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Returned Peace Corps Volunteer

  • Steven Saum posted an article
    Help 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. 

  • Steven Saum posted an article
    One year after evacuation from the Philippines: A Peace Corps Volunteer on the trauma of leaving see more

    One year after being evacuated from the Philippines, a Peace Corps Volunteer faces the trauma of leaving, the country he returned to, and a question that’s impossible to answer.

    By Rok Locksley

    Work and friendship: Rok Locksley, left, with Ban-Ban Nicolas. Photo courtesy Rok Locksley

     

    The last day of my Peace Corps service was Friday, March 13, 2020. Together with my wife, Genevieve, I was serving in the Peace Corps in the Philippines. We had gotten up early to enjoy the sunrise on what we knew would be our last day on the island that had become our home.

    My counterpart was Ban-Ban Nicolas, with whom I was collaborating on marine conservation efforts on an island near Cebu. I called him Ban2x. And over the course of service, we developed a deep friendship. 

    Ban2x arrived at our host family’s house early in the morning in his family car. He would shuttle us to the seaport. Airports had already shuttered. He knew we were on the last boat off the island, and he wanted to make sure we got to the port safely. 

    We loaded our bags into his car, and he promised to look after our things, to check in on our dogs and our house. At this point we thought we were just being consolidated: all Volunteers gathered together temporarily. On the drive, Ban2x and I made promises to keep each other updated and what the estimates were for returning after consolidation — we were speaking in that awkward way that you do when you have so much you want to say but lack the words or ability to properly express how much you value the other person. 

     

    As I made my way onto the bridge to the boat that would carry me literally and figuratively out to sea, I turned for one last look at my friend and said, “It’s not goodbye, just until we see each other again.” 

     

    We got out of the car and I could see tears welling up in his eyes. I could feel them in mine. We lingered until the last possible minute. As I made my way onto the bridge to the boat that would carry me literally and figuratively out to sea, I turned for one last look at my friend and said, “It’s not goodbye, just until we see each other again.” 

    I got on the boat, found a seat, and sat down gingerly. Everything was moving in a surreal way. At first I thought it was the rocking waves, but then I started to feel my world crashing around me. There was everything we had left behind: our project, our year-old dogs who had cried and tried to squirm under the fence to get in the car as we drove away. My host family, with tears in their eyes. My coworkers, their faces grimaced in shock when I told them the day before that I had to leave. 

    I began the journey back to the United States, but I would not be returning home. My home was in the Philippines. 

     

    Where do we go from here? Photo by Rok Locksley

     

    At sea

    The boat carried us to a larger island where we met up with other Peace Corps Volunteers. We managed to catch the last boat off of that island, and we sat there on the top deck of a ferry, rocking in the sea, surrounded by tourists trying to figure out if they should stay or go. As for us 30 Volunteers, we were shell-shocked and broken, leaving through no choice of our own. We didn’t really talk. What was there to say?

    About two hours into the five-hour ferry trip, our phones chirped and pinged and vibrated at the same time with an alert. It was an ominous sound, and it carried a message that changed our lives. The director of the Peace Corps had declared the evacuation of all Volunteers. That is how we found out that our service was over: On a boat, rocking in the sea, carrying what random items we had shoved into our backpacks in a state of trauma. Some of us cried. Some tried to call their families. Some stared off across the waves, trying to soak up the last of the Philippines. Most, like me, were simply in shock. And desperately trying to figure out what to do next.

    Back in the States, we could not go to my parents’ house or my wife’s parents’ house, because of COVID-19. I knew that the evacuation route would take us through numerous airports, and I was sure I was getting exposed. The risk was not worth it to my family; health and age put them in the at-risk population. My grandparents’ house was out. My uncles and aunts had young kids. We literally had nowhere to go. 

    I timidly reached out to a few people, inquiring about whether it might perhaps be possible maybe that … They made it clear, gently but firmly, that they did not want to risk the fact that I might be bringing the virus, especially coming from Southeast Asia. I understood. 

    We had given up ties in the States to join the Peace Corps. We had no house, no car, no job waiting. All that was waiting for us stateside: the terrifying horror of the unknown. Unknown if we had the virus. Unknown where we would sleep when we landed. Unknown where we could get health care or insurance or a job or food or winter clothes. Aside from what we carried, what possessions we owned were in a storage unit. And I was not sure how I was going to make the next payment on that.

    As I was making calls from the boat and, later, from a hotel, trying to figure out where exactly we should attempt to fly to in the United States, a fellow Volunteer overheard my struggle. His family had a summer cabin in the Midwest. It wasn’t summer. But he offered it as a place of landing to us and a few other evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers for the mandatory two-week quarantine. We had no option other than the Peace Corps reimbursement for staying in a hotel. We gratefully chose the EPCV cabin. 

     

    The Facebook group for evacuated Volunteers was one of the few places we didn’t have to explain to others why this transition was so difficult, why we all felt lost at sea.

     

    We ended up living there in quarantine from March until June. Three months of trying to make sense of what had happened — and was still happening around us. Three months of sleepless nights and tearful mornings. Three months of confusion, loss, and desperation. Three months of writing resumes and filling out applications. Three months of Zoom interviews and those awful hopes that come with searching for a job: of failing again and again. Three months of struggling alongside my fellow evacuees to find our new place in the pandemic world. Three months of every other American dealing with a new world and none of them understanding what had happened to us. The Facebook EPCV group was one of the few places we didn’t have to explain to others why this transition was so difficult, why we all felt lost at sea.

    I talked to Ban2x at least once a week. That helped a bit. In the EPCV cabin, we shared our struggles with one another and tried to help others as best we could. Mostly we sat staring into space, thinking about all that had been ripped away — and what we were supposed to do next. I cannot imagine what it was like for Volunteers who had chosen the lonely hotel room for mandatory quarantine. 

    After three months, with the warmth of summer finally arriving, there was a changing of our seasons, too: We started to get hired or accepted into graduate school. I was fortunate to receive a Peace Corps Fellowship. Some of us got federal jobs, thanks to non-completive eligibility that comes with status as a returned Volunteer. Without the support of the RPCV network, National Peace Corps Association’s meetings and seminars, and Jodi Hammer’s counsel and advice through the Global Reentry Program, I don’t think any of us would have made a good transition out of that cabin. 

     

    This is water. Photo courtesy Rok Locksley

     

    The problem with that question

    I have recently had a few Returned Peace Corps Volunteers ask me what the hardest part about the evacuation was. The problem with the question is its premise; it makes it seem like the evacuation is over. For me it is not. 

    I am building a place that is starting to feel like home again in Illinois. And we did manage to get one of our dogs to the States in the fall. (The rest were poisoned, we found out later). I have school to focus on, but the evacuation is not an easily packaged life event. It was trauma and I am still experiencing it, working through it, processing it. 

    Every time I talk to Ban2x, I am filled with conflict about abandoning my work and my friends. I question whether I should have stayed on my island — which has had fewer cases than my neighborhood here in Illinois. Did we make the right choice to return to the United States? I still find myself trying to discern a morally correct answer to this question.

    The reason that we have adopted the signifier EPCVs rather RPCVs is because we all came back at the same time to a nightmare version of America that was nothing like what we had left. This was not the place often dreamed of in our desperate moments of homesickness. This was a foreign land to us. The restaurants closed, the markets eerily empty, wide eyes of fear peeking over new masks — and other faces with self-assured smirks.

    There is also this strange aspect to coming back with more than 5,000 other Americans: The people I was competing with for jobs were my friends and fellow EPCVs. The person’s spot I took for my graduate program was a fellow evacuee. For every one of us who got a federal job or fellowship, that meant another EPCV did not. I don’t mean that in the abstract. I mean it literally. We would have Zoom meetings with members of our cohort and find out we were all in the final round for the same job. Only one of us could get it.

    I had previously met a few people who had lost their homes due to fire or other circumstances beyond their control. People who have walked out of a strange airport in a strange land without any idea of what to do next — but carrying a hope that life would get better. People who have relied on the charity and goodwill of others to survive. A year later these experiences are much less hypothetical and much more real. It helps me to understand their situation and seek out guidance from them. 

    Today, on the year anniversary of our evacuation, I had a conversation with my counterpart and best friend, Ban2x. Over the past year, we have kept in contact every week, updating each other on our lives, hopes, and dreams — all the while following up on the final steps of our project, which is finally almost at fruition. Ban2x and his wife go for regular rides on the bicycles that we left behind. They send photos over Messenger of their rides and adventures to some of our favorite spots. I get photos of gatherings in the community, and it is awesome to see folks in my community wearing clothes we left behind and using the items that didn’t make it into our suitcases in that frantic final morning packing session. A few months ago, Ban2x tried to send some of the more precious items to us, but international shipping costs during the pandemic made it effectively prohibitive. They were handed out or given away to our friends and co-workers.

     

    The hardest part is that we are still going through it. Some of us are still waiting to return to service.

     

    When we talk, Ban2x and I, each of us is searching for words trying to fill in those things are that are still left unsaid. We wonder when this will end, and what the world will look like when it does. He stays healthy and, because of the island’s precautions, the pandemic is less of a threat there than I feel here with my mandatory in-person classes. We plan for the theoretical reunion that might take place in the next few years. I talk about all the spots and things I want to share with him in America. He tells me about the changes in our community and celebrations I have missed. Ban2x, always the optimist, smiles and says things that would translate to something along the lines of “When the time is right” or “When fortune favors us.” 

    We laugh a bit more in recent weeks, but sometimes my laughs are a bit hollow. I know that I can’t just jump on a plane and visit anytime I want. And I can’t bring him here for a visit. I know it will be a few years before restrictions are lifted enough to allow us to visit our home again. Until then, despite the temporary roof over my head, my heart still feels homeless. I still feel like I am adrift on the sea, packed in with all the other EPCVs rocking in a boat with no port, and wondering what happens next.

    That is what it is like to have been evacuated during the pandemic. Generally, my experience is too much go through just to answer the question “What was the hardest part?” The gap is too wide. The cut is still too deep. And although it is healing, it is a long way from being a faded memory. 

    Maybe the closest I can come to answering my fellow RPCVs’ questions about evacuation is this: The hardest part is that we are still going through it. Some of us are still waiting to return to service.
     


    SHARE YOUR STORY

    Are you a Volunteer who was evacuated because of COVID-19? Are you part of the Peace Corps community with a story to tell? Let us know: worldview@peacecorpsconnect.org


    READ MORE

    Rok Locksley’s tribute to Ban2x in WorldView magazine, and evacuation stories of  dozens of Peace Corps Volunteers from around the world.

    “How can we transform this moment in Peace Corps history?” Rok Locksley takes part in a discussion with other evacuated Volunteers as part of the Global Ideas Summit Peace Corps Connect to the Future.


    Rok Locksley served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Republic of Moldova from 2005–08. He then worked as a Recruiter for Peace Corps 2009–16 and went back for a second tour with his partner, Genevieve, in the Philippines 2018–20. Locksley is currently a Peace Corps Fellow at Western Illinois University. He intends to return to his island at the first possible opportunity.

  • Communications Intern posted an article
    It has been decades since Congress tackled Peace Corps legislation this sweeping. see more

    It has been decades since Congress tackled Peace Corps legislation this sweeping. Along with important reforms, it would lead to 10,000 Volunteers serving in the field — a number not seen in half a century. 

    By Jonathan Pearson

    Illustration by traffic_analyzer

     

    On March 1 of this year, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer and California Congressman John Garamendi introduced H.R. 1456, the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act of 2021. Co-sponsored by Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA), who serves as co-chair of the House Peace Corps Caucus with Garamendi, H.R. 1456 will serve as the foundation for National Peace Corps Association’s 60th anniversary legislative agenda.

    The date it was introduced carries weight; it was on 3/1/61 that President Kennedy issued Executive Order 10924 establishing the Peace Corps.

    What’s significant about this new bill? Over the years, Congress has passed Peace Corps–related legislation on a variety of individual subjects, including bills that strengthened the agency’s response to sexual assault, authorized a commemorative work near the National Mall to recognize Peace Corps service, improved certain health and safety protocols, and provided necessary funding and provisions to safely bring home and support evacuated Volunteers in March 2020. But it has been decades since Congress has come together to pass comprehensive legislation to address a wide range of issues that support and honor Peace Corps service. 

    In a press release, Congressman Garamendi said, “Now more than ever, Congress must support the Peace Corps’ mission and realize President Kennedy’s vision of generations of young Americans ready to serve their nation and make the world a better place. Our reauthorization bill does exactly that, and provides much-needed resources to Volunteers.” 

     

    In a post-COVID world with a global recession, with healthcare problems around the world, particularly in developing countries, the Peace Corps mission is going to be more critical than ever.

     

    Garamendi spoke to members of the Peace Corps community on March 1, as NPCA kicked off its annual National Days of Advocacy in Support of the Peace Corps. Congressman Graves sent a video message, in which he noted how important Peace Corps’ mission will be moving forward: “In a post-COVID world with a global recession, with healthcare problems around the world, particularly in developing countries, the critical nature of your mission is going to be (greater than ever).”

