A legendary figure in the launch of the Peace Corps dies at age 92. see more
He was a student of Gandhi's methods of bringing political change through non-violent direct action. An associate and friend of Martin Luther King Jr. during the early years of the civil rights movement. A key adviser to the presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy who facilitated a key meeting between JFK and MLK which eventually led to a critical phone call that is credited with tipping the election to Kennedy.
He was a World War II era veteran. A university president. A United States Senator.
But for tens of thousands of members of the Peace Corps community, Harris Llewellyn Wofford - who died Monday - will always be remembered and revered for his iconic work as one of the architects of the Peace Corps, and his vigorous lifelong commitment to volunteerism and service above self.
"Harris Wofford blessed the world with his never-ending commitment to public service and social justice," said National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) President Glenn Blumhorst. "He truly was a global citizen who embodied Peace Corps values. All who were fortunate enough to have met Harris are mourning his passing, not only because we lost a friend, but also because our nation has lost a man of such high character and goodness".
After JFK's election, Wofford began work in the new administration as a key civil rights adviser, but was later appointed to assist Sargent Shriver in the formation of the Peace Corps. He served as the agency's special representative to Africa and director of operations in Ethiopia.
At gatherings of the Peace Corps community, Wofford would regularly remind audiences of the bold vision and role of the new agency at its inception. He recalled being on the White House lawn with President Kennedy as a new group of volunteers was leaving for their service. According to Wofford, Kennedy said:
"You know this Peace Corps is going to be really serious when we have 100,000 volunteers a year. Because in one decade, we'll have a million Americans who will have had first-hand experience in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Then at last, we'll have an intelligent foreign policy because there will be a big constituency of people who understand the world."
Wofford was a member of NPCA's Advisory Council and a regular at NPCA conferences, leadership summits, and advocacy days. His commitment to service went well beyond Peace Corps. He was Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service (which included AmeriCorps) from 1995 - 2001. He was a leader in the formation of the Building Bridges Coalition in 2006, bringing together non-governmental organizations, businesses and universities committed to expanding overseas service opportunities. Wofford also served on the boards of several volunteer organizations, including America's Promise, Youth Service America, and the Points of Light Foundation.
In our nation's capital, a city that can be consumed by status and titles, "Senator Wofford" was simply known to all as "Harris". His personal modesty belied his mark on history and many global achievements. Those achievements began in the 1940s, when he formed the Student Federalists while in high school. They continued six decades later, when Wofford assisted another presidential candidate at a critical moment: introducing Barack Obama at Philadelphia's National Constitution Center before a pivotal speech on race in America. They endured in 2016, when his opinion piece in The New York Times spoke of the man who became the second love of his life and the importance of marriage equality.
During the 50th anniversary year of Peace Corps in 2011, NPCA recognized Wofford's lifetime of service to our nation and our world by establishing the Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award. The award is given annually to an outstanding global leader who grew up and continues to live in a country where Peace Corps Volunteers serve and whose life was influenced by the Peace Corps.
On Saturday, March 2, 2019, we gathered to remember the remarkable life of Harris Wofford at Howard University in Washington, DC. If you were unable to join us, you can watch the service using the link below.
Volunteers will remain on the job, as close to 50% of agency staff face furloughs. see more
With a political stalemate over funding for a border wall, a partial government shutdown went into effect as of midnight Friday. Peace Corps funding falls under the State/Foreign Operations appropriations bill – one of seven appropriations bills that Congress and the White House have not finalized.
How does the government shutdown effect the Peace Corps?
In its operational plan to address the shutdown, the agency notes that plans do not include closing down volunteer posts around the world. Volunteer operations and overseas staff would remain open and at work, due to safety and security considerations, the complexities and potential costs of shutting down operations, especially if the shutdown turned out to be of a short duration.
