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Returned Peace Corps Volunteer

  • Orrin Luc posted an article
    Honoring global leaders in the Peace Corps community from Senegal, the Philippines, and the U.S. see more

    Every five years, Peace Corps presents the John F. Kennedy Service Awards to honor members of the Peace Corps network whose contributions go above and beyond for the agency and America every day. Here are the 2022 Awardees.


    By NPCA Staff


    Photo: Dr. Mamadou Diaw, Peace Corps staff recipient of the 2022 JFK Service Award. Photos Courtesy of the Peace Corps

     

    On May 19, at a ceremony at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C., the Peace Corps presented The John F. Kennedy Service Awards for 2022. Every five years, the Peace Corps presents the JFK Service Award to recognize members from the Peace Corps community whose contributions go above and beyond their duties to the agency and the nation. The ceremony as also live-streamed around the world — since this is a truly global award, with honorees from Senegal, the Philippines, and the United States.

    Join us in congratulating this year’s awardees for tirelessly embodying the spirit of service to help advance world peace and friendship: Liz Fanning (Morocco 1993–95), Genevieve de los Santos Evenhouse (PCV: Guinea 2006–07, Zambia 2007–08; Response: Guyana 2008–09, and Uganda 2015–16), Karla Sierra (PCV: Panama 2010–12; Response: Panama 2012–13), Dr. Mamadou Diaw (Peace Corps Senegal 1993–2019), Roberto M. Yangco (Peace Corps Philippines 2002–Present).

     

    RETURNED PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER

    Liz Fanning | Morocco 1993–95

    Liz Fanning is the Founder and Executive Director of CorpsAfrica, which she launched in 2011 to give emerging leaders in Africa the same opportunities she had to learn, grow, and make an impact. Fanning has worked for a wide range of nonprofit organizations during her career, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Schoolhouse Supplies, and the Near East Foundation. She received a bachelor’s in economics and history from Boston University and a master’s in public administration from NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. She received the Sargent Shriver Award for Distinguished Humanitarian Service from National Peace Corps Association in 2019 and a 2021 AARP Purpose Prize Award.


    RETURNED PEACE CORPS RESPONSE VOLUNTEERS

    Genevieve de los Santos Evenhouse, DNP, RN | Guinea 2006–07, Zambia 2007–08, Response: Guyana 2008–09, Response: Uganda 2015–16

    Genevieve de los Santos Evenhouse grew up in the Philippines, then emigrated to the United States in 1997. She pursued a career at the intersection of nursing, public service, and volunteerism, earning her doctor of nursing practice in 2020 — while continuing to serve as a full-time school nurse for the San Francisco Unified School District. As a compassionate, socially conscious nurse dedicated to providing care and developing nurse education, Evenhouse has a keen affinity for teaching, community service, and cultural exchange that led her to serve in four countries — Guinea, Zambia, Guyana, and Uganda — as a Volunteer and Peace Corps Response Volunteer. She also volunteered at two health offices in the Philippines as a public health nurse as well as the Women’s Community Clinic in San Francisco as a clinician.

      

    Karla Y. Sierra, MBA Panama 2010–12, Response: Panama 2012–13

    Karla Yvette Sierra was born in El Paso, Texas, to Mexican American parents. Sierra graduated from Colorado Christian University with a bachelor’s in business administration and a minor in computer information systems. Elected by her peers and professors, Sierra was appointed to serve as the Chi Beta Sigma president as well as the secretary for the student government association. Sierra volunteered with Westside Ministries as a youth counselor in inner city Denver. Shortly after completing her Master of Business Administration at the University of Texas at El Paso, she started working for Media News Group’s El Paso Times before being promoted to The Gazette in Colorado. Sierra served as a Volunteer in Panama for three years as a community economic development consultant focused on efforts to reduce poverty, increase awareness of HIV and AIDS, and assist in the implementation of sustainable projects that would benefit her Panamanian counterparts. Her Peace Corps experience serving the Hispanic community fuels her on-going work and civic engagement with Hispanic communities in the United States.


     

    PEACE CORPS STAFF

    Dr. Mamadou Diaw Peace Corps Senegal 1993–2019

    Dr. Mamadou Diaw — born in Dakar — is a Senegalese citizen. He studied abroad and graduated in forestry sciences and natural resource management from the University of Florence and the Overseas Agronomic Institute of Florence. He joined the Peace Corps in 1983 as Associate Peace Corps Director (APCD) for Natural Resource Management. In that capacity, he managed agroforestry, environmental education, park and wildlife, and ecotourism projects. From 1996 to 2001, he served as the coordinator of the USAID funded Community Training Center Program. In 2008, he switched sectors, becoming Senior APCD Health and Environmental Education. He received a master’s degree in environmental health in 2014 from the University of Versailles, and a doctorate in community health from the University of Paris Saclay, at the age of 62. Dr. Diaw coached more than 1,000 Volunteers and several APCDs from the Africa region, notably supporting Peace Corps initiatives in the field of malaria and maternal and child health. He retired from Peace Corps toward the end of 2019 and is currently working as an independent consultant.

     

    Roberto M. Yangco (“Ambet”) | Peace Corps Philippines 2002present

    Ambet Yangco, a social worker by training, started his career as an HIV/AIDS outreach worker for Children’s Laboratory Foundation. He then served as a street educator in a shelter for street children and worked for World Vision as a community development officer. Twenty years ago, Yangco joined Peace Corps Philippines as a youth sector technical trainer. It wasn’t long before he moved up to regional program manager; then sector manager for Peace Corps’ Community, Youth, and Family Program; and now associate director for programming and training during the pandemic.

     

     

    READ MORE and SEE PHOTOS from the 2022 JFK Awards ceremony here.

     

  • Orrin Luc posted an article
    Volunteers have begun to return to service. Yet millions in Ukraine are now in harm’s way. see more

    Volunteers have begun to return to service. Yet millions in Ukraine are now in harm’s way.

     

    By Glenn Blumhorst

     

    This is a hopeful time for the Peace Corps: On March 14, a group of Volunteers arrived in Lusaka, Zambia. Just over a week later, on March 23, Volunteers arrived in the Dominican Republic. They are the first to return to service overseas since March 2020, when Volunteers were evacuated from around the globe because of COVID-19. The contributions of Volunteers serving in Zambia will include partnering with communities to focus on food security and education, along with partnering on efforts to disseminate COVID-19 mitigation information and promote access to vaccinations.

    We’re thankful for the Volunteers who are helping lead the way, with the support of the Peace Corps community. And we’re deeply grateful for the work that Peace Corps Zambia staff have continued to do during the pandemic — work emblematic of the commitment Peace Corps staff around the world have shown during this unprecedented time.

     

    Returning to Zambia: Two years after all Peace Corps Volunteers were evacuated from around the world because of COVID-19, in March the first cohort returned to begin service overseas. Photo courtesy U.S. Embassy Lusaka 

     

    Invitations are out for Volunteers to return to some 30 countries in 2022. Among those who will be serving are Volunteers who were evacuated in 2020, trainees who never had the chance to serve, and new Volunteers. Crucially, they are all returning as part of an agency that has listened to — and acted on — ideas and recommendations from the Peace Corps community for how to ensure that we’re shaping a Peace Corps that better meets the needs of a changed world. Those recommendations came out of conversations that National Peace Corps Association convened and drew together in the community-driven report “Peace Corps Connect to the Future.” We’re seeing big steps in the Peace Corps being more intentional in fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion; working with a deeper awareness of what makes for ethical storytelling; and better ensuring Volunteer safety and security.

     

    Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, NPCA has shared information and links to other ways you can help. One of the most important: Do not turn away.

