Steven Saum posted an articleThe Women’s Global Education Project receives some important recognition from Twitter CEO see more
Inspired by Peace Corps experience, the Women’s Global Education Project gets a boost from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey
By NPCA Staff
Photo: Women’s Global Education Project scholars. Photo courtesy WGEP
Following her Peace Corps service (Senegal 1996–99), Amy Maglio founded the Women’s Global Education Project, a nonprofit organization with a goal of helping young girls across the world. The project launched in 2004. In March 2021, it received a $750,000 grant from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey through his #StartSmall initiative.
“This all really came from my experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal,” Maglio told the Chicago Tribune. “I helped my host sister go to school for the first time. I saw firsthand the impact school can have on a girl’s confidence and her future.”
Founder and scholars: Women’s Global Education Project participants with Amy Maglio, third from right. Photo courtesy WGEP
Learn more about the Women’s Global Education Project here.
Orrin Luc posted an article“It would be wonderful if the world didn’t need a Peace Corps.” see more
Peace Corps Volunteer in Jamaica (1976–78) and Belize (2011–13) | Peace Corps Response Volunteer in Jamaica (2016–17) and Belize (2017)
As told to Ellery Pollard
Photo: Students in a Jamaican school where Volunteer Miguelina Cuevas-Post served. Courtesy Miguelina Cuevas-Post
I come from a family that is multiethnic and multicultural, so an appreciation of different cultures was ingrained in me. My husband, Kenneth Post, and I both served two-year terms in Jamaica in the ’70s — that’s how we met. We got married there, and our oldest daughter, Tina, was born while we were serving. Ken and I also served in Belize 2011–13. My youngest daughter, Rachel, decided to serve as a Response Volunteer in the Republic of Georgia 2015–16. I returned to both Jamaica and Belize as a Response Volunteer in 2016–17. And my husband’s aunt did Peace Corps in Africa at age 65. So obviously, Peace Corps has had a great presence in my life!
My initial host mother in Jamaica was just around the block from Hope Road, where Bob Marley lived. We would walk by his house frequently. We were in Jamaica when he was shot in December 1976. He survived, but that was a tense and harrowing time.
During my original service, if we needed to communicate with a Peace Corps office for any reason, we would go into Port Maria and send a telegram. There was one public telephone and it wasn’t working half the time. Today, technology has made the world a lot smaller, and because of those advances, countries’ needs have changed. Retirement wasn’t meant for me, so after working for years as a school administrator, having the chance to return to Jamaica as a Response Volunteer 40 years after my original service was a great opportunity.
The city of Kingston, which was just a little bigger than a village, is now exponentially larger. Rural areas have new roads and businesses. There are more high-level education and leadership needs, hence Peace Corps Response.
Artist at work: “Rastas living in the Kingston dump who create the most beautiful art out of recycled aluminum.” Photo by Miguelina Cuevas-Post
I have a specific memory of a group of Rastas living in the Kingston dump who create the most beautiful art out of recycled aluminum. This project began with the help of a returned Volunteer who comes back periodically to provide support. We were there trying to gather information to share with the JN Foundation, the agency with which I worked. We spent a day watching the men work, and at the end, I purchased a piece that I saw made from start to finish.
“We saw this piece created, from the melting of the recycled aluminum, to the pouring of the melted metal (casting), removal once set, and buffing,” writes Miguelina Cuevas-Post. “I purchased the piece for one of my daughters.” Photo by Miguelina Cuevas-Post
Belize’s education sector, which was the sector I originally worked in as a Volunteer a decade ago, had closed when I left. But a few years later, when I returned as a Response Volunteer, it reopened and I was asked to return. Response service is very specific and targeted. Projects have to be completed within the time you are given, and you must produce tangible evidence of impact. We were in the Peace Corps office working seven days a week. We understood that the successful reintroduction of an education sector in the country depended on our results. I am incredibly lucky and grateful to have been able to return to both Jamaica and Belize to reconnect with villages where I lived and see their progress.
Ideally, it would be wonderful if the world didn’t need a Peace Corps, but that’s not the reality.
