NPCA Road Trip Begins
By Jonathan Pearson on Friday, August 13th, 2010
This trip began with a fascinating conversation in a living room in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. But it could have just as easily been a restaurant in Raleigh, a community center in Las Cruces or a backyard in Buffalo.
On any given day in any given week, members of the Peace Corps community come together to reminisce about the past, consider the present and organize for the future.
Thursday night in Gettysburg, a small group of longtime friends and new acquaintances held such a gathering. Having served in the 60s, 70s and 80s, the group reflected on the triumphs and challenges of their Peace Corps service: The rigors of training in the early Peace Corps years, stories of success mixed with questions about the impacts of development assistance. Tales of cross-cultural understanding, language and unforgettable moments covering the range of human emotion.
Clearly a point of convergence was the impact Peace Corps service had on individual lives. “Peace Corps was the beginning of my real education,” said Tom Colgan (Malaysia 63-64). “It informed all the rest of my life.”
“(Peace Corps) had a profound influence on me,” added Chris Goodacre (Zaire 73-74). “You realize change does happen one person and one relationship at a time.”
In many ways, the Peace Corps experience creates a different perspective on life back home. For Joe Breighner (Philippines 82-84), “I left my Peace Corps experience thinking the U.S. is a first-world nation when it comes to materialism, but a third-world nation emotionally – in terms of social interactions, a consciousness to communicate, and in constantly giving respect to others.”
As NPCA promotes the ideal that returning home sets the stage for the next step in changing the world, the conversation in Gettysburg was forward-thinking as well. Alan Olson, who served as a volunteer in Malaysia, Uganda and Ethiopia, is one of the local leaders beginning the process of formalizing a South Central Pennsylvania NPCA chapter. A picnic gathering is in the works for October, and the group heard an overview of plans for the 50th anniversary. Olson says folks in Gettysburg are beginning to discuss carpooling to Washington for one of next year’s 50th anniversary events in the nation’s capital.
See if Jonathan is coming to a city near you! Click here for his advocacy road trip itinerary.