    As of May 14, 45 members of the House have signed on as co-sponsors of the legislation. Consideration is underway for companion legislation in the Senate. 


    U.S. Capitol and stripes 

     

    Think big, follow through

    Here are some of the provisions included in the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act of 2021:

     

    Steady, Sustainable Funding Increases

    Recommends increased funding of approximately 10 percent in each of the next four fiscal years, aiming for $450 million in Fiscal Year 2022 and reaching $600 million in Fiscal Year 2025. This would move toward the stated minimum target of 10,000 Volunteers in the field — a number proposed in the original Peace Corps Act, and a figure not realized in more than 50 years. This would also provide funding for many of the needed and overdue reforms called for in this legislation — as well as reforms that were called for in previous legislation but were never implemented.

     

    Increased Volunteer Benefits

    Would increase Volunteers’ readjustment allowance to $417 for each month of service, raising the total allowance for two years of service from $8,000 to $10,000. Paid post-service health care would be extended to three months upon completion of service.

     

    In-Service Health

    Calls upon the Peace Corps to consult with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concerning recommendations for prescribing malaria prophylaxis. And it requires health personnel in countries where malaria is present to receive adequate training in the side effects of such medication. The legislation also incorporates the language of the Menstrual Equity in the Peace Corps Act (H.R. 1467) introduced by Representative Grace Meng (D-NY). This bill requires the Peace Corps to ensure access to menstrual products for Volunteers who require them, either by increasing stipends or providing the products for affected Volunteers.

     

    Workers’ Compensation

    In the long-standing effort to provide more support for returned Volunteers disabled by service-related illness or injury, H.R. 1456 would increase the monthly workers’ compensation rate for these individuals.

     

    Non-Competitive Eligibility (NCE) Protections

    For RPCVs seeking to utilize NCE for federal job opportunities, H.R. 1456 would pause the one-year benefit in times of a federal government shutdown or hiring freeze. It would also delay the start of NCE eligibility for RPCVs unable to work when coming back home due to service-related illness or injury.

     

    Support for Current and Future Evacuated Volunteers

    Codifies that Volunteers who face evacuation and the end of their service through no fault of their own — as happened to Volunteers globally in March 2020 — receive benefits to which they would otherwise be entitled as Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, determined by the Peace Corps director; and that these Volunteers should be given expedited consideration for redeployment if they so choose.

     

    National Advisory Council

    Would reestablish a National Advisory Council to bring more exposure to the agency and its work. The council would also be charged with considering key issues related to the Peace Corps’ future, including agency progress in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion; and it would examine financial barriers that might prevent individuals from applying to the Peace Corps.

     

    Whistleblower Protection

    Extends whistleblower and anti-retaliatory protections that currently apply to Peace Corps contractors to Peace Corps Volunteers, including protections against reprisals by any Peace Corps employee, Volunteer supervisor, or outside contractor.

     

    Honoring Service

    Includes the language of the Respect for Peace Corps Volunteers Act sponsored by Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ) since 2013. This bill would confirm that an allowable use of the Peace Corps name, official seal, and emblem would include its use at gravesites or in death notices.

     

     

    Concrete Steps from a Community-Driven Report

    John Garamendi served as a Volunteer in Ethiopia 1966–68, as did his wife, Patti. Joining him and Garret Graves as original co-sponsors on this legislation are Grace Meng (D-NY), Dean Phillips (D-MN), Ed Case (D-HI), Albio Sires (D-NJ), and Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-AS). Radewagen represents American Samoa today, and she has a Peace Corps connection; she served on Peace Corps staff in the Northern Mariana Islands 1967–68. 

    National Peace Corps Association has been a key player in helping shape this legislation as well. Drawing on actionable recommendations in the community-driven “Peace Corps Connect to the Future” report, NPCA worked with congressional staff to begin to address priorities developed through eight town halls and a Global Ideas Summit in 2020. Some previous calls for reform have not been fully implemented; this would make them law—and provide funds to follow through.

     

    Notably, the legislation is also endorsed by the National Whistleblower Center.

     

    Notably, the legislation is also endorsed by the National Whistleblower Center.

    “Passing this legislation will require every member of the Peace Corps community to take five minutes to write or call their members of Congress urging support for these reforms,” says NPCA President Glenn Blumhorst. “It will require hundreds of advocates to reach beyond our community and speak to the importance of Peace Corps and its mission through traditional and social media.” 

    The landmark legislation is of a scope not seen in many years. To give it momentum in Congress, the Peace Corps community will need to do some heavy lifting.

    “We will need dozens of advocates willing to continue organizing and conducting meetings to bring forth the importance of this legislation directly to members of Congress and their staff,” Blumhorst says. “And we need additional, highly committed individuals willing to volunteer as state and regional advocacy coordinators, joining more than 40 current advocacy leaders who have sparked legislative victories, past, present, and future.”

     

     

    Story updated May 14 at 3 PM: number of members of the House who have signed on as co-sponsors of H.R. 1456  


    Jonathan Pearson is Director of Advocacy for National Peace Corps Association. You can be a leader in passing H.R. 1456 and charting the course for Peace Corps’ future. Contact advocacy@peacecorpsconnect.org to get started.  

  • Communications Intern 2 posted an article
    From being taught by Peace Corps Volunteers to becoming a Volunteer see more

    In Moldova, my work partners and our host family weren’t expecting someone like me. Instead of being young and white, I was older and Asian. And born near Mount Everest.

    By Champa Jarmul

     

    When I was a girl growing up in Nepal, two of my teachers were Peace Corps Volunteers. After I became a teacher myself, I attended a training workshop with another Volunteer. Most important to me was the PCV who taught at our school a few years later. David and I fell in love and got married.

    More than 35 years later, after our two sons had grown, we signed up to serve as Volunteers together in Moldova. David worked in the local library and I taught English at a school. I wasn’t sure I would be a good Volunteer, but I was ready to be open-hearted and nonjudgmental, and to accept all of the challenges.

     

    Moldovan students with their Peace Corps teacher, Champa Jarmul, at far end of table. Photo courtesy of Champa and David Jarmul

     

    My work partners and our host family weren’t expecting someone like me. Instead of being young and white, I was older and Asian. Few Moldovans had ever heard of Nepal. When I told them I was born near Mount Everest, they were amazed. But they weren’t sure I was a “real American.” As we lived and worked together, though, they came to know me. 

     

    When I told them I was born near Mount Everest, they were amazed. But they weren’t sure I was a “real American.”

     

    We cooked each other our traditional foods — curried chicken and rice from Nepal, stuffed cabbage and pork from Moldova, and an American apple pie. We shared photos of our grandchildren. We celebrated each others’ birthdays and holidays, including a big turkey dinner on Thanksgiving.

     

    Peace Corps family: Champa and David Jarmul with their grandchildren. Photo courtesy of Champa and David Jarmul

     

    Our Peace Corps group included Americans born in other countries as well, from Panamá, Colombia, the Philippines, Myanmar, and Vietnam. We had American-born Volunteers of different ethnicities, ages, and sexual orientations. Many of us were not what Moldovans expected a Volunteer would look like. Together, we showed them that “American” includes many kinds of people.

    As Peace Corps looks to its future, its Volunteers need to fully reflect our country’s diversity. We are the faces of America. Our stories are America’s stories. 


    READ MORE: “Returning to Serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer a Second Time — 35 years Later” by David Jarmul 

  • Steven Saum posted an article
    News and updates from the Peace Corps community see more

    News and updates from the Peace Corps community — across the country, around the world, and spanning generations of returned Volunteers and staff

    By Peter Deekle (Iran 1968–70)

     

    Pictured: Children’s Literature Legacy Award Winner — author Mildred Taylor 

     

     

     

    BENIN

    Marieme Foote (2018–20) has been awarded a Payne International Development Fellowship for graduate study. In Benin, she served as a Sustainable Agricultural Systems Agent until evacuated due to COVID-19. Upon her return to the United States she accepted a position with the National Peace Corps Association where she has worked on advocacy and issues pertaining to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the Peace Corps Agency and community.

     

     

     

     

    CAMEROON

    Natalie Obaldia (2019–20) is the Southern California Regional Volunteer Coordinator for California Volunteers, the governor’s and State Legislature’s continued investment in service and volunteering. 

     

     

     

     

     

    CHINA

    Jerome Siangco (2019-2020) taught News Listening and Spoken English to first-year, sophomore, and junior English majors at Liupanshui Normal University until his pandemic-impacted evacuation. He now serves as COVID-19 contact tracer with the National Peace Corps Association’s Emergency Response Network. 

     

     

     

     

    ETHIOPIA

    Mildred (Milly) D. Taylor (1965–67) is the winner of the 2021 Children’s Literature Legacy Award honoring an author or illustrator, published in the United States, whose books have made a significant and lasting contribution to literature for children. Her award-winning works include “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry,” which won the 1977 Newberry Medal and the Coretta Scott King Honor Award; “The Friendship,” “Road to Memphis,” and “The Land,” all recipients of the Coretta Scott King Award. Her most recent work is “All the Days Past, All the Days to Come” (Dial, 2020). In addition to numerous awards for individual books, Mildred Taylor is the 2020 recipient of the Coretta Scott King – Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement.

      

     

     

    GHANA

    Meghan McCormick (2011–13) co-launched OZÉ, a Ghana-based financial tech startup that helps small to medium enterprises to record their daily activities ranging from expenses to sales. And in January 2021 news stories noted that OZÉ had raised $700,000 for micro, small, and medium enterprises in Ghana and Sub-Saharan Africa. The startup then combines these data to offer insights useful for recommendations. She also co-founded of Dare to Innovate. McCormick is committed to ending unemployment in West Africa through investments in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

     

     

     

    GUATEMALA

    Norma Royale Wilder is the author of “The Longer I Live the Wilder it Gets: A Memoir of Adventure.” Wilder’s adventures have taken her around the world. She was interviewed on the radio about her book and life experiences on February 10, 2021. 

     

     

     

     

     

    LESOTHO

    Sandra Adounvo has been awarded a Payne International Development Fellowship for graduate study. She will pursue a Master of Public Health with a concentration in Global Health and Humanitarian Assistance. She intends to join the USAID Foreign Service as a Health, Population, and Nutrition Officer. 

     

     

     

     

     

    MALAWI

    John Fleming (1967–69) has a lengthy career in museum management. He has served as president of the Ohio Museums Association and the Association of African American Museums. He is currently writing a book about his Peace Corps service in Malawi.

     

     

     

     

     

    Austin Fraley (2017–20) has been awarded a Payne International Development Fellowship. He will attend the University of Wisconsin to pursue a master’s degree in international public affairs in preparation to join USAID as a crisis, stabilization, and governance officer. Prior to his experience in Malawi, Austin worked with Kentucky Refugee Ministries as an ESL intern and a driver. He also worked at Quest Farm, a Kentucky non-profit that works with people with intellectual disabilities. 

     

     

     

    Vishakha Wavde (2018–20) is currently a physical therapist in Illinois. With a health services career in progress, she sought a two-year assignment in Malawi, focused on HIV and Malaria prevention, youth capacity building and working with HIV support groups. 

     

     

     

     

     

    MALI

    Molly Mattessick (2002–04) is Managing Director of Project Delivery at Forum One, an organization that amplifies the impact of mission-driven organizations through transformational digital solutions. In fall 2020 she led the team at Forum One to collaborate with National Peace Corps Association to launch and publicize the NPCA Emergency Response Network.

     

     

     

     

    MICRONESIA (Chuuk)

    Aydin Nazmi (1999–2001) since early 2020, has served as the Cal Poly Presidential Faculty Fellow for COVID-19 Response and Preparedness. He is a professor in Cal Poly’s Food Science and Nutrition Department and is one of four faculty members from across the California State University (CSU) system to earn the Wang Family Excellence Award. He earned the award in the Outstanding Faculty Service category in recognition of his achievements and contributions to the CSU.

     

     

     

    MOROCCO 

    Paige Beiler (2018–20) has served since November 2020 as a COVID-19 contact tracer with National Peace Corps Association’s Emergency Response Network. During her Peace Corps service she started a library at the local youth center through a USAID funded grant.

     

     

     

     

     

    MOZAMBIQUE

    Emily Wood (2019–20) has been awarded a Payne International Development Fellowship for graduate study. She will use her fellowship to continue her education and foster her dedication to public service as a Foreign Service Officer. She hopes to work with indigenous communities, helping them regain their self-reliance after centuries of marginalization.

     

     

     

     

    NEPAL

    Leala Rosen (2014–15) is a program officer at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Conservation Leadership Programme.

     

     

     

     

     

    SAINT LUCIA

    Jennifer Leshnower (2007–09) is volunteer director for California Volunteers — a statewide organization building critical connections and partnerships between public, private, and community-based organizations in order to mobilize human and social capital to eradicate California's most pressing social and economic injustices. 