     

    At the same time, while we are buoyed by the fact that Volunteers are returning to work around the world building the person-to-person relationships in communities where they serve, we must not diminish the scale of the tragedy we are witnessing in Ukraine. More than 10 million people have fled their homes in the face of an invasion and war  they did not provoke and did not want. Across this country and in Europe, thousands of returned Volunteers are working to help Ukrainians in harm’s way.

    Thank you to all of you who are doing what you can in this moment of crisis: from the Friends of Moldova working to provide food, shelter, and transportation to refugees — to the RPCV Alliance for Ukraine putting together first-aid kits, leading advocacy efforts to support Ukraine, and so much more. Since the beginning of the war, NPCA has shared information and links to other ways you can help. One of the most important: Do not turn away.

     

    Donate to the Friends of Moldova Ukraine Refugee Effort.

     

    At a time like this it’s important to underscore a truth we know: The mission of building peace and friendship is the work of a lifetime.

    That’s a message we need to drive home to Congress right now. With your support, let’s get Congress to pass the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act this year. It’s the most sweeping Peace Corps legislation in 20 years. Along with instituting further necessary reforms, it will ensure that as Volunteers return to the field it is with the support of a better and stronger Peace Corps.

     

     

    President Biden will formally nominate Carol Spahn to lead the Peace Corps at a critical time. 

    It is becoming increasingly clear that we are entering a new era — one that desperately needs those committed to Peace Corps ideals. With that in mind, I am heartened by the news we received in early April that President Biden intends to nominate Carol Spahn to serve as the 21st Director of the Peace Corps. A returned Volunteer herself (Romania 1994–96), she began serving as acting director in January 2021 and has led the agency for the past 14 months, one of the most challenging periods in Peace Corps history.

    We have been honored to work with Carol and her strong leadership team over the past year on collaborative efforts to navigate this difficult period of planning for the Peace Corps’ new future. We have full confidence in her commitment to return Volunteers to the field in a responsible manner and offer the next generation of Volunteers a better, stronger Peace Corps ready to meet the global challenges we confront. The continuity of this work is key. We are calling on the Senate to swiftly bring forth this nomination for consideration and bipartisan confirmation.


    Glenn Blumhorst is president and CEO of National Peace Corps Association. He served as a Volunteer in Guatemala 1988–91. Write him: president@peacecorpsconnect.org

  • Communications Intern 2 posted an article
    A platform for citizen journalists, volunteers, and those working to help see more

    A platform for citizen journalists, volunteers, and those working to deepen understanding of the war and efforts to help refugees.

     

    By Clary Estes

    Photo by Clary Estes

     

     

    The Ukraine Stories newsletter started modestly. In the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, so many Returned Peace Corps Volunteers who had served throughout Central and Eastern Europe asked the same question: “What can I do?” For the Ukraine Stories crew, the answer was simple: Tell true stories. Yet this simple answer opened up a complex world of reporting, testimonials, and on the ground volunteering. Since the project’s inception, Ukraine Stories has sought to explain the conflict on a deeper level for those who might not have a background in Eastern Europe policy, history, or current events. We are doing this through deep dives on the region’s history and key figures. We are telling the stories of volunteers who have been working to assist with the refugee crisis. We have given a platform for citizen journalists inside Ukraine to tell their stories. And we have worked on the ground ourselves to help with refugee crisis. 

    The Ukraine Stories platform also works to realize the Peace Corps’ mission: to promote peace and international solidarity, and pursue solutions to what is one of the world’s most overwhelming problems. We have teamed up with a number of other international partners and RPCV groups to tell stories and show the world what solutions are available in the face of war. Our partnership with the RPCV Alliance for Ukraine and the Friends of Moldova, among others, has been paramount and will continue to be the main focus of our storytelling and reporting.

     

    Food and shelter: Vitalie, right, opened the summer camp he owns in northern Moldova to refugees from Ukraine. Then he slaughtered his one dairy cow to feed them. 
    Photo by Clary Estes

     

    Holy Cow: A Case Study in Caring

    When the Friends of Moldova told us the story of the man who killed his dairy cow to feed scores of refugees in his care, we couldn’t believe it. So we went to meet him ourselves and learn exactly what had happened.

    Vitalie bought the summer camp on a hill above the northern city of Bălți in 2019. Dumbrava Albă, as the camp was called, opened at a tough time. Not a year into its operation it had to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As the worst of the pandemic seemed behind us in early 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine. Yet Vitalie found solutions amid hardship; he saw an opportunity to do some good in the face of war. He took in about 100 Ukrainian refugees. 

    “The first days were tough,” Vitalie says. “There had been no water connection or heating for two years because I had it shut down due to the pandemic. It took me two to three days to get everything turned on.” He also had nothing to feed the refugees. “So I killed my dairy cow, just to make sure everyone was taken care of,” he says. “In normal times, I have enough to feed myself: chickens, milk from the cow, things like that. But we had about 100 people here in the first days and I needed to take care of them.” 

    For many Moldovan families, cows are not only a source of dairy products for day-to-day consumption, but they can also be a source of income. Families sell milk, cheese, and butter at the local piaţă, or open-air markets. For these families, a cow is worth far more alive than dead.

    It wasn’t long before the Friends of Moldova, who were also working in Bălți to set up a distribution center, heard Vitalie’s story. They were able to secure funds to buy a new cow. Within 48 hours, they delivered it to Dumbrava Albă. Vitalie was surprised and deeply grateful. 

     

     

    Sertse in Ukrainian, heart in English. Anya and her daughter fled Mariupol. Seen here: an Easter celebration at the Balti Distribution Center in Moldova, where Anya volunteers. 
    Photo by Clary Estes

     

    Citizen Journalism: One of Thousands

    As a cornerstone of the project, Ukraine Stories is providing Ukrainians who are experiencing the war a platform to tell their stories in their own words. One story, from the southeastern corner of Ukraine, was told by Anya, a mother of two daughters: of their harrowing escape from the besieged city of Mariupol.

    War ... We used to hear about war on the news. It was something that happened far away in some foreign country. It was something we were sorry to hear about, but it only seemed like a sad movie. I now understand all of that pain that used to be so far away. War is not just terrible photos of destroyed houses. It’s a profound loss of human life.

    On the morning of February 24th, we heard explosions. Our city has been under attack since 2014, but on the morning of the 24th, I decided not to risk the life of my children and leave. I thought then that it would only be for a couple of weeks, but as it has turned out, we are leaving forever.

    Before they fled Mariupol, besieged by Russian forces, Anya recounted how she tried to bring some semblance of joy to her children on a special day.

    It was my eldest daughter’s ninth birthday, so I ran to the store for sour cream to make a cake. I heard machine-gun fire on my neighbors’ street and more powerful explosions somewhere in the distance. I don’t know why it didn’t scare me at that moment. I was somehow more worried about making a cake for my daughter. I’m a mother, after all. 

    At five in the morning on her birthday, my children woke up to an explosion nearby. All the glass in the house shattered. A piece of plaster from the ceiling fell right onto the bed where my children were sleeping. They were frightened to tears, but miraculously unharmed. We went down to the basement. I even managed to take some of the cake with me. So we celebrated my eldest daughter’s birthday there. 

    A few days later it became too unbearable to remain. The explosions were constant. My children learned to distinguish what was an explosion and what wasn’t by the vibration of the earth.

     

    A few days later it became too unbearable to remain. The explosions were constant. My children learned to distinguish what was an explosion and what wasn’t by the vibration of the earth.

     

    Anya and her daughters spent weeks making their way to Moldova — dodging air raids, tanks, and gunfire. But reaching Moldova did not bring an end to her worries.