As noted in the agency’s plan, “Given the significant tangible and intangible costs that would be incurred in evacuating all Volunteers to their homes of record and the minimal savings in operating costs overseas that would be achieved by doing so, evacuating Volunteers and returning them to their homes of record would only be justified by a much more substantial lapse in appropriations than the agency expects. The agency has, therefore, determined that the Peace Corps is not required during a lapse in appropriated funding to take any action to evacuate Volunteers and return them to their homes of record.”
This does not mean the agency is not impacted. While overseas staff will remain on the job, approximately half of the agency’s workforce is expected to be furloughed. This includes activities and staff “not reasonably necessary for the safety of human life or the protection of property.”
Peace Corps identifies the following programs that would face furlough: Volunteer recruitment, selection and placement and third goal activities, as well as any other activities carried out by the Office of Volunteer Recruitment and Selection, the Office of External Affairs, the Office of Strategic Information, Research and Planning, the Office of Overseas Programming and Training Support, the Executive Secretariat, 3 the Office of Strategic Partnerships, the Office of Innovation, the Office of Third Goal and Returned Volunteer Services, the Chief Compliance Officer and the Office of Civil Rights and Diversity.
Follow this link to see Peace Corps’ complete report to the Office of Management and Budget, regarding its shutdown plans.
Follow this link for more general information on the partial government shutdown, and its potential impacts.
Olsen would become the 20th Peace Corps Director. see more
President Trump has nominated Josephine "Jody" Olsen to become the next Peace Corps Director.
If confirmed by the Senate, Olsen would become the 20th person to lead the agency.
Olsen, who served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tunisia, was Deputy and Acting Director of the agency from 2001 to 2009.
Click here to read the White House announcement on this nomination.
Click here to see the list of all previous Peace Corps Directors.
Visit this post in the coming hours for more updates on this nomination.
RPCVs who served in Lesotho and Moldova are the newest Peace Corps political appointments see more
Transitions can be challenging, but Peace Corps has capitalized on the prolonged leadership transition to continue building a strong and resilient agency. Bottom line: Peace Corps is strong, and Peace Corps Volunteers are still doing great things.
Now ten months into the new administration, the Peace Corps community could reasonably be concerned about the impact of a prolonged leadership transition. But it's reassuring to know that Peace Corps is in good hands and is moving forward, not retreating.
With a focus on the core business of recruiting, placing and caring for highly-qualified Volunteers to advance Peace Corps' mission of world peace and friendship, the agency continues to shore up infrastructure, make progress on opening new posts, and ensure the safety and security of Volunteers in the field. Of note, some 23,000 Volunteer applications were received in fiscal year 2017 - the fourth consecutive year of historically-high applicant numbers, representing the sustained interest by Americans to serve in the Peace Corps.
While a director and deputy director are yet to to be nominated, political appointments continue to be made for key leadership positions in the Peace Corps' offices of general counsel, finance, management and external affairs. New faces at the Peace Corps headquarters include two new political appointments who are Returned Peace Corps Volunteers.
With more than twenty years of work experience in Africa, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Joel Frushone joins the agency as Director of Communications.
Joel's work in combating malaria fits well with the work of hundreds of Peace Corps Volunteers. He served as Global Communications Director for Malaria No More, a Non-Governmental Organization working to raise awareness and political will to eliminate malaria. Joel coordinated communications in the U.S. and Africa, and worked closely with the African Leaders Malaria Alliance.
From 1995 to 1997, Joel served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Lesotho, teaching small-scale agriculture production to women and children. Soon after his service, Joel joined World Vision International as its Communications and Advocacy Director in Rwanda and Burundi, and as the Africa Policy Analyst with the U.S. Committee for Refugees.
Joel also worked as a political campaign consultant for clients in the U.S. and abroad. He also served as CEO of Crescent Consultants, which helped clients solve communication challenges and navigate the complexities of bureaucracy, policy, culture and risk across Africa.
