An RPCV Educator and Author Continues to Teach Valuable Peace Corps Lessons
By Brittany Clark on Friday, October 22nd, 2010
There is something really special about educators who have been Peace Corps Volunteers. New generations of students are privileged to have Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) teachers with diverse global perspectives, who are able to emphasize from experience the importance of cultural sensitivity and international awareness.
For RPCVs, the role of being a global citizen doesn’t end when they come back to the United States. And for some volunteers, the job continues even into retirement. RPCV teacher Angene Wilson (Liberia, 62-64) is one of these people. For the past 15 years, she has been involved with Global Education projects at the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA). Angene further impacts her community by taking on projects such as her new book, Voices from the Peace Corps: Fifty Years of Kentucky Volunteers, which comes out early next year. It was co-written with her husband, Jack, who is also a former Liberia volunteer. The book is based on interviews that Angene and Jack have been conducting for the past six years with Kentucky RPCVs of all five decades. Angene calls the book “a celebration of the ‘toughest job we ever loved’ and also a description of how we became citizens of the world for the rest of our lives.”
One aspect of Angene’s global education work with the NPCA involves developing engaging lesson plans and discussion topics based on articles in NPCA’s quarterly Worldview Magazine. “It is such fun to get the articles and consider what topic or story might resonate with high school students. From the issue coming out this fall, I chose an article that I thought teachers would appreciate reading.” Angene hopes that teachers use her lesson plan ideas, and says that she used to try them out in her own classroom, when she worked at the University of Kentucky as a secondary social studies educator. She remembers using the entire special issue of Worldview Magazine about Afghanistan, which was published soon after September 11, 2001.
For the Peace Corps’ 25th Anniversary, Angene wrote an article about how the PC experience impacts the work of RPCV teachers when they return home. She interviewed and observed 17 RPCV teachers in six states, and devised a questionnaire that 36 other RPCV teachers in 23 states filled out. Four statements garnered between 81% and 86% agreement among RPCV teachers:
- My experiences give me lots of examples to use as I talk to my classes.
- I have a different and world perspective.
- I am more aware of international events.
- It’s not just knowing about a country’s economics but also a cultural sensitivity to the country’s point of view that is important in my teaching.
And 97% of the RPCV teachers said they teach that American culture is not the only culture; just because you don’t believe or understand it doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. Now, 25 years later, there are surely even more RPCV teachers imparting these values in the classroom. Angene is a wonderful example of how the Peace Corps experience can strongly and positively affect the rest of an RPCV teacher’s life—and hopefully the lives of their students as well!
Be sure to check out the archive of Angene’s Worldview lessons plans on the NPCA website. Also, educators and RPCVs interested in teaching students about the Peace Corps experience firsthand can sign up for Speakers Match, a program that brings RPCV speakers into America’s classrooms.
Those interested in pre-ordering Angene and Jack Wilson’s new book, Voices from the Peace Corps: Fifty Years of Kentucky Volunteers, can do so here.