Steven Saum posted an articleLet Your Voice Be Heard at the 2021 Peace Corps Connect: Mobilizing for a Lifetime of Service and ImpactHelp shape this special 60th anniversary conference for the Peace Corps community see more
An invitation for individuals and groups alike: Help shape this special 60th anniversary conference. Produce a video. Tell your story. Lead a discussion group.
By Evelyn Ganzglass
The 2021 Peace Corps Connect Conference Program Planning Committee is seeking affiliate group and individual member participation in this year’s conference program. As we mark six decades since the founding of the Peace Corps, we’re putting together a conference that reflects the place of Peace Corps amid these unprecedented times.
The conference will focus on four key themes:
- Racial justice and how we can foster equity, diversity, and inclusion
- Climate change and its impact
- Refugees and forced migration
- Continuing service by Evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers and Returned Peace Corps Volunteers more broadly.
Read more about the conference here. And read on for how you can help guide the conversations at Peace Corps Connect 2021.
Counterparts in the Community
Who can speak to the impact of the Peace Corps better than Peace Corps counterparts in communities around the world? We are gathering five-minute videos made by returned Volunteers and their partners in communities that highlight the work they have done together — and the impact of these partnerships. If you’re interested in submitting a short video to be shown at the conference, please express your interest here.
Evacuated Volunteers: Tell Your Story
Are you an evacuated Peace Corps Volunteer who would like to share your story of service — and how you were part of the unprecedented global evacuation? We’re looking for participants to be part of a moderated panel with other evacuated Volunteers. We’ll discuss the work by Volunteers, how evacuation has affected you and your community, and how you are continuing to be involved in service. Express your interest in being part of the evacuated Volunteer panel here.
From Peace Corps to Black Lives Matter: Striving for Allyship at Home and Abroad
Racial justice and a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is one of the key themes of the conference. For a session on “From Peace Corps to Black Lives Matter: Striving for Allyship at Home and Abroad,” conference attendees will have an opportunity to reflect on their own experiences of racism, unconscious bias, and allyship, both during and after their Peace Corps service. We are seeking Volunteers to act as small group facilitators during the session. These facilitators will receive training from a DEI professional prior to the conference — and they will meet with conference organizers and other facilitators for planning. The total time required to act as a DEI break-out facilitator will be 4 to 5 hours. Express your interest in serving as a facilitator during this session here.
Service Projects: Stories of Impact
During the conference (and beyond!), we'll be highlighting affiliate group service projects and the stories of their impact on individuals and communities worldwide. Have a service project to highlight? Contact Affiliate Group Network Coordinator Hannah Wishart.
Evelyn Ganzglass (Somalia 1966–68) serves on the Board of Directors for National Peace Corps Association, is on the leadership team of the Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Oral History Archives Project, and is a member of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Washington, D.C.
Communications Intern 2 posted an articleEvacuated Volunteers and one with half a century of leadership experience in conversation see more
Evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers and one with half a century of leadership experience in conversation. The big question: How can we transform this moment in Peace Corps history?
On July 18, 2020, National Peace Corps Association hosted Peace Corps Connect to the Future, a global ideas summit. Four Volunteers joined NPCA President Glenn Blumhorst in conversation to discuss their experiences — and tackle some questions about how the believe Peace Corps — and the Peace Corps community — needs to change. Here’s the discussion — with video highlights throughout. And a video of the full conversation.
Marieme Foote, Evacuated RPCV | Benin 2018–20
Rok Locksley, Evacuated RPCV | Philippines 2018–20
Juana Bordas | RPCV Chile 1966–68
In conversation with
Glenn Blumhorst, President & CEO, NPCA | RPCV Guatemala 1988–91
Marieme Foote: I'm a second generation Peace Corps Volunteer who was evacuated due to COVID-19 from Benin, where I served in the agricultural field from 2019-2020. First, as others have done before me today, I would like to start off by sharing condolences: Congressmen John Lewis and C.T. Vivian were giants during the Civil Rights Movement and should continue to serve as an inspiration for our current conversation. Congressman John Lewis said, "Never be afraid to make some noise and get in trouble, necessary trouble."
If you want NPCA and the Peace Corps to move into a better future, we need to push for radical shifts in order to continue to push the envelope. If not, we risk losing Peace Corps to time.
So to start off, I will also introduce some of the panelists that I've worked with. When we returned from getting evacuated, we formed a group with Women of Color Advancing Peace and Security (WCAPS) and we created a report that received over 450 responses on the experiences of evacuated Volunteers. And we’ve used this report to advocate to Congress on behalf of volunteers for PUA, healthcare, and other different topics.
I'm joined by Rok Locksley. Rok volunteered in the Philippines as a coral reef preservation Volunteer from 2018 to 2020. He also served in Moldova from 2005 to 2008, and was a Peace Corps recruiter from 2009 to 2016. And we're also joined by Juana Bordas.
Juana Bordas: Intergenerational leadership is a key thing in all communities of people of color. I'm Juana, and I served in the Peace Corps way back in the ’60s, 1964 to ’66. And I've had an illustrious career since, we might say. It's been 54 years since I was in the Peace Corps. So I do want to share all of the things that have kind of happened since then that were based on my decision, which is a decision all of us made: We made a decision to serve and to and to put our lives in the service of humanity. And I think that's what makes people powerful, has made me powerful, and Peace Corps powerful. I've spent my career building organizations for communities of color, particularly Latinos and Latina women, and also doing work in race and equity and trying to build the compassionate, good society.
Glenn Blumhorst: First I just want to say thank you so much, Marieme. This panel is something I was really looking forward to. As we kind of started talking about this, it seemed like the right way to do this was just to say: This is your panel discussion and make it what you want, and put together something to reflect on all these big ideas that we have — and your thoughts as the next generation of Peace Corps Volunteers. I'm glad you invited me to be a part of the conversation, and I’m really looking forward to hearing your reflections. The questions you put together are really important — not just for you, but for all of us. And I'm looking forward to hearing your answers. This is directed to everyone for a brief response. As we envision the reentry process for Volunteers, what do you think are the most important things to consider when supporting Volunteers in the future post service?
WATCH: Rok Locksley — Lessons from Reentry
Difficulty Upon Reentry
Rok Locksley: I'll take that one. I served in ’05-’08 and then I served again in ’18 to ’20, so I was evacuated. But the first time that I finished my service, I came back into the 2008 economic depression. I started doing a lot of research, especially when I went to work for the agency. (Thank you, Jody Olson, for helping me get a job, back when we had an RPCV Career Center, to make all that happen!) Peace Corps has known for a very long time that returned Volunteers have had more difficulty upon reentry, rather than going into service. In fact, the Peace Corps like itself termed “reentry” in a paper in the ’90s. They took it from the NASA program, because reentry is recognized as a very difficult process — as difficult as as leaving the earth.
There was a paper written in the ’90s called "Psychological and Readjustment Problems Associated with Emergency Evacuation of Peace Corps Volunteers." That really nailed down what some of the problems were. This is where we started to see that Peace Corps, recognizing through its own surveys and own research, that Volunteers were having trouble with reentry to start with — but then evacuated Volunteers were seeing double the amount of difficulties.
So, 265 Volunteers were evacuated from Liberia, Philippines, and Yemen. The evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers coined the term that this was a "crisis of reentry." Fifty-one percent of all RPCVs found reentry very difficult, and that was the highest difficulty rating on the survey. All evacuees from this 1990s survey got a debriefing conference as part of Close of Service (COS), and that's how they got these surveys. Basically, the stats are: 30 percent of RPCVs experienced some sort of depression, where 60 percent of evacuated Volunteers experience depression. Then we see the stats doubling: 30 percent for a feeling of disorientation; 12 percent for periods of crying; 39 percent for a difficult transition back; 26 percent difficulty making decisions; 15 percent reported avoidance of thinking about Peace Corps as an experience; and 12 percent reported disturbing dreams. Take all those percentages and double them, and that's generally what evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers have been dealing with.
We are given three months of training to integrate into a community. At best we're given a three-day Close of Service conference to readjust to the States, but then no real support from the agency when we land.
We are given three months of training to integrate into a community. At best we're given a three-day COS conference to readjust to the States, but then no real support from the agency when we land. And especially with the discontinuation of RPCV Career Center, pretty much all we have is our RPCV groups and NPCA to help us make this transition. What we need to do is really provide a landing pad for RPCVs — because we know it's difficult. The agency knows it's difficult. And I think there are two ways to do this.
The first is that we have to flood the world with our stories. We have to talk about return on investment on Volunteers, and how do we measure that. But our greatest return on investment is the stories of Peace Corps Volunteers. So, if you don't have the fact that you are a Peace Corps Volunteer in your staff file at work, put it in there. When I was interviewing people [as a recruiter], the most common response to my question "How did you hear about Peace Corps?" was: a teacher, my parents, or I had a friend that served, my uncle or aunt served. So people were coming to us not because of our recruitment efforts, commercials, or radio spots; they were coming to us because of one-on-one connections that they'd had with people who shared these very beautiful, very intimate stories.
Our stories are really our greatest resource. We need to be sharing those at all opportunities. That's so that we can both inspire people into service, and then when they return, they know to look for RPCV groups who can help them find jobs and help them make this transition, so we can start to minimize that trauma.