     

     

     

     

    SENEGAL

    Carolee and Art Buck (1968–70) have been invited by the president of Senegal, their original Peace Corps host country, to return for a visit, which they both anticipate occurring later in 2021. The invitation resulted from Carolee’s pandemic writing project (a record with photos) documenting their years in Senegal. The self-published book impressed the Senegalese president so much that he extended an invitation 

     

     

     

     

    UKRAINE AND GUINEA, BURKINA FASO, SENEGAL, SIERRA LEONE, MORROCO

    Doug Teschner (1971–73; 2008–17) is the president of Growing Leadership LLC, which supports nonprofits, governments, and businesses by partnering to strengthen their capacity to achieve the highest level of performance. Services include leadership training, coaching and mentoring; public speaking; organizational development and strategic planning; public policy support and legislative advocacy; resource development, communications and public relations.

  • Communications Intern posted an article
    News and updates from the Peace Corps community — across the country, around the world see more

    News and updates from the Peace Corps community — across the country, around the world, and spanning generations of returned Volunteers and staff

     

    By Peter Deekle (Iran 1968–70)

     

    The latest from renowned writer Paul Theroux and a World War II thriller from Mark Sullivan. Former “Hardball” host Chris Matthews pens a memoir. Honors for journalist Maureen Orth and public health leader Peter Kilmarx. An ongoing project involving the personal stories of Peace Corps Volunteers impacted by COVID-19. Running for mayor in Anchorage. The memorialization of historic moments by the founder of JUSTUS Kitchen. World Gin Awards gold medalists. Cheers!

    Have news to share with the Peace Corps community? Let us know.

     

     

    COLOMBIA

    Maureen OrthMaureen Orth (1964–66) received a 2021 Campanile Excellence in Achievement Award from the Cal Alumni Association, in partnership with the UC Berkeley Foundation, for pushing boundaries whenever possible. She is an award-winning journalist, best-selling author, and founder of the Marina Orth Foundation.

     

     

     

     

      

    DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO

    Peter KilmarxPeter Kilmarx (1984–86) has been presented with the 2021 Daniel Webster Award for Distinguished Public Service by the Dartmouth Club of Washington, D.C. for his work with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Public Health Service, and Peace Corps (among other accomplishments). He is deputy director at Fogarty International Center at the National Institutes of Health.

     

     

     

     

    DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

    Tiffani JarniganTiffani Jarnigan (2012–14) has been named a 2021 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Women of Excellence award winner. She is manager of environmental, social, and governance process and innovation with the company.

     

     

     

     

     

    ESWATINI

    Chris MatthewsChris Matthews (1968–70), who served as a Volunteer in the country when it was known as Swaziland, has published a memoir titled This Country: My Life in Politics and History. It chronicles his life and career in post-World War II America and includes discussion of his Peace Corps service. He hosted the show “Hardball with Chris Matthews” from 1997 to March 2020.
     

     

     

     

     

    ETHIOPIA

    Kyle HenningKyle Henning is publishing a book entitled From Afar about his journey in 2013 from Lake Assal in Djibouti to Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania to raise funds and public awareness for The New Day Children’s Centre in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia. He also has 11 YouTube videos of his journey from Djibouti, through Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania.

     

     

     

     

    GABON

    Erick Guerra Erick Guerra (2002–04) is an associate professor and the associate chair of city and regional planning in the Weitzman School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania. He has received the G. Holmes Perkins Distinguished Graduate Teaching Award for Outstanding Faculty.


     

     

     

     

    THE GAMBIA

    Mark DonahueMark Donahue (2017–19) has enrolled in the University of Georgia Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management and Leadership to help propel his career and impact as a nonprofit leader. Having grown up in Zimbabwe to parents who worked in the international development sector, he witnessed his father serve an important role in one of the largest international nonprofits in the world.
     

     

     

     

     

    GHANA

    Molly MattesonMolly Matteson (2017–19) is program administrator for the Yale Young African Scholars Program and is completing her master’s at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She was recently interviewed by Borgen magazine about her experience as a Volunteer. While serving she was also known as Adwoa Serwaa, the name given to her during her welcome ceremony. She had the title of Community and Youth Development Advisor. Through community-focused projects, her primary task was bettering education, involving a “school building project, developing a school health curriculum and engaging students in empowerment and academic capacity building activities.”

     

     

     

    GUATEMALA

    Rush HarrisRush Harris (2002–04) now serves as the executive director of the Marshall Economic Development Corporation (MEDCO). He was appointed to the position in October 2020 after serving with the company for nearly six years total, including 2011–13 and then again from 2016 onward.
     

     

     

     

     

    KAZAKHSTAN

    Forrest DunbarForrest Dunbar (2006–08) represents East Anchorage in the Anchorage Assembly. He is running for mayor of the city in 2021. 

     

     

     

     

     

    MALAWI

    Paul TherouxThe most recent novel by renowned writer Paul Theroux (1963–65) is Under the Wave at Waimea, published in April. A “full-fat epic,” in the words of The Guardian, it tells the tale of Joe Sharkey, a big-wave surfer who experiences tragedy on an island paradise. Theroux turned 80 this year. In April The New York Times Book Review carried an interview with him under the headline “Would the Pandemic Stop Paul Theroux From Traveling? No. Of course not.” It was the meeting of Peace Corps writerly generations: a conversation with Gal Beckerman, editor at large with the Book Review, who himself served as a Volunteer in Cameroon. Earlier this year Theroux’s 1981 novel The Mosquito Coast premiered as a series on Apple TV+ with Theroux’s nephew, Justin Theroux, in the starring role as Allie Fox, “a ‘radical idealist’ and inventor who uproots his family and heads to Mexico, where they suddenly find themselves on the run from the government,” as The Hollywood Reporter puts it. The series has just been renewed for a second season. 

     

     

    MALI

    Jocelyn JacksonJocelyn Jackson (2005–06) the founder of JUSTUS Kitchen and co-founder of People’s Kitchen Collective, regularly gathers people together for community meals. By bringing together artists and chefs, they memorialize historic moments such as the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, the Great Migration of African Americans from the South in the early 20th century, and the so-called Muslim ban of 2017. “Social justice and food and art can intersect in a way that is so powerful and compelling,” Jackson recently told Nonprofit Quarterly. “It really invites people to step into their power.”

     

     

     

     

    NICARAGUA

    Juanita LimasJuanita Limas (2000–02) received the Boka W. Hadzija Award for Distinguished University Service by a Graduate or Professional Student. The award recognizes the graduate or professional student at the University of North Carolina who has been judged most outstanding in character, scholarship, and leadership.

     

     

     

     

     

    NIGER

    Mark SullivanMark Sullivan (1980–82) has published The Last Green Valley, a historical novel inspired by the Martel family’s true story of daring and survival in 1944. Ethnic Germans whose ancestors had lived in Ukraine for more than a century, they had seen family members sent to the gulag by the Soviets. With two boys aged 4 and 6, they fled toward Poland before the advancing Red Army. Sullivan lives in Bozeman, Montana, and is the author of the 2017 bestseller Beneath a Scarlet Sky as well as the “Private” series co-written with James Patterson.
     

      

     

     

    THE PHILIPPINES

    Matthew WestfallMatthew Westfall (1983–85) and Laurie Westfall, founders of Full Circle Craft Distillers, have won two gold medals at the World Gin Awards in London. They were among those recognized in 2021 by Tatler Asia as the most influential individuals in the food and beverage industry in Asia: The Tastemakers list.
     

     

     

     

     

    ROMANIA

    Carol SpahnCarol Spahn (1994–96), Acting Director of the Peace Corps since January 2021, announced on March 31, 2021 that the Peace Corps and FEMA have struck a historic partnership to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. For the second time in the agency’s history, Peace Corps volunteers will serve a domestic deployment, at FEMA’s request — the first following Hurricane Katrina and now at federally supported Community Vaccination Centers (CVCs) across the country. Spahn has also served as Country Director for Peace Corps Malawi (2014–19) and Chief of Operations, Africa Region (2019–21).
     

     

     

     

    SIERRA LEONE

    Ruth KauffmanRuth Kauffman received Bucknell University’s 2020 Service to Humanity award in recognition of her 30-year career in international women’s health and midwifery.
     

     

     

     

     

  • Communications Intern posted an article
    News and updates from the Peace Corps community — across the country, around the world see more

    News and updates from the Peace Corps community — across the country, around the world, and spanning generations of returned Volunteers and staff

    By Peter Deekle (Iran 1968–70)

    A newly appointed Assistant Secretary for the Department of State. Two non-profit success stories. An award winning art professor. Peace Corps writers write. And a Peace Corps themed photographic exhibition in Las Vegas.

     

    COLOMBIA

    Ron DizonRon Dizon (1971–1973) is celebrating the 60th anniversary of Peace Corps with a three-month photographic exhibition at the City of Las Vegas Library Art Gallery. The exhibit entitled “Afghanistan Black and White 2021” highlights Peace Corps Afghanistan’s “War on Hunger 1971-1973.”  August 10 – October 12, 2021.

     

     

     

     

    CAMEROON

    Matt Kuhn was promoted to the position of Aspen, Colorado’s Director of Parks and Open Space. He had been serving as interim director since June 2020, and previously served as the business services director, operations manager and trails manager for parks and open space.

     

     

     

     

    CHAD

    Michelle T. BooneMichelle Boone (1994–96) was named in April as the new president of the Poetry Foundation. She is the first woman of color to lead the storied Chicago-based institution, which publishes the century-old journal Poetry. Boone offers over 20 years of experience following prominent positions at the Navy Pier; the Joyce Foundation; and Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. During her tenure at the DCASE, she helped facilitate the Chicago Cultural Plan and also championed the Chicago Architectural Biennial in 2015. Boone told The New York Times that she was heavily influenced by poetry while growing up in Chicago in the 1970s, when the Black Arts Movement saw the emergence of poets like Gwendolyn Brooks and Oscar Brown, Jr. 

     

     

    Audrey ZibelmanAudrey Zibelman (1977–79) recently took up a new post as Vice President at X, the Moonshot Factory, where she works to develop tools and capabilities as a systems operator, to decarbonize the electrical system. In April she was invited by the Biden administration to join the Leaders Summit on Climate to present ways in which steps can be taken to counter the detrimental impacts of the climate crisis. During the Summit, Zibelman announced that the United States and the United Kingdom would be joining the Global Power System Transformation Consortium, an organization she helped create during her time as CEO of the Australian Energy Market Operator. 

     

     

     

    CHINA

    Peter HesslerFor three stories published last year on China, Peter Hessler (1996–98) garnered for The New Yorker a nomination for best reporting as part of the 2021 National Magazine Awards. The stories: “Life on Lockdown,” “How China Controlled the Virus” and “The Sealed City.”Hessler has been a staff writer at the magazine since the year 2000 and has covered events in China and Egypt. He is also the author of five books, with some of the most prominent being “Oracle Bones,” which was a National Book Award finalist; and “The Buried,” which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Hessler was also named a MacArthur Fellow in 2011. 

     

     

     

    GUATEMALA

    Javier ValdésJavier Valdés (1999–2001) has been named U.S. Director of Civic Engagement and Government for the Ford Foundation. Valdés was previously the co-executive director at Make the Road New York, the state’s largest immigration advocacy organization. In his work Valdés has been instrumental in increasing affordable housing, expanding translation services in government offices, and reducing bias in policing. His professional initiatives and résumé of promoting social change will make him pivotal in the Ford Foundation’s ambitions on strengthening representation, participation, and leadership in U.S. democracy. 


     

     

     

    INDONESIA

    Rayna RogersRayna Rogers (2014–16) is an upcoming graduate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, where she has pursued her master’s degree in nonproliferation and terrorism studies. She was recently selected by her fellow students to be this year’s student speaker as a result of her exemplary academic performance and professional work. Rogers also has experience in teaching, having been an English Second Language Instructor for five years in South Korea, and having served in the Peace Corps as an education Volunteer in Indonesia. During her time as a graduate student, Rogers has written about nuclear safeguards implementation at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and also served as content director for the West Coast Chapter of Women of Color Advancing Peace, Security, and Conflict Transformations (WCAPS). She has also rendered three-dimensional models of ballistic missiles for use by the University’s James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies.
     

     

    IRAN

    Tom KlobeTom Klobe has been awarded the Preis Honor from the Hawai 'i Arts Alliance. He is a professor of art at the University of Hawaii. He is the author of Exhibitions: Concept, Planning and Design.

     

     

     

     

    MALI

    Kathi Seiden-Thomas (1996–98) is the co-founder and editor of Whose Stories Will We Hear?, a website and storytelling project uplifting stories of Black Africans in Africa. Series I: The Lives of Africans during the COVID-19 Pandemic has published 28 stories from 16 African countries on the website. “We believe that every story is worthy of being listened to and being heard,” she says. “In our attempt to understand and tell African stories, we also recognize that our role is not limited to compiling these stories but is also extended to prioritizing the narrative of the communities that have given us the privilege of collaborating with them.”
     

     

     

    MOLDOVA

    Kelly King HorneKelly King Horne (1995–97) is the executive director of Homeward, Virginia’s regional coordinating agency for homeless services, including the development and implementation of a regional strategic plan, board relationships, development, organizational management, and research and analysis.

