NPCA’s September Visits Around the Country
By Molly Mattessich on Wednesday, September 15th, 2010
A picnic in the park, a panel discussion, a pint. These are all of the ways around which I met prospective and Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) this month during travels to Minneapolis, San Diego, and Seattle.
Nearly 40 RPCVs and their families came to Minnehaha Park in Minneapolis, MN for a Labor Day weekend picnic to hear the National Peace Corps Association’s plans to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Peace Corps. This event was the first time since my Peace Corps service that I have returned to my home state to share information as an RPCV. What made this event even more fun was that my mom and stepdad came along to meet the RPCV group members and see the kind of work that we do in the community.
Next, I flew to Seattle and met up with NPCA president Kevin Quigley for a marathon set of meetings with our grant partner, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Foundation invited local African Diaspora community leaders to a forum to learn about its work in agriculture and Africa. This forum was the highlight of our visit and gave us an opportunity to share our work with Africa Rural Connect and create partnerships with people who were there. We are very interested in reaching out to the Diaspora community to hear their ideas about the ARC site and especially its potential utility for collaborative exchange in a variety of areas.
Kevin and I also took part in a panel discussion organized by the Seattle arm of the World Affairs Council held at the University of Washington. Other RPCVs on the panel included Charles Brennick (Paraguay ‘92-‘94), Founder and Director, InterConnection, Cindy Nofziger (Sierra Leone ’85-’87), Executive Director, Schools for Salone, and Arlene Mitchell (Niger ’73-’76), Interim Deputy Director, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Agriculture Development/Market Access/Structured Demand.
We all presented our respective projects and how the legacy of the Peace Corps lives on post-service in a myriad of ways. We had over 75 attendees, including recruiters from the Seattle Peace Corps office; I was happy that my Seattle-based sister who served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand was able to attend this event.
By the end of the week, I was ready to enjoy the warmth of sunny California and spend time with the San Diego RPCV group. They are a lively bunch and already have organized several events to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Peace Corps. Along with San Diego RPCV Board and group members, representatives from the Los Angeles Peace Corps Recruiting Office were present to answer questions from the dozen or so prospective Volunteers who attended.
Each group of RPCVs had its own special energy and I can’t wait to see the different ways that we all come together during 2011 to celebrate the future of the Peace Corps.
See more photos of these events on our Facebook Fan Page.