WATCH: Juana Bordas — Peace Corps taught us leadership
Peace Corps Taught Us Leadership
Juana Bordas: I would take a little bit of a different perspective, I think. What I do today is I teach leadership, and I learned it in the Peace Corps. Futurists say there are two trends, two shifts, that we're going through. One is to become a global community, which we do by being in the Peace Corps. The second one is to create the inclusive, diverse, and equitable society. In other words, we're moving towards a multicultural society and world. The young millennials and the generation after them are already there. And I think we reframe the Peace Corps as something that taught us leadership, that made us global citizens, that made us inclusive and able to relate and embrace people of all cultures and ethnic groups and ages and generations, etc.
In the ’90s, I worked with National Peace Corps Association to do a leadership program for Peace Corps Volunteers that were re-entering. But I've been listening some, and I think one of the things that's so important is for us to empower ourselves to understand — because when I came back from the Peace Corps, I went to get my first job, and I had this portfolio because I had been doing micro-enterprise work with women way back then. I had all this stuff, and I go to get interviewed, and the guy stops me and he says, "I'm really sorry, but we only hire people that have a master's degree in social work." This was the state of Wisconsin. Well, this was absolutely bizarre to me. I'm the first person in my family to graduate from college. My mother had a fifth-grade education. I thought this was ridiculous. And I had just come back from the Third World where I thought I had made a contribution. So I slammed my papers on the floor, and I said, "You don't understand. I was born to be a social worker. I was born to do this." And he looks at me and he says, "We can go down to the University of Wisconsin, we'll help you get a master's degree if you'll come back to work for us."
“Guess what? I’m a global citizen. I’ve made contributions across this globe. I’m inclusive. I love culture. I’m here to build this new world that's coming.”
Now, I understand I had certain privilege there for the first time in my life, because I am Latina and I was able to speak Spanish, etc. But I had that sense of empowerment that I got through the Peace Corps. And I invite everyone just to stop for a minute to realize that, yes, it's difficult to come back, particularly under these circumstances. But I think the most important thing we can do as Peace Corps Volunteers is to have that banner that says: "Guess what? I'm a global citizen. I've made contributions across this globe. I'm inclusive. I love culture. I'm here to build this new world that's coming."
Especially today, with our problems in foreign policy, with our problems with the current administration, the work we need to do in the future is absolutely more critical. The other thing I'd like to say is that I've been at this for over 50 years. So it's not, I'm coming back from the Peace Corps and what I'm going to do. It's our lifelong commitment to building peace in the world.
Marieme Foote: I think that what we've all realized, even when we created the WCAPS report: Facebook and social media was definitely huge for us, in terms of bridging those connections. In the future, looking at ways that we can formalize those places where we can get information — a lot of RPCVs were offering help, therapy sessions, all types of help. If you're not on Facebook, you wouldn't know; or if you're not in these specific chats, you wouldn't know. So figuring out how can we get all of this information to all of these groups of Volunteers that need it — I think is definitely something that will be important when considering reentry for the future.
What does the future recruitment process look like?
Glenn Blumhorst: Thank you all. It's really great how a community comes together like that organically and helps, and that's what we saw emerge during the evacuation: when the group started forming and talking amongst themselves, and then also speaking with us and helping share with us what their needs and expectations were from the community, from NPCA, and from Peace Corps. So, thank you. Shifting a little bit to recruitment now, the question here is: How were you recruited? What does the future recruitment process need to look like? We've heard some ideas earlier today, but from your perspectives, what would it look like? There is another question that's really mostly for Juana: How can Peace Corps focus its efforts to recruit members who may be experiencing the crab syndrome? I think we'll kick it over to Rok first, if you don't mind, and then go from there.
Rok Locksley: I think, you know, it goes back to the question that was brought up earlier on one of the report outs: Where's the "peace" in Peace Corps, right? For me, peace is not like harmony and no conflict. It is absolutely a place of conflict, difficult questions, expanding our comfort zones, learning about other people and our world that we exist in — those are all peaceful things. What breaks the peace is when we have a disagreement that leads to some sort of violence. So I think that Peace Corps having healthy conversations about how they're going to recruit in the future — the question I was asked a lot as a recruiter was, “What is the Peace Corpse?” Right? So my thing is, like, let's not be the Peace Corpse, because that's not good! We're definitely the Peace Corps, right?
Let’s not be the Peace Corpse, because that’s not good! We’re definitely the Peace Corps, right?
I remember as a recruiter 10 years ago, when we first started our big initiative with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to recruit at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and start increasing our diversity numbers. I was sitting around in a conference room with a bunch of other recruiters; most of us were white, and there was one Black recruiter. And we were talking about strategies of: How do we recruit Black people? Or how do we recruit persons of color and Latino community members? How do we recruit these? How do we talk to these people? And then we were saying, We need to get this Black recruiter to come with us on campus to talk to the Divine Nine, or to talk to the different university groups. And he looks at us and he says, That is like — I recruit on white universities, right? You don't need to be a certain race or color to go recruit these people. But that, it was such an enlightening moment for me — and such a moment where I realized: Even in the Peace Corps, even working as a recruiter, my privileges, and my blinders are so on. Here is this guy — he was laughing at us, like, this is so ridiculous. And that was 10 years ago, when we first started doing it. So recruitment has a long way to go. And it's full of these difficult conversations and lots of apologies.
Glenn Blumhorst: Marieme, you're a child of a Peace Corps Volunteer yourself. Can you share a little bit from that perspective?
WATCH: Marieme Foote — How will Peace Corps and NPCA shift?
Marieme Foote: For me, it's like Peace Corps has always been something that I've always considered as something that I would do, because my father served in Peace Corps in Ethiopia and in Eritrea. I'm one of the few that has that connection, I think. And the fact that there were lower numbers of Volunteers that are people of color, that are Black, Latina — they don't have that kind of connection as other white Volunteers might have. So it's really important to also see how that could affect recruitment.
The other question that I have in terms of recruitment is looking overall at the mission of Peace Corps. When Peace Corps was first created, it was an exciting thing. It was something that was radical, really. And as we go forward and the population in the U.S. changes and a new generation comes about — they're dual national, they're all types of different backgrounds. They also have different expectations, and what they want to do and what they want to be a part of. They're questioning neocolonialism. They're having a lot of questions about Peace Corps overall. So how will Peace Corps and NPCA shift? I know even questions about joining NPCA; a lot of Volunteers that I know that are Black or Asian, or people of color, don't feel like NPCA or Peace Corps is for them. So, how do we expand that discussion and make them also feel like they are a part of this as well? You know, even for me, without the work with WCAPS, I'm not sure if I would have been as involved with NPCA. So I feel like that is a concern that I have, at least for recruitment and getting people involved with NPCA and Peace Corps.
Glenn Blumhorst: Thank you so much, Marieme. I really appreciate that, because I do believe that it's incumbent upon us to help create a more inclusive and welcoming community here on the part of NPCA for the Peace Corps, the greater Peace Corps community. Juana, did you have anything to add about the question specifically for you related to crab syndrome?
Juana Bordas: Yeah, but I also wanted to go back to some of the discussion I was listening to, to talk about coalition building and partnerships, particularly with communities of color. Because I think the association itself, for example, the Hispanic Association for Colleges and Universities that serves Hispanic-serving organizations, or the NAACP or some of the other organizations and in our communities that serve people of color — because it's through those organizations, not only can you learn and exchange and grow your power base and your numbers, but it also gives you an entree into into young — well, they don't have to be young, but into people of color that want to serve in this way. The other thing I would like to say about it is that servant leadership — and leadership as service and as social change — are absolutely pivotal in communities of color.
Leadership as service and as social change are absolutely pivotal in communities of color.
When I joined the Peace Corps, I actually joined the year that John F. Kennedy was killed. There was this tremendous upheaval in our communities about what we could do to support this vision that he had: about young people going and learning about the world and contributing. Today we have similar kinds of reasons for us to be able to go global and to try to help and work with communities. Of course, we all know we learn more than we get.
The crab syndrome, for people that don't know what it is: It's when when you grow up marginalized when you grow up in a society that does not validate your people, your history, your background, who you are, your incredible contributions to this country — you develop what's called the psychology of oppression. In other words, you begin to internalize the negative messages that society has put forth. And that's why identity building and learning our history — we have Black History Month and Hispanic Heritage Month, and all of that, because you have to integrate that into the American fabric if we're truly going to have a multicultural society. Where it comes in with the Peace Corps — well, first of all, I want to say that if you have that sense of ... All I wanted to do when I graduated from college was to give back, because I've been given so much. I'm an immigrant. I came here, I became educated. And so I had that sense of service, which I think is pivotal in communities of color. That's how we've gotten where we are, is to collaborate to help one another, and to serve.
This whole idea of service is a key thing for communities of color. Growing up, I didn't know I was smart; how could I know I was smart if I didn't know the language when I entered school? If I didn't understand the system? (And I do now, by the way.) So you begin to think everybody in your community is not smart — because I didn't have professors, teachers, Congresspeople. So that's the crab syndrome. What can I do? And am I good enough? Are my people not capable of doing it? Identity building becomes really important.