Ideally, it would be wonderful if the world didn’t need a Peace Corps, but that’s not the reality. I also feel like there’s another Peace Corps life in me. Maybe not Belize or Jamaica, but I hope that before I get too much older, I will be able to serve again.
This is part of a series of stories from Crisis Corps and Peace Corps Response Volunteers and staff who have served in the past 25 years.
Communications Intern posted an articleIntroducing the Virtual Service Pilot program — reconnecting communities and Volunteers see more
The evacuation of Volunteers from around the globe interrupted service everywhere. And while Volunteers have yet to return to the field, last year Peace Corps launched a program for communities and Volunteers to work together — virtually.
Six months after Peace Corps evacuated all Volunteers from around the world, 45 returned to service under the aegis of the agency: the inaugural cohort of an 10- to 12-week endeavor christened the Virtual Service Pilot program. They were Volunteers and Response Volunteers and trainees. They partnered with communities in nine countries and areas: Botswana, Colombia, Costa Rica, Eastern Caribbean, Paraguay, Peru, Senegal, South Africa, and Ukraine. And they embarked on projects that included education and health, conservation and youth development.
An idea whose time has come? In March 2020 — even before COVID-19 brought the Zoomification of so many workplaces—the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service issued a report that explicitly called for exploring virtual volunteering to open up service opportunities to more people in the States.
Round one of the Virtual Service Pilot wrapped up in December. The editorial team at WorldView magazine spoke to two Volunteers about their service — first on the ground, and now virtually. And as we go to press, round two of the virtual program, which expanded to 20 countries, just finished.
Home: Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts
Beginning in 2019, in a town called Karang, on the border with The Gambia, I was a Community Economic Development Volunteer, working with local entrepreneurs and women’s groups, helping them turn local resources like peanuts and mangoes into income-generating products. In an entrepreneurial class I was teaching, five students came forward and were interested in leading a waste management project: writing the business plan, meeting with chiefs and community members, holding cleanup days. In a town of 20,000, there’s no garbage pickup; people burn their trash. A decade ago, a Volunteer set up a waste management project with the mayor’s office — but unfortunately it was disassembled after six months.
We talked to local leaders, conducted community surveys, asked if people would be willing to pay — and how much. We realized that a project would have to be private — and ideally would lead to employment in the community. The mayor’s office was allocating a landfill, and I was in the process of of writing a grant.
Along with that, in a nearby town, Keur Sièt, my counterpart and I were working with a women’s group to add value to peanuts and, through a contact in Dakar, sell to clients in Germany. Then: evacuation.
One morning at 4 a.m. I got a call from a friend asking if I had checked my phone. “Of course I haven’t,” I said. “Luca,” she said, “we’re going home.”
Leaving my host family two days later was one of the most heartbreaking moments of my life.
Host family and entrepreneurs in Keur Sièt, Senegal. From left, the women are Nday, Nday, Fatou, Luca Mariotti, and Soxna Si. Photo courtesy of Luca Mariotti
What sustains us
I’m from Dublin, Ireland, originally. My dad, Mark Mariotti, served with the Peace Corps in The Gambia — 30 minutes from where I was posted. Ten years ago we went back to his host community; he hadn’t been there in 25 years. He found the door to his host brother’s house. They cried, they embraced. That connection was really powerful.
Last fall I began a master’s program at Cornell in global development. And I took part in the Virtual Service Pilot program with Peace Corps, working with the chamber of commerce in Sédhiou, Senegal, promoting the value chain for cassava and a superfood called fonio. It has more amino acids than quinoa. It is gluten-free, high in protein and iron, easy to cook, and drought resistant — which is important as climate change increasingly causes food insecurity in sub-Saharan countries.
Fonio is a superfood with more amino acids than quinoa. It is drought resistant and is drawing increasing global interest. But that wasn’t being reflected in Senegal. Now it is.
I contacted most international players in the fonio world. There is growing interest — but that wasn’t being reflected within Senegal. I was led to Malick, a contact with Terra Ingredients, which has been working on the Fonio Project, trying to find producers and, by paying fair prices and reinvesting profits in the community, build a sustainable system. They are constructing a processing plant in Dakar — the first in Senegal. My counterpart, Ndeye Maguette, and I had a number of meetings with Malick, who is sending people to meet with the chamber of commerce and producers. They hope that by the next harvest they will export fonio from these farmers.
