November 2, 2002 - Iowa City Press-Citizen: Papua New Guinea RPCVs Stephen and Janet Panther run a bed and breakfast with an international flavor

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Papua New Guinea RPCVs Stephen and Janet Panther run a bed and breakfast with an international flavor

Read and comment on this story from the Iowa City Press-Citizen on Papua New Guinea RPCVs Stephen and Janet Panther who run a bed and breakfast with an international flavor at:

Inn takes on international flavor*

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Inn takes on international flavor

Bed and breakfast enjoys visitors from other lands

By Tammara Meester

Iowa City Press-Citizen

Living in Papao, New Guinea, for 18 months while working with the Peace Corps changed Janet and Stephen Panther. They learned not to sweat the little things.
Stephen and Janet Panther pose in the living room of the Brown Street Inn, 430 Brown St.
Press-Citizen/Sok Lin Lim

"It was a really simple life," Janet Panther said.

They had electricity only from 6 to 10 p.m. The two phones on the government station where they lived worked erratically, so a shortwave radio was often the only means of communication. Many people in the country still believe in witchcraft, older men wear bones in their noses, and women in the villages often wear just a grass skirt. Marriages are polygamous, and men are allowed to have many wives.

Living with 16 other couples from the United States, Janet's job was to educate the village people about nutrition, while Stephen taught English in the high school. They had to work hard, be adaptable, and relate to people very different from themselves.

The couple figures there was no better training ground to prepare them for owning a bed and breakfast in Iowa City called the Brown Street Inn.

Built in 1913, the house sits on the corner of Brown and Van Buren Streets. Former owner Mark McCallum bought and renovated it in the early 1990s and then turned it into a bed and breakfast.

The Panthers live in the basement of the home, while their guests occupy the bedrooms upstairs. They share the kitchen with guests as well as the living room and the large veranda that wraps around the front side of the house. Rarely, though, do they need to share a bathroom. The spacioius house has eight-and-a-half baths as well as five guest bedrooms.

"It's really kind of fun," Panther said. "Sometimes we'll have three or four different people cooking in the kitchen at the same time."

Four Gambians have been staying at Brown Street Inn for the past six weeks while working on a joint project between Gambia College and the University of Iowa.

Jenung Manneh, principal of the college, found the accommodations, as well as the Panthers, to his liking.

"We learned a lot from each other, relationship-wise and culture-wise," he said.

Forced to leave New Guinea earlier than planned because of safety concerns, the Panthers brought bits and pieces of the country with them. Things like five bow and arrow sets, a woven grass thong for Stephen, and a purse made of brown hair that came from a cus-cus, a small marsupial.

On days when they miss the beauty of the country and the friends they made, the multicultural visitors who stay in the residence help them feel connected to the rest of the world.

About the Bed and Breakfast
Brown Street Inn

430 Brown St.
Web site: www.brown
Five bedrooms, including one suite.
All bedrooms have a private bath.
Cost: From $59 to $99.
Continental or full breakfast available.
Short or long-term possible.

If you are in Iowa and would like to stay a few days get details off their web site at:

Brown Street Inn

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