     

     

     

     

    SENEGAL

    Amy MaglioAmy Maglio (1996–99), following her Peace Corps service, founded the Women’s Global Education Project, a global nonprofit organization with a goal of helping young girls across the world. In March 2021 the organization received a $750,000 grant from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey through his #StartSmall initiative. “This all really came from my experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal,” Maglio told the Chicago Tribune. “I helped my host sister go to school for the first time. I saw firsthand the impact school can have on a girl’s confidence and her future.”

     

     

     

    Katie SpeicherKatie Speicher (2016–18) has published The Giant Tangerine Sunball, her first collection of poems that spring from her Peace Corps service. (Peace Corps Writers, March 2021). She is also the farm manager at Common Ground Farm in Beacon, New York — a nonprofit with a mission of food access and food education.

     

     

     

     

    SIERRA LEONE

    Donald Lu (1988–90) was nominated on April 23, 2021 as Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, U.S. Department of State. He has been U.S. Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic since 2018. The portfolio of the region’s assistant secretary of state consists of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. In his three decades as a diplomat, Lu has been the ambassador to Albania, charge d'affaires at the embassy in Azerbaijan, and deputy director of the State Department's Office of Central Asian and South Caucasus Affairs. He also has experience of handling a health emergency having worked on the Ebola crisis in West Africa as Deputy Coordinator for Ebola Response in the State Department.

     

     

    SOMALIA

    Martin GanzglassMartin Ganzglass (1966–68) has published Goats: And Other Stories (Peace Corps Writers, March 2021). His collection of short stories merges the mundane and the supernatural. 

     

     

     

     

     

    SOUTH AFRICA

    C.D. GlinC.D. Glin (1997–99) has been appointed the Vice President, Global Head of Philanthropy for The PepsiCo Foundation. He begins his new role on May 17. Glin will be responsible for the daily management of the Foundation, and will oversee the Foundation's strategic direction and continued focus on driving progress towards a more sustainable food system. Glin has been serving as president and CEO of the U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF), an Africa-focused philanthropic organization established by Congress to invest grant capital, build capacity, and scale locally-owned, sustainable solutions for underserved and agricultural-dependent populations. He also previously served as associate director in Nairobi, Kenya, at The Rockefeller Foundation and before that was the first director of Intergovernmental Affairs and Global Partnerships at the Peace Corps. He was part of the first group of Peace Corps Volunteers to serve in South Africa. Read and watch his remarks from the 2020 panel “African Americans and the Future of the Peace Corps” here.
     

      

    TUNISIA

    Jody OlsenFormer Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen (1966–68) received the University of Maryland Alumni Association’s President award on April 23, 2021. She is one of six recipients of the Maryland Awards, which celebrate and honor the achievements of outstanding alumni. The award cites her lifelong championing of service, learning, and international opportunities for Americans of all backgrounds. Olsen served as Peace Corps director from March 2018 through January 2021.
     

  • Molly O'Brien posted an article
    We remember those within our Peace Corps community who recently passed away. see more

    As we mourn the loss of members of the Peace Corps community, we celebrate the lives they led with a commitment to service.

    By Molly O’Brien & Caitlin Nemeth

     

    Our tributes include former U.S. Ambassador Larry L. Palmer, left, and an award-winning musician. A decorated State Department diplomat and a public health official specializing in infectious diseases. Educators with a lifelong commitment to their students. A dedicated physical therapist and a doctor who served as an instrumental member of the NPCA Board of Directors.

    We honor the wide range of contributions made by members of the Peace Corps community who recently passed away.

     

    Ambassador Larry L. Palmer, Ph.D. (1949 – 2021) was a dedicated civil servant and diplomat. He earned a bachelor’s in history from Emory University, a master’s of education from Texas Southern University, and a doctorate in higher education and African Studies from Indiana University, Bloomington. Palmer served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Liberia from 1970 to 1972, which inspired him to join the Foreign Service. That led to postings in multiple U.S. Embassies around the world as part of the Senior Foreign Service. He served in the Dominican Republic, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Ecuador before being appointed U.S. Ambassador to Honduras (2002–05) by President Bush. During his tenure in Honduras, he oversaw more than $250 million in development programming from USAID and the Millennium Challenge Corporation. Upon completing his term as ambassador, he became the president and CEO of the Inter-American Foundation (IAF) from 2005–10. He was energetic and focused on generating economic impact during his time at IAF. He helped IAF expand their approach to funding and supporting underserved groups, including African descendants. After his time with IAF, Ambassador Palmer served as the U.S. Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean under President Obama (2012–16), where he concurrently served as the ambassador to Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Ambassador Palmer was a wonderful connector and diplomat, working tirelessly in many roles to forge prosperous relationships between the U.S. and many parts of the world.

     

    Mary L. Walker (1926 – 2021) was a musician, but her professional career began as a research assistant with the Wright Patterson Aeromedical Laboratories. This preliminary research was a precursor to the U.S. space program; Walker participated in trials to determine the effect of decreased oxygen levels on humans at high altitudes. Her career took a creative turn when, at 48, Walker taught herself how to play guitar; she would go on to complete eight albums. Her music can be described as entertaining and informational, and her inspiring impact was felt by the Catholic church and her local community, with songs such as “Advent Song” and “Everybody Has a Song.” Mary was awarded the Popular Award every year from 1984 to 1994 by the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers. From 1990 to 1992, Walker served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Fiji, where she presented a weekly children’s radio program called “Shared The Sunlight.” Over the years, she went on to receive the Arts Partnership Award from the Chemung Valley Arts Council and was recognized as a Woman of Excellence Today by Girl Scouts of the USA. In addition to “Shared The Sunlight,” other shows Walker hosted and performed on include PBS programs “Weekend Radio” and “Woody’s Children,” ITV’s “Saints Alive,” and the musical “Children of the Earth,” a production by Mary and Serge Banyevitch. Her extensive work over the years as a creative performer cemented Walker’s dedication to promoting fairness, love, and inclusion for the community's future — children.

     

    David C. McGaffey, Ph.D. (1941 – 2021) was an incredibly smart and talented man with many interests. At the age of 15, he enrolled at the University of Detroit and completed his education with majors in theater, folklore, psychology, and math. During his time at U of D, he met his future wife, Elizabeth. Together, they joined Peace Corps after their wedding, serving in Afghanistan 1964–66. Upon their return, McGaffey joined the State Department, traveling the world and representing the United States in various capacities. His storied career involved managing the safe evacuation of 2,500 Americans from Iran during the 1979 revolution, serving as the Deputy Chief of Mission in Guyana, and holding a position as the U.S. representative to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. He managed to find time to publish four non-fiction books about diplomacy and write a children’s book. While working for the State Department, McGaffey received his master’s in systems analysis at Harvard University, then furthered his education in retirement, completing a Ph.D. in international relations at Johns Hopkins University. He did not slow down, returning to teaching at several universities abroad in the U.S. He was passionate about teaching and assisted in the development of many programs at various international universities. David was an incredible civil servant and made a positive impact upon everyone he met. 

     

    David B. Wolf, Ph.D. (1942 – 2021) was a leader in higher education in California. Wolf attended the University of California, Berkeley, where he also earned his master’s in economics. After marrying in 1965, David and Ruth Wolf served in the Peace Corps in Malaysia 1966–68. Upon their return, David pursued his doctorate in organization and education at Stanford University. He began his career in education in earnest; he was hired as the dean of Los Angeles Mission College, then later took on administrative roles at other colleges. He taught for many years and was later promoted to accrediter for the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Wolf was passionate about his students and wanted every student in California to receive access to higher education. His retirement from teaching did not last long before he went back to work. He co-founded the Campaign for College Opportunity advocacy group in 2002, which has since grown into one of the only statewide nonprofits to focus exclusively on public higher education. Due to his work in his organization, hundreds of thousands of students in California have been able to achieve access to higher education and brighter futures.

     

    H. David Hibbard, M.D. (1937 – 2021) followed JFK’s call to service, joining the very first Peace Corps group in Nigeria, then later serving as a Peace Corps doctor in India 1967–69. An Oberlin College graduate, Hibbard continued his education at Case Western Reserve Medical School and the University of North Carolina, where he earned his public health degree. Remembered by patients as a kind and compassionate doctor, Hibbard contributed to the medical community in a variety of ways. He created the Advanced Medical Directive forms that are used nationwide, served on the Boulder Community Hospital Integrated task force, and co-founded the Malaria and Health Care Project with his wife, Chris, in Uganda. He remained active in the Returned Peace Corps Volunteer community, serving on the NPCA Board of Directors, making a lasting impact on NPCA’s advocacy efforts. 

     

    Michael J. Bangs, Ph.D. (1956 – 2021) was a dedicated public health agent to the communities he served, working across the globe in southeast Asia, Central America, and Africa. Inspired by his three years working on malaria prevention as a Peace Corps Volunteer in northern Borneo, Bangs obtained his master’s in medical entomology and infectious disease epidemiology. He spent 21 years as a U.S. Navy public health entomologist in the capacity of a preventive medicine officer in Indonesia, during which time he was sponsored as a Ph.D. candidate in medical entomology. Following his retirement from military service in 2006, he continued working overseas as director of vector-borne disease control programs for a private medical assistance company. Throughout his years as a public health worker, he authored over 250 articles that analyzed his research on vector-borne disease epidemiology. Bangs also consulted with major foundations on malaria prevention initiatives, and he taught as an adjunct professor and advisor to many students at world-renowned institutions such as the Universities of Oxford and Notre Dame.

     

    Marian B. Rowe (1939 – 2021) was a three-time Peace Corps Volunteer. From a young age she was involved in the organization 4-H, owning a horse and sheep that participated in 4-H competitions. Rowe’s devotion to animals led her to obtain her bachelor’s in zoology from the University of California Davis, and later on to pursue her master’s in wildlife biology through the University of Idaho. Her other passions included travel and education, and in 1962 she was part of the first Peace Corps group to arrive in Venezuela, where she worked in community development. She would go on to serve twice more in Peace Corps, but during the intervening years, she dedicated herself to working as an educator, teaching Spanish to high schoolers in California schools and teaching ESL to immigrants in local communities. In 1992, she served in Peace Corps Morocco as a large animal husbandry expert. She served for a third time as an English educator in Paraguay from 2009 to 2011. Her love for traveling, education, and animals continued for the rest of her life, and she passed on a deep appreciation for these to her children and grandchildren.

     

    Francisco A. Sisneros (1948 – 2021) was a respected education administrator, researcher, and author. He spent several years in his late teens and early 20s independently in Latin America, studying and working, and by 1971 served as a Volunteer in Honduras. Following his Peace Corps service, Sisneros worked at the Bilingual Institute and the University of New Mexico, and conducted bilingual materials research at the University of Arizona in Tucson until 1981. He then switched gears and spent 20 years as a school administrator within the Socorro, New Mexico school district. In his spare time, Sisneros enjoyed researching his Hispanic ancestors, tracing his family ties to the mid-1660s in New Mexico. He helped establish the Hispanic Genealogical Research Center of New Mexico, and was a senior research associate at the center. He was also a well-known writer and researcher in the field of New Mexico Hispanic history.

     

    Hugh T. Compton, Ph.D. (1944 – 2021) served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Jamaica, working as a teacher and job counselor. Upon his return from service in 1969, he earned his doctorate in literature from the University of South Carolina. Compton joined the university faculty, inspiring thousands of students over the course of three decades. He served in many leadership positions at the university and contributed to a wide range of topics such as 18th-century literature, censorship, theatre history, Southern literature, and African American theatre and literature. Hugh was also the recipient of many University honors and awards, including the University of South Carolina Educational Foundation Award for Faculty Service and the Martin Luther King Jr. Award for Distinguished Teaching, Research and Service in Furtherance of Social Justice.

     

    Gwendolyn K. Forbes-Kirby (1953 – 2021) was a dedicated physical therapist for over 35 years. After she graduated from the University of California, Davis, she joined the Peace Corps in 1976 and served in South Korea, where she met her future husband. After marriage, they traveled together and spent time in Switzerland, Japan, Hawai'i, and the state of Georgia. During her time in Atlanta, she used her extensive experience working as a certified lymphedema therapist to join the Board of Directors for the Lighthouse Lymphedema Network.

