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The Recap: Peace Corps Connect – Boston 2013

By Erica Burman on Monday, July 15th, 2013

Peace Corps Connect - Boston 2013 brought Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and friends of the Peace Corps community together to reconnect, share ideas and much more. In 2014, the conference will be held in Nashville and will look to do the same.

Peace Corps Connect – Boston 2013 brought Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and friends of the Peace Corps community together to reconnect, share ideas and much more. In 2014, the conference will be held June 20-21 in Nashville, TN and will look to do more of the same. Start planning now and save the date!

What an inspiring, motivating and exhilarating time in Boston as the Peace Corps community gathered for Peace Corps Connect 2013!

IMG_3475Over 365 returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs), current and former Peace Corps staff, friends and family joined us for a jam-packed agenda of plenary sessions, panel discussions, practical workshops, open forums, exhibits and social events. The hallways were abuzz with lively chatter and a permeating energy. Attendees represented a good cross section of our community, including RPCVs who had returned as recently as April, as well as others celebrating more than 50 years since their return.

If you weren’t able to trek to Boston, you can still vicariously experience Peace Corps Connect.

We received a lot of positive feedback about the weekend and are still sifting through photos, and doing all the follow up that comes with a big event like this.  Big “thank you’s” go to everyone who who attended, and to everyone who pulled together to make the weekend a success — especially to our hosts, the Boston Area Peace Corps Association.

Planning has already begun for Peace Corps Connect 2014, set for June 20-21 in Nashville, Tennessee.  Save the date and plan to join us!

[As we noted, we’ve gotten some great feedback about Peace Corps Connect Boston.  We thought we’d share with you this write-up by Helene Dudley — 2013 recipient of the Peace Corps’ Lillian Carter Award, former NPCA board member and past president of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers South Florida — which originally was posted to the RPCVSF website.] 

“President Kennedy envisioned a very large Peace Corps with hundreds of thousands of RPCVs “bringing the world home” and making their voices heard to enable a truly enlightened U.S. foreign policy. Numerous presidential candidates have vowed to expand the Peace Corps,  a measure typically supported on both sides of the aisle. The larger challenge, however, is finding an effective way to communicate the valuable Peace Corps service experience. While many of the 250,000 members of the Peace Corps community have already made a significant impact on programs that make the world a more fair and more peaceful place, we can better implement Kennedy’s vision if we combine our voices.

bodyphoto1600At the Boston Peace Corps Connect Conference (June 28-29) it was energizing to be surrounded by people representing all generations of Peace Corps service, each sharing that common bond of having been transformed by our Peace Corps experiences, and dedicated to building a more fair and just world. With so much positive energy, one gets a sense that it could actually happen. I also sensed a renewed National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) commitment to working closely with RPCVs and member groups to promote Peace Corps and its values, making the NPCA the logical forum for making our collective voices heard. Save the date for the next Peace Corps Connect Conference in Nashville, June 20-21st, 2014.

At the Boston Peace Corps Connect conference there were top quality speakers and group sessions. During the session on “RPCVs in Public Service,” we heard from Harris Wofford, an early Civil Rights advocate and adviser to Martin Luther King, who was instrumental in the creation of the Peace Corps. RPCV David Magnani was on the same panel, and he spoke of his success in getting the U.S. Congress to act on a bill to ban conflict diamonds. The ”Raising Your Voice on Human Rights“ panel featured Dr. Mohamud Sheikh Nurein Said, recipient of the 2013 Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award for his work with the Kenyan Red Cross in assisting displaced persons, overseeing the world’s largest refugee camp and promoting the rights of torture victims. Hauwa Ibrahim gave a riveting presentation about her strategies for winning precedent-setting cases for women’s human rights in Nigeria in Shariah Islamic Courts.

There were also workshops on Career Development, Peace Corps films and writers, advocacy, overseas job opportunities, Peace Corps archives, an opportunity for members and groups to provide feedback and suggestions to the NPCA at the Group Leaders Forum and a session on Peace Building lead by RPCV Chic Dambach, past president of the NPCA who helped negotiate an end to the border war between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

bodyphoto2600Phillip Lillienthal (RPCV Ethiopia) received the Sargent Shriver Award for his work as founder and chairman of Global Camps Africa, an organization that empowers African children for an AIDS-free tomorrow. Friends of the Dominican Republic and the Northern California Peace Corps Association received the Loret Miller Ruppe Award for their service projects.

Those were the highlighted stories, but there was a steady stream of enrichment from encounters with RPCVs who “bring the world home” and make it better in unheralded ways every day. Being among them was like mind candy for people committed to peace and social justice. Treat yourself with a trip to Nashville for the next Peace Corps Connect, June 20-21st, 2014.”

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