    During our first week in Moldova, I couldn’t eat. I was ashamed to eat while not knowing whether or not my mother had anything to eat in Mariupol … I dreamt of her every night. I dreamed of her because I couldn’t write to her. I dreamt of her because I couldn’t speak to her. 

    All day, every day, I was on my phone looking for my mother, my grandmother, my friends, my godparents, acquaintances, like a robot ... 

    Over time, I found news on the internet about who was alive and who was not. It was on a group chat that I found a photo of an old woman whose eyes I recognized. It was my mother!!! Aged and exhausted, but alive!!! 

    Anya is now volunteering at the Bălți Distribution Center and, like so many others, rebuilding the life she lost in the wake of the invasion.  

     

     

    Deep Dive: Understanding the Invasion

    Ukraine Stories would not be possible without Val Stutz, who served as a Volunteer in Moldova 2015–17 and is a 2022–23 Fulbright Fellow in Moldova. He has also worked extensively throughout Ukraine. His “Deep Dive” series has helped readers understand the conflict in Ukraine on a geopolitical and historical level. He has discussed the significance of the southeastern region of Ukraine and Putin’s aspirations to recreate the imperial Novorossiya of Catherine the Great, with territory stretching across Ukraine. He has given background on people like Russian general Aleksandr Dvornikov — who became known as “the Butcher of Syria” — and Dzhokhar Musayevich Dudayev — a key figure in Chechnya’s independence movement — and he has traced how their military and political careers are connected to the current brutal invasion. He has also sought to explain the challenges that refugee students in Moldova face as they navigate another year of online learning or adapt to the educational norms of another country. 

     

     

    More Work to Do

    The Ukraine Stories team includes contributors from around the globe: people from Asia, the Americas, and across Europe. Some have served in the Peace Corps, some have not. And our team has continued to expand. While the Russian war against Ukraine shows no sign of ending soon, we are committed to working in whatever ways we can help those in harm’s way — and continue getting stories out of Ukraine and the surrounding region. Whether it is a deep dive or a profile of a person that helps readers understand this horror on a fundamentally human level — or it is shining a spotlight on an organization helping solve the conflict, or a testimonial from someone living through the conflict, we at Ukraine Stories will keep writing, building connections, and seeking to sustain the Peace Corps ideal of international peace.

    Read more: ukrainestories.substack.com 

     

    This story appears in the Spring-Summer 2022 edition of WorldView magazine


    Clary Estes is a writer, editor, and photographer. She served as a Volunteer in Moldova 2015–17 and as a Response Volunteer in Georgia in 2019.

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    • Steven Saum Raisa Alstodt and Natalia Joseph help lead the RPCV Alliance for Ukraine. In "Everything Will Be Ukraine!" they note that more than 3,400 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in Ukraine. And they... see more Raisa Alstodt and Natalia Joseph help lead the RPCV Alliance for Ukraine. In "Everything Will Be Ukraine!" they note that more than 3,400 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in Ukraine. And they offer a few ways they have sought to help the communities they served as Russian rockets fly and bombs fall across the country. www.peacecorpsconnect.org/articl...
      1 month ago
    • Steven Saum Also in this edition, in the essay "What We Mean by Friendship" David Jarmul looks at how, with the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Friends of Moldova has stepped in to provide crucial... see more Also in this edition, in the essay "What We Mean by Friendship" David Jarmul looks at how, with the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Friends of Moldova has stepped in to provide crucial support to thousands of refugees. www.peacecorpsconnect.org/articl...
      1 month ago
    • Steven Saum As I write in my essay for this edition of WorldView, this is a time of unfinished business for the Peace Corps community: hopeful work, as Volunteers return to serve alongside communities... see more As I write in my essay for this edition of WorldView, this is a time of unfinished business for the Peace Corps community: hopeful work, as Volunteers return to serve alongside communities overseas. And crucial work to ensure Ukraine survives. www.peacecorpsconnect.org/articl...
      1 month ago
  • Communications Intern 2 posted an article
    The Friends of Moldova is currently spending $20,000 weekly to provide for Ukrainian families. see more

    With the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Friends of Moldova has stepped in to provide crucial support to thousands of refugees.

     

    by David Jarmul

    Logo by Friends of Moldova 

     

    Until this past February, Friends of Moldova was like many “Friends of” groups within the Peace Corps community: a loose organization of returned Volunteers sharing news and supporting small grant programs in the country where they served. Then Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine and everything changed.

    As millions of Ukrainians fled the fighting, nearly half a million refugees came to Moldova — a small, crescent-shaped country with a population of about 3 million, bordered by Ukraine on the east and Romania on the west. Formerly occupied by the Soviet regime, Moldova itself has dealt with the reality of a breakaway enclave backed by Russian forces since the 1990s.

    Within a matter of weeks of Russia’s invasion, most of the refugees who had crossed into Moldova had moved on—but more than 90,000 remained. They needed food, shelter, clothing, and more. And they needed support immediately. The Friends of Moldova raced to help. They supported the work of RPCV David Smith, who still lives in Moldova’s capital, Chişinău, and his local partner to convert their American-style barbecue restaurant, Smokehouse, into a refugee assistance center. Within days, Ukrainians lined up daily to receive free supplies.

     

    Food distribution center in Balti

    Food and shelter: In the city of Bălți, Friends of Moldova responded quickly to help Ukrainian refugees in need. Photo courtesy Friends of Moldova

     

    Local Peace Corps staff and others volunteered at the center. Peace Corps CEO Carol Spahn, who has since been nominated to serve as agency director, flew there from Washington, D.C., to help prepare meals. President of Moldova Maia Sandu and others also came to show their support. The PBS NewsHour and others covered this critical work. During its six weeks of operation, the center served 38,198 Ukrainians, including 7,847 individual or family walk-ins. During its last day alone it served 1,863 people. 

    Friends of Moldova also provided flexible funding to help Moldova for Peace, a national organization based in Chişinău, get its own operations off the ground. It assisted 175 community centers, nonprofit organizations, and shelters across the country. Funds enabled a team of volunteers to transport hundreds of Ukrainians daily from freezing conditions at the southern border to shelters around the country.

    As other organizations ramped up their work in Chişinău, Friends of Moldova pivoted to open a new assistance center and programs in northern Moldova. The group’s president, RPCV Bartosz Gawarecki, left his business in Michigan to oversee the effort there. Other RPCVs joined him. Friends of Moldova members across the United States assisted as well, drawing attention to Moldova’s situation and raising more than $700,000 — an extraordinary outpouring of support. All team members with Friends of Moldova worked for free, serving the country they came to love as Peace Corps Volunteers. 

    The Friends of Moldova is currently spending $20,000 weekly to provide food and hygiene products to Ukrainian families and individuals across northern Moldova. Since the war began, it has assisted nearly 60,000 refugees. It cannot sustain this life-saving work without more support from fellow RPCVs and others—so it welcomes your support in this crucial work. 

    Learn more and donate to the Friends of Moldova on social media and at thefriendsofmoldova.com

     

     

    This story appears in the Spring-Summer 2022 edition of WorldView magazine.


     David Jarmul served in Moldova 2016–18 with his wife, Champa, whom he met during his initial Peace Corps service in Nepal, where he served 1977–79. 

