Smithsonian Folklife Festival Highlights Peace Corps
By Molly Mattessich on Thursday, June 30th, 2011
The Smithsonian Folklife Festival
The Peace Corps will be one of three featured programs at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, which takes place June 30-July 4 and July 7-11 on the National Mall in front of the Smithsonian Castle. This curated exhibition is one of the highlights of the Peace Corps’ 50th Anniversary commemorative activities. The Peace Corps Community is delighted to be part of an event that has been a summer staple in our nation’s capital for 44 years.
The Peace Corps: Fifty Years of Promoting World Peace and Friendship, will bring together Peace Corps Volunteers—both past and present—and many of the local people with whom they served. Some of the highlights will include:
- Demonstrations by craft cooperatives illustrating both local culture and the work of Volunteers in economic development and income generation;
- Performances by musical, dance, and theatrical groups that Peace Corps Volunteers have helped to support, advise, and partner with to educate their communities;
- Presentations of food and cooking traditions that have played an important role in the Peace Corps experience;
- Hands‐on educational activities that will help increase public understanding and appreciation of the cultures and countries where Peace Corps Volunteers have lived and served during the last five decades;
- The Marketplace will feature craft items and recordings for sale from groups featured in the festival.
The program will include Volunteers and their local counterparts from Botswana, Belize, Georgia, Ghana, Guatemala, Jamaica, Kenya, Kyrgyz Republic, Mali, Morocco, Peru, Philippines, Tonga, Ukraine, and Zambia.
Visit the RPCVillage
The RPCVillage at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival is an area where returned Volunteers, staff, and the extended Peace Corps family can reconnect, share their stories, as well as helping visitors better understand the volunteer experience and impact of Volunteer work. RPCVs are welcome to stay for the day or drop by for 15 minutes. All activities in the RPCVillage will be ongoing throughout the festival and will include:
- RPCV Reunions in the “Full Circle” tent – Every one of our 139 Peace Corps Countries has a reunion time scheduled. During that period, returned Volunteers and staff will be invited to tell a story about their service, talk about the impact of their time overseas, “show and tell” using an item or keepsake that is important to them, or just mingle with friends. Discussions will be led by conversation facilitators who will act as emcees. A schedule of the reunion times and other schedule information can be found on the Peace Corps website. Also look for your reunion’s event on the Smithsonian Folklife Festival Facebook page. Oral Histories — In the Oral Histories tent, returned Volunteers, staff members, family members, and others will be asked to reflect on their service, thoughts, and Peace Corps experiences. After the festival, these oral history recordings will be inventoried and archived at the Smithsonian’s Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections.
- The RPCV Reunion Hall will be a unique way for RPCVs to connect with other Peace Corps volunteers, individuals from host countries, and Peace Corps staff through message boards and a large-scale map. These will also serve as graphic representations to educate the public about the reach of the extended Peace Corps family.
- “Wish Tree” — Wish tree traditions are found in diverse cultures around the world. Our wish tree will allow visitors to send messages of goodwill to present and future Volunteers and messages of remembrance to friends we’ve lost.
- Directional Sign Posts — RPCVs will be asked to make a sign to mark the country where they served. Signs will be installed on tall posts lining the festival, showing the length to which PCVs have gone to promote world peace and friendship for the last 50 years.
Be sure to keep an eye out for National Peace Corps Association staff in the RPCVillage!
Again, all activities are ongoing throughout the festival. Volunteers are encouraged to visit during the time designated for their country of service or any time during the festival. The RPCVillage is only part of the Peace Corps program at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. All visitors should allow time to explore the entire festival during their visit.
“Friends of” Groups are encouraged to participate and share information with their members, but please keep in mind that the festival and the reunions are open to all RPCVs and the public.
What is the Peace Corps program about?
The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is a living, interactive museum exhibition. The Peace Corps’ participation in the event is intended to educate the public about the work and cultural exchange of Volunteers and staff.
How was the programming determined?
The programming was chosen to be representative of all of the work done by Volunteers. Participants were suggested by a curatorial advisory group and were selected by the curators at the Smithsonian.
How can my “Friends of” or RPCV group get involved?
“Friends of” Groups are encouraged to participate. Come down any time and, during your reunion time, talk about how involvement in your group extends your Peace Corps service.
We also want you to share information with group members and suggest “Friends of” companion events like picnics or happy hours before or after the designated reunion time.
Can my group perform or demonstrate a craft?
All programming has been finalized, but again we encourage everyone with a connection to Peace Corps to come and tell a story, record an oral history, or otherwise participate in the RPCVillage. We also hope that RPCVs with children under 12 will visit the Kids Corps tent and pick up a “passport” to guide younger visitors around the Mall—to learn a language, play a game from a Peace Corps country, or help paint a world map.
Can my group set up a booth on the Mall or distribute materials?
There will be no booths or tents allowed for any groups on the National Mall. The Folklife Festival takes place on National Park Service land and due to Park Service rules, individuals and groups are prohibited from soliciting, or distributing or selling any materials on the Mall.
Can I work at the Festival?
The Smithsonian has sought Volunteers for all kinds of jobs at the Festival, RPCVs in particular. At this time, volunteer registration is now closed.
Is there a schedule of activities?
A schedule of activities is available at www.festival.si.edu.
Show Your RPCV Pride at the Festival
T-shirts, water bottles, hats, flags with the Peace Corps and RPCV logos are now available for sale online. Order early to show the world you served in the Peace Corps.