There are so many issues in communities of color that we're kind of caught in the crossfire. So the Peace Corps, in order to be able to really attract leaders in communities of color — for example, DACA students, which would be another political thing, but they're brilliant young people that are dealing with so many issues, and when they come to school, they are so talented. But then they’ve got to deal with immigration in this country. They've got to deal with homelessness. They have to deal with low-income wages, they have to deal with the cost of college education for kids. Somehow the Peace Corps has to be relevant to the many dynamic, critical issues that we face — and connect.
What I learned in Chile I was able to bring back and help start a center for Latina women that had a business center; that followed the micro-enterprise principles I worked on in Peace Corps. So it's that weaving together of the needs and challenges in communities of color. It's building those partnerships. It's making the Peace Corps relevant, and an experience that you can bring back to enrich your own community. And at the same time, for Anglos that come back from the Peace Corps, you need to join organizations and become multicultural yourself so that we can start building those bridges across communities and and fulfill our Third Goal.
What will future generations need?
Glenn Blumhorst: Absolutely, thank you so much, Juana. We've touched a lot here already on diversity and inclusion. But let's drill down on that a little bit more. For each of you, how will diversity and inclusion impact the Peace Corps in the future? And in that, what will the future generation need? How can you answer that?
WATCH: Marieme Foote — How do we not just recruit but retain Volunteers of color?
Marieme Foote: We're looking at stats for Peace Corps. You see diversity — at least the rates of Volunteers that are serving from different backgrounds — are going up and up. However, there isn't really any support in place for a lot of them. And we're also seeing that ET [early termination] rates for those volunteers of color are significantly higher than their white counterparts. So these are the questions that we really we need to be looking at and saying, Why is this the case? It's not just about recruitment. It's about how do we also retain these volunteers? How do we keep them interested? How do we get them involved with NPCA? And how do we do all of that?
Right now, there's great work that Volunteers are doing. I know that there are letters that Volunteers have written to their country offices on racism and discrimination that are going around in the community. Volunteers of color are creating group chats — WhatsApp chats, Facebook groups. They have all of these resources, but they're not compiled in one place. So it's hard for volunteers to have access to all of these things. And it's important for us as well. So I'm thinking about creating seminars, creating spaces for these Volunteers to meet each other, to meet other people who are older, other RPCVs who are working in different types of fields, so that they can get also motivated and feel like Peace Corps and NPCA are for them. So pushing for that, I think and holding NPCA and Peace Corps accountable for that, is something that we all have to do and be responsible for. Which is why it's also so important for Volunteers to get organized and actually advocate — and push these institutions.
Glenn Blumhorst: A great point, Marieme, thank you so much. Because that's what we are — a community-driven organization. And all we do, it should respond to the community and the expectations that you set for us. We're going to move on to the next question — penultimate question. What are the potential barriers you see to joining the Peace Corps or NPCA? How can that impact future Volunteers? So, Rok, do you want to start it off with that one?
WATCH: Rok Locksley — “For me to clear medical cost $6,000.”
Rok Locksley: There's a lot of barriers. For me, personally coming in at 40 years old, for me to clear medical cost $6,000. At the point I had quit my job to join Peace Corps. So I was unemployed and pretty much homeless. I was one backpacking through different countries, but I had no home of record in the United States. So getting back to the States and having to rely on other services, because I had no medical insurance: It was a $6,000 that we just put on our credit cards and then paid off with our readjustment allowance. So that's a major barrier. I know I'm older, I've had some medical issues, but the costs involved with the medical application alone is is prohibitive.
Glenn Blumhorst: Thank you, Rok. I think that's something we don't think much about — the cost involved for many individuals, particularly if we're not young and as healthy as we were before. Thank you for bringing that perspective to this. Let me ask just for one another person maybe to chime in on that question, and then we'll move to the last question.
Juana Bordas: Well, if I had had to pay $6,000 for medical, I wouldn't have been in the Peace Corps. You know, I had no money. Now students are graduating with debt. So, again, going back to leadership and communities of color, we need to dedicate ourselves to public change, public policy change. This cannot be — that people have to pay. When I found out that happened, because two of my Latino friends joined, I was shocked that it — and that it took so long, because the process wasn't like that in the past. And I think some of these barriers are just ways to not expand the Peace Corps to where it should be at this time, in this multicultural age.
Financial barriers are one of the most significant things that we need to look at — to remove them so that anybody and everybody who wants to serve can, regardless of their economic situation.
Glenn Blumhorst: Thank you Juana. Financial barriers are, I think, one of the most significant things that we need to look at — to remove them so that anybody and everybody who wants to serve can, regardless of their economic situation. The question we want to ask all of you is: What do you envision the future Peace Corps Volunteer values to be?
WATCH: Marieme Foote — “If we really, really do care about Peace Corps … we also have to be open to changing Peace Corps.”
Marieme Foote: If you look at the next generation, you see even the Black Lives Matter movement, you saw, at least when I went, you saw a huge amount of the next generation there present. And they're calling for change. They're calling for accountability, and all of these things. And if Peace Corps and NPCA and these organizations don't shift, they won't exist.
If Peace Corps and NPCA don’t shift, they won’t exist.
So, if we really, really do care about Peace Corps, we want Peace Corps to exist and to continue, and we care about the mission, we also have to be open to changing Peace Corps and making these radical changes — or also we'll not exist, because the next generation won't accept it. Even when I was joining Peace Corps, I had a lot of questions from my friends: “Why are you joining this organization? You know, there's not a lot of people of color there. It's mostly white people.” There was a lot of just preconceived ideas of what my Peace Corps experience would be. And there was a lot of fear of joining it, and being a part of a neocolonialist [enterprise] — and so if Peace Corps really does want to exist, I think that it does need to shift from the foundation in terms of its mission statement and what it does — and how it does it — is my opinion.
Glenn Blumhorst: Thanks, Marieme, that's a really powerful statement. And I take that to heart, because I think you're absolutely right: If we don't shift, we will not exist. And that's food for thought, very important for us.
WATCH: Rok Locksley — “If Peace Corps wants to remain this cutting edge social justice thing, it cannot remain reactive, as it has been.”
Rok Locksley: OK Peace Corps, the first groups were Kennedy's kids, right? Shriver's kids. And if Kennedy was building Camelot, then Peace Corps is his Excalibur. It was the best thing that was created, and it was on the edge of social justice and change. Now, we know like it's sort of steeped in neocolonialism, white savior complex, those sort of things. But you know, most people didn't have those terminologies back then. But if Peace Corps wants to remain this cutting edge social justice thing, it cannot remain reactive, as it has been. It can't just wait for and prepare for the worst case scenario and be quiet. And during our evacuation, that's all the EPCVs have experienced, is quietness. Our main source of our cutting edge Excalibur has been Facebook. I mean, we need the agency; we want to support you. This thing has hurt us. We gave our lives to this organization, and our hearts are in it. And we believe in social justice and change. So I just want to see Peace Corps return to its roots of being this cutting edge of social justice and change. And I think embracing that would lead to a revolutionary new wave of applicants whose hearts are full, who are young and active and ready to serve — and really, really get to the core of the agency, which is world peace and friendship.
If Kennedy was building Camelot, then Peace Corps is his Excalibur. It was the best thing that was created, and it was on the edge of social justice and change.
Glenn Blumhorst: Juana, I'm going to ask if you have any last words of wisdom or wisdom for us.
Juana Bordas: I just want to say is that we are the association. We are the Peace Corps. You know, I served on the board of NPCA for six years, I developed the leadership program for the association. We want to continue engaging; it's not somebody doing it for us. It's each one of us making that long-term commitment. I want to say it for everybody who's been out in the demonstrations, who's been out there trying to make this change: Keep it up. Because as an elder, I did that in the ’60s. You know, I did that for women, for the Vietnam War, for civil rights, and then there weren't that many people marching.
My last thing is: We have to do this. It's a lifelong commitment. It's up to each one of us. The Peace Corps has prepared us to be leaders in this new global and international and multicultural age. So I would like to see us say, Yes, each one of us is going to step up our commitment. Yes, each one of us decides we're going to do this, we're going to reach out to other communities, we're going to join organizations that aren't white, if we're white; we're going to join different organizations from different perspectives. And we're going to keep this going. And I think it does take an advocacy commitment for all of us to do our part in creating the future.
Glenn Blumhorst: Thank you so much, Juana. That's a great way to end this conversation. I want to thank especially the evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers for organizing this panel, and inviting Juana and myself to be a part of it as well. I've really enjoyed getting to know all of you over the last several weeks and working with you and a number of other evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers. This has just really been a highlight for me. Though I am pained with the way that your service was interrupted and you had to come home, I'm just really amazed at how you have rallied around as a community and supported each other and helped drive the conversations that we're having today. So thank you all so much.
Story updated November 9, 2020.
Brian Sekelsky posted an articleJoin us for a conference to mark six decades of impact — and look to the future of the Peace Corps see more
We mark 60 years since the founding of the Peace Corps. In addition to joining us for a global conference, take part in pre-conference events beginning September 18, 2021.
This year we mark six decades since the founding of the Peace Corps — culminating in an anniversary conference in September 2021. That comes 60 years after President John F. Kennedy signed into law the Peace Corps Act, legislation permanently creating and funding the agency.