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    • Steven Saum Raisa Alstodt and Natalia Joseph help lead the RPCV Alliance for Ukraine. In "Everything Will Be Ukraine!" they note that more than 3,400 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in Ukraine. And they... see more Raisa Alstodt and Natalia Joseph help lead the RPCV Alliance for Ukraine. In "Everything Will Be Ukraine!" they note that more than 3,400 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in Ukraine. And they offer a few ways they have sought to help the communities they served as Russian rockets fly and bombs fall across the country. www.peacecorpsconnect.org/articl...
      1 month ago
    • Steven Saum "Ukraine Stories" is a platform for citizen journalists, volunteers, and those working to deepen understanding of the war and efforts to help refugees. Read more about it in this story by Clary... see more "Ukraine Stories" is a platform for citizen journalists, volunteers, and those working to deepen understanding of the war and efforts to help refugees. Read more about it in this story by Clary Estes.
      www.peacecorpsconnect.org/articl...
      1 month ago
    • Steven Saum As I write in my essay for this edition of WorldView, this is a time of unfinished business for the Peace Corps community: hopeful work, as Volunteers return to serve alongside communities... see more As I write in my essay for this edition of WorldView, this is a time of unfinished business for the Peace Corps community: hopeful work, as Volunteers return to serve alongside communities overseas. And crucial work to ensure Ukraine survives. www.peacecorpsconnect.org/articl...
      1 month ago
  • Steven Saum posted an article
    Here’s how some of the thousands of Volunteers who have served in Ukraine are trying to help. see more

    More than 3,400 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in Ukraine. Here are a few ways they have sought to help the communities they served as Russian rockets fly and bombs fall across the country.

    Logo by The RPCV Alliance for Ukraine

     

    By Raisa Alstodt and Natalia Joseph

     

    On February 24, 2022, Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale military assault by Russian forces on Ukraine, including attacks on civilians that have continued against communities across the country. Many of our friends and host family members have fled; many others are staying and fighting to defend their communities. The RPCV Alliance for Ukraine, founded by those of us who have served as Peace Corps Volunteers in Ukraine, rapidly mobilized to assist our Ukrainian friends, family members, colleagues, and communities. We have been advocating, sending donations of money and supplies, engaging mass media, contacting Congress, and directly assisting friends in need of transportation, housing, and money to survive.

    One of the critical projects has been the Individual First Aid Kit campaign. Since the beginning of the invasion, our team of RPCVs and Ukrainian partners has delivered more than 4,000 high-grade Individual First Aid Kits to areas within Ukraine where these kits are desperately needed. This effort has continued to grow, and to date we have raised over $160,000 to support it.

    To bolster fundraising efforts, we also published Babusya’s Kitchen, a cookbook originally created by Volunteers for fellow Volunteers, bringing together traditional Ukrainian recipes and, in its title, paying tribute to the babusi or grandmothers of Ukraine. Money raised from book sales is being used to fund our Peremoha (“victory”) mini-grants for humanitarian aid in Ukraine. Thanks to support from Page Street Publishing and Versa Press, the cookbook is available in a print edition, and copies are available for purchase through our website.

    Photo courtesy RPCV Alliance for Ukraine

     

    In partnership with Welcome.US and Community Sponsorship Hub, for the government’s Uniting for Ukraine program we are bringing together committed and capable hosts in the U.S. with Ukrainian refugees in need. We launched a sponsor matching initiative to help people apply; and we’re educating potential sponsors and informing about sponsor circles where numerous people can support refugees together. As we write this, we have helped some dozen Ukrainian families find U.S. sponsors who can partner in providing housing, basic needs, and personal assistance with navigating life in the U.S. More matches are in the pipeline.

    Along with these formal projects, we’ve been collaborating via Facebook to provide Ukraine RPCV crisis response focused on helping Ukrainians evacuate — and ensuring refugees the support they need. One way to provide moral support, in Ukrainian, is with the phrase “Vse bude Ukraina” — Everything will be Ukraine! 

    Learn more and get involved via social media and at allianceforukraine.org

     

    This story appears in the Spring-Summer 2022 edition of WorldView magazine.

     


     

    Raisa Alstodt served as a Volunteer in the Cherkasy Oblast in Ukraine 2019–20 and serves as NPCA liaison for the RPCV Alliance for Ukraine.

    Natalia Joseph served as a Volunteer in Mohyliv, Podilkskyi, Ukraine 2019–20 and serves as secretary for the RPCV Alliance for Ukraine.
     

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    • Steven Saum "Ukraine Stories" is a platform for citizen journalists, volunteers, and those working to deepen understanding of the war and efforts to help refugees. Read more about it in this story by Clary... see more "Ukraine Stories" is a platform for citizen journalists, volunteers, and those working to deepen understanding of the war and efforts to help refugees. Read more about it in this story by Clary Estes.
      www.peacecorpsconnect.org/articl...
      1 month ago
    • Steven Saum Also in this edition, in the essay "What We Mean by Friendship" David Jarmul looks at how, with the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Friends of Moldova has stepped in to provide crucial... see more Also in this edition, in the essay "What We Mean by Friendship" David Jarmul looks at how, with the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Friends of Moldova has stepped in to provide crucial support to thousands of refugees. www.peacecorpsconnect.org/articl...
      1 month ago
    • Steven Saum As I write in my essay for this edition of WorldView, this is a time of unfinished business for the Peace Corps community: hopeful work, as Volunteers return to serve alongside communities... see more As I write in my essay for this edition of WorldView, this is a time of unfinished business for the Peace Corps community: hopeful work, as Volunteers return to serve alongside communities overseas. And crucial work to ensure Ukraine survives. www.peacecorpsconnect.org/articl...
      1 month ago
  • Tiffany James posted an article
    Updates from the Peace Corps community — across the country and 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 V. Deekle (Iran 1968–70)

     

    Maggie Eckerson (pictured, Belize 2019–20), was awarded two United States Presidential Volunteer Service Awards and the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award for her service in the Peace Corps and AmeriCorpsSabra Ayres (Ukraine 1995–97) was named Chief Correspondent for Ukraine at The Associated Press (AP), leveraging nearly two decades of reporting that covered U.S. state and national politics, international relations, and developing democracies. Bridget Mulkerin (Senegal 2018–20) became the California Cone Corps Manager at American Forests, a nationwide nonprofit committed to protecting and restoring healthy forest ecosystems. We share news about more awards, a newly published memoir, and new roles in USAID El Salvador, universities, and advocacy nonprofits.

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


    BELIZE

    In August, Maggie Eckerson (2019–20) was awarded two United States Presidential Volunteer Service Awards and the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award because of her service in the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps. Eckerson was serving with the Peace Corps in Belize but had to leave when all Volunteers were brought home because of the COVID-19 pandemic. She began serving with AmeriCorps in summer 2020, working in the National Civilian Community Corps program and then Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA). For the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award, one must contribute more than 4,000 hours of service in their lifetime. Eckerson was able to achieve this goal through her work in the AmeriCorps in her Independent Service Projects and the year she spent working with The Catholic University of America during her second year with the AmeriCorps. During her time with the Catholic University of America, Eckerson led a program mentoring middle school students to prepare them for college.

     

     

     

    ECUADOR

    Chris Cushing (1981–84) was appointed the Mission Director to USAID El Salvador in August, overseeing bilateral and regional programs in Central America and Mexico. For nearly a decade, Cushing has served in several leadership roles within USAID, such as Mission Director in Ecuador as well as the Barbados-based USAID Eastern and Southern Caribbean Mission before assuming the same role at USAID Haiti from February 2020 to May 2022. Weeks after being sworn into his role in Haiti, Cushing rolled up his sleeves to work with the people of Haiti through the COVID pandemic shutdown, a president assassination, and a devastating earthquake that killed over 2,000 people. During the earthquake in 2021, Cushing coordinated the dispatch of search and rescue teams to communities in southern Haiti at the epicenter of the earthquake. “El Salvador, as we know, has its own significant challenges: a lack of economic opportunity coupled with significant violent crime, including some of the highest rates of femicide in the world,” said USAID Administrator Samantha Power during Cushing’s swearing-in ceremony in August. “[Cushing] has quite the task ahead of him, but I know he is up for it. His caring spirit and caretaker mindset bring reassurance and solace to those around him.”