     

    PEACE CORPS STAFF

    Mercer Gilmore (US Staff), 4/5/21

    Paul L. Guise, M.D. (West Africa 1961–64), 5/5/21

    John L. Kuehn, M.D. (US Staff 1966), 4/25/21

    Tobe Johnson, Ph.D. (US Staff), 5/7/21

    Walter O. VomLehn, M.D. (Dominican Republic), 3/8/21

     

    MULTIPLE COUNTRIES

    Kathryn I. Chase (Hungary 1995–97, Eastern Caribbean 1998), 4/6/21

    Marian B. Rowe (Venezuela 1962–64, Morocco 1992–94, Paraguay 2009–11), 5/8/21

     

    AFGHANISTAN

    John M. Flynn (1965–67), 5/18/21

    David C. McGaffey (1964–66), 4/14/21

    Sandra J. McNeilly (1971–73), 4/12/21

     

    BANGLADESH

    Michael B. Backus (2003–04), 5/12/21

     

    BENIN

    Monica M. Justice (1989–91), 1/15/21

     

    BOTSWANA

    Gary M. Bean (1968–69), 5/18/21

     

    BRAZIL

    Michael B. Fero (1965–67), 10/28/20

    Rodolfo Ramirez (1966–69), 5/1/21

     

    BURKINA FASO

    Peter Brostrom (1985–86), 3/30/21

     

    COLOMBIA

    M. Dickey Drysdale (1966), 5/9/21

    Michael S. Owen (1966–68), 4/13/21

    Donald R. Torrence (1962–64), 4/25/21

     

    EASTERN CARIBBEAN

    Jake M. Beddoe (201819), 5/27/20

     

    ECUADOR

    Robert Donner (1966–67), 4/27/21

     

    ETHIOPIA

    Charles L. Clark (1963–65), 4/27/21

    Elizabeth J. Hamm (196465), 4/11/21

    Lois S. Mirkin (1962–64), 12/22/20

    Gwendolyn S. Smith (197374), 5/4/21

     

    FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA

    Esther M. Gray (1987–89), 4/28/21

    Sharon N. Ruzumna (196769), 4/24/21

     

    FIJI

    Mary L. Walker (1990–92), 4/29/21

     

    GUYANA

    Frank X. McGough (1966–68), 4/24/21

     

    HONDURAS

    Francisco A. Sisneros (1971–73), 5/1/21

    Jackson E. Tegarden (1977), 5/14/21

     

    INDIA

    Grant B. Anderson (1963), 5/18/21

    Ruth Benziger Cahill (1968–70), 4/17/20

    Conrad F. Fingerson (196365), 4/30/21

    Bill A. Hetzner (1965–67), 4/15/21

    James “Jamie” Oates (196871), 4/14/21

    Roland M. Poirier (1968–69), 3/9/21

     

    IRAN

    Jeffrey D. Shorn (1966–68), 4/20/21

     

    JAMAICA

    Marvin A. Cochran (196567), 4/27/21

    Hugh T. Compton, Ph.D. (1967–69), 4/28/21

     

    KENYA

    James R. Linville (197073), 4/19/21

     

    LIBERIA

    Amb. Larry L. Palmer, Ph.D. (197072), 4/22/21

    Frank A. Peterson, Jr. (1963–65), 4/10/21

    Marie L. Woodward (1977–80), 4/7/21
     

    MALAWI

    John A. Turnbull (1963–65), 4/13/21

     

    MALAYSIA

    Michael J. Bangs, Ph.D. (1979–82), 3/9/21

    David B. Wolf (196668), 4/9/21

     

    NIGER

    Kent M. Helmer (1979–81), 4/21/21

     

    NIGERIA

    Eric E. Goodale (1964–67), 4/25/21

    H. David Hibbard, M.D. (196163), 4/7/21

    Gwendolyn E. Skeoch (196567), 5/2/21

    Carl White (1964–66), 5/8/21

     

    PANAMA

    William A. LeMaire (1967–69), 3/29/21

     

    PARAGUAY

    Richard Headen Inman, Sr. (1968–70), 3/13/21

     

    PERU

    Carl S. Ebert (1966–68), 4/21/21

    Frederick P. Romero (196466), 3/26/21

     

    PHILIPPINES

    Bruce C. Campbell (1961–63), 5/10/21

    Veronica D. Casale (1966–68), 1/6/21

    Ernest N. Way (1965–67), 5/21/21

     

    SAINT LUCIA

    Jane O. Mohney (1982–83), 5/7/21

     

    SIERRA LEONE

    Jeffrey N. Phillips (1973–75), 4/14/21

    Diane Williams (1987–90), 4/5/21

    Brenda Wilson (1973–76), 4/15/21

     

    SOUTH KOREA

    Peter Bartholomew (1967–71), 5/11/12

    Gwendolyn K. Forbes-Kirby (1976–78), 4/9/21

     

    TANZANIA

    Noel C. Hankamer (196568), 4/6/21

     

    COUNTRY OF SERVICE NOT SPECIFIED

    Jerry D. Nash, 4/12/21

    Ann Neuenschwander, 4/20/21

     

     

     

     


     

    If you have information you would like to share for our monthly In Memoriam post, please reach out to us at obituary@peacecorpsconnect.org

  • Communications Intern posted an article
    From Peace Corps to the house, senate, and more — at the state level see more

    From Peace Corps to the house, senate, and more — at the state level

    By Jake Arce and Jordana Comiter

    New to the New York State Senate: Samra Brouk, who served as a Volunteer in Guatemala. Photo courtesy Samra Brouk.

     

    John Garamendi (D-CA) is currently the sole Returned Peace Corps Volunteer in the U.S. Congress. What about at the state level? After recent elections, here’s where you’ll find a few in state houses, senates, and assemblies — as well as a secretary of state and governor.

     


    ALABAMA

    Arthur Orr (Nepal 1989–91) was reelected to the State Senate in 2018. He has served since 2006 and chairs the $17 billion Senate Budget Committee for Education. With Peace Corps he served in a Himalayan village and established a college scholarship program for girls.

     

     

     

     


    COLORADO

    Jeni Arndt (Morocco 1990–92) was in her third term in the state’s House of Representatives but departs this spring; in April she was elected mayor of Fort Collins with 63 percent of the vote.

     

     

     

      


    HAWAI‘I

    Gene Ward (Malaysia 1965–67; Country Director, East Timor 2005–06) was reelected in November to represent the 17th district in the state’s House of Representatives. Altogether he has served East Honolulu in the House more than 20 years.

     

     

     

     


     MAINE

    Shenna Bellows (Panama 2000–02) was elected by the Legislature to be Maine’s secretary of state—the first woman elected to serve in the role. Served 2016–20 in the State Senate. At her swearing-in in January, she noted that her grandmother, who celebrated her 101st birthday days prior, was born in the year that saw final ratification of the 19th Amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote.

     

     

     


     MARYLAND

    Robbyn Lewis (Niger 1990–91) serves in the Maryland House of Delegates, representing District 46 in Baltimore. A public health professional who has worked with the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins and elsewhere, she sponsored House Bill 28 to help address health concerns in communities of color.

     

     

     


     MASSACHUSETTS

    Jon Santiago (Dominican Republic 2006–08) was reelected to the state’s House of Representatives in November. With Peace Corps he was a community health specialist. Now he is an ER physician at Boston Medical Center, the city’s safety net hospital; and a captain in the U.S. Army Reserve who has deployed overseas. In February he declared his candidacy for mayor of Boston.

     

     

     


     NEW HAMPSHIRE

    Rebecca Perkins Kwoka (Senegal 2004–06) was elected in November to the State Senate. Former council member for the city of Portsmouth, she is the first openly gay woman in the New Hampshire Senate, and is also a wife and mother.

     

     

     

     

     

    Richard AmesRichard Ames (The Philippines 1968–70) was reelected to the state’s House of Representatives. He is vice chair of the Jaffrey Energy Committee and has served in the House since 2012. 

     

     

     

     


     NEW YORK

    Samra Brouk (Guatemala 2009–11) was elected to the State Senate to represent the 55th District in Rochester. The daughter of immigrants, her father fled Ethiopia during its civil war. As a college student, she volunteered with cleanup efforts after Hurricane Katrina; as a Peace Corps Volunteer she worked in health education.

     

     

     


     PENNSYLVANIA

    Tom Wolf (India 1968–70) has served as governor since 2015; he was reelected in 2018. To recover from the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, in February Wolf announced a $3 billion “Back to Work PA” plan.

     

     

     

     


     WASHINGTON

    Mary Dye (Thailand 1984–86) won reelection in November to the House of Representatives for the 9th legislative district in southeastern Washington. She was first appointed to the House in 2015.

     

     

     

     


     WISCONSIN

    Sara Rodriguez (Samoa 1997–99) was elected in November as Wisconsin State Representative for Assembly District 13, which includes Brookfield, Elm Grove, Wauwatosa, West Allis, and Milwaukee. She is a registered nurse and healthcare executive, and she has had various leadership positions with public health departments at the local, state and federal level, serving as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer with the CDC.

     

     

  • Communications Intern 2 posted an article
    RPCVs bring forward their rewarding experiences following Worldview see more

    Letters, emails, LinkedIn and Instagram comments, Facebook posts, tweets, and other missives: Readers respond to the stories in words and images in the winter 2021 edition of WorldView. We’re happy to continue the conversation here and on all those nifty social media platforms. One way to write us: worldview@peacecorpsconnect.org

     

    Retool, then reengage

    The pandemic offers a unique opportunity for Peace Corps to critically evaluate programs. It’s tempting to just send back returned Volunteers to previous assignments—and probably easiest from utilizing appropriated funding. But I hope there will be a pause, and a rethinking about how best to use the skills and idealism of some of America’s best.

    Jerry Wager

    Guyana 1967–69

     

    WorldView is spectacular! I just received the winter issue. Wow! I get a lot of magazines, but WorldView is just head and shoulders above all of them.

    Dennis Lucey

    Country Director, Liberia 1976–77

     

    Important connections — the NPCA email newsletter, WorldView. Connections make a difference! My Peace Corps experience 55 years ago has strengthened in my perspectives and actions over the years. Always learning, always valuable.

    Judy Lippman

    Morocco 1966–68

     

    After perusing the latest WorldView, I was wondering if you had considered a letter to the editor campaign in which returned PCVs would highlight Peace Corps’ 60th anniversary and explain the current status of the program and plans to return Volunteers to the field.

    In addition, have you considered contacting current and past presidents and their spouses, inviting them to become patrons of the Peace Corps and advocates of its work, while requesting their support with Congress and the public at large? Many thanks for your great efforts in keeping alive and well the ideals of the Peace Corps that inspired me and so many others to serve.

    Fred Kalhammer

    Dominican Republic (1962–64)

     

     


    “Ask not…” Annotating JFK’s Inaugural address

     

     

    I watched and heard the words while working as a nurse aide in January ’62. In April I sent an inquiry, sent in the application, trained that summer, and was in country by fall. Still the best thing I ever did. Would do it again, but I’m 77! 

    Edith O’Neil-Page

    Ecuador 1962

     

    I am dumbfounded why you did not include this paragraph from the inaugural in your article:

    To those people in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required — not because the communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

    Within an inaugural address that people would parse as if it were the Gettysburg address, it would be difficult not to read Kennedy’s pledge as a statement to the world of why he would be creating a “Peace Corps” … which he did by executive order about 45 days later. Within the confines of two sentences, Kennedy spoke directly to what many then called the “Third World” and set out the principles of the pledge he was making and what would govern a Peace Corps: We would come not as “helpers” but as equals, “to help them help themselves,” not limited by an arbitrary time requirement, but “for whatever period is required”… and most important we come not out of some self-interest but out of the moral responsibility that comes from being a citizen of the world … because it is right.

    Gordon Radley

    Malawi 1968–70; Training program director, Western Samoa 1979

     

    Excellent point and taken. Check out the full address here, along with more annotations by Gordon Radley, Editor Emeritus David Arnold, and others. —Ed.

     


     

    How Peace Corps inspired Linda Thomas-Greenfield 

    Read the story here.

     

    Love her: She swore in our L4 group in Peace Corps Response Liberia! She will be a fantastic U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., bringing compassion, intelligence, experience, down-to-earth warmth, talent, and a diverse perspective.

    Alyssa Moy

    Staff and consultant; associate director in Nicaragua 2014–19

     

    I served in Somalia 9. We did our initial training at Leland College in Baker, Louisiana — probably when Linda was a little girl. I’d like to think we might have left an impression on her about Peace Corps.

    Denis Viri

    Somalia 1969–70

     

    She was Chief of Mission in Liberia when I was there serving as director of management and operations for Peace Corps reopening the post. She is an extraordinary person and I am glad she is in the position she is in now.

    Darren D. Defendeifer

    Peace Corps HQ Staff

     

    I worked for her at State and she is one of the most incredible human beings I’ve ever met.

    Victoria Sturdivant

    Ghana 1997–99

     

     


    Anne Rimoin: “A matter of life and death”

    Read the story here.

     

    Thank you, Anne, for your informative and thoughtful article. Thank you for articulating so eloquently not only the significance of learning to listen to our community, but also how the Peace Corps experience teaches us that vital lesson.

    Meredith McCartney

    Benin 1989–91

       


    Peace Corps Connect to the Future

    Read the report here.

     

    After reading the section of the report focused on “Reexamining the Peace Corps’ Second and Third Goals,” I find myself in complete and enthusiastic agreement. I’ve served three complete 27-month tours as a PCV. Being an educator by profession and assigned to the education sector, the First Goal was for me pretty much routine. I loved it — but the real excitement and life-changing experiences were reflected in the Second and Third Goals, which profoundly reflect the humanitarian values of our society.

