June 9, 2005: Headlines: COS - Malawi: Enterprise-Record: While Will and Jane Lotter were serving in the Peace Corps in the African nation of Malawi in the 1960s, they wanted their house to be a home for the young Corps volunteers in the country

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Malawi: Peace Corps Malawi : The Peace Corps in Malawi: June 9, 2005: Headlines: COS - Malawi: Enterprise-Record: While Will and Jane Lotter were serving in the Peace Corps in the African nation of Malawi in the 1960s, they wanted their house to be a home for the young Corps volunteers in the country

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While Will and Jane Lotter were serving in the Peace Corps in the African nation of Malawi in the 1960s, they wanted their house to be a home for the young Corps volunteers in the country

While Will and Jane Lotter were serving in the Peace Corps in the African nation of Malawi in the 1960s, they wanted their house to be a home for the young Corps volunteers in the country

While Will and Jane Lotter were serving in the Peace Corps in the African nation of Malawi in the 1960s, they wanted their house to be a home for the young Corps volunteers in the country

Festival to promote diversity

By RYAN OLSON - Staff Writer

PARADISE - While Will and Jane Lotter were serving in the Peace Corps in the African nation of Malawi in the 1960s, they wanted their house to be a home for the young Corps volunteers in the country.

The Lotters, who are the parents of Paradise Mayor Scott Lotter, decided to hold pancake breakfasts on Sunday mornings where the volunteers would bring along the new friends they've made.

"That turned out to be the best thing of all," Jane Lotter said.

The pancake breakfasts were the inspiration of the title of Jane Lotter's self-published book "To Africa With Spatula. A Peace Corps Mom in Malawi, 1965-67." The book is based on the letters she wrote to her best friend and parents while abroad.

The Lotters will speak about their experiences with the Peace Corps and a lifetime of human rights work at the Paradise Center for Tolerance and Nonviolence's annual festival this Sunday. The center is holding its "Hands Across the Ridge Unity in Diversity" festival from 1 to 4 p.m. at Terry Ashe Park.

Sue Bordelon, the center's office administrator, said the free festival was established to bring multicultural experiences to the ridge.

"It's an effort to bring some of that experience to the people here," Bordelon said.

She said there would be many arts and crafts activities for children. Several local businesses have donated goods for a silent auction and raffle. Six music and dance groups covering cultures including Mexican, Jewish, Hawaiian and African will perform.

Bordelon said she hoped the people attending the festival will hear about the Lotters' experience when they speak at around 1:30 p.m.

"I just hope that they are inspired by understanding that people can work toward an ideal of harmony," Bordelon said.

In 1965, the Lotters took their four sons and left their lives in Davis to spend 212 years with the Peace Corps in the African country of Malawi. The effort was the beginning of a two lifetimes' worth of effort to promote diversity and human rights.

"Our great awakening was working in another culture," Jane Lotter said.

Will Lotter said it was unusual for him to take an extended leave of absence from his coaching and teaching duties at UC Davis, but Chancellor Emil Mrak and UC President Clark Kerr gave their approval.

"I was a much better coach and teacher because of that 212 years," he said.

In a health class he taught at Davis, Will Lotter often used his experiences working with the people from Malawi and elsewhere showing how the Malawi people dealt with health issues, poverty and their struggle for food.

"We in this country have a lot to learn from the people of the world who are poor," Will Lotter said.

Jane Lotter said they both noted the kindness and friendliness of the Malawi people.

Since their time in Africa, the Lotters have been actively involved in human rights efforts. They supported Cesar Chavez and the effort to aid migrant workers in California. At UC Davis, Will Lotter actively promoted gender and racial diversity in the faculty and student populations as the first director of the campus's educational opportunity program.

They've had several international guests stay at their home, including several refugees from El Salvador and Guatemala. They, along with many former Peace Corps volunteers, support the Malawi Children's Village which provides assistance to AIDS orphans in Malawi.

Will Lotter said he's only visited the Paradise area a few times, but the area's predominantly white population is familiar.

"It does appear to be like how Davis was in the early '60s - not very many people of color that I've noticed," he said.

Will Lotter said the community can take steps toward being accepting of other cultures by being friendly, sincere and real. Both Lotters supported teaching children in schools about the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights to help promote greater awareness of diversity.

"Just the atmosphere of people being sincere and friends when people come," he said.

Staff writer Ryan Olson can be reached at 896-7763 or rolson@chicoer.com.





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