At this unprecedented moment, we also look to the future of Peace Corps: how the agency needs to transform, and the work it has begun to meet the needs of a changed world.
FOR THIS ANNIVERSARY YEAR, we began celebrations in fall 2020, commemorating the anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s campaign speech at University of Michigan in October 1960 that sparked national interest in the Peace Corps. And in March 2021 events took place across the country and around the world to mark Peace Corps Week — and the anniversary of the executive order that established the agency.
Mark your calendars: Here’s what’s in store for September 2021.
Affiliate Group Network Annual Meeting
September 20 – 21
Virtual Reunions and RPCV Service Project Presentations
Peace Corps Act Day: Advocacy Day and Evening Reception
PEACE CORPS CONNECT 2021 | Conference
September 23 – 25, 2021
Virtual Conference and possible in-person events in Washington, D.C.
We still hope that we’ll be able to come together in person for our annual conference in Washington, D.C. But while the pandemic continues, in-person events can’t yet be confirmed. What is for certain: a robust digital program of events on September 23–25, with additional pre-conference meetings and reunions.
We wil update this story as the program is confirmed. And we’ll be launching a conference information and registration page. Stay tuned!
Communications Intern posted an articleAfter town halls and the summit, where do we go from here? see more
We thank you for your continued support and acknowledge the need for change. Closing remarks for Peace Corps Connect to the Future.
Thank you, Glenn. And thank you, Dr. Frederick, for your support. We look forward to continued engagement with you and with Howard University.
Fellow RPCVs and friends, on behalf of the National Peace Corps Association Board of Directors and as a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer from Costa Rica from 2006 to 2008, I'm so grateful for the opportunity to engage with you today. Thank you for your passion for service, for your dedication and time, for your bold ideas to build a better future for the Peace Corps. As Volunteers, we lived and worked in communities across the globe to promote world peace and friendship. We answered the call to serve because we imagined a better world. And we're here today because we believe in a better future. As a community, we recognize that Peace Corps has its flaws. Within NPCA, we likewise acknowledge our own shortcomings. In embracing the need for change, we take time to reflect upon our history across our community within ourselves.
Watch: Maricarmen Smith-Martinez’s closing remarks for Peace Corps Connect to the Future
We are here because, for the first time since 1961, there are no Peace Corps Volunteers in the field. The global evacuation triggered by COVID-19 resulted in an unprecedented disruption of service for thousands of our PCVs, and many are eager to redeploy but face an uncertain environment.
We're here because racism is a systemic issue, and our community is not immune. The struggle for racial justice is embedded in the history of the Peace Corps, present in the early days of our founders, and demonstrated in the Volunteer experience today. We are here because we recognize these challenges and we champion your ideas to reimagine the future of the Peace Corps. With the social impact approach, NPCA works not only for our community, we are driven by you and the priorities you bring to focus.
So that leaves us with a big question. Where do we go from here?
To convey that I'm inspired by the ideas of this summit and the eight town halls proceeding it does not do justice to the hope I feel and the optimism I hold for our future. We've heard about ways to create a more inclusive community, one that recognizes racial justice is a critical component to ensuring diversity. We've heard about revamping Peace Corps policies, about establishing an exchange program with the countries we serve, about evaluating RPCV support, and about measuring our collective global impact. We have heard the ideas of our future. The NPCA staff is small but mighty — and I express my heartfelt appreciation and gratitude for our dedicated, courageous team that raised the bar these past few weeks, working tirelessly to create a space to listen, to learn, and to forge a path for the future.
Yet we cannot go alone. Working together with you, with Peace Corps, and with RPCVs across the nation and around the globe, we must now convert these ideas into actions, develop the strategies and the programs that will enable us to fulfill our vision of a united and vibrant Peace Corps community. So we do not ask you to stay tuned for more information, we invite you to sing the song with us, and we offer several instruments to enable your support.
- First and foremost, engage with us. If you have not already, join NPCA to learn more about the next steps that will develop from these big ideas.
Second, donate. We could not undertake any of the work we do without your generous support. Your financial leadership allows us to develop new initiatives like the Global Reentry Program we heard about today. Your contributions allow us to continue critical engagement for advocacy efforts, expand our support for the affiliate group network, and further the unfinished business of RPCVs and communities around the world. Contribute to the Community Fund Projects, become a Mission Partner, or join our Shriver Leadership Circle. Your support in any amount will help fund the ideas discussed today and ensure they become part of our reality.
Next, connect with the Affiliate Group Network. As past president of Atlanta Area RPCVs, I understand firsthand the challenges affiliate groups face with community outreach. More than 180 affiliate groups are eager to reach you — from regional and country of service groups to workplace affinity groups that support RPCV recruitment and professional growth in the workplace, to the increasing number of cause-driven groups championing issues like environmental action, social justice, and refugee support — that are joining this network. Search the affiliate group directory on the NPCA website. And if you don't find what you're looking for, contact us to learn about starting a new group.
And finally, amplify our voice. We number over 230,000 RPCVs and Peace Corps staff, yet many in our community remain on the fringes. As we work to create a more inclusive environment, we need your help to reach our fellow volunteers, and shape a space that welcomes everyone. We know that we can go further together and we must unite as we never have before to realize our full potential.
On behalf of the entire NPCA team, thank you so much for being here today. Thank you for your commitment and your dedication.
I'll take one note in an immediate call to action. As Glenn noted earlier, we will have a survey to collect your feedback on the summit and the actions we will undertake in the days to come. Please take a moment to share your thoughts with us and inform our continued improvement. We are honored to walk with you on this journey as we connect Peace Corps to the Future. Thank you.
Maricarmen Smith-Martinez is Chair of the Board of Directors for National Peace Corps Association. She served as a Volunteer in Costa Rica 2006–08.
- First and foremost, engage with us. If you have not already, join NPCA to learn more about the next steps that will develop from these big ideas.
Ana Victoria Cruz posted an articleAn ideas summit to ask some big questions about the Peace Corps community in a changed world. see more
We’re convening for an ideas summit to ask some big questions about the Peace Corps community in a changed world.
In the next few weeks, we’re also bringing together members of the Peace Corps community around issues of racial injustice and climate change — to help shape our agenda for the future.
In March 2020, Peace Corps Volunteers were evacuated globally because of a global pandemic still taking its toll. That created an unprecedented and enormous challenge on its own.
We want to help reignite the work of Peace Corps around the world. So how do we do that, and make sure that Peace Corps — and our community — is the best that it can be?
Join us to help answer these questions — and take action.
Authors Sebastian Junger and Sarah Chayes Headline Peace Corps Connect 2016 see more
Childhood friends and distinguished authors Sebastian Junger and Sarah Chayes traveled to Morocco together when they were 18. While there, they met a couple serving as Peace Corps Volunteers and their lives haven’t been the same since.
On Saturday, September 24, 2016, Mr. Junger and Ms. Chayes will reunite on the plenary stage of the National Peace Corps Association’s (NPCA) Peace Corps Connect conference in Washington, D.C. Author and documentarian Sebastian Junger will join Sarah Chayes (RPCV Morocco), senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, to reflect on their decades of experiences with war, peace and community — and why they think the Peace Corps is needed now more than ever.
In print and documentary form, Mr. Junger has explored firsthand the human experience through war and tragedy in works such as the bestselling Perfect Storm and War, and the Oscar-nominated documentary Restrepo. Mr. Junger’s most recent book, Tribe, explores the cohesive community societies gain when they value shared experiences and responsibilities, and what is lost when they don’t.
After several years covering conflict as NPR’s Paris correspondent, including in Kosovo and in Afghanistan, Ms. Chayes put down her microphone to play an active part in rebuilding that wartorn country. Among other initiatives, she launched a manufacturing cooperative where men and women produce fine skincare products from local botanicals. Ms. Chayes later served as special assistant to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen. She is the author most recently of Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security, winner of the LA Times Book Prize.
NPCA will welcome Mr. Junger and Ms. Chayes at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium during the afternoon plenary session of the annual Peace Corps Connect conference. The five day event will explore how, through increased collaboration, attendees and community members can continue to champion Peace Corps ideals. This year’s event also celebrates 55 years of Peace Corps and the limitless potential of the community to continue to create change.
See the full program and register for the conference.
Ana Victoria Cruz posted an articleHundreds of members of the Peace Corps community gathered in Austin, TX to collaborate & innovate! see more
What happens when hundreds of members of the Peace Corps community get together to discuss innovation, collaboration, and service? An exhilarating two-and-a-half days of conversation on topics ranging from immigration to social media, economic development to climate change, and everything in between.
"What starts here changes the world." As our co-host, the Heart of Texas Peace Corps Association (HoTPCA), pointed out, this University of Texas at Austin saying applies to the shared Peace Corps experience and inspired attendees to be curious, go beyond expectations, and take what they learned in Austin back to their home communities.
The conference officially kicked off on Thursday, June 20th at the Austin Central Library with live music from RPCVs Kinky Friedman and Doster and Engle.