    I have an everlasting love for the language, the culture, and the people of Colombia. Why? The Second and Third Goals of the Peace Corps and the friendships I made. My two-plus years in Morocco gave me an even deeper awareness of our human commonalities. And living in Quito, Ecuador, opened up new perspectives for me on what it means to be human, thanks to lasting friendships with many Ecuadorian Indigenous people, organic farmers, and vegan restaurant owners.

    I can’t emphasize enough the immense value of the Peace Corps as a human endeavor, especially in light of the technological dehumanization which we all are having to deal with.

    At the present time, I’m waiting and hoping for a clearance from the Office of Medical Services and another assignment. I know we’re all in a sort of limbo until COVID subsides.

    Robert Onstine

    Colombia 1966–68; Morocco 2000–02; Ecuador 2017–19

     


    These comments appear in the spring 2021 edition of WorldView magazine. Sign up for a print subscription by joining National Peace Corps Association. You can also download the WorldView App for free here: worldviewmagazine.org

  • Communications Intern posted an article
    Meet Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, Janelle Jones, and Jalina Porter see more

    First Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer for the State Department. Chief Economist for U.S. Department of Labor. And Principal Deputy Spokesperson for the State Department.

     

    Photo: Janelle Jones

     

    “We are at a particular time in America, and the world is watching us,” Gina Abercrombie- Winstanley said after being appointed by Secretary of State Antony Blinken to her new role. That would be the first-ever chief diversity and inclusion officer for the State Department.

    In January at State, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Jalina Porter also set precedent — when she became the first Black woman appointed as principal deputy spokesperson. Returned Volunteer Janelle Jones is breaking ground, too: She's the first Black woman to serve as chief economist for the Department of Labor.
    Here's an introduction to all three.
     

     


    GinaGina Abercrombie-WinstanleyGina Abercrombie-Winstanley

    First Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer for the State Department

    Oman | 1980–82

     

    A new post and a new leader for a decades-old problem: Ambassador Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley was appointed in April as the first-ever chief diversity and inclusion officer for the State Department. She is tasked with leading efforts to ensure that we nurture a diplomatic corps that truly represents this country — and looks like this country — and sheds once and for all the cliche of “pale, male, and Yale.”

    This is not the first time that Abercrombie-Winstanley has led the way — and been tested. After serving with the Peace Corps in Oman, she went on to become the first woman to lead a diplomatic mission in Saudi Arabia; she was serving as consul general in Jeddah in 2004 when a suicide bomber detonated a bomb near the consulate, killing nine.

    She advised U.S. Cyber Command on diplomatic priorities, and she served as U.S. ambassador to Malta. In December 2020 she gave the keynote address for Peace Corps’ Franklin Williams Awards ceremony. “We are the messengers of what Peace Corps is and can be,” she said, recounting both the opportunities she helped create and the resistance she faced as a Black woman serving in the Peace Corps and in the U.S. Foreign Service.  Read more: bit.ly/we-are-peace-corps

    Photo of Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley by Mandel Ngan/AP

     


     

    Janelle Jones

    Chief Economist for U.S. Department of Labor

    Peru | 2009–11

     

    Appointed in January, Jones is the first Black woman to serve as chief economist for the Labor Department. Her top goals: create jobs, address inequality — like the fact that the unemployment rate for Black individuals is often double that of whites — and pursue economic recovery that truly benefits everyone. One way to do that is, she says, to pursue economic policies fueled by the sensibility of “Black Women Best” — that is, those that focus on pulling Black women out of recession and into prosperity, because that will mean we’re building an economy that benefits everyone.

    Previously, Jones served as an economic analyst at the Economic Policy Institute. Her research has been cited in The Washington Post, The New Yorker, The Economist, Harper’s, and The Review of Black Political Economy. She holds degrees from Spelman College and Illinois State University.

    As a Peace Corps Volunteer she worked on small business development; she also served as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer in Sacramento with a grassroots nonprofit focused on community health.

     Janelle Jones photo courtesy Economic Policy Institute

     

      


     

    Jalina Porter

    Principal Deputy Spokesperson for the State Department 

    Cambodia | 2009–11

     

    Appointed in January 2021 to serve as deputy spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, Porter is the first Black woman in history to serve in that role. She was formerly communications director for Congressman Cedric Richmond (D-LA), who was appointed a senior advisor to the Biden administration.

    Porter is also a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a 2020 recipient of Peace Corps’ Franklin Williams Award. In her work as a strategic communications advisor, she has focused on peace and security, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Throughout her career, she has advised and trained over 3,000 public and foreign policy professionals, veterans, artists, athletes, politicians, and leading corporate executives. She was named a 2018 top 35 Black American National Security and Foreign Policy Next Generation Leader by New America and a 2019 Foreign Policy Influencer by the Women’s Foreign Policy Group.

    She is a member of the inaugural cohort of NPCA's “40 under 40” and previously served on the board of the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Washington, D.C. as development director. Immediatly prior to her new post, she also served on the advisory council for the community-driven report “Peace Corps Connect to the Future.” She is a proud graduate of Howard University, where she received her bachelor’s degree, and Georgetown University, where she earned her master’s. A former professional dancer, Porter is passionate about the arts, living with intention, and unique storytelling through movement and writing.

    Read Jalina Porter’s interview with civil rights attorney Elaine Jones in our Winter 2021 edition. Follow her official account on Twitter at @StateDeputySpox.

    Jalina Porter photo courtesy Department of State

  • Communications Intern posted an article
    Before Milana Baish served as a Volunteer, she interviewed 15 who had served across the decades. see more

    Before Milana Baish served as a Peace Corps Volunteer, she interviewed 15 who had served across the decades. Then came the global evacuation.

     

    Interview by Jordana Comiter

     

    Meeting multiple returned Volunteers while studying at University of Texas, Austin, led Milana Baish to interview 15 RPCVs and write an honors thesis on how they perceived their experiences’ impact — in their communities and on themselves. They served from the 1960s to 2015, from Ghana to Sri Lanka, Brazil to Ukraine. 

    Then it was Baish’s turn. Her service in Zambia was cut short by evacuation. A Coverdell Fellowship brought her to Clark University for a program in development economics and international development. 


     

    Why did you decide to serve?

    A lot of it had to do with the people I talked to. I wanted to learn about another culture. My time teaching in the Peace Corps solidified the path that I want to follow, working on education and equity in the U.S. and abroad. Most meaningful were relationships with fellow teachers and my host sister, learning from other women in the community, and learning from my students.

    Teaching was hard. My classes were really large, up to 80 students. We were meant to work with another teacher, but my school was short staffed. We held teacher meetings to choose difficult topics and create a lesson plan together. Then someone would put on this class, and we’d all observe. With my English teaching, it was just me. I started an English club also; students could do extra material or homework. If they were trying to learn a phrase, I would make sure I knew how to say it in Bemba. 

     

    Silvia Mwape with Volunteer Milana Baish. Seated: Abigail Shamz

    Embrace: Silvia Mwape, left, with Volunteer Milana Baish. Seated: Abigail Shamz. They hosted Milana as mother and sister. Photo courtesy Milana Baish

     

     

    Talk about the evacuation — and who and what you left behind.

    My group had gone for literacy training in the capital. There staff told us, “We’re evacuating you guys. You don’t have time to go back to your village, say goodbye, or pack. We’re flying you out from the capital.”

    It was very sudden and still feels like an open chapter. I talk to people in my community, checking in. But I’m only able to keep in contact with people with smartphones. I can sometimes give messages to students through the teachers.

    I was the first Volunteer at my site. Seven months is not a lot of time. There were a lot of things the community wanted to get done. We started a women’s group that did income-generating activities, as well as adult literacy classes. We were about to start our big project — beekeeping. I have heard from the local carpenter, who built structures for the nests; he is helping the women continue the project. We wanted to build a kitchen at the school as part of a meal program for students who go through 15-hour school days hungry. We talked about writing the grant but never got started. 

     

    What do you think it means to serve now versus then? 

    One thing we learn in Peace Corps training is, “You’re not going to be happy if you’re comparing yourself to the other Volunteers.” Everyone has different communities and schools they’re working in.

    I went in knowing what other Volunteers had done but tried to have no expectations. The goals of the Peace Corps are the same. The world seems so large, but it’s really so small. It’s been an important part of the Peace Corps to just show us that we’re all in this together.

     

    Teacher training: Students with Milana Baish. Photo courtesy Milana Baish

     

    Talk about concern over neocolonialism and white saviorism.

    That’s an important conversation being had now. I’m half Hispanic, but I’m very white passing. Going to Zambia, I’m just seen as a white woman. That was something I thought a lot about, because of the history of colonialism.

    A couple times in my community someone would say, “You’re gonna bring all these great things to our community.” I would say, “We’re going to do this together. I want to know what you guys want to do.” I was there to help support, learn, and share.

    A lot of Volunteers I spoke to for my research reflected on how their race might have affected things. Some were people of color who were treated differently by their communities. In Guatemala, one was the first Black person many had met.

    It’s critical to have diversity in the Peace Corps, because that’s how the United States is. 

     

    Would you do it again?

    Yes, 100 percent. Without a doubt.

     

    International Women's Day, 2020: “We had a parade around the village and then celebrated with dancing and cooking at the school,” writes Milana Baish. Photo by Milana Baish

     

     


    Jordana Comiter studies political science and communications at Tulane University. She serves as an intern with WorldView.

  • Communications Intern posted an article
    A global approach to community building — at home and around the world see more

    Take a community-based approach to service at home and around the world. And learn from Black Americans making their mark abroad.

     

    By Jerome Moore [as told to Jake Arce]


    My interest in community development started while I was growing up in Nashville, Tennessee. It began with a volunteering organization called The Contributor, which helps homeless neighbors establish their own microbusiness and work their way into housing  through selling an award-winning street paper. The work really inspired me to continue volunteering in college and discover how I can better benefit my community — especially to make an impact working against systemic oppression. 

    I later became interested in ways that community development and community-based projects can make an impact in the global sphere. This ambition, combined with my desire to learn a new language, is part of what motivated me to submit an application for the Peace Corps. I served in Paraguay 2015–17. It was the first time I had been outside of the country, and I can truly say that the Peace Corps has shaped my life for the better and inspired me to do the projects that I am doing today.

     

    Peace Corps gives you a completely different perspective on what it means to be an American — and how our identity can be viewed through a global lens. And it provides a new perspective on global development and making a difference in the communities you serve. 

     

    The Peace Corps brings out a sense of vulnerability, in terms of learning a new language and being immersed in a different culture. It gives you a completely different perspective on what it means to be an American — and how our identity can be viewed through a global lens. And it provides a new perspective on global development and making a difference in the communities you serve.

    I came from a lower middle class community, with many people who weren’t aware of what was going on outside of their state and did not know about opportunities related to public service. There weren’t any advertisements I saw on television, or within my community; that made it difficult to discover opportunities with Peace Corps — and public service in general. There are also so many things to worry about financially that traveling outside of the country isn’t something many would typically consider. One of the few opportunities would be the military — and that’s not something everyone would want to pursue. 

    It’s important to spread the message so communities across the globe know how they can contribute with public service initiatives, including the Peace Corps, to promote cohesion and character development. This is something that I’m really passionate about, and I want to spread the word about the impact you can make and the connections you can form. 

    I like to utilize a needs assessment to develop goals; what the community needs differs depending on the setting. Needs may be completely different in Nashville, Tennessee, in comparison to Iturbe, Paraguay. Along with the projects I’ve already undertaken, this summer I’m launching a Black Youth Abroad Curriculum that introduces Black youth to opportunities outside the United States.

     

    Girl in China and Jerome Moore jumping

    Attitude and altitude: visiting the Birds Nest project, in Xiamen, China. Photo courtesy Jerome Moore

     

     

    Community Changers 

    Making an impact both globally and domestically has motivated me to pursue work in community building on a large scale. Several years ago I founded Community Changers, an organization to bring youth to partake in community-based initiatives—and discuss lifestyles of Black people living in the United States and abroad. We have three separate projects to fulfill our community-based goals.

     

    COMMUNITY PROJECTS cover hands-on development work in areas around the world: Birds Nest, in Xiamen, China; The Contributor, in Nashville, Tennessee; and All African People’s Development and Empowerment Project in Huntsville, Alabama. The purpose is to add a more cool and flavorful approach to community-based projects.

     

    DEEP DISH CONVERSATIONS is a laid-back, discussion-based video series: I sit down with people at Gino’s East Pizza to discuss social issues and how those impact their life—all over a slice of pizza. We look for relatable ways to further community development.

     

    “BLACK AMERICANS MAKING THEIR MARK: STORIES ABROAD” is a podcast and video series where Black Americans discuss their personal experience in global settings. This has given me an opportunity to highlight serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Paraguay, and traveling to Costa Rica and China. There is often a sense that all Black people around the world deal with the same issues, but this is not true. We are the majority skin color around the world, but we all have different experiences, whether you are Black in the United States or the U.K., you’re Black in the Caribbean or on the continent of Africa. We look to highlight our specific experiences as Black Americans and address the rare cases Black Americans are shown traveling outside the United States. We hope to provide advice and motivate other Black Americans to travel abroad—through Peace Corps or through personal exploration. You can’t get that knowledge unless you leave the United States and immerse yourself in another community. 