     

     

    JORDAN

    Maryam Saifee (2000–02) became a Council on Foreign Relations life member in June. The Council on Foreign Relations is a prestigious membership, including over 5,000 prominent leaders in the foreign policy arena. For more than a decade, Saifee has worked with the U.S. Department of State. She is currently serving as a senior advisor in the Secretary’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Prior to embarking on her career within the U.S. Foreign Service, Saifee was a consultant for the Ford Foundation, designing outreach and recruitment strategy for senior staff in Ford’s human rights, asset-building, and reproductive rights portfolios. After completing her Peace Corps service in Jordan, she served with AmeriCorps and supported South Asian survivors of domestic violence. In 2016, Saifee published an opinion piece in The Guardian sharing her personal story as a survivor of female genital cutting.

     

     

     

    KENYA

    Josh Josa (2010–12) was honored with the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal, an honor reserved for the most innovative and exceptional federal workers. As a member of the Deaf community and a first-generation Hungarian-American, Josa’s commitment to equity and inclusion in education is fueled by his first-hand experience with the stigma, barriers, and lack of resources students with disabilities face in school. While working as an inclusive education specialist at the U.S. Agency for International Development, Josa has sought to design and implement programs delivering quality, equitable, and inclusive education to all children and youth. He has worked tirelessly to advance educational inclusivity for students with disabilities, whether it be in Morocco, Kenya, or the United States.

     

     

     

    LESOTHO

    Quintella Cobb (2019–20) took on a new role as Wellness Educator at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, beginning in September. She had been serving as a health promotion specialist at Tulane University. With the Peace Corps, Cobb served as an HIV/AIDS and Adolescent Health Volunteer. In March 2020, she and all other Volunteers were brought home because of COVID-19. 

     

     

     

     

     

      

    MAURITANIA

    Katie Baird (1984–87) published a new memoir, Growing Mangos in the Desert, chronicling her Peace Corps service in a Mauritanian village during a catastrophic drought and the relationships and change she nurtured over the four decades that followed. Baird is a professor of economics at the University of Washington in Tacoma. With expertise in public economics and public policy, Baird worked for policy organizations in Washington, D.C., and Cambridge, Massachusetts, before embarking on her career in academia. For three years, she was a public affairs columnist for The News Tribune in Tacoma.

     

     

     

     

     

    SENEGAL

    Bridget Mulkerin (2018–20) became the California Cone Corps Manager at American Forests, a nationwide nonprofit committed to protecting and restoring healthy forest ecosystems. Mulkerin’s responsibilities will involve building capacity of cone collection and creating resilient forests across California. Mulkerin served in Peace Corps Senegal, focusing on agroforestry. Her Peace Corps service fueled her interest in pursuing a master’s in international environmental policy from Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. “From a young age, I enjoyed exploring the woods behind my childhood home,” says Mulkerin when discussing why she is grateful for her job at American Forests. “As I got older, I appreciated the opportunities I had to travel and explore forests all over the world. Further understanding forest ecosystems and the services they provide for all life; I have been driven to protect them.”

     

     

     

    TANZANIA

    Amy Runyon Harms (1997–2000) has been appointed Senior Vice President of Operations and Strategy at Inseparable — an advocacy nonprofit championing for mental health policies that help the U.S. heal and thrive. Harms brings to the role over 20 years of direct service, foundation, and advocacy experience, including directorial positions at The Gill Foundation, ProgressNow Colorado, and Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains (PPRM). During her time with PPRM, Harms served as director of political outreach and focused on electing political supporters of pro-family planning policies, comprehensive sex education, and full access to women’s reproductive health care.

     

     

     

    Mario Lopez-Rodriguez (2019–20) is completing a master’s in public health at Emory University. With the Peace Corps, he served as a community health extension officer in the village of Kidogozero. “My service as a Peace Corps volunteer helped define my passion for global health,” he said in a recent interview. “It allowed me the opportunity to learn, live and work with a community that I wouldn’t have interacted with otherwise. It also taught me the importance of cultural humility and putting effort into learning about the communities I seek to serve.” Born in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas in 1993, Lopez-Rodriguez emigrated to Tennessee with his family in 2000. He completed a bachelor’s in nursing at the University of Memphis.

     

     

     

     

    UKRAINE

    Sabra Ayres (1995–97) was named Chief Correspondent for Ukraine at The Associated Press (AP) last month. In this new role, Ayres will manage and coordinate AP’s all-format coverage of Ukraine, including text, photography, and video storytelling. Ayres has nearly two decades of reporting that covered U.S. state and national politics, international relations, and developing democracies — with bylines from Ukraine, Russia, Afghanistan, Europe and India. Ayres was the 2016 recipient of the Front Page Marie Colvin Award for Best Foreign Correspondence for her coverage of Ukraine and Europe’s migrant crisis. She also taught journalism at the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul and worked as a visiting professor at the India Institute of Journalism and New Media in Bangalore.

  • Tiffany James posted an article
    Updates from the Peace Corps community — across the country and 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 V. Deekle (Iran 1968–70)

     

    Bill Owens (pictured, Jamaica 1964–66), beer enthusiast and famed photojournalist, published the interactive graphic novel, The Delco Years: A Dystopian Novel, in April. Cindy Nofziger (Sierra Leone 1985–87) cut the ribbon on the 42nd school building she helped construct after founding Schools for Salone — an organization focused on improving education and building schools in Sierra Leone’s rural villages. Andre and Kjessie Essue (Lesotho 1967–68) founded Barn Swallow Gardens — a family farm for mountain-grown, seasonal flowers that began offering a subscription delivery service for fresh flowers after California’s devastating 2021 Dixie Fire to help rebuild their local community’s economy. We share news about more awards, books, advocacy, and new roles from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

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

     


    BENIN

    In August, President Biden announced that he intends to nominate Arthur W. Brown (1991–95) to serve as U.S. Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Ecuador. Brown, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Minister-Counselor, has served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Harare, Zimbabwe since 2021. He was USAID Mission Director in Harare 2020–21. He was USAID Director in the Dominican Republic for four years and, before that, USAID Director at the U.S. Embassy in Managua, Nicaragua. Brown has served in Kabul, Afghanistan, and in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, as USAID Deputy Director. Other assignments include Botswana, Guinea, Nigeria, and regional activities in Sierra Leone, Haiti, Jamaica, Barbados, and Namibia. As a Peace Corps Volunteer, Brown served as a Rural Community Development Extension Agent.

     

     

    CHINA

    Weijin “Gina” Leow (2014–16) serves as Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at PBS, a post she has held since November 2021. She helps oversee DEI initiatives within PBS, including coordination of the DEI Council and related Committees, Employee Resource Groups, DEI messaging and events, employee training and education, restorative justice practices, reports and other initiatives. Leow also serves as Vice President of the Board of Directors for the New York City Peace Corps Association. As a Peace Corps Volunteer, Leow served in Miangyang, Sichuan, where she taught undergraduate students at Mianyang Teachers College.

     

     

    IRAN

    Skip Auld (1973–74) met with staff of Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) in August to advocate for the U.S. return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — an agreement reached in 2015 on the Iranian nuclear program. During the meeting, Auld was joined by fellow RPCVs Patricia Wand (Colombia 1963–65) and Peter Deekle (Iran 1968–70). Auld has served as the Chief Executive Officer at Anne Arundel County Public Library for more than a decade.