As private sector funding helps support many Peace Corps program initiatives, the Office of Gifts and Grants Management is another branch of the agency that helps Peace Corps achieve its mission. Leah Keiff is a recently appointed Program Specialist for the office. A graduate of the University of Virginia, Leah served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Moldolva from 2013 to 2015, working with the Community and Organizational Development Program.
More recently, Leah served as Foundation Director at Generation Opportunity Institute, a nonprofit that focuses on helping young Americans gain knowledge and tools to take control of their financial futures and better their lives and communities.
No word on a new director, as the White House appoints several to Peace Corps leadership posts see more
As the Peace Corps community awaits the nomination of the next Peace Corps Director, a handful of Trump administration appointments to the agency have begun their work at headquarters.
The most recent addition is Chip Wheeler, pictured left, who was recently named Associate Director for Volunteer Recruitment and Selection. Wheeler’s professional career includes ten years as vice president for private sector initiatives at America’s Promise Alliance, the Colin Powell – founded organization dedicated to improving the lives of young people. Most recently, he served as national director for Community Investments in the Office of Corporate Responsibility at Voya Financial.
Many who attended the Peace Corps Connect conference in Denver had the opportunity to meet and hear from Ashley Bell, pictured below, appointed back in July to serve as Peace Corps Associate Director for External Affairs. In his remarks, Bell spoke passionately about the nonprofit that he founded in his home state of Alabama to address criminal justice reform and mentor young at-risk students in his community. One of those young men once asked for support in getting into the Peace Corps. Since submitting that recommendation letter, and ultimately seeing his mentee thrive as a Volunteer, Bell says he has admired Peace Corps' grassroots community approach.
In his new role, he will oversee the offices of communications, strategic partnerships and intergovernmental affairs, gifts and grants management and government relations. Prior to Peace Corps, Bell served as a special advisor in the Public Affairs Bureau of the Department of State, where he developed strategy around the Secretary of State’s domestic engagement agenda.
Bell and Wheeler join Matthew McKinney, no picture available, the first appointee who is serving as Peace Corps’ White House liaison. McKinney has made his first trip abroad, visiting with Peace Corps Volunteers in Armenia and Georgia. Prior to his Peace Corps position, McKinney served as a Special Assistant to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan in the office of appointments.
Administration appointments continue to move at a slower pace. Eight years ago, Aaron Williams had been nominated as Peace Corps Director in early July and was on the job by late August.
Along with reaching out to Peace Corps’ new leadership, NPCA will continue to monitor, provide input and report on progress on the selection of a new director and other agency leadership.
Anne's affiliate posted an articleGlobal Opinions, By Bren Flanigan, Aug 31 see more
Bren Flanigan is a Peace Corps volunteer in Benin, where he serves as a community economic adviser. He is a recent graduate of Washington and Lee University. This commentary does not represent any official view of the Peace Corps.
After surviving nine hours in a non-air-conditioned bus in the hot West African climate, during which the only escape from the jolting ride is a “pee-pee stop,” the last thing I wanted to do was converse in my extremely limited French with my Peace Corps host father. But I was instantly interrogated on the then-ongoing tumultuous 2016 presidential election: “Why do all Americans hate Muslims?”
It’s humbling to find people in Benin following U.S. current affairs with intense interest, when many Americans could never locate Benin on a map. Addressing questions like these gives Peace Corps volunteers the opportunity to shatter the stereotypes about the United States portrayed in television and movies.
These conversations represent the public diplomacy of the Peace Corps. They do not occur behind closed doors or classified offices in Washington, but at a grass-roots level in a community, and it’s not limited to policy discussions. Hosting my landlord, his wife and their three young daughters to try pizza for their first time is a small, but enduring, act of cultural exchange. My guests came in their Sunday best, wearing shimmering matching fabric, to go less than five feet from their front door.
Even though the parents hated the pizza — eating only one or two pieces — they praised my “cooking skills,” rather than offend their host. The girls wiped their plates clean. They later returned the favor, inviting me to dine at their house and offering me the larger of only two pieces of meat.
