RPCV Edward Van Luinen was an attendee at a recent reunion of '87-89 Guinea TEFL volunteers. He offers the following recap:
Over Memorial Day weekend 2006, five Guinea 87-89 TEFL RPCVs gathered from across the country for their 20th year reunion titled “Reconnecting, Learning and Relaxing” at the Coolfont Resort and Spa in Berkeley Springs, WV. A wonderful weekend of reminiscing, food and fun was planned at this lush, idyllic setting in eastern West Virginia.
Those RPCVs in attendance included: Zlie Moriniere (N’Zerekore), Anne Irving (Kankan), Miki Johnson (Faranah), Sim Seo (Kindia) and Edward Van Luinen (Kissidougou). Another TEFLer, Jill Shumann (Mamou), and husband and fellow Guinea RPCV, Richard, planned to attend but for good reasons became the proud parents of a baby girl that same weekend.
On Saturday, we welcomed the one-and-only Tafsir Thiam, former APCD, and Blessing Asuquo, Guinea RPCV, for a lunch, followed by each of their presentations to the group. Tafsir prepared a lovely speech, in French, covering the history of Peace Corps Guinea, his role, and his current status living in the U.S. He kindly made copies for everyone as a memento. Blessing then spoke of her dynamic Peace Corps experience as an Agro-Forestry Volunteer in the Fouta. We were thrilled to have Tafsir and Blessing join us for the afternoon and provide wonderful context and up-to-date information on Guinea and Peace Corps’ work there.
Another highlight of the weekend was watching the multi-media presentation Zlie Moriniere created for us. She showcased each Volunteer in pictures, songs and written memories and then provided each of us with a copy of the presentation. To be sure, it was a warm and fuzzy moment.
Time at the reunion was also spent catching up during happy hours and meals, hiking, spa treatments, and looking at our pictures from Guinea and current ones of partners, families and pets. An interesting phenomenon when talking about our experiences twenty years ago was that each of us remembered different things that others had forgotten. Over our restaurant steak dinner on Sunday evening, clad in our reunion weekend t-shirts, we all shared the impact that Peace Corps had on us. We came to the consensus that, yes, it is still the toughest job you’ll ever love.
On Monday morning we disbanded to points afar, exhilarated in the affirmation that our Peace Corps Guinea experience has afforded us lifelong friendships.
-Edward Van Luinen