wall is engraved with “Peace Corps Volunteers Group One-Philippines-1961-63.”

Also on the agenda are possible tours of Pendleton Woolen Mills; Pendleton Round-Up/Happy Canyon Hall of Fame; Umatilla County Museum; Underground Tours; Pendleton Art Center and Wildhorse will serve the group a Filipino buffet complete with roasted whole boneless pig.

Vladamir Velasco, assisted by Martha Hull and Gina Rusch, will be emcee as the group views DVDs of past experiences, learns about Peace Corps/Philippine happenings 50 years later and observes a moment of silence for those who have died.

A trip to Wallowa Lake will include a tram ride up Mount Howard for lunch and galleries/foundries in Joseph.

“At the conclusion of these adventures, all should be experts in the geography and culture Northeast Oregon,” Bruce said.

“The true test of the success of this venture will be if all were able to once again have the time to relate and remember the adventures we all experienced being Peace Corps back then when no one knew for sure what Peace Corps was or what it was to be.

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or afternoons at 526-8313.

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