These small interactions are invaluable to our foreign policy. Playing Whitney Houston’s version of the “Star-Spangled Banner” during July 4th to a group of more than 50 locals — while also sharing a bit of A1 Steak Sauce — made people elated to celebrate our American independence and hear our national anthem for the first time.
There is no such thing as a cultural “ambassador” who can represent the melting pot of the United States, but Peace Corps volunteers are frequently interpreted as direct extensions of American values and principles. That gives the Peace Corps an unrivaled position to promote a positive perception of our country and learn from the citizens of others.
The way to influence societies is not solely through intimidation or economic isolation but also through an integrated cultural exchange, whose effects will endure through political administrations and fluctuating diplomatic relations. No organization does a better job of forging this exchange than the Peace Corps.
In 2016, the Peace Corps published a survey of 21 countries on five continents that studied perceptions of Americans in volunteer communities. More than 60 percent of the 928 host country nationals surveyed reported they had a “much better” or “better” understanding of Americans after having a volunteer, and the trait most frequently used to describe their perceptions of all Americans was “kind.” Even country nationals who worked with volunteers more than five years ago still reported the same level of improved understanding as communities with current volunteers.
Volunteers promote this understanding by entering a society ready to experience everything with their local communities. Living in a family with four wives and close to 20 children forced me to respect a different way of life. Defecating in latrines full of flies and cockroaches, bucket-bathing and sharing the frustration when the electricity or water supply got cut for several hours all taught me to recognize real necessities.
Now, with the largest budget cut for the Peace Corps in more than 40 years proposed by the Trump administration, Congress should not forget that volunteers are immersing themselves and serving in more than 60 countries around the world for modest sums. (My living allowance is less than $10 per day.) For many communities, we are the real American ambassadors, the only ones they will ever meet, and the ones they will remember.
The Peace Corps tells volunteers that it’s the hardest job you’ll ever love. The Peace Corps is hard when it is 100 degrees in my house. The Peace Corps is hard when I cannot move away from the trash can because of the latest bout of food poisoning. But I loved the Peace Corps when my host mother came to my rescue after I woke up with a mouse on my neck. I loved the Peace Corps when my friend spent hours searching food stands for bananas to settle my stomach. I loved the Peace Corps when my French instructor told me she fasted the entire day before my language exam, in the hopes I would attain the results I wanted. These actions of kindness and the knowledge that I have a responsibility to help foster a rapport between the United States and Benin motivate me — and they confirm that President John F. Kennedy’s 56-year-old Peace Corps has a vital purpose in U.S. foreign policy.
With global girls education in the news, read about development efforts past, present and future. see more
The Peace Corps has a long and proud history of advancing opportunities for girls and women around the world, especially through education. That has also been an important component of National Peace Corps Association, many of our affiliate groups and other strategic partners.
Earlier this week, news reports cast the ongoing commitment into some doubt, especially in its current form. CNN, citing internal agency communications it obtained, reported that while work on these programs would continue, they would no longer be done under the "Let Girls Learn" (LGL) initiative launched two years ago by former First Lady Michelle Obama. Soon after these reports began circulating, the White House, State Department and USAID (another key partner in the initiative) indicated there would be no changes. "There have been no changes to the #LetGirlsLearn program," read a State Department tweet. "We are committed to empowering women and girls around the world."
Addressing a Critical Need
The need to support girls' and women's education and empowerment has been a global concern for many years. Today, an estimated 62 million girls around the world are not in school. Half of them are adolescents. Countries with more girls in secondary school tend to have lower maternal mortality rates, lower infant mortality rates, lower rates of HIV/AIDS and better child nutrition. Too often, a girl who could change her world for the better is locked out of that future by the circumstances of her birth or the customs of her community.
