Lights, Camera, Spokane!
By Jonathan Pearson on Monday, April 22nd, 2013
The Lights: National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) member groups are doing a wonderful job promoting our current cross-country trip. But the Inland Northwest Peace Corps Association (INPCA) kicked the publicity up a notch when it promoted the visit on the electronic leader board outside the Express Employment Professional Building on Main Street in downtown Spokane.
Ira Amstadter (Zaire 1981-84) set up the display and hosted the Thursday evening get-together in the building, something he offers up regularly for the local Peace Corps community. NPCA Advocacy Director Jonathan Pearson met with a dozen members of the group, many of whom also participated in a send-off celebration four days earlier for local citizens preparing to join the Peace Corps, and a Friday morning breakfast discussion at the home of great NPCA friends and supporters Kay and Kevin Dixon (Colombia 1962-64).
The Camera: About one-third of the way through our trip, INPCA members joined in to add their images to “The Peace Corps Difference”, a growing digital photo compilation that chronicles – one Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) at a time – the many ways through which the Peace Corps community contributes to our world and our nation.
Spokane: With two activities in one week, and an ongoing commitment to
sustaining a Peace Corps presence in eastern Washington, we asked INPCA members why they chose to stay connected and engaged with fellow RPCVs.
Now in her second year as group President, Sarah Achaoui (Morocco 09-11) took the lead in organizing a recent showing of the film Girl Rising, a documentary about women’s education around the world. 150 people attended. She might never had been in that position had it not been for her mother, who connected with INPCA during a 50th anniversary event and immediately called Sarah to let her know about the group. It became inevitable that Sarah would join upon her return. She said her participation has helped with her transition back home.
Connections was a common, general feeling among several RPCVs. ”Being able to share my experiences with you has been really nice,” said Tyler Wasson (Bulgaria 2007-09) told other group members during the gathering.
The same goes for Jennifer Day (Nepal 1987-89). When she returned from service and entered graduate school in St. Louis, Jennifer noted she was surrounded by RPCVs. Having recently moved to be closer to family, Jennifer is finding the local Peace Corps presence isn’t quite as prevalent. She found INPCA to be one place to connect on all things Peace Corps. As Jennifer put it, “I can be with a group who can understand the language that I talk.”
Both Kevin Dixon and Tana Dugan (Turkey 1964-66) noted that sustaining the
connection is in part due to the fact that their children also became Peace Corps volunteers. In Tana’s case, she says her daughter – who served for two years in Zimbabwe – did so in part because she wanted to eventually have similar bonds of friendship and experience she had seen Tana develop.
James Beebe (Philippines 1968-73) met his wife as a volunteer. Maria Beebe (Philippines 1970-73) may hold a record, saying it was only days after she became a U.S. citizen that she was accepted into the Peace Corps. The couple hosted the recent send off in their home, as they have with a number of other Peace Corps and INPCA events. ”Peace Corps was probably the most significant event in my life,” said James. ”It only makes sense to find other RPCVs.”
There’s plenty more stops to come, as NPCA Advocacy Director Jonathan Pearson works his way across the United States over the next two weeks. Follow this link for a list of upcoming visits.
And…make sure you and all your RPCV friends are found! Get connected through NPCA’s Find the 250K Campaign.