NPCA President Visits Gallaudet University
By Erica Burman on Saturday, December 24th, 2011
National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) President Kevin Quigley was unable to attend the opening of Gallaudet University Museum’s Making a Difference: Deaf Peace Corps Volunteers exhibit in October, but on December 13 he visited the campus and met with Gallaudet President T. Alan Hurwitz and a group of Deaf Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs).
The RPCVs included Erikson Young (Kenya), who led the tour; Pauline Spanbauer (Philippines), the first Deaf PCV in the Philippines and one of the earliest Deaf Volunteers; Mary Ann (White) Pickering (Philippines); Allen Neece (Kenya – evacuated to Zambia, back to Kenya, Peace Corps Response Volunteers in Guyana, just got home); Norma Morán (Kenya); Senior advisor for the exhibition; Don Beil (Somalia); Chief of Staff for Gallaudet University’s President and Rosanne (Rho) Bangura (Guinea-Bissau).
During the exhibit tour and lunch Quigley learned more about Deaf Peace Corps service: Volunteers’ role in language use and the importation of ASL, the importance of Deaf Volunteers as proof that Deaf children can learn, and the impact on those served and the Volunteers. He explained the Encore Service Corps International program that NPCA has established that would allow for a shorter time of service for RPCVs and others with specific skills. He also shared information about other resources available to RPCVs, such at NPCA’s online community.
The groups also held a lively discussion about ways that the Peace Corps might better serve local Deaf communities through:
- Increasing opportunities for Deaf Peace Corps Volunteers to serve in more countries. The group discussed how to work with the requirement that a country ask for Deaf PCVs when it would not occur to many countries to consider that there are Deaf people who are skilled teachers and available for service. Also, education for widely dispersed Deaf children may not be on the agenda for countries.
- Expanding opportunities for Deaf Volunteers to serve in ways beyond educational settings (business, health care, organizational planning).
- Assessment of current Deaf education programs, including assessing the continuity of services to students and local Deaf communities.
- Recruitment of Deaf Volunteers. Gallaudet remains an important resource for potential Volunteers.
- Responding to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its provision on the right to access language by working with Deaf Volunteers who understand lack of access to language. Deaf PCVs could be a source of information on how to implement this component of the Convention.
- Researching how a country gets started with a Peace Corps Deaf education program. For example, how did the Kenya program start? It seemed there was little documentation or knowledge on country histories. Could Deaf education programs become part of a package of services offered to every country desiring Peace Corps service? How can this be further explored?
“I really enjoyed my visit to Gallaudet,” said Quigley, “and the opportunity to learn and share ideas with Deaf Volunteers. I salute the university for mounting this exhibit, which captures a very important part of the Peace Corps story.”
“Making a Difference: Deaf Peace Corps Volunteers,” is currently on display in the Weyerhaeuser Family Gallery and Exhibition Hall, located on the lower level of the JSAC at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. Learn more about the exhibit at the Gallaudet Museum website.