On Friday, the opening plenary session featured a conversation with Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen and NPCA President Glenn Blumhorst. Afterwards, they signed a Memorandum of Understanding to renew the organizations’ commitments to support the Peace Corps’ mission and continue to implement initiatives that educate the public on Peace Corps programs. “The signing of this memorandum gives returned Peace Corps Volunteers a framework for a lifetime of service,” said Jody Olsen. “I ask every person at this conference to be strong as you talk about your volunteer experiences. You are key to the next generation of Peace Corps Volunteers.”
Following, Kathleen Corey, President of the Women of Peace Corps Legacy, presented Sue Richiedei with the Deborah Harding Women of Achievement award for her outstanding impact on women's lives worldwide. NPCA Board Director Mariko Schmitz then presented the New York City Peace Corps Association (NYCPCA) and Peace Corps Iran Association (PCIA) with the 2019 Loret Miller Ruppe Award for Outstanding Community Service.
Whether you served decades ago or are a recently returned Volunteer, the conference offered tremendous value and networking opportunities. The community content sessions and workshops focused on a variety of topics, including how to use technology to launch a business, innovations in global issues advocacy, transition assistance for recent RPCVs, how to harness market forces for social impact, and ways to work together to create positive political change in era of "America First." As Tom Lightbown (RPCV Niger 1965-1967) pointed out: "We made some new friends, including youngsters fresh out of service, discovered RPCVs with white hair from other countries of service with stories to tell, made some quite important contacts of value to our Guinean friend Ahmadou Baldé, and, overall, had a very positive first experience with Peace Corps Connect."
The energy throughout the conference was palpable, as well as the level of engagement. With interactive sessions such as "Stepping Up - Politics: The Next Level of the Third Goal" and "Be an RPCV Changemaker: Connecting via the Web to Spark Community and Economic Development in Your Peace Corps Site" participants learned strategies on how to be catalysts for change, both at home and abroad.
"The PC Connect Conference was both informative and inspiring. The theme of the conference was “Innovation for Good" and the breakout sessions highlighted many RPCV created programs, companies, and NGOs that contribute to that objective." - Greg Polk (NM RPCV)
During the Affiliate Group Network Annual Meeting, the new Divisional Board Directors were presented and representatives from NPCA Affiliate Groups shared resources and opportunities to help groups thrive.
On Saturday, June 22, NPCA Board Director Katie Long kicked off the Annual General Membership Meeting with a special Peace Corps ukelele rendition of "You Can't Always Get What You Want," while NPCA Treasurer Patrick Fine provided a report on the financial status of the organization, and President Glenn Blumhorst outlined the successes of the past year.
During the Pitch Competition, six entities pleaded their case for a chance to win a $2,500 cash prize. The finalist were:
- Humans of Kiribati for its effort to save the island of Kiribati from rising sea levels
- Peace Corps Kids for promoting a just and inclusive world through multicultural and multiracial storytelling
- Trees for the Future's initiative Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal (BHAG) to break the cycle of poverty and eradicate hunger for 1 million people by planting 500 million trees in 125,000 Forest Gardens by 2025
- Jump Finance's credit model to provide students in developing countries with the capital and mentorship to finish their post-secondary education and launch their careers
- Teachers Training Pact, a programs for teachers who are helping transform students into successful lifelong learners
- Tiny House Coffee, a company created by two Peace Corps Volunteers that works directly with small producer coffee farmers to guarantee them economic stability.
Each finalist was scored based on their demonstrated social impact, innovation, sustainability, leadership, presentation, and clarity of concept. Ultimately, Jump Finance took the top prize.
As NPCA continues to celebrate its 40th anniversary, a special retrospective took a look at our formative years from the view point of the earliest leaders of the organization with Greg Flakus, First President (1986-1989); Margaret Riley, Third President (1983-1986); and Katy Hansen, Fourth President (1986-1989).
Attendees where also treated to a special excerpt from A Towering Task: A Peace Corps Documentary and a conversation with Director Alana DeJoseph who announced the premiere screening of the documentary is slated for September 22 at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC.
During the closing plenary, Karen Keefer, NPCA Board Emeritus and Shriver Leadership Circle member, presented Liz Fanning with the 2019 Sargent Shriver Award for Distinguished Humanitarian Service for her tireless efforts to create and expand CorpsAfrica, a nonprofit organization that gives young Africans the opportunity to serve like Peace Corps Volunteers in their own countries.
The conversation then turned to a panel discussion examining the historic exodus from Central America and the humanitarian crisis at the U.S. southern border. Reflecting on the special screening of ABRAZOS earlier in the day, a film by Luis Argueta that shows the transformational journey of a group of U.S. citizen children of undocumented immigrants who travel from Minnesota to Guatemala to meet their grandparents—and in some instances their siblings—for the first time, NPCA President Glenn Blumhorst moderated a panel titled "Beyond Borders" featuring Maria Martin, Director of The Graciasvida Center for Media; John Burnett, Southwest Correspondent for National Public Radio; and Luis Argueta, acclaimed Guatemalan Film Director and Producer. The panelists underscored the need for policy solutions and the opportunities for the Peace Corps community to take action.
"We need to humanize immigrants. The global community needs to fight fiction with truth." - Luis Argueta
After the panel, Ken Lehman, NPCA's Advisory Council Member, presented Luis Argueta with the Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award. Lehman, in nominating Argueta for this award, noted that Argueta “has demonstrated that filmmakers from the developing world can produce world class stories illuminating important issues… [H]is involvement in the entire issue of Latino immigration has humanitarian dimensions, and civic meaning.”
In accepting the award, Argueta said "tell those who are fearful of people who are not like them about your host families" and challenged us to change the immigration narrative "from one of hate to one of love...we need to remember to practice the Golden Rule."
As the conference drew to a close, HoTPCA President Sally Waley announced Seattle as the host city for Peace Corps Connect 2020! She handed the "baton" over to Seattle Area Peace Corps Association (SEAPAX) President Brad Cleveland. The conference will have an emphasis on immigrants and refugees and will be centered around “Cultivating Connections.” While the exact dates are yet to be determined, SEAPAX leaders indicated they are looking for dates in the summer next year. Stay tuned for more information!
We're Coming to Austin! But our travels won't stop there. see more
What a great gathering of the Peace Corps community last weekend in Austin, Texas during Peace Corps Connect on June 20 - 22.
But our travels didn't stop there
Immediately following the conference, members of NPCA spread out across four states to meet with more RPCVs and former Peace Corps employees in the region.
Visit our events calendar or scroll through our itinerary (below) as a few stops remain in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas.
SUNDAY, JUNE 23
Meetup with NPCA President Glenn Blumhorst
Date: Sunday, June 23, 2019
Time: 6:00 pm
Location: L U C K (Local Urban Craft Kitchen) at Trinity Groves, 3011 Gulden Lane, #112, Dallas, TX 75212
Details: Fresh off the Peace Corps Connect national gathering in Austin, join leaders of the North Texas Peace Corps Association as they welcome NPCA President Glenn Blumhorst to Dallas. Meet Glenn and hear the latest NPCA news, including several exciting big plans for the Peace Corps community. For more details, contact Alexis Kanter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SAN ANTONIO, TX
Peace Corps Community Dinner
Date: Sunday, June 23, 2019
Time: 6:00 pm
Location: Luna Rosa Restaurant, 2603 SE Military Drive, San Antonio, TX 78223
Details: Join San Antonio RPCVs for a community dinner, meet Will Burriss, NPCA’s Government Relations Officer, and hear the latest updates about the status of Peace Corps funding and other Peace Corps policy initiatives. To help us with our planning, please RSVP for the dinner at email@example.com.
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK
Peace Corps Advocacy Workshop
Date: Sunday, June 23, 2019
Time: 4:00 pm - 5:15 pm
Location: Headquarters of Feed the Children, 333 North Meridian Avenue, Oklahoma City, OK 73107
Details: Jonathan Pearson, NPCA's Advocacy Director, will conduct an advocacy workshop dealing with key Peace Corps issues before Congress, members of the Oklahoma congressional delegation, and the role RPCVs can play in helping make the Peace Corps the best it can be. All RPCVs across Oklahoma are invited to attend.
Peace Corps Community Dinner
Date: Sunday, June 23, 2019
Time: 5:30 pm
Location: Gopuram, Taste of India Restaurant. 412 South Meridian Avenue, Oklahoma City, OK 73108
Details: If you couldn’t join the advocacy workshop earlier in the day, join us for a community dinner. Along with learning the latest from the NPCA, connect with others and join a conversation about revitalizing an OKC area group and establishing better communication with the Tulsa and Stillwater groups. To help us with our planning, please RSVP for the dinner by contacting Richard at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MONDAY, JUNE 24
Fayetteville Coffee and Conversation with NPCA
Date: Monday, June 24, 2019
Time: Anytime between 4:00 pm and 7:00 pm
Location: U.S. Pizza, 202 W Dickson Street, Fayetteville, AR 72701
Details: Please stop by - even if only for a few minutes to say hello. Meet NPCA Advocacy Director Jonathan Pearson and connect with other members of the Fayetteville Peace Corps community. Hear the latest updates about the status of Peace Corps funding, other Peace Corps policy initiatives, and other big plans of the Peace Corps community. A comprehensive update will be presented between 5:30 pm and 6:00 pm. Jonathan will be at a table in the vicinity of the main entrance to Panera. He'll be wearing a blue Peace Corps baseball cap and will have copies of WorldView magazine, some Peace Corps bumper stickers, and more! For more details, contact email@example.com.