Launched in March 2015, and championed by the First Lady, Let Girls Learn was established with a goal of amplifying existing programs while also investing in new efforts to expand educational opportunities for girls, including in areas of conflict and crisis. In its 2015 - 2016 progress report, the agency noted that "The Peace Corps Let Girls Learn program builds on the Peace Corps' 55 years of experience of working with girls and communities." The report notes that "over 300 Peace Corps staff members, nearly 5,000 Volunteers and over 1,800 counterparts have participated in Peace Corps Let Girls Learn training events."
The Peace Corps Community in Action
The progress report also highlighted the efforts of National Peace Corps Association. "[NPCA] on its own initiative...played a critical role in working with the greater returned Peace Corps Volunteer community, which has actively supported the Peace Corps Let Girls Learn Program." A $200,000 partnership pledge with the RPCV-founded non-governmental organization Water Charity was part of the $2.5 million in private funds pledged to the Peace Corps Let Girls Learn Fund as of September 30, 2016. The Atlanta Area RPCVs were highlighted in the report as one of many NPCA affiliate groups and individuals that organized or supported Let Girls Learn. Meanwhile, many country-of-service groups have longstanding girls education programs that date years before the launch of LGL.
"The development community has long known that investing in girls and women yields the highest returns," said NPCA President and CEO Glenn Blumhorst. "Because of this, we are heartened by the administration statements re-emphasizing its commitment to empowering women and girls around the world." At the same time, Blumhorst noted that such a commitment includes the need to fully fund the Peace Corps, providing no less than stable funding of $410 million, when President Trump releases his full budget later this month.
Give to NPCA's Community Fund Girls' Empowerment and Education Campaign and ensure that these projects continue to be funded.
Juliana Essen posted an articleSima Pirooz shares her unique perspective on the value of Peace Corps. see more
by Sima Pirooz, MD, MPH/HAP
Twenty-eight years ago I came to the US as a refugee with my two children, six and nine years old. I was a practicing physician in my home country, Iran. It took us 15 months from one country to another to get to the US. They say you can either have wings or roots. Well, it seems that I had wings since I was born. I lived in many cities from North to South of Iran, I lived in 14 countries and I lived in a few states in the US.
In Jan. 2012 after more than a year waiting for clearance and health scanning, finally I along with fifty-one other volunteers flew from Detroit to Thailand as Peace Corps volunteers. I had a wonderful experience of being an Iranian-American medical missionary in Nepal before and because the agenda of Peace Corps was to bring peace and I thought of us as the ambassadors of peace from America to Thailand, I was so excited to see what good this trip could bring to Thais and to us.
Facing another language and culture was not a problem or new to me at all and because of my lifestyle back in Iran, I had been in the shoes of almost all of the key players throughout the program, so that was not a problem or new to communicate or understand them either. What blew my mind since the first day was the uniqueness of the Peace Corps program: with their threefold goal and agenda, their discipline, their influence, and their footprints on the soil of the host country, their fingerprints on their people’s hearts was undeniable and refreshing.
Being a refugee and an adult immigrant in America twenty eight years ago and going through culture shock and raising my two children as a single mom, I was longing for a program able to incorporate me into my new community through mentorship and use my full potential for the benefit of my family and my society. In Peace Corps when we went through the three months of extensive training for culture, language, government organizations, security, health, vaccinations, and much more, I realized that in 55 years of US government investment and with the help of the host countries, Peace Corps has developed a very mature program that not only can help Americans to understand their host country, but also it can be used for immigrants to the US to understand and incorporate to their new country very fast and efficiently. Peace Corps program gave me a broad and deep understanding of others more than what I had learned in other thirteen countries that I had lived in on my own without any mentor. I have heard the same testimonies from other volunteers, especially from young Americans, whose lives were changed, and after their return, they made a big impact on their communities and even globally.