I’m excited to see what happens. I’m also interested in finding ways for us to continue to support projects I started when I was in Senegal. My experience in the Peace Corps really furthered my cultural humility and cultural intelligence. I saw firsthand how similar we all are, and the immense potential that lies in developing countries. I think further investments and confidence in the education systems are going to show incredible results.
Home: Chickasha, Oklahoma
I actually wanted to serve with Peace Corps in Swaziland, Africa, where I was originally given an invitation — but I was moved to Ukraine right before the departure date for medical reasons. I did not know anything about Ukraine. But I loved my work with the kids and parents of my organization. I had a wonderful counterpart, and the Peace Corps Ukraine staff were so supportive. I went from doubting if I would stay in Ukraine to deciding to extend one more year.
I was a Youth Development Volunteer with the All-Ukraine Association of People with Disabilities in Vinnytsia, in central Ukraine. I led clubs and classes for children with disabilities, assisted with games for Special Olympics Ukraine, attended conferences about inclusion, and learned and taught Ukrainian Sign Language.
When we were evacuated, my counterpart and I were talking about a grant for a project that would benefit parents in our organization. It was close to the beginning of Special Olympic events in Vinnytsia. And the day I was supposed to work with my counterpart on the paperwork for my extension was the day that evacuation was called.
The last time I saw my kids and parents from the organization was at a painting class right before evacuation. There is still a lot of work to do in Ukraine regarding inclusion. Given the opportunity to assist online, I wanted to do it. With the Virtual Service Pilot program, I was assigned to my original NGO and worked with the same counterpart. I know my kids well and what they are capable of.
Ukrainian parents were able to learn strategies and ask questions. I had a young adult female share her story, so the parents could hear about growing up with autism from a child’s perspective.
I led online sessions for children with disabilities to help them develop life skills, communication skills, and socialization skills. I started a monthly discussion between parents in the United States and Ukraine. This provided an opportunity for the American parent of a child with autism to share their story — and what worked and did not work in the USA. Ukrainian parents were able to learn strategies and ask questions. I had a young adult female share her story, so the parents could hear about growing up with autism from a child’s perspective. A Peace Corps Ukraine staff member translates for the parent discussions.
In the virtual program, Ukraine had a Volunteer in every sector, including PEPFAR. It was a good experience; I chose to participate in the second phase. I still talk to my host mom, kids and parents from the organization, my counterpart, Peace Corps Ukraine staff, and others from Special Olympics. My counterpart started a project for adults with autism. Through one of the parent talks, she found out about a program in Oklahoma that supports adults with disabilities, and she wants to come visit and see how it is run.
What’s ahead? I’m working at the university in my hometown of Chickasha until September 2021. I am also a graduate student at Arizona State University online, where I am studying special education: applied behavior analysis.
Communications Intern posted an articleCommunity news highlighting achievements of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers see more
Achievements of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers Across the country — and around the world
By Peter Deekle (Iran 1968–1970)
Photo: Tavish Fenbert, evacuated from Peace Corps service in Senegal in March — and recognized in August for his work to help food insecure families in Seattle
Leif Brottem (2002–2004) is an assistant professor of Global Development Studies at Grinnell College in Iowa. He currently conducts academic field research on resource use outside of Park W in Benin and Niger, and at Zakouma National Park in Chad. He recently penned “Protecting African Wildlife: A Defense of Conservation Territories” for Mongabay.
Jomara Alexandra Laboy Rivera (2015–2018) currently works in the Peace Corps’ Office of Programming and Training. She was a full-time teacher in the northwest region of Cameroon during her service, where she taught mathematics, biology, and citizenship to the equivalent of seventh and eighth graders. Each class had an average of 65 students.
Beth Ann Lopez (2012–2014) is the co-founder and CEO of Docosan, a healthcare desktop computer and mobile app for use in Viet Nam. Docosan lets patients compare healthcare providers across a wide range of specialties, book appointments online 24/7, chat with primary care assistants, and manage their own health data for free.