     

    Photo courtesy of Jerome Moore


     

    Global Black Voices: Peace Corps Edition

    Jerome Moore’s podcast “Black Americans Making Their Mark: Stories Abroad” seeks to inform, inspire, and fill a void in media representation. Exploring the diversity of Black experiences around the world also means tackling misperceptions and stereotypes — and the role all of us have in reversing those. Big in the mix: Black Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. Here are pieces of three conversations.

     

     Rob Watson and Jerome Moore

    ROB WATSON

    Director of Student Programs, Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School

    Peace Corps Volunteer in Paraguay 2010–13

     

    Beginnings: “My story around service starts with my parents doing service work in different ways: my mom in a faith-based community, my stepfather as a corrections officer, and my dad went from being a community organizer to a principal to a superintendent in schools, and he worked in group homes … Peace Corps was the chance to take my conception of justice, service, education, antipoverty, and civic engagement to the international context.” 

    Connections: “Leaders from Afro-Paraguayan communities came in to do artistic interventions in my community in Encarnacion, in the south of Paraguay—and it was really cool: We were having exchanges with Afro-Paraguayan communities and Paraguayan communities who weren’t [Afro-Paraguayan]. Sometimes we as Volunteers facilitated exchange around Black realities to Paraguayans who weren’t familiar with it.”

    Realities: “Especially in recent times, I’m seeing the Peace Corps take more of a deliberate role in thinking about issues of racial justice in the United States, the realities of Volunteers of different races — but also sexual orientations and everything in between.” 

     

     Nyassa Kollie and Jerome Moore

    NYASSA KOLLIE 

    Regional Recruiter for Peace Corps

    Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi 2015–18

     

    In Liberia, Nyassa Kollie’s parents were taught by a Peace Corps Volunteer. Now she helps others understand what service might mean for their lives.

    Foundations: “My parents are Liberian immigrants and have always pushed education. That Volunteer instilled this love of education — but also the sense, ‘Hey, I can do what I set my mind to.’ What makes Peace Corps so different is that we’re an agency about relationships and people.” 

    Represent: “I’m a regional recruiter for the Chicagoland area, so I have the pleasure to talk about the Peace Corps all the time — with people who could be interested and people who never thought about Peace Corps … They say every recruiter is a diversity recruiter. On top of that, we have nationwide diversity recruiters who specifically target HBCUs or predominantly Asian institutions … We want our Volunteers to reflect the United States. Returned Volunteers need to feel more emboldened to share their story, because you go back to your hometown and talk to people you know, who can say, ‘Jerome graduated from here and this is something I want to do.’” 

     

    Tim Campbell and Jerome Moore 

    TIM CAMPBELL

    Graduate Student, University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service; Member, Task Force to Advance the State of Law Enforcement in Arkansas

    Peace Corps Volunteer in The Gambia 2016–18

     

    A native of Little Rock, Campbell was the first person in his family to graduate from college. In summer 2020 he led peaceful protests against the killing of George Floyd and other Black Americans and convened meetings with the governor to discuss community policing and training manuals. In June he was appointed to a task force to reform policing.

    Why Commit: “[Peace Corps] is not something you’re doing just for some benefit, this is something you do because you want to … I would tell anybody to be a product of your decisions and not your circumstances, be a product of your wisdom and not your ignorance, be a part of your positivity and not your proximity.”

     

     

    Read, listen, explore: jeromelmoore.com


    Jake Arce is a graduate student in the School of International Service at American University. He picked up work on this story begun by Del Wood, who studies at University of Southern California.

  • Brian Sekelsky posted an article
    Stories and reflections of eight Volunteers from under-represented communities see more

    Stories and reflections of eight Volunteers: The challenges that come with Peace Corps service when you’re a person of color, low income, or identify as LGBTQIA+. And the richness of the relationships forged in communities around the world.

     

    The Museum of the Peace Corps Experience and the Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Oral History Project are pleased to share “Many Faces of Peace Corps: 60th Anniversary” video.

    The 19-minute video features personal stories and reflections of eight Returned Peace Corps Volunteers who identify as members of under-represented populations in the United States. The stories, gleaned from extended oral history interviews, shed light on challenges faced by Volunteers of color, as well as low-income and LGBTQIA+ Volunteers serving throughout the world. Volunteers candidly discuss improvements needed in Peace Corps operations going forward. And they underscore numerous benefits of cross-cultural relationships among individuals and communities at home and abroad.

    In the weeks ahead, watch this space for a discussion guide to accompany the video. The guide will offer National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) members and affiliate groups a resource to prompt discussion of issues relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion in Peace Corps — and beyond.

    Recommendations for addressing these and other challenges confronting Peace Corps are included in Peace Corps Connect to the Future: A Community Report on How to Reimagine, Reshape, and Retool the Peace Corps for a Changed World.”

     

     

    Tell Your Story

    The RPCV Oral History Project invites all returned and evacuated Volunteers and Peace Corps staff to share their unique Peace Corps experiences. To date, close to 1,000 oral histories spanning 60 years of service have been recorded and archived since July 2020 at the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky, and from 1999 to 2019 at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum under the National Archives and Records Administration.

    Any RPCV interested in being interviewed for the collection may complete this form or use the form at Peace Corps Oral History website. The team will schedule a virtual oral history interview an experienced RPCV interviewer. 

     

    Questions?

    RPCV Oral History Project:  oralhistoryproject@peacecorpsconnect.org

    Museum of the Peace Corps Experience: contactus@peacecorpsmuseum.org

  • Brian Sekelsky posted an article
    Highlights and recordings from a week of celebration and discussion about the future of Peace Corps see more

    Highlights and recordings from a week of celebration and wide-ranging discussion about the future of Peace Corps. And a review of some of the stories you don’t want to miss.

    Edited and Produced by Jake Arce and Orrin Luc


    On March 1, 1961, President John F. Kennedy signed executive order 10924, establishing the Peace Corps with the hopes of promoting world peace and friendship. Peace Corps Week is a time for us as a community to commemorate and recognize all of the ways that Peace Corps has made an impact — in individual lives and in communities around the world.

    This year we mark six decades. But this is also an unprecedented time for the Peace Corps. In March 2020, all Volunteers serving around the world were evacuated because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a community-driven effort, National Peace Corps Association is working to help transform Peace Corps: to reimagine, reshape, and retool the agency for a changed world. So while we celebrate this historic milestone, we also focus on the work that must be done in the present to make a better and stronger Peace Corps for the future.

    Here are highlights of events held to celebrate Peace Corps Week 2021. Included here are events for which we have recordings and links. Listings will be updated as more events become available.

    Scroll down for a look at some news stories, opinion pieces, and slide shows that were published during Peace Corps Week. 

    Be sure to sign up for our newsletter (at the bottom of our homepage) and to follow us on social media for the latest. And, of course, be sure to join NPCA (the basic level is free!) to receive WorldView magazine and explore stories in greater depth. 

      

     

     

    EVENTS

     

    Monday, March 1 

    RPCV Rep. John Garamendi introduces Comprehensive Peace Corps Legislation

    On March 1st 2021, RPCV Representatives Garret Graves (R-LA) and John Garamendi (D-CA) introduced the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act (H.R. 1456) in the House of Representatives. We invite readers to view Congressman Garamendi's press release, where readers can find a link to the legislation and the many provisions to improve and honor the work of Peace Corps Community.

    The key points of The Peace Corps Reauthorization Act of 2021 include:

    • Authorizes $600 million in annual funding by fiscal year 2025 for the Peace Corps to support the goal of deploying 10,0000 volunteers worldwide, once safe and prudent to do so following the subsidence of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is an increase over the flat $410 million funding level provided by Congress in recent years.

    • Expedites re-enrollment of volunteers whose service ended involuntarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic and allows volunteers to resume in-country service, once safe and prudent to do so.

    • Directs the Peace Corps to provide benefits (readjustment allowance, health insurance, noncompetitive eligibility status for federal hiring) to Volunteers whose service ended involuntarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    • Guarantees three months of health insurance coverage for returned Volunteers paid by the Peace Corps, with the option to renew for additional three months at individual expense. Currently, the Peace Corps only offers automatic enrollment for 2 months of paid health insurance coverage, with the option to renew for another month at individual expense.

    • Requires the Peace Corps to outline various public and private health insurance coverage options to returned Volunteers, including for returned volunteers under the age of 25 with coverage on their parent’s health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

    • Includes the Menstrual Equity in the Peace Corps Act sponsored by Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) since 2020.

    • Extends whistleblower and anti-retaliatory protections that currently apply to Peace Corps contractors to Peace Corps volunteers, including protections against reprisals by any Peace Corps employee, volunteer supervisor, or outside contractor.

    • Includes the Respect for Peace Corps Volunteers Act sponsored by Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ) since 2013.

    • Extends Peace Corps Volunteers’ 12-month hiring preference for most federal job openings during any federal hiring freeze, government shutdown, public health emergency (such as COVID-19 pandemic), or while a Volunteer receives federal worker’s compensation benefits for any injury during their Peace Corps service.

    • Directs the Peace Corps and U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security to update plans and protocols for Peace Corps Colunteer security support and protection in foreign countries.

    • Increases the federal workers’ compensation rate for all Peace Corps volunteers injured or disabled during their service from a GS-7 to a GS-11 level, the same rate provided for Peace Corps volunteers with dependent children under current law.

    Read our Peace Corps Reauthorization Act issue brief and talking points. There is no companion legislation in the Senate at the present moment.

     

     

    Celebrating 60 Years of Service and Friendship – A Conversation with Peace Corps Directors

     

    Peace Corps at University Wisconsin-Madison hosted former Peace Corps Directors for a broad-ranging discussion and personal insights into their time directing the agency. The former directors also provided their advice on the Peace Corps going forth, along with recommendations for the Biden Administration. The conversation was moderated by RPCV Donna Shalala.

    Many directors highlighted that the pandemic had actually increased the need for Volunteers — and now is the time to make a difference. Former Director Mark Gearan (1995–99) put it so: “We’re at a point now in our nation’s history and country where the importance of service, national and community service, could not be more important.” 

    View a recording of the conversation here. 

     

    Former Directors: “If I had three minutes to talk to President Biden about the Peace Corps…” 

    Nick Craw: “My first request would be to double the size of the program.” 

    Richard Celeste: “Double it!” 

    Gaddi Vasquez: “Grow and expand the Peace Corps.” 

    Aaron Williams: “Now is the time.”

     

    More takeaways:

    Donna Shalala | Former Representative of Florida in U.S. Congress, Former Secretary of Health and Human Services (RPCV Iran 1962–64) 

    “The Peace Corps has always been bipartisan. It has always had the support of both parties. Some of the most significant budget increases were during Republican presidency, so that has been very important for the Peace Corps.”

     

    Jody Olsen | Peace Corps Director 2018–21 

    “Our 60 years, our 245,000 returned Peace Corps Volunteers, is what has kept us strong this last year, and is what is going to get us back as soon as possible.” 

     

    Carol Bellamy | Peace Corps Director 1993–95 

    “What was always the same were the Volunteers: They were flexible, the ingenuity was incredible, and they figured out how to make things work.”

     

    Elaine Chao | Peace Corps Director 1991–92 

    “We talked to the former communist heads of all these countries, and they all knew about Peace Corps, and they all wanted us to be there. And it was just amazing to them that Americans, young Americans, would be willing to go to their country, work basically for nothing for two years, and help people that they’ve never met. That was something so moving to them.” 

     

    Aaron Williams | Peace Corps Director 2009–12 

    “It’s a privilege to serve as Peace Corps Director. It’s a sacred privilege, too, because we’re entrusted with this iconic American institution that Sargent Shriver created. And one that provides young Americans a chance to serve around the world and promote world peace and friendship — and to present the full scope of American diversity.”

     

    Ron Tschetter | Peace Corps Director 2006–09 

    “I went over to swear in the first group and we had a wonderful exchange of thoughts and ideas and then we went to the swearing in part of it and I raised my hand and started the process and as I looked out over the group of Volunteers, there were three or four of them who were in tears because of the emotion of what was happening... I think it told me what it really means to the Volunteers.”

     

    Gaddi Vasquez (Peace Corps Director from 2002-2006): 

    “Opening Mexico was one of the great memories of my time as director of the Peace Corps because it is a country that has great opportunities for Peace Corps Volunteers and I think thus far has proven to be a very robust program.” 

     

    Richard Celeste | Peace Corps Director 2002–06 

    “I think that the changes here in this country and around the world as a consequence of the pandemic are going to be a challenge and an opportunity for us.”

     

    Mark Schneider (Peace Corps Director from 1999-2001): 

    “The Volunteers that I’ve come in contact with over the years across the globe really continue that tradition of service and commitment to their country, to their family, and to their community and trying to convey something that will help others.” 

     

    Carrie Hessler-Radelet (Peace Corps Director from 2014-2017): 

    “Peace Corps is really aware now, it has made more policy changes. It’s trained every single volunteer and staff person. It’s built an office of advocacy. Specialized training and training in trauma and informed care for first responders, an anonymous hotline hosted by a similar organization, and a Sexual Assault Advisory Council.”

