“Birthday Parties” for the Peace Corps’ 50 Years
By Molly Mattessich on Friday, February 25th, 2011
Where will you be on March 1, 2011? Hopefully, at one of the amazing global house parties that are being planned by current and returned Peace Corps volunteers around the world to celebrate the beginning of the Peace Corps on that day in 1961. With parties in 76 countries and 49 states, there is certain to be one (or five!) near you.
For the globe-trotting RPCV, here’s a list of some of the highlights:
Bamako, Mali: Over 100 RPCV’s living in Mali, many working for international development organizations and USAID, will gather at the home of Gregory Polk (Mali ’75) and his wife, Rebecca, to celebrate not only the Peace Corps’ 50th, but also the 40th anniversary of Peace Corps Mali. There will be live music and great food at this festive affair.
Delray Beach, Florida: No matter where you served, Frank, the owner of GOL The Taste of Brazil, wants you to stop by this evening to meet up with other returned Peace Corps volunteers and their families. If you can prove that you served in the Peace Corps, Frank will give you a 20% discount. Frank sent us this video of the party that was there in 2008. It looks really fun!
Eau Claire, Wisconsin: Bring a dish to share to the 1st Congregational UCC Church at 5 pm for a Potluck Dinner that will begin at 6. You’re invited to bring memorabilia to display and, if you’d like, you can speak briefly about a significant memory of your Peace Corps experience. The formal program will include an Introduction to the Okora Northern Uganda Sustainable Community Development Project.
Eugene, Oregon: If you happen to be in downtown Eugene on March 1, head to Broadway Plaza and join the enormous rally of RPCVs, host country nationals, and friends of Peace Corps at noon to celebrate 50 years of Peace Corps and its legacy in Oregon. There will be Samba Ja drummers, and people who served in the country with the highest representation could win a prize! Whether or not you can join the rally at noon, you’re welcome to gather for dinner that evening at Cozmic Pizza.
Kabul, Afghanistan: Ambassador Wayne will speak during the short program at the Embassy, and then RPCV speakers will offer their reflections on service in Afghanistan and what it means to be working there now. The deputy head of mission of USAID will also be attending, as well as other top USAID directors. A reception with a birthday cake will follow at the Ambassador’s residence.
Kansas City, Missouri: This party at the Missouri State Office, field office for the AmeriCorps VISTA and Senior Corps programs, is both a party in celebration of the Peace Corps 50th Birthday and an educational event that will share about the issues of food security in the local Kansas City area as well as abroad, with Returned Peace Corps volunteers sharing about their experiences overseas, and celebrating the life and contributions of Sargent Shriver. You should bring a favorite dish from your host country, as well as bring an outfit (or wear to the event!) and other items to display to showcase your host country’s unique fashion and culture.
Kazakhstan: We’re not sure what they’re feeding the current Peace Corps volunteers in Kazakhstan, but boy, they must like to party. This country is in the lead for the most global house parties outside the United States. Way to go, current Peace Corps volunteers!
New York, New York: Hopefully, during the evening after people attend one of the 30 parties happening in NYC, they don’t forget to look UP at the night sky on the way home because the Empire State Building will be lit up in red, white, and blue in honor of the Peace Corps.
Paris, France: 30 people representing 20 countries of service, four continents and 40 years of service will join this party hosted by Stephen Groff (Philippines ’89).
Santa Fe, New Mexico: Three house parties are being hosted here, made more exciting by the fact that the Mayor has proclaimed that the day is Peace Corps Day.
Rome, Italy: John Preissing (Ecuador ’84) and Matt Montavon (Costa Rica ’81), along with their spouses, are hosting a gathering at Matt’s home in Rome. John says, “va bene, va bene” to any RPCV’s who happen to be in Italy (oh, that would be great).
Washington, DC: At lunch, head over to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for a distinguished panel presentation including NPCA President Kevin Quigley (Thailand ’67) and NPCA Board Member Roger Lewis (Tunisia ‘66), who is a key advocate of the Peace Corps Commemorative on the National Mall. In the evening, join one of the 100 or so parties happening in the District or across state lines in Maryland and Virginia.
This is just a sample of some of the larger gatherings happening around the world, but we know that there are 700 other parties happening in private homes. You can find out what some party hosts are serving in our previous blog.
To “party with a purpose” all Global House Party hosts have been provided a toolkit and resources to discuss food security and how RPCVs are in a unique position to help tackle global hunger around the world.
So many RPCVs are opening up their homes to host potlucks and other parties and welcome new and old friends. This is the spirit of the Global House Parties. This is a reflection of the values of the Peace Corps. You can find a complete list of the Global House Parties here.