Jerry W. Sanders (1967–1969) received the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award in September 2020 for achievements, leadership qualities, and the successes he has accrued in the fields of higher education, academic and policy research, and peace advocacy.
Jessica Hancock-Allen (2005–2007) is a Saint Paul epidemiologist working with Catholic Charities. Her work is primarily with those who are homeless and ill. Prior to her current post, she was the CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer stationed at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Maya Penn (2018–2020) is a deaf education teacher. She taught integrated science and creative arts at a school for Deaf students in eastern Ghana. Her projects included teaching hospital staff Ghanaian Sign Language, running the HIV/AIDS club, and hosting a leadership camp at her school. Before her pandemic-related evacuation in March, she was successful in getting a grant approved for the renovation of an old building in order to make it a health clinic.
Angela Scott practiced law for many years before devoting attention to the wine profession, pursuing the elite Master of Wine degree (held by only 393 people worldwide). She was accepted into the program in 2018. If she passes on her timetable, she will become the world’s first Black person to hold the Master of Wine title.
Shaylyn Romney Garrett (2009–2011) has collaborated with Dr. Robert Putnam on researching and writing The Upswing: How America Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again (2020, Simon and Schuster) – a timely analysis of economic, social, and political trends over the past century. She is also a weekly contributing writer at Weave: The Social Fabric Project founded by David Brooks and housed at the Aspen Institute.
Emily Brown (2014–1017) has received a year-long fellowship from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. As a litigation fellow, she conducts legal research, drafts friend-of-the-court briefs, and completes other assignments to support the Reporters Committee’s litigation efforts.
Mark Baetzhold (2014–2015) began his leadership as executive director of Heart, Love & Soul, a nonprofit food pantry in Niagara Falls, NY on October 1, 2020.
Meghan Mclnerey (1982–1986) has been named Intensive Care Unit medical director at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, Idaho. She has extensive experience in Africa, having worked as a medical officer in South Africa and as an HIV/AIDS Training Coordinator.
Anna Vasquez (2014–2016) was recognized during Hispanic Heritage Month (October 2020) for her service and leadership as a community health registered nurse at Lawndale Christian Health Center in Illinois. She has worked daily with underserved and uninsured individuals, the majority of whom are Spanish speaking.
Crystal Mojica (2017–2019), along with Valentina Stackl, started Planeta G, the latest project out of Greenpeace, highlighting Latinx who are in the fight to save the planet and reverse climate change.
Dr. Amy Myers (1995–1998) was a finalist for the 2020 EY Entrepreneur of the Year awards for Central Texas. She is a New York Times bestselling author and the CEO of Amy Myers MD, a physician-designed and formulated nutritional supplement company.
Leilani Sabzalian has received the American Educational Research Association’s 2020 Outstanding Book Award for her 2019 publication, Indigenous Children’s Survivance in Public Schools. She is an Assistant Professor of Indigenous Studies in Education and the Co-Director of the Sapsikwałá (Teacher) Education Program at the University of Oregon.
Tavish Fenbert (2018–2020) was honored with the Daily Point of Light Award promoting volunteerism in August 2020 by Points of Light. He was evacuated from Senegal after 18 months of service, and has been volunteering with the University District Food Bank and at Solid Ground to support food insecure families and those who lack access to nutritious foods in his own community in Seattle, Washington.
Please share your news with us! Email Peter Deekle.
Kaylee Jensen posted an articleThirty years of connecting Peace Corps Volunteers, educators, and classrooms see more
Thirty years of connecting Peace Corps Volunteers, educators, and classrooms
For three decades the Peace Corps’ Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools program has fostered global learning in the United States and around the world. And the program is celebrating its 30th anniversary by bringing more to the classroom: new interactive resources that teach intercultural understanding and global competence to young people.
What’s there? Hundreds of online resources for U.S. learners, teachers, and current and returned Peace Corps volunteers. New lesson plans, activities, stories, and global competence trainings for educators.
World Wise Schools provides easy-to-implement programs that educators can incorporate. They create space for discussion in a global mindset — and tackle barriers and stereotypes. They’re free for anyone to use. And they provide an engaging way for students to learn about countries and communities where Peace Corps volunteers serve.