     

     

     

     

    JAMAICA

    Bill Owens (1964–66), beer enthusiast and famed photojournalist, published the interactive graphic novel titled The Delco Years: A Dystopian Novel in April. The novel tells the story of a pandemic mitigated by drinking unpasteurized beer and the community of craft beer drinkers who flourish and survive after the dystopian event. Owens' passion for beer predates his novel and stretches as far back to the early 1980s. He helped launch the U.S. craft beer movement by advocating for the overturn of the tied-house restriction then present in California, prohibiting a brewer or brewery to sell directly to the public. By 1983, the passing of the landmark California Assembly Bill 3610 officially legalized brewpubs in California, and Owens’ dream of opening his own brewpub, Buffalo Bill’s Brewery, became a reality. Owens continued to be a fierce advocate for the assembly bill and its extension across the nation. Over the years, Owens has published the book How to Build a Small Brewery as well as a series of maps which chronicled the early craft beer movement in Northern California and magazines such as American Brewer and Beer.

     

    LESOTHO

    Andre and Kjessie Essue (1967–68) founded Barn Swallow Gardens — a family farm for mountain-grown, seasonal flowers — located in Taylorsville, California. Named for the birds who return each spring after long migrations, Barn Swallow Gardens began offering a subscription delivery service for fresh flowers nine months after California’s devastating 2021 Dixie Fire to help rebuild the local community’s economy. Shortly after the fire, Kjessie Essue applied to and received a scholarship with Floret, a leader in the local flower movement that offered a six-week intensive course in business and marketing. In her essay required for the scholarship, she wrote, “We need beauty like never before, and I have deep clarity that flowers is the direction I need to take our small farm. Creating beauty is an act of love.” During Barn Swallow Gardens’ first week, the subscriptions sold out mostly due to customers outside the area who were buying flowers for friends impacted by the fire. The Essue family aims to expand the business over the coming years to include more services, such as classes and a garden for tourists. 

      

    MOROCCO

    Alex Garcia (2007–09) is taking on a new role as Deputy Director of AmeriCorps-NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps). “I am incredibly excited to return to the AmeriCorps / National Service family, with which I've had previous experience as an employee of a national direct grantee and as Chairman of the Maryland Governor's Commission on Service and Volunteerism,” he wrote. For nearly seven years, Garcia worked with Peace Corps Response, first as a recruitment specialist, and for the past four years as chief of operations. In 2021, Peace Corps Response celebrated its 25th anniversary. It was also through Peace Corps Response that Volunteers were deployed domestically in 2021 to assist with community vaccination efforts in the United States. Those efforts shaped a special edition of WorldView magazine.  

     

     

    Greg Moydell (1990–92) joined the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) as a park ranger on Fort Gibson Lake in Oklahoma. Moydell worked for Nature Conservancy as a stewardship biologist prior to serving as a high school science teacher and robotics instructor for more than two decades. As park ranger, Moydell’s responsibilities include performing visitor assistance activities, patrolling properties owned and managed by USACE, and performing environmental management stewardship activities. When talking about his job, Moydell said, “One of the biggest rewards is working to provide safe recreational opportunities for the public and working on ecological and environmental projects, but there are several challenges like trying to get everything done in a timely manner with the funding that is available, and the search and recovery of drowning victims is the most difficult duty.”

     

     

    SENEGAL

    Marc-Vincent Jackson (1986–89) won the 2022 Maria Thomas Fiction Award for his debut novel, A Thousand Points of Light, inspired by his Peace Corps service. A Thousand Points of Light is a tale exploring interwoven lives and voices in 1980s Senegal. Presented since 1990 by Peace Corps Writers, the award is named in honor of novelist Roberta Worrick (Ethiopia 1971–73) who wrote under the pen name Maria Thomas and died in a plane crash in 1989. Jackson has worked as an educator specializing in world languages for nearly three decades and taught three different languages across three continents.

     

     

      

     

    SIERRA LEONE

    Cindy Nofziger (1985–87) cut the ribbon on the 42nd school building she helped construct after founding Schools for Salone — an organization focused on improving education and building schools in Sierra Leone’s rural villages. Since the inception of Schools for Salone, Nofziger has also established three libraries, built numerous water wells, and provided thousands of scholarships and books to support children from low-income communities in Sierra Leone. Schools for Salone conducts reproductive health education for girls and boys as well as distributes Days for Girls menstruation kits. On September 17, 2022, Schools for Salone will host its annual fundraising gala in Seattle to raise funding to build more schools, train more teachers, and give the gift of learning to children in vulnerable communities across Sierra Leone.

     

     

    STAFF

    Mark Gearan, who served as Director of the Peace Corps 1995–99, has returned to lead The Hobart and William Smith Colleges as president. He stepped down from his post leading the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s Kennedy School to take on the role as president. For Gearan, it’s a return to familiar territory; he served as president of Hobart and William Smith 1999–2017 and led work to double the schools’ endowment. Gearan served as the 14th Director of the Peace Corps under President Clinton, and under him the agency launched Crisis Corps — now known as Peace Corps Response — to leverage the experience and commitment of the Peace Corps community through short-term, high-impact assignments around the world. Gearan’s previous roles in American politics and government include White House Communications Director and White House Deputy Chief of Staff. He has served as the Vice Chair for National and Public Service of the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service; read more about that here.

  • Steven Saum posted an article
    Volunteers had projects and grants to fund them. They had to leave and the money was frozen. see more

    Volunteers had projects and grants to fund them. They had to leave and the money was frozen. But that’s not the end of the story.

    By NPCA Staff

     

    Photo: Katherine Patterson and students of Bumbuta Secondary School in Tanzania. Patterson started the Save the Rain project to provide clean water for the school community.

     

    When Peace Corps Volunteers were evacuated from around the world, we heard from thousands asking for advice and help. They were not only worried about their own well-being, but time and again they wanted to know: What about the communities they left? the work they were doing? the projects developed together — already approved for Peace Corps grants that would now be frozen?

    Our answer: the Community Fund. We set up an application process for Volunteers and reached out to the Peace Corps community for crowdfunding support. Regulations for the Peace Corps grant programs require a Volunteer to be in a community to oversee a project. As a nonprofit organization, National Peace Corps Association ramped up a more flexible solution. That especially makes sense when many Volunteers are in regular contact with their host communities. Thanks to your support, some projects are already fully funded. Some are seeking contributors. We get new applications from evacuated Volunteers each week — and we welcome more. peacecorpsconnect.org/give

     

    Vanuatu | Chelsea Bajek

    Home: Rochester, New York / Arlington, Virginia

    For close to two years I served as a Community Health and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Education (WASH) Volunteer. I lived and worked in a small rural community on Paama Island, where I was given the name Lumi. I helped facilitate water and sanitation projects and programs to improve awareness on health, nutrition, and hygiene. I had been accepted to extend my service for a third year to work with the Ministry of Health in the capital on public health initiatives. When we were evacuated, I left behind not only my belongings, my house, my work, but also my community and my family and friends. I left behind people I called Mama and Papa, auntie and uncle, brother and sister, and countless abus (grandparents).

    One of the projects I was working on was with the local women’s group, helping them to raise funds to purchase sewing machines and related materials to be used in skill-building workshops. We had an open Peace Corps Partnership Program grant, but we lost funding when Volunteers were evacuated. There are limited resources on this small remote island, and supporting the Paama Women’s Handicraft Center will help increase opportunities for women’s economic development and empowerment; the clothing and baskets they make will be sold to pay school fees and support families. Though I am back in the United States, I continue to work with the women’s group on this project, believing it can provide real change for these women. 

     

     

     

    Benin | Cristal Ouedraogo | FUNDED!

