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International Club Gets A Surprise Visitor



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International Club Gets A Surprise Visitor

André Simonpietri of Newtown, now in his second year as Peace Corps volunteer in Panama, gets two days per month time out for rest and recreation. He crammed a lot into those two days this month, celebrating his birthday, proposing to his high school sweetheart, Dominique Martinet (whom he tracked down on the Internet), and attended a party of the International Club of Newtown, where he announced the engagement to all his friends. The club members extended their congratulations to the couple who found one another after a lapse of several decades

Mr Simonpietri is one of some 140 Peace Corps Volunteers in Panama, most of them young people in their twenties. There are only four like Mr Simonpietri who are more than 50 years old, engineers and business executives guiding the younger cadre.

Mr Simonpietri works with the Ngobe Tribe in West Panama, some 110,000 souls of a particularly underdeveloped tribe of native Indians, who live in the mountains in stick houses with straw roofs and dirt floors, without electricity or running water. They have a primitive oral culture and use the barter system. They are not particularly anxious to join the “civilized western world”. They do, however, produce a number of handcrafted items, made of native materials and died with the juices of native plants.

Mr Simonpietri is showing the women of the tribe how to better produce baskets, purses, handbags, garments, and similar items suitable for the sale to tourists and for an expanding export trade, in the hope of bettering their circumstances. He will return from his Peace Corps assignment in September.

The International Club of Newtown provides a setting for social activities and cultural exchanges of an international nature for its members. Eligible for membership are adults who were born in a foreign country and their spouses.

For more information on membership call Catherine Summ at 270-1094.

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