I was the first Peace Corps Volunteer in my village in Northern Thailand, but after I left, they requested for another volunteer immediately, and I saw him on Facebook with my counterparts. I remembered the first days that I was sent there. People, especially kids, made sure that they walked from the opposite side of the road from me because they didn’t have any contact with Americans before, and what they knew was mixed information from media. They had fear from thinking Americans were arrogant and selfish, plus they were scared and shy to speak English. After a few months, they ran to me, defended me, made sure that I was safe, fed me, treated me like one of their own. Even the kids, who I taught English, sat on my lap in the class and touched the tip of my pointed nose to see why mine was different from theirs and giggled. When they saw that I struggled with their language but still tried to communicate with them, they dared and were not afraid of trying to speak English.
On the 2nd day of March 2017, I came to Washington, D.C. to support the continuation of the Peace Corps budget. On that day I saw a letter from the leaders of the US army who also had seen the peace-making effect of Peace Corps volunteers first hand, and they believed that the result of this program had strengthened the safety of our troops in other countries just by spending less than one percent of International Affairs budget. I personally think it would be a shame to waste 55 years of investment on this valuable program and not to fund it or better yet, expand it.
An MFA program created for the Peace Corps community see more
The first class of MFA Creative Writing for PCVs and RPCVs at National University begins on April 10, 2017.
This total online graduate degree program will begin with a seminar in Creative Nonfiction. Students write and critique each others' original work in an online workshop-style format. Through presentation and critique of published and student-generated work, students will advance their understanding of the genre's many forms, including memoir, autobiography, nature writing, literary journalism, and the personal essay.
The course is being taught by novelist and nonfiction writer John Coyne (Ethiopia 1962-64). If interested in enrolling in this special MFA program, contact John Coyne at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Frank Montesonti, Lead Faculty at National University at email@example.com.
Peace Corps could face disproportionate cuts in 2017 see more
Just hours ago, President Trump’s budget proposal requested drastic cuts of 29 percent to the International Affairs budget, which includes the Peace Corps. While funding for the Peace Corps is not specifically referenced, it could face disproportionate cuts when the full budget is released later this spring.
The top-line cuts to International Affairs will have potentially serious impact on the Peace Corps, including greatly reduced Volunteer numbers, the inability to open new country programs or expand in others, and diminished cross-agency partnerships with PEPFAR and USAID.
I know that the Peace Corps community will not let this happen.
In anticipation of this announcement, National Peace Corps Association launched the #ProtectPeaceCorps campaign to ensure the future of the Peace Corps. By mobilizing our grassroots and grasstops communities to advocate to Congress for the Peace Corps, our goal is to hold the line for no less than current funding levels of $410 million for the Peace Corps and $60 billion for International Affairs.
We will achieve this through an unprecedented mobilization of the Peace Corps community.
Right now, take your first step in the campaign by urging Congress to provide adequate funding for the Peace Corps and International Affairs.
Your continued activism will be crucial, so join the #ProtectPeaceCorps movement. JOIN NOW
Please make a donation to the #ProtectPeaceCorps campaign. The extraordinary circumstances require that we use all resources - staff, travel, technology, materials - for the cause. DONATE
Together, we will ensure that thousands more Americans and host country communities have the same opportunity that we did to partner in peace, progress and understanding.
Across the country the Peace Corps community is speaking up for national service see more
RPCVs in Pennsylvania created signs to encourage Senator Casey to support funding for the Peace Corps!
Big thanks to RPCVs in Maine for meeting with the office of Senator Angus King.
Thank you to the office of Senator Susan Collins for speaking with Peace Corps advocates about the importance of Peace Corps!
Peace Corps supporters advocating in Congresswoman Chellie Pingree’s Portland District Office!
RPCV and Massachusetts Rep Joe Kennedy III speaking at National Days of Action breakfast on the Capitol Hill.
WVRPCVs Scott King and Shauna Steadman meeting at Senator Manchin office in West Virginia!
Thank you Rep Derek Kilmer for meeting with supporters of the Peace Corps!