    Home: Montgomery County, Maryland

    In Benin, women and girls face more barriers to education than men and boys. As an education volunteer, I heard people in my community express a desire to bridge that gap. So we put together a plan for a literacy and research center to create a safe space for girls to pursue academic excellence and increase gender equity in school — and give them the tools needed to be independent, lifelong learners outside the classroom. The project will benefit some 500 secondary school students — boys as well as girls — and provide technology training for teachers and community members as well.

    The project was approved for a Peace Corps Partnership Program grant that was suspended when I was evacuated. But with support the Peace Corps community has given through NPCA, we’ll still help these students — and inspire boys and girls to thrive academically, socially, and creatively.

     

      Speak and Spell: Cristal Ouedraogo was working with these students in Benin when she had to evacuate. A grant from the Community Fund will ensure the project she started becomes reality. 
     

    Moldova | Alyssa Gurkas

    Home: Westfield, New Jersey

    To combat violence against women and empower the female population in Hînceşti, Moldova, I worked with colleagues at the Mihai Viteazul Middle School to develop a plan for a tech-equipped community room. It would also host seminars on domestic violence, financial literacy, and online safety. It will benefit teachers and parents and scores of students. The funds will be used to purchase a smartboard, a computer, speakers, printer, paper, markers, flip-chart, notebooks, and lunches for seminars.

    Originally this project was going to be funded through Peace Corps’ Small Project Assistance Program, but due to the COVID-19 evacuation the project was canceled before it even began. The school actually had installed internet and already purchased chairs and desks fulfilling their community contribution — 25 percent of the grant that was required — only to find out that the project was then canceled. That hit my colleagues hard.

    But when I let them know that the Community Fund might still make it possible, English teacher Aliona Goroholschi wrote me: “I felt happiness without edges … Anything is possible when you have people who care and support you.”

     

    Colombia | Elyse Magen | FUNDED!

    Home: San Francisco, California

    As a Peace Corps Volunteer I was working with a women’s group in Santa Marta who harvest cacao and make artisanal chocolate desserts. These women are all cacao farmers themselves and have had little economic opportunity. They have not had a formal education; at a young age, they were displaced due to violence in their region. But with the business they have started, Transformación, they will be building disposable income in a culture where women have little opportunity to work.

    The grant provided by the NPCA Community Fund will allow them to carve out a workspace that complies with health sanitation codes. It will allow them to purchase machinery to make an edible chocolate bar, which will expand their market and increase profits. This, in turn, will allow them to provide for their families and invest not only in themselves but also in their children. Transformación hopes that other women can get involved in their business and that it can symbolize a wave of social change.

     

     

    Tanzania | Katherine Patterson | FUNDED!

    Home: Washington, D.C.

    With the secondary school in my community of Bumbuta, I was working on a rainwater catchment system and handwashing stations to increase access to clean water. Right now, students must carry large buckets containing drinking and cleaning water to school every morning; the water that many bring comes from unsanitary sources. With a rainwater catchment system, the school community will gain access to clean water — and improve education on water, sanitation, and hygiene practices.

    The project was approved but funding was halted as a result of the COVID-19 evacuation. I was over the moon when I found out there’s another option for funding. My ward executive officer messaged: “We wanna thank you so much tusaidie ... we love you so much!”

    Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “To leave the world a bit better ... to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived — that is to have succeeded.” I’ll be able to keep a promise to myself to leave my village in a better place than when I arrived. More important, this will enable students to live healthier lives! 

     


     

    Colombia | Joshua Concannon

    Home: Kansas City, Missouri

    I was working on an effort to train dozens of women in clothing design and production by providing them with technical workshops and entrepreneurship classes from professionals. Their community is heavily reliant on agriculture for its source of jobs, so this project will diversify the economy — and provide jobs and sources of income for women. We worked together on a grant application and were approved through the Peace Corps Partnership Program. The women were overjoyed — and justifiably proud.

    One week later, all Volunteers were evacuated and Peace Corps rescinded the funds. But the opportunity with NPCA has revived my hope. Edilsa Mascote, the leader behind the project, was very emotional when I told her that there is still a chance we can get the funding. She started tearing up because she thought all hope was lost. She told me it was the perfect light they needed in their lives during this very dark time.

     

    Learn more about these and other projects supported by the Community Fund — and make a gift to help Volunteers complete them.


    This story was first published in WorldView magazine’s Summer 2020 issue. Read the entire magazine for free now in the WorldView app. Here’s how:

    STEP 1 - Create an account: Click here and create a login name and password. Use the code DIGITAL2020 to get it free.

    STEP 2 - Get the app: For viewing the magazine on a phone or tablet, go to the App Store/Google Play and search for “WorldView magazine” and download the app. Or view the magazine on a laptop/desktop here.

    Thanks for reading. And here’s how you can support the work we’re doing to help evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers.

  • Orrin Luc posted an article
    Updates from the Peace Corps community — across the country and 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 V. Deekle (Iran 1968–70)

     

    Kit Evans-Ford (pictured), who served as a Volunteer in St. Kitts & Nevis 2007–08, was awarded the 2022 Tom Locke Innovative Leader Award for her efforts to provide refuge and support for women healing from sexual violence. Hoang Thai Tao (Mozambique 2011–13) spoke at the 2022 Peace Corps Thought Leaders Forum in July, sharing his perspective on harnessing emerging technology trends to maximize social impact and economic development. Internationally acclaimed photographer Alissa Everett (Senegal 1995–97) has produced a digital catalog of her latest exhibition, Covering Beauty, which seeks to capture “moments of unexpected beauty” within places of conflict. We share news about more awards, honors, books, and new roles from the White House to The New York Times.

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

     


    ANTIGUA

    Jennifer Rochon (1992–94) was confirmed to a seat in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. She is the first judge nominated by President Biden to the district to be confirmed and fits with his track record of appointing judges with varied professional backgrounds. Prior to her nomination, Rochon had served as the Girl Scouts of America general counsel since 2013. She brings to the new role 13 years of experience as a litigation partner for Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel, where she handled antitrust cases and false advertising disputes. When describing how her previous work has prepared her, Rochan says, “Judges have an important role in society in terms of making sure people get a full and fair process. As a litigator, I experienced that in advocating for my clients, but I always thought it would be fantastic to be able to be in a position to make sure people receive that type of process.”  

     

     

    BOTSWANA

    Hoor Qureshi (2019–20) was promoted from staff assistant to Chief of Staff for the White House’s Office of Digital Strategy — a department that manages the President’s online communications across social media, digital influencers, and creative production. Being a 2019 Mercer University graduate who double-majored in global health studies and global development studies, Qureshi joined the Peace Corps, where she taught life skills and career guidance to Botswana’s youth. When it comes to her preparation for the Peace Corps, she credits her professors in the Department of International and Global Studies with whom she took many trips abroad to South Africa, Dubai, and Japan. That international travel during her undergraduate experience shaped her perspective of the world. Prior to working with the Office of Digital Strategy, Qureshi was an online community organizer for a couple political campaigns — including President Biden’s 2020 campaign — cultivating relationships with and distributing information to online communities. 

     

      

    EL SALVADOR

    John Thorndike (1967–68) recently published his biographical novel, The World Against Her Skin: A Son’s Novel. The book tells the story of Thorndike’s mother, exploring her life, struggles, and marriages while taking on delicate subjects such as addiction and sexual abuse. This book follows the heels of his award-winning memoir The Last of His Mind, in which he discusses the heart-wrenching fight his father — former managing editor of Life magazine — fought against Alzheimer’s, losing his ability to think, speak, and write.

