Where Have All the Smithsonian Folklife Festival Cards Gone?
By Chloe Hedden on Wednesday, June 6th, 2012
Find the 250k Update
One of the wonderful 50th anniversary recognitions in 2011 came when Peace Corps was featured as part of the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C.
Approximately one million people from around the world were educated on the ongoing work of the Peace Corps during the festival. Not surprisingly, the program also attracted thousands of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and former staff. That was in evidence at one of the exhibits – a message board tent featuring every country that the Peace Corps has ever been in, with cards that people could write on. Predominantly the board was used by RPCVs with notes about the amazing experiences they had, people they were looking for and ways to contact each other in the future. Several thousand RPCVs and former staff posted cards on their country-of-service message board.
At the end of the Folklife Festival the question remained…
Where did all those cards go?
The staff of the Folklife Festival collected and bagged all of the cards, organizing them by country and saving them for archival purposes. Last month, as part of Project 250k, NPCA began reviewing the cards to aid in finding disconnected members of our community. As part of this effort every card and message is being transcribed into a database, and we are beginning to review the information to update our records.
That’s no small task, but with the leadership of NPCA Board member Pat Wand and several dedicated volunteers and interns, the project is close to 50% complete.
These cards are not only useful to update our database, but serve as proof of the close-knit Peace Corps community we are all a part of. We were reminded of this by some of the brief but touching testimonies that were left behind at the festival nearly one year ago. Here’s a look back…
You have no idea how hard the task will be, but you have no idea how capable you are to do it. Kevin Wheeler (Dominican Republic ’02-’04)
I make her give me a kiss every time she says the word “Bulgaria.” Jason R. [husband - Laura R. (Bulgaria '00-'02)]
Peace is a result of itty-bitty seemingly insignificant encounters. We’re making a difference! JoAnna Haugen (Kenya ’04-’05)
You represent the best of America! Nathaniel Deutsch [friend - Bryan Hall (Armenia)]
3 goals, 2 years, 1 love! Melissa Denton (Jamaica ’09-’11)
There are roughly 250,000 PCVs, RPCVs and former Peace Corps staff since the beginning days of the Peace Corps in 1961. NPCA currently has records of some sort for nearly 87,000 of those individuals. Our goal for 2012 is to find 10,000 additional names and contacts of this elite community. You – or others you know – can get connected by following this link.
If you want to volunteer to help us with Project 250k, contact firstname.lastname@example.org today.