Advocates Beth Ahlstrom, Jaona Andriatsitohaina (Madagascar Rep), Linda Stingl, and Daniel Jasper at Sen Gary Peters office!
RPCV with Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS)
RPCVs united in the halls of the U.S. Capitol to urge Congress to support Peace Corps funding and health legislation in the coming year.
Thank you to staffers in the office of Louise Slaughter (D-NY)!
Supporters for the Peace Corps meet with the office of Rep. John Delaney (D-MD).
Legislative Assistants supporting Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY) met with RPCVs to discuss the FY18 budget for Peace Corps.
Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS), chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, discussed the Peace Corps and the importance of stable funding for
our international assistance budget with the 17th Director of the Peace Corps Ron Tschetter and constituent Carley Lovorn.
Thank you to Rep. Sean Maloney (D-NY) for your support of national service.
NPCA is very much appreciative of the efforts by Rep. David E. Price (D-NC) to support national service.
A personal narrative by an RPCV about her service see more
by Terceira Molnar, PCV Indonesia 2014-16, AmeriCorps VISTA 2012-14
One of the most memorable volunteer events I have organized was “Take Your Team to College!” I was working as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer for Coaching Corps, a nonprofit that recruited, trained and placed volunteer coaches in low-income areas' after-school sports programs for at-risk youth. The college-student volunteers gave their teams a guided tour of their cafeteria, soccer field, gymnasium, dorms, and most importantly, the registration and financial aid offices. This first-time exposure to the possibility of a higher education for these children felt very special to me, because I was the first child in my family to attend a university. Like these students, I had to seek additional support systems, resources, experiences, and beliefs to even aspire to be where I am. I have learned the importance of human relationships, and that in order to thrive, an individual needs a multi-dimensional supportive environment. This has translated into both a personal and professional journey of finding the strength within to serve others through my AmeriCorps and Peace Corps services.
AmeriCorps began to shape me as a global citizen, because serving in San Diego, California gave me the experience to serve other communities and cultures different from my own. Peace Corps furthered this cultural humility; I served in a village on Java in Indonesia for two years as an English teacher in an Islamic boarding school. Teaching itself was not how I define my Peace Corps experience, but rather my relationships with host families, students, and friends. It was celebrating Idul Adha, the Day of Animal Sacrifice with my host families, even though I was a petrified vegetarian. It was about sitting with one of my students after his dad passed away and sharing how my own father passed away. It was about community. My Peace Corps service did not end when I completed my two years. It followed me back home and it still follows me.
I have had many conversations about my experiences with family members, from a rural city in Wisconsin to my fellow graduate students at New York University in New York City, where I live now, with a Muslim Indonesian woman who houses me and shows the same hospitality that my host families did. I carry that hospitality as my own approach now. I decided to invest in social justice and advocacy for underprivileged communities in our own society by pursuing a Masters in Social Work, because of these unique and diverse experiences in AmeriCorps and Peace Corps.
In February the New York Times reported that the Corporation for National and Community Service and AmeriCorps may be among federal programs being considered for elimination in the Administration's budget. We need your help to make sure that doesn't happen. Call your member of Congress and tell them to protect national service funding.
Ask Congress to protect the federal investment in these programs that mean so much to our citizens and our country.
JM Ascienzo posted an articleThe Hiring Freeze, March Days of Action and More see more
Hiring freezes and the Peace Corps
On Monday President Trump signed an executive order to enact an across-the-board hiring freeze of federal employees, except for military personnel or for positions that meet national security or public health needs. The Office of Management and Budget has since offered guidance on the directive, with more information still trickling out.
In a White House memorandum announcing the freeze, OMB and the Office of Personnel Management are charged with enacting a long-term strategy "to reduce the size of the Federal Government's workforce through attrition."
Peace Corps is working with OPM and OMB to get additional guidance as it relates to the agency.