TUESDAY, JUNE 25
LITTLE ROCK, AR
Little Rock Coffee and Conversation with NPCA
Date: Tuesday, June 25, 2019
Time: Anytime between 4:00 pm and 7:00 pm
Location: Panera Bread, 314 South University Avenue (Park Avenue Shopping Center), Little Rock, AR 72205
Details: Please stop by - even if only for a few minutes to say hello. Meet NPCA Advocacy Director Jonathan Pearson and connect with other members of the Little Rock Peace Corps community. Hear the latest updates about the status of Peace Corps funding, other Peace Corps policy initiatives, and other big plans of the Peace Corps community. A comprehensive update will be presented between 5:30 pm and 6:00 pm. Jonathan will be at a table in the vicinity of the main entrance to Panera. He'll be wearing a blue Peace Corps baseball cap and will have copies of WorldView magazine, some Peace Corps bumper stickers, and more! For more details, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 26
BATON ROUGE, LA
Peace Corps Community Happy Hour and Dinner
Date: Wednesday, June 26, 2019
Time: 6:30 pm
Location: The Rum House, 2112 Perkins Palms Avenue, Baton Rouge, LA 70808
Details: Join the RPCVs of Baton Rouge for a community happy hour and dinner. Meet Will Burriss, NPCA's Government Relations Officer, hear the latest updates about the status of Peace Corps funding, and other Peace Corps policy initiatives. Along with learning the latest from the NPCA, connect with other members of the Baton Rouge Peace Corps community. To help us with our planning, please RSVP for this event by contacting Will at email@example.com.
FORT SMITH, AR
Fort Smith Coffee and Conversation with NPCA
Date: Wednesday, June 26, 2019
Time: Anytime between 4:00 pm and 7:00 pm
Location: Panera Bread, 2917 South 74th Street, Fort Smith, AR 72903
Details: Please stop by - even if only for a few minutes to say hello. Meet NPCA Advocacy Director Jonathan Pearson and connect with other members of the Fort Smith Peace Corps community. Hear the latest updates about the status of Peace Corps funding and other Peace Corps policy initiatives. A comprehensive update will be presented between 5:30 pm and 6:00 pm. Jonathan will be at a table in the vicinity of the main entrance to Panera. He'll be wearing a blue Peace Corps baseball cap and will have copies of WorldView magazine, some Peace Corps bumper stickers, and more! For more details, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
THURSDAY, JUNE 27
NEW ORLEANS, LA
Peace Corps Community Happy Hour
Date: Thursday, June 27, 2019
Time: 4:00 pm - 7:00 PM
Location: The Upper Quarter, 1000 Bienville Street, New Orleans, LA 70112
Details: Join the RPCVs of New Orleans for an informal community gathering. Meet Will Burriss, NPCA’s Government Relations Officer, hear the latest updates about the status of Peace Corps funding, and other Peace Corps policy initiatives. Along with learning the latest from the NPCA, connect with other members of the New Orleans community. To help us with our planning, please RSVP for the happy hour by contacting Will at William@PeaceCorpsConnect.org.
Congressional District Office Meetings on Peace Corps Issues
Date: Thursday, June 27, 2019
Details: We are seeking RPCV constituents of Congressman Hern and Senator Lankford to join in district office meetings we are seeking on the afternoon of June 27th. Contact Ed Seiders at email@example.com if you are interested and willing to be a strong voice for the Peace Corps!
Peace Corps Community Dinner
Date: Thursday, June 27, 2019
Time: 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Location: Home of Ed and Stella Seiders, 3152 South Rockford Drive, Tulsa, OK, 74105.
Details: If you couldn’t join the district office meetings earlier in the day, join us for a Tulsa Peace Corps community gathering. Enjoy some delicious Middle Eastern food. Meet NPCA Advocacy Director Jonathan Pearson, hear the latest updates about the status of Peace Corps funding, and other Peace Corps policy initiatives. Discuss the possibilities of re-establishing an NPCA affiliate group in Oklahoma. To help us with our planning, please RSVP for the dinner by contacting Ed Seiders at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FRIDAY, JUNE 28
NEW ORLEANS, LA
Peace Corps Community Coffee Hour
Date: Friday, June 28, 2019
Time: 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Location: Backatown Coffee Parlor, 301 Basin Street, Suite 1, New Orleans, LA 70112
Details: Join the RPCVs of New Orleans for a community gathering. Meet Will Burriss, NPCA’s Government Relations Officer, hear the latest updates about the status of Peace Corps funding, and other Peace Corps policy initiatives. Along with learning the latest from the NPCA, connect with other members of the New Orleans Peace Corps community. To help us with our planning, please RSVP for the coffee hour by contacting Will at William@PeaceCorpsConnect.org.
FORT WORTH, TX
Rep Granger District Office Meeting
Date: Friday, June 28, 2019
Location: Fort Worth district office of Representative Kay Granger - 1701 River Run, Suite 407, Fort Worth, TX 76107
Details: We are seeking RPCV constituents of Congresswoman Granger to join in a district office meeting we are seeking on the afternoon of June 28th. Contact Andy Castelano at email@example.com if you are interested.
Fort Worth Happy Hour with NPCA
Date: Friday, June 28, 2019
Time: 7:00 pm
Location: Flying Saucer Draught Emporium, 111 East 3rd Street, Fort Worth, TX 76102
Details: The North Texas Peace Corps Association invites you to start your weekend by stopping by for a Peace Corps community happy hour! Connect with other members of the Fort Worth Peace Corps community. Meet NPCA Advocacy Director Jonathan Pearson, hear the latest updates about the status of Peace Corps funding and other Peace Corps policy initiatives. For more details, contact Andy Castelano firstname.lastname@example.org.
SATURDAY, JUNE 29
Waco Coffee and Conversation with NPCA
Date: Saturday, June 29, 2019
Time: Anytime between 8:00 am and 10:00 am
Location: Panera Bread, 2516 W Loop 340, Waco, TX 76711
Details: Please stop by - even if only for a few minutes to say hello. Meet NPCA Advocacy Director Jonathan Pearson and connect with other members of the Waco Peace Corps community. Hear the latest updates about the status of Peace Corps funding, other Peace Corps policy initiatives, and other big plans of the Peace Corps community. Jonathan will be at a table in the vicinity of the main entrance to Panera. He'll be wearing a blue Peace Corps baseball cap and will have copies of WorldView magazine, some Peace Corps bumper stickers, and more! For more details, contact email@example.com.
Building a Texas Peace Corps Advocacy Network
Date: Saturday, June 29, 2019
Time: Anytime between 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm
Location: The Brewtorium, 6015 Dillard Circle, Suite A, Austin TX 78752
Details: Didn't get enough "Peace Corps" at Peace Corps Connect? Neither did we! Following a week-long tour through the region and just before departing the Lone Star State, NPCA Advocacy Director will be back in Austin for a session with Heart of Texas Peace Corps Association members and others who want to share their Peace Corps stories and build their advocacy skills with elected representatives. Whether you're a seasoned-citizen lobbyist or just back from your service, stop by to discuss and consider strengthening our Peace Corps advocacy footprint in Austin and beyond! For more details, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact us for more details about Glenn's upcoming stops during the week of June 30th to Asheville, Greensboro and Charlotte!
Kul Chandra Gautam is the seventh recipient of this award see more
National Peace Corps Association Honors Nepali Diplomat Kul Gautam
Whose Ties to Peace Corps Volunteers Date Back to 1962
Shawnee PA (Friday August 24) -- Kul Chandra Gautam, a native of Nepal who rose from humble beginnings to become a distinguished United Nations diplomat and peace advocate, has received the highest honor bestowed to a global leader by National Peace Corps Association (NPCA).
Gautam, who currently serves as chairman of the board of the international anti-poverty non-profit RESULTS, accepted The Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award at NPCA’s annual Peace Corps Connect conference on Friday August 24 in Shawnee, PA.
The annual award is named for the former U.S. Senator who was instrumental in the formation of the Peace Corps in 1961 as a special assistant to President John F. Kennedy. NPCA is the largest non-profit organization representing Returned Peace Corps Volunteers.
Born in a small village without running water or electricity, Gautam’s ties to the Peace Corps date back to 1962 when he attended a school in Tansen, about a three-day walk from his home. According to his official biography, Gautam, an outstanding student, “became good friends with several U.S. Peace Corps Volunteers who were English language teachers at the school. He learned to play Scrabble with them and surprised them by often beating them – quite a feat for a Nepali 7th or 8th grader.”
Recognizing Gautam’s talents, Peace Corps volunteers encouraged Gautam to seek a college scholarship in the United States. Gautam eventually graduated with degrees from Dartmouth College and Princeton University and then worked for UNICEF over three decades, rising to become Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF and Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations in the early 2000s.
After retiring from the UN, Gautam was briefly Special Advisor to the Prime Minister of Nepal on International Affairs and the Peace Process. He continues informally to advise his country’s senior political and civil society leadership on the peace process, consolidation of democracy, human rights, and socio-economic development.
"I am thrilled and most grateful for this honor,” said Gautam. “My experience with the Peace Corps has been a source of great inspiration for me from my early student days in Nepal and throughout my long career with the United Nations in the service of the world's poor and disadvantaged, particularly women and children. This prestigious award will further motivate me to continue to dedicate the rest of my life to pursue the core Peace Corps values of service, peace, development, human rights and global human solidarity.”
In describing the award, NPCA CEO Glenn Blumhorst noted: “This award honors an outstanding global leader who grew up in a country where Peace Corps Volunteers served, whose life was influenced by the Peace Corps, and whose career contributed significantly to their nation and the world in ways that reflect shared values in human dignity and economic, social, and political development.”
"Kul Gautam's connections to Peace Corps are extensive and deep, starting with his 7th grade teacher in Nepal in 1962 through his speech at the 55th anniversary of Peace Corps Nepal in 2017,” the NPCA awards selection committee noted. “In the years in between, he dedicated his career to improving lives and working towards peace in all corners of the globe. We are so pleased to honor Kul, who so fully embodies all that the Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award represents."
Gautam was nominated by RPCV Doug Hall of New Hampshire. After serving in the Peace Corps in Nepal in the late 1960s, Hall first met Gautam as an undergraduate at Dartmouth College in 1971.
“I am so happy that NPCA has selected Kul Gautam for this year's Wofford award,” said Hall. “Kul's long career in the UN and subsequent activity back in Nepal exemplify his dedication to global and national leadership and commitment to goals that all Peace Corps Volunteers have shared over the years: international understanding and peace. Throughout his life, he has not been hesitant to praise President Kennedy's vision in establishing the unique institution that is the US Peace Corps."
Besides serving as board chair of RESULTS, Gautam also supports several other international and national organizations, charitable foundations and public private partnerships. He is the author of “Lost in Transition: Rebuilding Nepal from the Maoist mayhem and mega earthquake” published in 2015, and his recently published memoir: “Global Citizen from Gulmi: My journey from the hills of Nepal to the halls of the United Nations”.
Gautam is the winner of several other awards, including the Audrey Hepburn Humanitarian Award conferred by the US Fund for UNICEF in 2008, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Social Justice Award for Lifetime Achievement given by Dartmouth College in 2009. He is donating proceeds from his latest book and the monetary component that accompanies the Harris Wofford award to a UNICEF-assisted girls’ education project in Nepal.
To learn more about NPCA, go to: www.peacecorpsconnect.org
To learn more about Kul Chandra Gautam, go to: www.kulgautam.org
(photo: Kul Gautam accepts the Wofford Global Citizen Award from NPCA President and CEO Glenn Blumhorst)
JM Ascienzo posted an articleOn Capitol Hill, new legislation is introduced to address key RPCV service related health issues see more
Representatives Ted Poe (R-TX) and Sam Farr (D-CA) introduced Peace Corps healthcare legislation earlier today that would provide Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) with service-related conditions greater healthcare, including an increase in worker's compensation benefits and extending the length of time they remain under Peace Corps' care. The bipartisan Sam Farr Peace Corps Enhancement Act (H.R. 6037) also reauthorizes key provisions of the Kate Puzey Act, including the extension of the Office of Victim Advocacy to care for survivors of sexual assault, and the extension of Peace Corps' Sexual Assault Advisory Council to 2023.
Through a press release on his website Rep. Poe said, “Congress took a historic step in passing the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act in 2011, but there is more work to be done to protect our angels abroad...This bill will go even further to both keep volunteers healthy and ensure that those who have experienced sexual assault have the assistance and protection they need. These safeguards are necessary not only to protect current volunteers, but also to ensure more young Americans join the Peace Corps in the future.”
“Since its establishment in 1961, Peace Corps has served as a vehicle for peace, hope and compassion,” said Rep. Farr. “I’m deeply humbled to have Judge Poe, a strong advocate for Peace Corps Volunteers in his own right, name this bill after me and I’m honored to cosponsor it. Expanding, promoting and improving Peace Corps has been a passion of mine since serving in Colombia from 1964-1966 and I look forward to using my remaining few months in Congress to continue this important mission.”
Other provisions in the legislation attempt to strengthen anti-malarial protections for currently serving volunteers, strengthen the number and training requirements for Peace Corps Medical Officers, removes the Peace Corps five-year rule from certain management support positions, and requires further publication requirements for the annual volunteer satisfaction survey.
Several of the key RPCV health provisions in the legislation have been advocated by Health Justice for Peace Corps Volunteers, an NPCA affiliate group established several years ago to raise more awareness and support for RPCVs facing health challenges stemming from their Peace Corps service.
Health legislation, as well as strong funding for the Peace Corps, will be key issues raised during NPCA's Capitol Hill Advocacy Day on Thursday, September 22.
Follow this link to read a summary of H.R. 6037.
Follow this link to read the legislation.
Follow this link to add your support for Peace Corps funding and health legislation in advance of NPCA's Capitol Hill advocacy day.
Beautiful faces at Peace Corps Connect 2016 see more
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia addressed the Peace Corps community during the presentation of the Deborah Harding Women of Achievement Award ceremony on Friday, Sept. 23, 2016.
Team Michigan en route to tell members of Congress that America and the world need a bigger, better Peace Corps.
Ms. Barbara Busch speaks to the Peace Corps community about the work of the NPCA Ad Hoc Committee in Support of Refugees and Migrants.
Averill Strasser and Beverly Rouse, COO and Executive Director of Water Charity, respectively, with friends planning next steps for impact abroad.
Ambassador Karl Eikenberry with Afghanistan Peace Corps Volunteers (and India RPCV friends)
Sebastian Junger, author of Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging and documentarian of the film Restrepo, speaking with
lifelong friend and colleague Sarah Chayes (RPCV Morocco), author of Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security.
Jesse Bailey, RPCV Morocco; Skido Achulo, Embassy of Ghana; Representative James P. McGovern, D-MA;
David Magnani, RPCV Sierra Leone; and Natalie Hall, RPCV Thailand
Heavy traffic in the exhibit hall at Peace Corps Connect 2016.
The conference included over thirty breakout sessions on peacebuilding, development, global health and more.
On far right: RoseAnn Rotandaro, Founder and Exec. Dir. of The Village Link, with the panelists of
The ABCs of Corporate Classification and Sourcing Funds for Public Interest Ventures
Angene and Jack Wilson, RPCVs Liberia
From left: Harris Wofford, Brigid Andrew, Mr. Ibrahima Sankare, Michele Magera, Alpha Konate and Stacy Rhodes
presenting Mr. Sankare the Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award.
Kathryn Lusk of KaBoom and Phil Lilienthal, President of Global Camps Africa.
Daughters of Loret Miller Ruppe presented the Friends of Liberia, Friends of Guinea, and Friends of Sierra Leone with the
Loret Miller Ruppe Award for Outstanding Community Service for their work with NPCA and the Ebola Relief Fund.
The crowd at the Walk for Peace stretched down city blocks as they marched to Capitol Hill.
Mosche Snowden plays at the U.S. Capitol during the Walk for Peace.
NPCA Board Chair Joby Taylor and friends on the Walk for Peace.
Tom Appel and friends
The Walk for Peace stopped at the White House to remind another leader that the world needs the Peace Corps, and now more than ever.
More photos coming soon!
JM Ascienzo posted an articleRegistered for the September 22nd Capitol Hill Advocacy Day? Here's all the information you need. see more
NPCA's Capitol Hill Advocacy Day
Important Info, Reminders and Agenda
Welcome! If you're reading this it's because you've decided to join nearly 250 Peace Corps community members to champion an improved, expanded Peace Corps on Thursday, September 22. We'll be urging Congress for more funding for Peace Corps and better healthcare for Returned Peace Corps volunteers. Whether you're a seasoned Peace Corps advocate or it's your first time on the Hill, we've got all the info and materials you need to make an impact. See you soon!
— Jonathan and J.M.
Advocacy 101 Webinar, 12:00 Noon EDT, September 18: New to Capitol Hill advocacy or need a refresher course on what to expect? We've got you covered. This 45-minute session will focus on topics ranging from what a congressional office meeting is like to how to prepare for the day. For in-depth discussion on talking points and issues, join us for the in-person orientation (below). Email us at email@example.com to sign up for September 18 with the subject line "Advocacy 101 Webinar."
In-Person, 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM, Wednesday, September 21, Lutheran Church of the Reformation, 212 East Capitol St NE, Washington, DC 20003: Registration will begin at 5:30 PM, and our orientation program will begin at 6:00 PM. During the orientation you'll meet others in your state delegations, and we'll go over specifics on our advocacy issues — including recently-introduced health legislation and Peace Corps funding —and answer any questions. The in-person orientation is strongly encouraged.
Capitol Hill Advocacy Day
All Day, Thursday, September 22
Registration, 7:15 AM to 8:00 AM, Lutheran Church of the Reformation, 212 East Capitol St NE, Washington, DC 20003: Continued registration, and meet up with your meeting delegations over coffee/tea and breakfast items.
Kickoff, 8:00 AM to 9:15 AM, Lutheran Church of the Reformation: Remarks by the Peace Corps community's Congressional champs and special guests. Many of you will have meetings starting at 10 AM, though a few groups may have meetings earlier, and will need to leave the kickoff early.