     

    Mark Gearan (Peace Corps Director from 1995-1999):

    “We’re at a point now in our nation’s history and country where the importance of service, national and community service, could not be more important. It’s what unites us, and Volunteers would say that it crosses the boundaries of difference. We know the needs exist both domestically and globally for service. So as we celebrate this 60th anniversary of the Peace Corps, which is well placed — the 70th anniversary of the Peace Corps, and the 70th anniversary of President Kennedy’s call to service, can really be a major accomplishment in the next ten years to enhance the threads of service.”

     

     

    Tuesday, March 2 

    Women of Peace Corps Legacy | Former Women Peace Corps Directors: A Conversation

     

     

    Withdrawing volunteers was “the most difficult decision I made in my life.” 
    —Jody Olsen, Peace Corps Director 2018–21

    The Women of Peace Corps Legacy hosted four women who have served as Peace Corps Director for a conversation on their experiences as directors and Volunteers, tackling the challenges of administering the agency to, as Carrie Hessler-Radelet recounted, being a victim of sexual assault. Jody Olsen discussed how the pandemic led to the unprecedented decision in 2020 to evacuate all Volunteers — and the tremendous organizational efforts that took around the world. “We weren’t aware of what was happening country by country,” Olsen said. “Suddenly, what was a gentle wave was becoming a big wave and a big tsunami.”

    Watch the discussion here.

     

     

    Wednesday, March 3

    Museum of the Peace Corps Experience and Katzen Arts Center at American University

    Exhibit Opening – “Peace Corps at 60: Inside the Volunteer Experience”

     

     

     

     

    It’s about stories connecting people and communities. “Peace Corps at 60: Inside the Volunteer Experience" is curated by Jack Rasmussen, Director of American University Museum; Aly Schuman, Alper Initiative for Washington Art Fellow; and RPCV Patricia A. Wand, Co-Chair of Museum of the Peace Corps Experience. The virtual exhibition showcases objects and stories from more than 30 Volunteers.

     

     

    Thursday, March 4 

    Smithsonian Folklife Festival | The Peace Corps at 60 and Beyond: “A Towering Task” Screening & Discussion

    “Rebuilding world peace and friendship, one relationship at a time.”

     

     

    This pivotal moment allows us to look back on 60 years of Peace Corps promoting world peace and friendship, while also looking forward to the next chapter of Peace Corps history. The Smithsonian Folklife Festival began in 1967, not long after the Peace Corps, with many similar goals — especially to promote a greater understanding and appreciation of world cultures. In 2011, the Folklife Festival commemorated the agency’s 50th anniversary with a program that featured Peace Corps volunteers and their partners from 16 countries.

    In 2021, the Festival once more explores the agency’s significance and impact by hosting a discussion with: Acting Peace Corps Director Carol Spahn; Director of “A Towering Task” Alana DeJoseph; and RPCVs Rayna Green and Rahama Wright. All discussed their time in the Peace Corps, along with recommendations for improvement going forward — especially in the wake of the COVID pandemic, and deeply felt need to foster diversity.  

     

    Takeaways:

    Carol Spahn: Host countries are hoping to have Volunteers back soon. The need to continue sending Peace Corps Volunteers out to the host communities in the future will help to further her goal of “rebuilding world peace and friendship, one relationship at a time.”

    Rahama Wright: The experience of Volunteering drives home for communities and Volunteers alike that they “share a common humanity.” Wright also brought up some of her current initiatives in Northern Ghana, in relation to SheaYeleen butter products and production in 14 different villages.  

     


    Peace Corps Agency | 60 Years of Service: RPCVs’ Impact on the Fields of Philanthropy and Corporate Social Responsibility

     

     

    From Peace Corps to work in global philanthropy and social causes: panelists brought to bear their experience and expertise over the past several decades, tackling social issues through nonprofit work, social initiatives, and partnering with the private sector. On hand for the event, from left: Stephany Guachamin Coyago, Manager, Leadership Advancement Programs, Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (RPCV/Peru); Harris Bostic, Senior Advisor, Tides (RPCV/Guinea); and Bruce McNamer, President, The Builders Initiative (RPCV/Paraguay).

    Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff opened up the discussion by praising the work of the Peace Corps around the world, and he addressed how Volunteers have made an impact abroad over the past 60 years.

     

    “Peace Corps Volunteers are moving mountains and tackling some of the most pressing global issues on a grassroots level.”
    — Douglas Emhoff

     

    Emhoff also discussed the importance of the Peace Corps in representing the values and diversity of the United States. “Peace Corps volunteers are moving mountains and tackling some of the most pressing global issues on a grassroots level,” he said. He also stated that the commitment of Volunteers show by serving — and promoting service — has offered  inspiration to many Americans.

     

     

    Saturday, March 6

    Sacramento Valley RPCVs | Peace Corps 60th Anniversary with Representative John Garamendi

     

     

    RPCV Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA) and his wife and fellow RPCV Patti Garamendi took part in a conversation with Peace Corps recruiter John Keller for Sacramento Valley . RPCVs in California. The Garamendis served with the Peace Corps in Ethiopia. On March 1 of this year, John Garamendi introduced the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act of 2021, which includes authorizing $600 million in annual funding by fiscal year 2025 for the Peace Corps and expediting re-enrollment of volunteers whose service ended involuntarily due to the COVID-19.  

    Read our Peace Corps Reauthorization Act issue brief and talking points.  There is no companion legislation in the Senate, at the present moment.

    Watch the conversation with Congressman John and Patricia Garamendi here. 

     

     

    Peace Corps Week Encore — Tuesday, March 9

    The 60th Anniversary of the Peace Corps: The History of the Program and What Lies Ahead

     

     

    In President Kennedy’s first days in office, he asked Sargent Shriver to create the Peace Corps, which over the last 60 years has sent over 250,000 Americans to more than 140 countries to serve as global citizens. Mark Shriver, President of the Save the Children Action Network (left), and Glenn Blumhorst, President of National Peace Corps Association, took part in a conversation at Kennedy’s campaign promise and forward to what lies ahead for the Peace Corps. The event was hosted by Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Elizabeth J. Wilson, the inaugural director of the Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society and Professor in the Environmental Studies Department at Dartmouth. It was sponsored by the Dartmouth Center for Social Impact, the Dickey Center, and the Rockefeller Center.

    “The Peace Corps seeks peace through service, not through economic strength nor military power,” Shriver said, quoting a speech delivered by his father, Sargent Shriver, who served as first Director of the Peace Corps. And, as Blumhorst noted, “the cause of building peace is far from finished.”

    Dive into Darmouth’s history with Peace Corps — and connections around the globe.

    Watch the event here: The 60th Anniversary of the Peace Corps – The History of the Program and What Lies Ahead | Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy, Dartmouth College 

     

     


    PEACE CORPS WEEK IN THE NEWS: STORIES, OPINION PIECES, SLIDE SHOWS

     

    The Peace Corps remains “one of America’s greatest achievements, appealing to our highest instincts.”

    — Maureen Orth, special correspondent for Vanity Fair, Colombia RPCV, and founder of the Marina Orth Foundation

     

     

    Maureen Orth, Former Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III, and NPCA President Glenn Blumhorst are featured in American Way magazine in a special feature on Peace Corps’ 60th Anniversary. The profile chronicles the work of these three Volunteers as examples of leadership and inspiration..

     

     

    The Chicago Tribune: “Abolishing the Peace Corps would be a mistake”

     


    Chicago Tribune editorial board member and Returned Corps Volunteer Lara Weber answers the question posed for her years ago: "Why should you, a white woman, go work in Africa?" For her personally, it began with: “I liked the Peace Corps’ grassroots approach to development work - that we would be working as partners with local community members, not as ‘experts’ or advisers.” 

    She makes the case for why Peace Corps can and should continue to make an impact. Read her piece in the Chicago Tribune and a response from NPCA here.

     

     

    Listen Up: Colorado Public Radio talks to evacuated Volunteers — and takes a deep dive into future recommendations for the Peace Corps

     

    Alana DeJoseph digging well in Mali - Challenges Ahead
    “What really personally hurt the most was not being able to say goodbye to the two women I worked with and then my kids,” evacuated Volunteer Hunter Herold tells Colorado Public Radio. Herold and Dylan Evans were Volunteers evacuated from Kosovo in March 2020 as COVID-19 swept the globe. Calvin Brophy was serving as a Volunteer in Ethiopia. They tell their stories to host Ryan Warner. And Alana DeJoseph, director of the documentary “A Towering Task,” takes a deep dive into her service as a Volunteer in Mali in the 1990s and the humbling lessons it offered. She explores making of her Peace Corps documentary, and how we need to reimagine and retool Peace Corps for a changed world — including how the Peace Corps community needs to address systemic racism, financial barriers to serving, health care benefits, and more.

     

     

    NBC News: The Peace Corps Turns 60

     

    NBC News serves up a feature on where Peace Corps has been — and the challenges the agency faces today. The segment includes Harvard University’s Professor Fredrik Logevall, Senior Advisor to the Director of the Peace Corps Darlene Grant, and Peace Corps Volunteer Ben Whong. It also addresses Peace Corps’ struggles and successes with adjusting to pandemic life.

    One Takeaway from Darlene Grant:

    “I served as a Peace Corps volunteer after 18 years as a faculty member at the University of Texas. I chose to serve 2009–11 in Cambodia. It changed the trajectory of my career, the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers will tell you what they received from the people in their host country and communities was so much more than what they gave.”


     

    What We Can Do Together: Senator Elizabeth Warren to the Peace Corps Community

     

    “I strongly believe in what we can do together,” says Senator Elizabeth Warren. “Thank you for pouring your heart into your work.” A message of gratitude in honor of 60 years of service by Peace Corps Volunteers around the world — working with communities to build a better future together when it comes to education, health, food security, and so much more.

     

     

    Thank you for making our state, the nation, and the world a better place: Colorado Governor Jared Polis to Volunteers

     

    “Peace Corps has three goals, and it’s the third goal in particular — to promote the understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans — that I particularly want to celebrate,” says Colorado Governor Jared Polis in a video message of thanks. “Returned Peace Corps Volunteers spend 27 months in their host countries contributing to their development and success. But it’s really what they do after, both here in the U.S. and abroad, that makes the Peace Corps such a transformational program. RPCVs continue to serve, including on the front lines of the pandemic here in Colorado. And their cross-cultural fluency helps us move forward as a Colorado for all.”

     

     

    “Liberia and Peace Corps have enjoyed a long and mutual friendship which I trust will continue and expand once the pandemic is under control.”

    —Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former president of Liberia 

     

    Former President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Photo by Thierry Gouegnon / Reuters

     

    “My country has benefited greatly from decades of Volunteers,” President Johnson Sirleaf writes. “Many served in our critical education sector teaching math, science and English in schools throughout the country. They also inspired young Liberians on the value of public service and promoted strong relationships with them. As president of Liberia one of my first acts was to invite the PC to return as they had been absent during our long years of conflict. It was a pleasure to meet each new group and I was immensely honored to swear many of them in.”

     

     

    “Thank you for your love for my country, how much you dedicated to it, and hopefully how much you will in the future.”

    —Francisco Santos Calderón, Colombian Ambassador to the United States

     

    Ambassador Santos, who previously served as vice president of Colombia, recorded an anniversary message for Volunteers. “Celebrating 60 years of the Peace Corps in Colombia is something that fills my heart with gratitude, with happiness, with excitement, and with hope,” Santos says. “That is what the Peace Corps is: hope — hope of being better human beings, hope of having a better world, hope of how we can help one another.”

     

     

     

    The Seattle Times: “May we live the motto of my beloved Peace Corps in Cameroon: ‘We are together.’”

              

    Grant Friedman, left, worked as a health and education Volunteer in Cameroon from September 2019 through March 2020. His time as a Volunteer was cut short abroad due to the pandemic, but he paints an optimistic picture for the future of the Peace Corps and its vital role in fostering meaningful international development. Here’s what he wrote for the Seattle Times.

     

     

    Washington Post Opinion:

    How can the Peace Corps be reimagined and revitalized for the 21st century? “One path forward is looking to our past: a new commitment to and reorientation of the United States Peace Corps that could work with a renewed focus, not as a tool of foreign aid, but as a way for all Americans to engage, listen to and learn from the rest of the world,” writes Lacy Feigh. She served as a Volunteer in Ethiopia and is completed her doctorate in history at University of Pennsylvania. She wrote this compelling this compelling piece for the Washington Post.

     

     

    Through the Decades: 60 Years of Peace Corps Photos

    The Peace Corps agency put together this celebratory photo series charting Peace Corps’ evolution through the decades over the past 60 years.

     

    Story updated March 24, 2021 at 10 p.m.

     


    Jake Arce is a graduate student at American University’s School of International Service and is working as an intern with WorldView magazine.

    Orrin Luc serves as Digital Content Manager for National Peace Corps Association. He served with the Peace Corps in El Salvador and Mexico.