2013: A Very Facebook Peace Corps Year in Review
By Erica Burman on Tuesday, December 31st, 2013
April 19 – Why Peace Corps Matters. Earlier in the year NPCA Advocacy Director Jonathan Pearson embarked on a cross-country road trip to meet with Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. At each stop, he asked RPCVs to write on a white board why Peace Corps mattered, or what they accomplished as a Volunteer. The resulting photos were posted to Facebook. In the wake of the Boston bombing, one image in particular resonated with our community. See it on Facebook.
April 23 – Earth Day. On a whim, we threw together a fun image that we thought both honored the idea of conserving water and captured the Peace Corps spirit. Boy, were we ever right! The image (pictured above) is the most popular thing that we have ever posted to Facebook. See it on Facebook.
May 17 – Peace Corps Equity Act. In conjunction with a coalition of women’s reproductive health organizations, we brought the Peace Corps Equity Act to the attention of the Peace Corps community with the following message: “Unlike other women who receive health coverage through the federal government, Peace Corps Volunteers are denied coverage for abortion even in cases of rape or when their lives are in danger. It’s an outdated and unjust policy — but it can be fixed through the Peace Corps Equity Act of 2013. Urge Senators to become a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 813.” See it on Facebook.
May 27 & 29 – Memorial Day. The image that we posted on Memorial Day — remembering the Peace Corps Volunteers who have died in service — stirred quite a bit of attention, both favorable and unfavorable. See it on Facebook.
Two days later we shared a link to a thoughtful opinion piece by an RPCV who had also served in the military, looking at the parallels between military and Peace Corps service: ”When you join the Marine Corps or the Peace Corps, much less both, you often have some explaining to do. So, on this Memorial Day, permit me to reflect here on the reasons people serve and to describe some of the common threads between these two special American institutions.” See it on Facebook.
Aug. 8 – Malaria Drug Guidelines Updated. The subject of anti-malarial drugs has long been of interest to the Peace Corps community. In August, the Peace Corps provided updated information about their use, and we asked our Facebook fans “What are your thoughts? What was your experience with anti-malarial medication in the Peace Corps?” See it on Facebook.
Sept. 2 – Labor Day. On Labor Day our community was all in favor of spotlighting the unique skills of RPCVs – and the need to hire them. “Happy Labor Day everyone! In our humble opinion, the people who go into the Peace Corps are pretty special to begin with — and when they return to the U.S. they bring back even more skills and knowledge to make our country a better place. Hire an RPCV!” They really liked the retro Peace Corps recruiting poster we used to make our point. See it on Facebook.
Sept. 10 – The Meaning of Service. RPCV Jason Mangone published a provocative piece on Huffington Post about what it means to serve your country: “Because I was in the military, I’m allowed to self-identify as having served my country; for thousands of diplomats, intelligence professionals, Peace Corps Volunteers, AmeriCorps VISTA members, firefighters, policemen, and others working to improve communities around the nation, it would be awkward to say “I served my country.” It shouldn’t be.” We asked our Facebook fans for their reaction – and they responded. See it on Facebook.
Sept. 22 – Peace Corps ACT Day. With the emphasis on taking action, NPCA is raising the profile of another important Peace Corps milestone: Peace Corps ACT Day, the day that legislation officially creating the Peace Corps was signed. During a 24-hour period we urged people to ACT… to tell us (and others) why the Peace Corps still mattered to PCVs and RPCVs, to our families, to our country, and to the world. See it on Facebook.
Oct. 8 – Sue’s Story Video. A video titled “Sue’s Story” shows a host country national talking to trainees about the impact of Peace Corps Volunteers on her life. “It’s so powerful. What you’re doing, they don’t have enough money in the world to pay you. And you might not have anything to show, like the other Volunteers, when you leave. But I’m telling you guys, these children will never forget you.” This video really touched hearts. See it on Facebook.
Nov. 1 – Peace Corps Smells and Tastes. A story on the public radio show “The World” about the stench of Sriracha sauce prompted us to ask “What smell do you associate with your Peace Corps site? And what is your favorite spice or condiment from your host country’s cuisine? Not surprisingly, we got an outpouring of comments. See it on Facebook.
Nov. 7 & 11 – Kidney Donor Sought… and Possibly Found? From time to time people reach out to the National Peace Corps Association for support when they fall upon difficult circumstances. In the interest of providing support to a community member in a time of need, we drew attention to Norman Sapoznik (Malaysia 1967-1969) who was suffering renal failure and reached out to the Peace Corps community for support. Three days after our post to Facebook, he wrote to us to report that he had heard from not just one but three potential donors! See it on Facebook.
Nov. 21 – 50th Anniversary of the Kennedy Assassination. In the morning we published the iconic photo of Pres. Kennedy greeting the earliest Volunteers in the Rose Garden, with the caption: “Pres. Kennedy’s legacy lives on in the lives of the 215,000 Americans who have served in the Peace Corps — and who continue to make significant positive contributions to our country and the world, not as “former” or “ex-” but as “returned” Peace Volunteers. Thank you, Mr. President, for your vision and inspiration.” See it on Facebook.
Later that day we followed up with an exclusive report on how President Obama chose to spend the exact moment of that somber 50th anniversary. At 2 p.m. he asked representatives of the Peace Corps community — NPCA, Peace Corps, RPCVs of Washington, DC — to join him at the White House for a teleconference with some Volunteers currently serving in Tanzania. See it on Facebook.
Dec. 12 – Peace Corps Absurdity. NPR aired a story about the long strange journey of a bat mitzvah t-shirt from the U.S. to Kenya. We asked our followers, “What’s the oddest / most incongruous used clothing item you’ve spotted overseas?” We got some very funny comments! See it on Facebook.
Throughout the Year – Peace Corps Tattoos, Pets and Weddings. In 2013 we launched three weekly features on our Facebook page: Peace Corps Tattoos, Peace Corps Pets and Peace Corps Weddings. Using these themes as a lens through which to tell our Peace Corps stories has proven hugely popular! We hope you’ll spread the word and submit more stories to our collective narrative.
THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO HAS “LIKED,” COMMENTED AND SHARED ON OUR PAGE! INVITE YOUR FRIENDS TO “LIKE” US AS WELL!