Meetings, throughout the day, House and Senate Office Buildings: Access to your meetings and delegations, talking points and leave-behind materials, and maps of Capitol Hill will be available both in-hand and by mobile app closer to September 22.
Reception and Awards Ceremony, 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM, Hart Senate Office Building, Room 902: Please join us to celebrate the day with your fellow advocates and Hill staff, and to honor Colombia RPCV Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) for his decades of service to the Peace Corps community, and the recipients of NPCA's Sam Farr Congressional Leadership Award, Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX) and Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY). Beverages and hors d'oeuvres will be served.
Staging Room, 10:30 AM to 4:30 PM: Hart Senate Office Building Room 512 will be our staging area throughout the day. There you can reconnect with team members, write thank you notes and meeting reports, drop off luggage, or take a break! Hart 512 will be staffed throughout the day.
Arriving on September 22 after 10:30 AM?: Go first to Hart Senate Office Building Room 512 — our staging room — to get your meeting materials.
What should I wear? Please dress as you would for an interview — with footwear ready for plenty of walking — or if possible in clothing from your country of service. We'll have NPCA advocacy swag for you, but wear all the Peace Corps pride you want!
Will there be food? There will be coffee/tea and breakfast items at the morning kickoff (7:15 AM to 9:30 AM) and beverages and hors d'oeuvres at the reception and awards ceremony (5:00 PM to 7:00 PM). There are cafeterias and coffee shops in most Senate and House office buildings. Food is allowed to be brought in to all Senate and House office buildings, and we encourage you to carry light snacks or fruit with you.
How do I get there? We recommend accessing Capitol Hill area by the Metro subway, exiting at either Union Station on the red line or Capitol South on the orange, silver and blue lines. These metro stops are about a 10-15 minute walk from the Lutheran Church of the Reformation.
What should I bring? Smiles, good attitudes, and something to take plenty of pictures with!
State Resources! Visit NPCA's State Advocacy Toolkits page for background on your lawmakers, their past support for Peace Corps issues, and Peace Corps' presence in your state.
Advocacy Day Issue Materials: Talking points and leave behinds for 1) Sam Farr Peace Corps Enhancement Act (health bill) and 2) Peace Corps funding. *We will have these printed for you in your registration packets.
New to the Hill? Check out these key guidelines for making any meeting a success.
Want to tweet and post to social media? Please do! Use the hashtags #NPCAHillDay, #PeaceCorps55, #PeaceCorpsNOW, and #RPCVHealth for general advocacy, and #MrPeaceCorps to celebrate Rep. Sam Farr's decades of service to the Peace Corps community.
Questions or Concerns?
They'll all be answered at the in-person orientation on September 21. But for anything pressing or for last minute cancelations, contact Jonathan or J.M. from the advocacy team.
Jonathan Pearson: firstname.lastname@example.org / (202) 293-7728 ext 21
J.M. Ascienzo: email@example.com / (202) 293-7728 ext 24
Peace Corps Connect Conference Registration
Finally, while most of have already done so, there is still time to register for other events during our Peace Corps Connect Conference. See Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and authors Sebastian Junger and Sara Chayes. Check out action oriented workshops and visit our sold out exhibit space. Plan to participate in a Walk for Peace. See old friends, make new ones, and learn more about how to continue to commit to Peace Corps ideals. You can register right here, right now!
The Peace Corps Connect Conference Will Unite Global Leaders, Development Experts, and Academics — And They Happen to be WomenWomen of the World Unite! see more
By co-hosting the 2016 Peace Corps Connect conference, the National Peace Corps Association invited leaders in economic development, environmental sustainability, equality of marginalized populations, global health, and security to speak to an audience of development experts. In addition to their work in these fields, the respective leaders champion women’s rights.
Register now for this important event.
On September 22, Congresswoman Kay Granger (R-TX) and Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) will receive the National Peace Corps Association’s Congressional Leadership Award. They are the Chairwoman and Ranking Member, respectively, of the State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Subcommittee. Congresswoman Granger has also been recognized for her humanitarian efforts in attacking the practice of human trafficking, among other issues. Congresswoman Lowey, former Chair of the Congressional Women's Caucus, is a leader in the fight against domestic violence.
September 23, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will address the Peace Corps community during the presentation of the Deborah Harding Women of Achievement Award ceremony. President Sirleaf, a lifelong advocate for girls and women, is Africa's first democratically elected female Head of State. During her career, she has been a voice for peace and reconciliation, serving on committees investigating conflict in her own country, the Rwandan genocide and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and was selected by UNIFEM to report on the impact and importance of women in peacebuilding. The Deborah Harding Award honors a Peace Corps Volunteer whose contributions have made a significant difference in the lives of women and girls in the world. This inaugural award will celebrate Sara Goodkind, founder of Girls Leading Our World (GLOW) Camps, now implemented in Peace Corps countries worldwide.
The same day Dr. Margee Ensign, President of the American University of Nigeria, will speak about creating opportunities for girls who escaped from Boko Haram, and how each can get the education they deserve. She will speak to the importance of empowering girls and women around the world and how the Peace Corps community, in partnership with the White House Let Girls Learn Initiative, can play a leading role in these efforts.
On September 24, Sarah Chayes, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, will reflect on her decades of experiences with war, peace and community. The Morocco RPCV will be joined a colleague and friend, Sebastian Junger. After several years covering conflicts as NPR’s Paris correspondent, including in Kosovo and in Afghanistan, Ms. Chayes put down her microphone to play an active part in rebuilding that war-torn countries. Ms. Chayes later served as special assistant to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen. She is the author most recently of Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security, winner of the LA Times Book Prize.
Breakout sessions include The Peace Corps Experience: Providing Leadership Opportunities for Women as Volunteers and Beyond and Gender Equity in Environmental Sustainability.
For more information and to register for the event, visit our 2016 Peace Corps Connect page.
Strengthening NPCA support networks will be on the agenda at Peace Corps Connect. see more
We’re used to reading or watching news stories about members of the Peace Corps community. But the article that appeared in March, 2015 in the Boston Globe was not one of continued service, going back to one’s Peace Corps country. The feature story – Boston’s Homeless Rely on Each Other to Survive Record Winter – included an interview with Shawn Grady, a Mali Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) who had fallen on hard times and found himself living in community shelters during one of the region’s severest winters on record.
The story was noticed by members of the Boston Area RPCVs (BARPCV), whose leadership reached out to connect with Shawn. Group leaders who met initially with Shawn described him as a kind, positive individual, who had struggled with readjusting back home. Part of that was due to a serious head injury he sustained during a motorcycle accident during Peace Corps service, which contributed to his present-day challenges.
The story was also picked up by the group Health Justice for Peace Corps Volunteers, which along with the Boston group reached out to provide support and guidance to Shawn in his efforts to apply for assistance at both the national and state level.
And, it attracted the attention of the NPCA, whose President, Glenn Blumhorst, met with Shawn this past April during a visit with members of the Boston Peace Corps community.
"It was a real pleasure to spend an afternoon meeting Shawn, learning about his Peace Corps experience and gaining more perspective into how the Peace Corps community might be able to provide assistance to him and others in similar predicaments."
There have been some steps forward for Shawn. A caseworker from the homeless shelter who was working with Shawn helped him secure disability funding through the state of Massachusetts and also helped him find an apartment. BARPCV provided Shawn with a grant to cover the security deposit. Along with the grant, “BARPCV lent him our support in the form of friendship and encouragement,” said Christina Donnelly, who is among those members of the group who get together with Shawn from time to time. “With our assistance, Shawn was able to make a smooth transition from shelter back to living in his own place.”
NPCA has invited Shawn to be with us at Peace Corps Connect, and participate in a Friday afternoon session devoted to building a stronger support network for members of our community facing difficult times, from homelessness, to health care and beyond.
“RPCVs in need can be found across the country,” said Blumhorst. “While there are already some great individual examples of RPCVs reaching out to assist a fellow alumni in need, we want to strengthen and expand this network so we can be more pro-active in our community response. We look forward to our Peace Corps Connect session serving as the next step in that development.”
Celebrate our Community’s 55 Years at Peace Corps Connect and at American University’s Peace Corps Community ArchiveArchiving 55 Years of History see more
Alongside the 2016 Peace Corps Connect conference in Washington, D.C., American University Archives and Special Collections is debuting two exhibits highlighting the Peace Corps Community Archive — one on campus and the other online.
The Peace Corps through the Lens of its Volunteers will be on display through the end of the semester on the third floor of the Bender Library. The Peace Corps and Its Volunteers, the online companion exhibit, is permanent.
- Preparing for Abroad
- Service Abroad
- Common Service Projects
- Friendship and Travel
- Witness to History
Representatives from the Archive will be present at the 2016 Peace Corps Connect conference. Attendees can inquire about the digital collection associated with the exhibit, which includes some items that are not featured.
The Peace Corps Community Archive is curated by the American University Library and supported by the National Peace Corps Association. It collects, preserves, and makes available materials that were created and acquired by Volunteers. The archive is also used to support scholarly research and provide educational programs that document the experiences and impact of individuals who served in the Peace Corps.
For more information, please visit the Peace Corps Community Archive website.
To use the collections or make a donation, please contact the American University Archives at firstname.lastname@example.org.