NEWS - January, 2008

SEAPAX: Looking back, looking forward

2007 was another active year for SEAPAX . A dedicated core group helped keep us on track with work to revitalize our group, which celebrated the 30th anniversary of its founding. Attendance has continued to increase at the monthly social gatherings, which have increased networking opportunities and membership. The annual summer picnic, regional RPCV business meeting and regional RPCV summer campout, and December holiday party were enjoyed by many. Other SEAPAX highlights for 2007 included:

2008 promises to be a very busy year for SEAPAX. First on the organizational front is recruitment of members and chairs for various committees (Events, Membership, Grants, and more) and of candidates for all Board positions. Elections will be held in March, and new officers will take over in April. Full details on applications/nominations follow. We will continue to hold our regular activities of board and general meetings with potlucks, monthly Eats Out and Pub Nights, and seasonal and special events.

This spring, we will be involved in an extra-special event. SEAPAX has been selected by the National Peace Corps Association, in conjunction with the Peace Corps, to host a Peace Corps Expo on May 4. This community event will held in Seattle and Atlanta in 2008, and will be a showcase of both the essence of Peace Corps service and the important contributions that RPCVs make to their home communities by promoting international understanding. The focus will be on sharing how we individually and collectively help to "Bring the World Back Home," the 3rd Goal of Peace Corps which is ever so critical in these times. This will be a major event that will draw prospective volunteers, RPCVS, and representatives of NGOs involved with international affairs. The help of many SEAPAX members will be needed to make the Seattle Peace Corps Expo a success. Stay tuned for notices on how to get involved!


Thank You and Farewell to a SEAPAX Leader

On behalf of the SEAPAX Board and members we offer our heartfelt thanks and best wishes to Jennifer Nicholas (Benin '03-'05) who will soon be leaving Seattle to embark on a new chapter in her life. Since arriving here some 2 short years ago, Jen has stepped right in to help SEAPAX grow and thrive. She served as President in 2006-07, and as Chair of the Membership and Events Committees. Her new home will be the Big Apple, where she will marry a fellow Benin RPCV and pursue graduate studies. Thanks, Jen, and let us hear from you!!!


Nominations for SEAPAX Officers

February marks the start of our annual election cycle, which begins with nominations of candidates for group officers. As the new SEAPAX fiscal year starts April 1, now is the time to start thinking about good candidates for each open position; you can also nominate yourself. The open positions are listed below.

The process works like this: names of potential candidates need to be submitted to the present Board, by Feb. 28. Please include a brief bio or resumé, along with a short statement on why this person is qualified for the position sought and what s/he hopes to contribute to SEAPAX as an organizations. All candidates for elected or appointed offices (committee chairs are appointed) must be approved by the SEAPAX Board. Becoming an officer or committee chair is a commitment that can be both rewarding and fun. Candidates for all positions need to be able to devote a few hours a month (more when working on special events) for a 12-month period.

Open Positions for SEAPAX Officers and Committee Chairs

Committee Members for all of the above committees are also being sought. Becoming a committee member is a good introduction to getting involved with SEAPAX.

Peace Corps Expo Committee is now being formed. The May 4 PC Expo will be a very exciting opportunity for our group, and many hands are needed to help make it a success. Please let us know ASAP if you are interested in this. We need help with program planning and logistics both before and during the event. We will also need folks to offer lodging to out-of-town RPCVs coming from elsewhere in the region. Expo Committee meetings will begin in early February.

Election date
The election itself will be held online, from March 17- 29. Once again we will use an online ballot prepared by the webmaster. The new slate of officers will be announced by the end of March, and they will take office on April 1.

Please direct any questions about elections and/or committees to the board. [top]

Update on M-Bag International Mail Service

Here is an update on the August 2007 news item on the sudden discontinuation of M-Bag services by the US Postal Service. Background: In mid-May the USPS announced, with very little notice, that it was discontinuing International Surface Mail or M-bag service. The surface mail option utilized cargo ships, and was a mainstay for many nonprofit groups including RPCV groups, families, and friends of overseas community based organizations and their workers, to send books, educational materials and supplies. Currently, the USPS offers air mail service only, with rates 3-4 times the cost of the previous surface mail rates. For many groups, airmail fees are simply unaffordable, and there is expected to be a major impact on many overseas programs, including various humanitarian book projects.

Since then, indivual RPCVs, RPCV groups and the NPCA along with other concerned organizations formed the Coalition to Restore International Surface Mail Service. The Internet was used to get the word out worldwide, with the result that over 7000 people signed on online petition asking the USPS to reconsider their action. That response caused a congressional subcommittee to raise the issue at a hearing with Postmaster General John Potter, which in turn has led to an effort by the USPS to create a new service designed to be both accessible and cost-effective. Cost had been given as a reason for discontinuing M-Bag service.

The "Save the USPS International Surface Mail Service for Humanitarian Projects" Internet petition is still active and accepting signatures. Also, read an NPCA background page on the issue.


Best of the Web

Best of the Web is a feature of our newsletter and website listing resources for learning more about events, news, discussion, and organizations that share the international and multicultural interests of SEAPAX. We invite you to submit your favorites to share here. This month's listing highlights eating only locally-grown, seasonal foods (features Paulette Thompson of SEAPAX!) and a new website featuring multi-ethnic Americans.

We continue to welcome submissions to our listserv (as per Submissions Guidelines) , but there is so much going on in the Puget Sound area, that we can't possibility list everything nor in a timely manner. Thus, we want to alert you to good resources where you can find out more on your own. As this list grows, entries will be organized into ready reference categories. Please send your submissions to: