NPCA Featured Group

  • Alan Ruiz Terol posted an article
    This month, the NPCA recognizes the hard work and dedication of the Friends of Nigeria see more

    Friends of Nigeria was born as a group in 1995, just one year after the Peace Corps left the country.  Nowadays it has grown into a community of almost 2,000 expatriates who served in Nigeria, which is an impressive number if we take into account that 2,094 volunteers served in the country. In featuring Friends of Nigeria as the group of the month we want to highlight their longstanding commitment to our community and the thrilling initiatives they've championed. (Don't miss their own wiki page!)

    Name of Group: Friends of Nigeria (FON)

    Three words that best describe your group:

    Historic, tenacious, (still) enthusiastic.

    What makes Friends of Nigeria successful:

    Fond memories of Nigeria, the sense that service in Nigeria shaped our lives, dedicated work by key individuals, optimism and fun.  Basically, whenever one volunteer gets telling a story of an incident from his or her service, most other volunteers can relate.  This makes for a very interesting newsletter, good presentations during our meetings, and active socializing when there is any free time during our meetings.  Our members like being reminded of their time in Nigeria and they like to support groups that are doing specific, concrete, on-the-ground projects in Nigeria.  A number of years ago we created our own wiki (WikiFON).  We encourage our members to put their stories and pictures there.

    How does your group still connect to your Country of Service:

    We have identified key non-profits operating in Nigeria and we donate to projects they organize.  We have a review committee that rejects applications that only contain staff training, headquarters PCs, or other overhead items.  We fund building projects, agricultural inputs that will actually be used by farmers, or equipment that will be used by end users.

    Give a brief summary of your group’s history:

    Friends of Nigeria was founded in 1996.  However, we have a newsletter from 1987 that indicates there was an earlier attempt to bring the organization to life.  We have regular newsletters dating from 1996.  By 1998 we were incorporated in the State of Connecticut, we had applied for 501-c-3 status, and we had a board-approved set of bylaws.  Friends of Nigeria has thrived despite the fact that there have been no new PCVs sent to Nigeria in the intervening years.  All of our newsletters can be found on our website.

    What is the best thing your group has done in the past year:

    We had an outstanding roster of speakers who put the future of Nigeria in perspective at our Washington meeting in September in conjunction with Peace Corps Connect.  We migrated to a new, interactive website using Wild Apricot technology.  Unfortunately, just as we were beginning our parallel run, NPCA announced they are doing the same thing using SilkStart technology.  But most of the work is independent of the particular technology chosen, and we would be glad to share our experience with the process.

    Key advice that you can offer to other NPCA Affiliate Groups:

    Bring members together to build cohesion.  Do that by having regular meetings, an active newsletter, and an interesting website.  Behind that lies a database of member information.  You cannot reach all your members via electronic means, so a printed newsletter is the way we stay in touch with our non-technical users.

    What is a key skill/activity/resource that you can offer to other NPCA Member Groups?

    We have incorporated, and we have gone through the process to become a 501-C-3.  

    Are there any key challenges or needs that your group faces and could use some help?

    Peace Corps left Nigeria in 1972, so our membership is aging.  Do we just tell the last person standing to throw away the key, or is there a way to give our organization a future?

    Are there any monthly/annual activities that you conduct?

    We hold an annual meeting in conjunction with Peace Corps Connect.  We make an annual appeal for donations to projects in Nigeria.

    Why is your group affiliated with the National Peace Corps Association?

    Because we are returned Peace Corps Volunteers.  In fact, some of our members were involved in the creation of the NPCA.  Also, we have learned many things from other affiliated groups.  We have one of the highest attendance rates of any COS group at Peace Corps Connect meetings, and as a percentage of the total of volunteers who served in Nigeria, probably the highest.

    Please share a phrase, tradition or custom that exemplifies the spirit of the country where you served:  

    Hubba, Bature!  (White man, you must be joking.)

    What else should RPCVs know about your group?

    We hope newer groups, primarily of younger members, can see from our example that being an RPCV is a lifelong commitment, opportunity and resource.

     

    Thanks to Greg Jones and other members of Friends of Nigeria for providing this profile. 

    Get connected! There are over 150 NPCA member groups – geographic groups, country of service groups, and special interest groups. Find links to all of them on our website. Get involved with an affiliate group today! 

    Want your NPCA member group to be featured in the coming months? Contact us.

  • Charlotte Rohrer posted an article
    This month, the NPCA recognizes the hard work and dedication of the Friends of India. see more

    It has been forty years since the last Peace Corps Volunteers served in India. But that doesn't mean the Peace Corps connection to the country has ended. For nearly thirty years, the thousands of Volunteers and dozens of Peace Corps training groups have been connected through the Friends of India, our featured NPCA affiliate group for the month of August!

    Name of Group: Friends of India (FOI)

    • Representing 133 Vounteer Groups who served in India
    • Approximately 5,500 RPCVs from 1961 to 1976

    Three words that best describe your group: 

    Commitment, Respect, Generosity

    What makes Friends of India successful:

    STAYING CONNECTED!  We have remained connected to one another, and supportive of each other, and we share a common respect and love for India and its people. Friends of India (FOI) started this in earnest in 1988; twelve years after the last Peace Corps group (India 133) finished its tour in 1976. In India we were in groups with specific goals and often relied on one another for moral and technical support. After our service, there was a strong desire to stay in contact with one another and to continue helping India. FOI initially evolved from all-group gatherings and then to reunions of individual India groups. The establishment and improvement of the FOI website in the past few years gave a place for individual India groups to set up their own sub-websites within the FOI website. The website provides space for photos, videos, stories, recollections, memories, obituaries and much more.  It is rewarding to see India RPCVs making more use of the FOI website to share their experiences during and after their Peace Corps service.

    How does your group still connect to your Country of Service:

    One group working with a university and a sister university in India brings students to India as well as Indian students to the U.S.  Others stayed or returned as Peace Corps staff or returned to India for PhD studies or as professionals working for the US Agency for International Development (USAID), UNDP, Ford Foundation and higher educational institutions in the US such as Michigan State in study abroad programs. Finally we stay connected through email sharing, reunions and personal visits, and importantly through individual India group reunions and finally the Friends of India website.

    Give a brief summary of your group’s history:

    We started training with a three day briefing session at Great Northern Hotel in NYC, then one month Outward Bound training in Puerto Rico (warm) and then to the University of Minnesota, St Paul campus (cold!!!!) for technical, cross-cultural and language training, Panjabi taught to those going to north India and Kannada to those going to the south. We were trained to work in poultry development, youth clubs and as nurses. Many of us had unclear assignments.  Nevertheless, as a group, we hung in there and were able to make small solid achievements that could be built on by our Indian coworkers and future Peace Corps groups.

    What is the best thing your group has done in the past year:

    Attending a celebration of life (“Juneteenth Party”) for one of our Volunteers who was a respected and popular leader in our India 3 group. 

    A group visit after 40 years to India accompanied by other professionals on their first visit to India.  A good time was had getting together with former India colleagues. 

    Key advice that you can offer to other NPCA Affiliate Groups:

    1. Join NPCA and develop a country group (or sub-group) affiliated with NPCA
    2. Develop a website and a newsletter, 1 or 2 issues a year. People still like paper. 
    3. Develop a website where individuals can leave
      1. Stories, obituaries, messages, opinions,
      2. A place to find other RPCVs in your group or country,
      3. NOTE: As we age and can no longer travel, a website helps keep groups connected
    4. Hire someone (like a son or daughter of one of your former volunteers) to develop and maintain the website. This is helpful for continuity as we age. 
    5. Keep the personal contact— hold group reunions.  After the end of the first one, schedule the next one. 

    Why is your group affiliated with the National Peace Corps Association?

    NPCA keeps us connected with the wider world of Peace Corps, the domestic and government perspectives on Peace Corps as an Agency. We can learn about other Peace Corps programs around the world. 

    Please share a phrase, tradition or custom that exemplifies the spirit of the country where you served:

    Namascara” in South India and or “Namaste” in Northern India greeting … hands held palm to palm, under the chin  meaning that my spirit acknowledges your spirit. 

    What else should RPCVs know about your group?

    We are open, friendly and willing to help others in any way we can!! 

     

    Thanks to Jack Slattery and other members of Friends of India for providing this profile. 

    Get connected! There are over 150 NPCA member groups – geographic groups, country of service groups, and special interest groups. Find links to all of them on our website. Get involved with an affiliate group today! 

    Want your NPCA member group to be featured in the coming months? Contact us.

     

  • Two reasons the Kansas City Area Peace Corps Association's logo includes a heart? Find out why see more

    Making direct connections with other nearby National Peace Corps affiliate groups. Sustaining the group, yet being ready to expand activities when the right volunteer leader comes along. Those two practices have helped ensure the stability of the Kansas City Area Peace Corps Association, our featured NPCA group for the month of October.

     

    Name of Group: Kansas City Area Peace Corps Association (KCAPCA)

    Three words that best describe your group:

    Friendly, service-minded, supportive

     What makes your group successful?

    The group is very laid-back and welcoming of others. It is very much a community of friends who enjoy seeing each other on a monthly basis. We have a strong and active Board that meets monthly to orchestrate opportunities for our membership to socialize, network, give back to the community, share their Peace Corps experience, promote the Peace Corps and advocate for a bigger and better Peace Corps.

    What geographic area does your group cover?

    Our group covers the Greater Kansas City Area, which includes suburbs in Kansas and Missouri. We also are the Affiliate Group for Lawrence, KS, which has a campus-based recruiter at the University of Kansas.

     Give a brief summary of your group’s history.

    The Kansas City group was formed sometime prior to 1990, when a recruiting office was located in Kansas City. After 1990, the Kansas City Area Peace Corps Association became an affiliate member group of the NPCA (then called the National Council of RPCVs). From the beginning, the group was interested in community service and social activities, such as potluck parties. Over the past few years, the group has added Third Goal, recruitment, advocacy- related and has even helped raise funds for an educational project of a currently serving PCV from Kansas City.

    What is the best thing your group has done in the past year?

    The best thing our group has done in the past year has been forming closer ties with the three other Missouri Affiliate groups. In the summer of 2015, the boards of the three largest MO groups, the Kansas City Area Peace Corps Association, the Central Missouri RPCVs, and the St. Louis Peace Corps Association met for a Leadership Summit to discuss how to work more closely together. The Memorial Day Weekend Ozarks Campout was the first joint activity and there will be a Fall Camping Weekend on the Ozarks later this month for all statewide RPCV groups. Not only is it fun to get together, but we support each other’s activities. For example, members of the St. Louis and KC groups attended the Central MO RPCV’s Third Goal Film Festival last April, and the Central MO RPCV group provides funds to support an educational project of one of our PCV members serving in Thailand.

    What is a key skill/activity/resource that you can offer to other NPCA Affiliate Groups?

    We can offer up some advice. Do not worry if you need to start small with only a few events/activities- you can work your way up. Do not try to do too much in a short period. Our group historically had not had an advocacy program, as there was never enough time or energy. When the right person joined the board a year ago, we were then able to incorporate advocacy into our activities, starting with local, district meetings. Our Advocacy Coordinator kept the group informed and up to date on issues through Facebook posts and newsletter contributions. This past September, three Board members participated in the Advocacy Day on the Hill. It was a major milestone to have so much representation after years of the group not being politically active.

    Are there any key challenges or needs that your group faces and could use some help?

    We could use support in enticing more leaders to help run the group and to widen our number of active group members. We also would like to support a Speaker’s Bureau, so we can match more members with Third Goal presentation opportunities.

    Are there any monthly/annual activities that you conduct?

    Our main monthly social activities are First Monday Happy Hour always at the same spot, McCoy’s Pub in a central location in Kansas City, and Third Thursday Dinner, where we meet at a different ethnic restaurant each month.

    Our signature Third Goal event is our annual Open House, which is open to the public. Every spring we meet at the Writer’s Place House for food and drinks, world music, country displays, socializing and various Third Goal presentations about life as a Peace Corps Volunteers in developing countries.

    Every quarter we participate in community service activities, such as with the Johnson County Christmas Bureau, Ronald McDonald House, Harvester Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity and After the Harvest

    And two or three times a year there is a potluck party for RPCVs, which includes Peace Corps recruiters, and often sends-offs for departing KCAPCA members who will be beginning their Peace Corps service.

    Our group also participates in recruitment festivals and events in partnership with our KS, MO, and university based Peace Corps Recruiters.  

     Why is your group affiliated with the National Peace Corps Association?

    Even though our group has been affiliated with NPCA since 1990, the current NPCA emphasis on helping Affiliate Groups thrive has helped shape the direction and goals of the currently serving KCAPCA Board. The NPCA has provided much leadership support and encouragement to our group leadership on an individual basis as well as skill and network building opportunities through the Purpose-Driven Group webinars and Annual Affiliate Group meetings. Not only is our group capacity supported, but also we agree strongly with NPCA’s emphasis on enlarging and improving the Peace Corps and making a difference at home and abroad through community-based funds and development initiatives.

    Please share (briefly) the one thing RPCVs must do when they visit your city/region/state that exemplifies the spirit of Peace Corps service?

    We are very proud of our joint representation with our Kansas and Missouri Peace Corps Recruiters at the annual Ethnic Enrichment Festival each August in Kansas City. The festival really celebrates the diversity and excitement of world cultures, and we feel that it is the perfect venue to promote Peace Corps service and to reach out to RPCVs.  

    What else should RPCVs know about your group?

    Our logo depicts the Peace Corps logo enclosed in a heart, to symbolize Kansas City as “America’s Heartland.” Our group is certainly “heartfelt” in its interest in building community and genuinely interested in keeping the spirit of Peace Corps alive and well after service. 

     

    Thanks to Kirsty Morgan and other members of KCAPCA for providing this profile. 

    Get connected! There are over 155 NPCA member groups – geographic groups, country of service groups, and special interest groups. Find links to all of them on our website. Get involved with an affiliate group today! 

    Want your NPCA member group to be featured in the coming months? Contact us.