Why I think everyone should join #RPCVchat
By Guest Contributor on Tuesday, March 13th, 2012
I’m not exactly sure when I learned about the weekly RPCV Chats that the National Peace Corps Association was having on Twitter. (NPCA’s Twitter account is @pcorpsconnect. The chat hashtag is #RPCVchat.) I actually had no clue how a person could “chat” in Twitter. But, I’ve come to fall in love with them! I admit, while I’m actually not a Returned Volunteer (still serving in Paraguay), I find them to be a fascinating and excellent way to connect with the larger Peace Corps community. Additionally, I had been a social media junky well before I joined Peace Corps, so it’s been a great way for me to expand my use and understanding of the potential that is contained in social media.
#RPCVchat has been a way for me to share my experiences here in Paraguay and compare them to folks at other posts and even former Volunteers from Paraguay. The audience is never solely just Returned Volunteers — frequently currently serving Volunteers, invitees and even just interested parties join in. I’ve used it as a way to share resources and connect with other Peace Corps Volunteers around the world. Thanks to the chats, here in Paraguay we are looking into modeling some of our projects and programs after similar ones we learned about in the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica and Azerbaijan.
I became such a strong proponent of the chats, that one Friday, I attempted to rally all the Volunteers who I knew (returned from Paraguay, in Paraguay, and even in other posts) to join on. I successfully got six volunteers from Paraguay to join, one RPCV in California, and two others from different posts. We dubbed it #OccuPY (PY in reference to Paraguay) #RPCVchat. Success!
As the weekly chats generally have a certain theme, I keep my eye open for interesting themes to make sure that I invite people who I know would like to join. A few weeks back now, the Black Peace Corps Volunteer Facebook group hosted a “TweetFest” where diversity and the minority experience in Peace Corps were going to be discussed. As luck would have it, the chat was going to be exactly at the same time Jopara, our Peace Corps Paraguay diversity advocacy group, was meeting. So, we set up the projector in our conference room, gave the group a crash course into how to chat on Twitter and we participated in the chat concurrently with our meeting!
All in all, I think the NPCA’s use of social media to engage its audience is pretty great and really serving its purpose. RPCVchat is a great forum to ask questions, share your experiences, and just have a good time. I do enjoy the few familiar “faces” every week in the chats, but the conversation can only get richer with every new person that joins.
Manuel Colon is currently serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Paraguay. You can follow him on Twitter at @macolon2.
Curious about #RPCVChat? Learn more here.
Also, here are some excellent instructions on how to participate in Twitter Chats.