Lessons and matching
There are lessons on gender bias and STEM-focused resources—and, including the arts, materials on STEAM. Some educators connect with classrooms around the world to work in French and Spanish—others in Arabic, Chinese, or other languages.
The program also brings RPCVs of all stripes into the classroom for visits. Through the Speakers Match program, RPCVs volunteer to share experiences from their service with students—or they take advantage of online resources to create their own event or activity in the classroom.
“Through the World Wise Schools program anyone in the U.S. can see into another society and meet people from across the globe in an intercultural exchange,” says Katie Hamann, a Peace Corps program specialist on the team. Hamann served as a Volunteer in Mali and the Dominican Republic 2011–15. And, she says, “This is key to creating a globally competent classroom, community and world.”
How? Teachers incorporate these materials into existing study units or use them as the centerpiece of an interdisciplinary curriculum. Some RPCVs and PCVs post materials on social media using #wws. World Wise Schools also fosters an appreciation of global issues by facilitating communication between Peace Corps Volunteers and students — via email and WhatsApp, Skype and video chats, and even old-fashioned letters.
In Ohio, students connected with a Volunteer working in Senegal — and they created 80 handmade books in French to send to Senegalese students. In a classroom in Flintridge, California, students tapped their e-connections to write “Once Upon a Time in Cameroon” (or, in French, “Il était une fois au Cameroun”), an adaptation of classic fairy tales about the regional flora and fauna of the country.
Challenge your perspective
Paul D. Coverdell established World Wise Schools in 1989 while serving as director of the Peace Corps. “The world is made a bit smaller through understanding others,” he said. “It takes becoming uncomfortable, being willing to challenge your own perspective, and being curious about new ideas.”
Coverdell was an Atlanta insurance company executive and former Georgia state senator before he was appointed director by President George H.W. Bush. He served for two years until Georgia voters elected him to the U.S. Senate.
Stephanie Scribner (Mali 93-95) teaches fourth grade in East Hartford, Connecticut. She has used World Wise Schools curricula for 20 years. Why? Because, she says, thanks to the program, “My classes feel invigorated and passionate about the world.”
This story was first published in WorldView magazine’s Spring 2020 edition.
Amanda Silva posted an articleRPCV Camillia Freeland-Taylor helps community build school in Southern province of Zambia. see more
The Community Fund: Perpetuating a Lifelong Commitment to Peace Corps Ideals
At National Peace Corps Association (NPCA), we understand the impact Volunteers make in host communities, as well as those host communities make upon Volunteers. Both resonate for decades. The Community Fund thrives on sustaining that relationship and impact.
An example are Camillia Freeland-Taylor’s (Zambia 2013-15) efforts to support the children of her village, Magalela, who must walk nine miles and cross two rivers to attend school. Many families do not allow their girls to attend because of the two-hour walk. During Camillia’s service, a first grade boy drowned on the journey.
The village children need a local primary school to ensure their basic human right to education. Camillia worked both during and after service to meet this need.
The grant she originally received as a PCV provided the amount necessary to lay the foundation of the school. As an RPCV, Camillia sought out NPCA to purchase cement and other building materials to complete the project by plastering the school's walls, finishing the floors, building latrines, and fitting windows with glass. The Zambian government will then provide teachers.
“It’s good to have a school because our children won’t have to walk so far (usually six-eight kilometers one way), and they don’t have to worry about crossing the river during the rainy season, which is extremely dangerous. Right now we have no choice, but we are trying to change that through the new school” says Jethrow Siatubi, Magalela Village Head.
Education has a compounding effect, and the result of allowing an entire community of children access to a primary education is profound. Studies show that with each additional year of education, an individual will earn more as an adult and prevent extreme poverty. Moreover, women who receive a primary school education are less likely to lose children in the first five years of the child’s life.
“I remember one time I went to the hospital and they gave me the wrong medicine. If I wasn’t educated I wouldn’t have been able to tell the medicine was meant for someone else and for a different problem. I was able to do so because of education. I want my children to have a better education and a chance at a brighter future” remarked Julius Simombeh, a school committee member.