"I'm confident that the health and safety of Peace Corps Volunteers is the agency's top priority, and am confident that they will not compromise that principle," NPCA President and CEO Glenn Blumhorst said.
Mobilize! March National Days of Action Update
Events are already being planned across the country for NPCA's National Days of Action in support of the Peace Corps from March 3 to 15. Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and supporters of the Peace Corps will be meeting with lawmakers at district offices, holding service days, happy hours and potlucks, all to urge Congress' support of the Peace Corps and Peace Corps values.
Help us meet our goal of 50 events and 500 participants. Find events near you and information on how to organize one today!
Peace Corps Semipostal Stamp
Want to get more private funds to Peace Corps Volunteer- and community-led projects? Ask Congress to support the bipartisan Peace Corps Semipostal Stamp! Congresswoman Barbara Lee's (D-CA) bill already has support from 21 lawmakers, but it needs more. Take two minutes and email Congress.
“The Peace Corps is an American institution which has helped foster global peace and cross-cultural understanding for decades," Congresswoman Lee told NPCA. "The creation of a Peace Corps stamp would be a fitting tribute to this remarkable organization. I encourage my colleagues to cosponsor this bipartisan bill, which would further our shared goal of advancing peace, friendship and sustainable development around the world.”
Want change at the local and national levels? Congress needs to hear from you. Call (202) 224-3121, and you'll be connected with your representatives' offices. Or send an action email. Congress won't know about the issues the Peace Corps community cares about unless we tell them.
Know a great leader in a Peace Corps country? see more
National Peace Corps Association is accepting nominations for the 2019 Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award.
Do you know a phenomenal leader in a country where Peace Corps Volunteers served — and his or her life was influenced by the Peace Corps? If so, now is the time to recognize their work by nominating this leader for this prestigious award.
NPCA is proud to celebrate the tireless individuals abroad who have yet to be thanked for their dedication and hard work. To do this, we need to hear from you.
Thank you for your submissions, and please feel free to share this important call for the recognition of others.
Top 10 events in 2016 for the Peace Corps community. see more
The Peace Corps community experienced a tremendous year — one that closes an era and presents an open future. Together in 2016, we reinforced our connection and shared experience; we advocated for the right to serve; we created positive impact both domestically and abroad. In the 55th year of America's greatest institution, Peace Corps Volunteers expanded programs into new countries, while Returned Peace Corps Volunteers united to meet new global challenges in affiliate groups. The following list reflects closure, new beginnings, and our community's diverse acts toward Peace Corps values in 2016:
- NPCA published the final print Peace Corps Community Directory, and provided an online platform for all PCVs, RPCVs and Peace Corps staff to connect with individuals and affiliate groups.
- Peace Corps announced historical new programs in Myanmar and Vietnam.
- With firm conviction that RPCVs have the cross-cultural skills, adaptability, and commitment to make a significant contribution in the global humanitarian effort, Peace Corps Community for the Support of Refugees became an official NPCA affiliate group.
- With the retirement of Congressman Sam Farr (D-CA) and the defeat of Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA), just two RPCVs are left in Congress, the lowest level of representation in almost 40 years.
- Peace Corps unveiled a new look to engage the next generation of service-minded Americans.
- In one day, over 230 individuals arrived on Capitol Hill to tell Congress that America and the world need a bigger, better Peace Corps. *To read more about NPCA's 2016 advocacy wins click here.
- The community celebrated the 55th anniversary of the Peace Corps in Washington, D.C. Sept 21-25, 2016.
- NPCA transformed into a mission-driven organization with the global impact of the Community Fund.
- Carrie Hessler-Radelet served her final year as the 19th Director of the Peace Corps. **Share your memories and photos here in gratitude for her service.
- Donald Trump became President-elect of the United States. A 115th Congress and a Trump Administration present a new political landscape.
Navigating the future for the Peace Corps depends on all of us. With your support and engagement, we will continue shaping history together in 2017.