     

     

     

     

    MICRONESIA

    Megan McCrea (2007–09) has been hired by The New York Times as senior staff editor of its Special Sections wing of the Print Hub. A Brooklyn-based journalist, she has worked as an editor at Via and Sunset magazines and has written about travel, people, arts and culture, and food and drink for more than a decade. As an editor, she has shaped written pieces exploring topics such as the evolution of Oakland and the best-kept secrets in Yellowstone. McCrea’s Peace Corps experience informed her writing, motivating her to co-author Other Places Publishing’s guidebook to her country of service, Federated States of Micronesia and Palau. Her stories have appeared in publications such as Better Homes & Gardens, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Condé Nast Traveler.

     

     

     

    MOROCCO

    Justin Bibee (2012–14) is among the forty 2022 honorees celebrated by the Providence Business News, which select based on career success and involvement within their communities. Bibee is a refugee resettlement case manager.

     

     

     

     

     

    Liz Fanning (1993–95) received the 2022 John F. Kennedy Service Awards in May. Every five years, Peace Corps presents the JFK Service Awards to honor members of the Peace Corps network whose contributions go above and beyond for the agency and America every day. Fanning is the Founder and Executive Director of CorpsAfrica, which she launched in 2011 to give emerging leaders in Africa the same opportunities she had to learn, grow, and make an impact. She has worked for a wide range of nonprofit organizations during her career, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Schoolhouse Supplies, and the Near East Foundation.

     

     

     

     

    MOZAMBIQUE

    Hoang Thai Tao (2011–13) spoke at the 2022 Peace Corps Thought Leaders Forum — among professionals in the fields of international development and technology who shared their perspectives on leveraging emerging technology trends to maximize social impact and economic development. The panel also discussed how Peace Corps Volunteers can contribute to this endeavor.

     

     

     

     

     

    NEPAL

    Ron Ranson (1964–66), a lecturer in the University of California San Diego’s theatre and dance department for more than two decades, produced the documentary Tattooed Trucks of Nepal — Horn Please. Ranson’s 40-minute documentary pays tribute to the quirky tradition that finds Nepali truckers going to great, creative lengths to turn their vehicles into rolling pieces of uplifting art. His exploration began after he was intrigued by an article in a Nepali newspaper about truck and bus painting. He worked with Nepali filmmakers Sudarson Karki and Dhawa Gyanjen Tsumba, who also collaborated with him on an earlier film project, The Prayer Flags of NepalTattooed Trucks of Nepal has won numerous awards, including for Ranson’s voice-over narration as well as the film’s editing, cinematography, and music. In 2021, the film won Best Documentary honors at multiple festivals, including the Cannes World Film Festival and the New Wave Film Festival in London.

     

     

    NICARAGUA

    Jenn Rowley (2014–16) and Joe Daniels (2013–15) recently trained Nicaraguan contractors to make the famous Peace Corps improved wood ovens with Sister Communities of San Ramon, Nicaragua. Vented to the outside, these eco-friendly ovens keep smoke and other residue from polluting the air inside buildings. Rowley and Daniels met during their Volunteer service, both assigned to the department of Matagalpa. Five years later, Daniels called Rowley inviting her to help train contractors on how to make these wooden stoves, to which she immediately agreed. With previous experience building 18 eco-friendly stoves as an environmental Volunteer, Daniels was familiar with these projects, through which families would purchase 20 percent of the materials while volunteers helped procure the rest of the locally sourced materials. By the end of their stay in Nicaragua, Rowley and Daniels worked with local contractors to build six ovens with 14 additional ovens in the process of being completed.

     

     

    PANAMA

    Karla SierraKarla Yvette Sierra (2010–12, Response 2012–13) received the 2022 John F. Kennedy Service Awards in May. Born in El Paso, Texas, to Mexican American parents, Sierra graduated from Colorado Christian University with a bachelor’s in business administration and a minor in computer information systems. Elected by her peers and professors, Sierra was appointed to serve as the Chi Beta Sigma president as well as the secretary for the student government association. Sierra volunteered with Westside Ministries as a youth counselor in inner city Denver. Shortly after completing her Master of Business Administration at the University of Texas at El Paso, she started working for Media News Group’s El Paso Times before being promoted to The Gazette in Colorado. Sierra served as a Volunteer in Panama for three years as a community economic development consultant focused on efforts to reduce poverty, increase awareness of HIV and AIDS, and assist in the implementation of sustainable projects that would benefit her Panamanian counterparts. Her Peace Corps experience serving the Hispanic community fuels her on-going work and civic engagement with Hispanic communities in the United States.

     

    THE PHILIPPINES

    Roberto YangcoRoberto. M. “Ambet” Yangco, who has worked with Peace Corps staff in the Philippines since 2002, is a recipient of the John F. Kennedy Service Award. A social worker by training, he started his career as an HIV/AIDS outreach worker for Children’s Laboratory Foundation. He then served as a street educator in a shelter for street children and worked for World Vision as a community development officer. Twenty years ago, Yangco joined Peace Corps Philippines as a youth sector technical trainer. It wasn’t long before he moved up to regional program manager; then sector manager for Peace Corps’ Community, Youth, and Family Program; and now associate director for programming and training during the pandemic.

     

     

     

    ROMANIA

    Carol Spahn (1994–96) was officially nominated by President Biden for the position of Director of the Peace Corps in April. She began serving as acting director in January 2021 and has led the agency since, during one of the most challenging periods in Peace Corps history. Prior to serving as acting director and now CEO of the Peace Corps, Spahn served as chief of operations in the Africa Region covering Eastern and Southern Africa, and before that, served a five-year term as country director of Peace Corps Malawi. Her Peace Corps roots extend back to her service as a small business advisor in Romania 1994–96. She has more than 25 years of experience in international development, business, health, and women’s empowerment including work with Women for Women International — which supports female survivors of war — and Accordia Global Health Foundation — which helps fight infectious disease in Africa. A date for a confirmation hearing on her nomination has not yet been scheduled.

     

     

    ST. KITTS AND NEVIS

    Kit Evans-Ford (2007–08) was awarded the 2022 Tom Locke Innovative Leader Award from the Wesleyan Investive — a national nonprofit that has invested in innovative spiritual leadership for 50 years. Evans-Ford is an adjunct professor in the department of theology at St. Ambrose University and an action outreach organizer for Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service, which specializes in nonviolence training. As a survivor of and witness to sexual violence with 14 years of experience in nonviolence education, Evans-Ford also founded Argrow’s House of Healing and Hope, a social enterprise supporting the healing journey of female survivors of domestic abuse or sexual violence. “This work is not easy. It is a lifetime commitment that takes a lot of energy and personal resources,” Evans-Ford said, after becoming one of four spiritual leaders to receive this year’s award. “To be blessed by this award is very affirming and lets me know this work is not in vain.”

     

     

    SENEGAL

    Dr. Momadou DiawDr. Mamadou Diaw, who served with Peace Corps staff in Senegal 1993–2019, is a recipient of the 2022 John F. Kennedy Service Award. Born in Dakar, he studied abroad and graduated in forestry sciences and natural resource management from the University of Florence and the Overseas Agronomic Institute of Florence. He joined the Peace Corps in 1993 as Associate Peace Corps Director (APCD) for Natural Resource Management. In that capacity, he managed agroforestry, environmental education, park and wildlife, and ecotourism projects. From 1996 to 2001, he served as the coordinator of the USAID funded Community Training Center Program. In 2008, he switched sectors, becoming Senior APCD Health and Environmental Education. He received a master’s degree in environmental health in 2014 from the University of Versailles, and a doctorate in community health from the University of Paris Saclay, at the age of 62. Dr. Diaw coached more than 1,000 Volunteers and several APCDs from the Africa region, notably supporting Peace Corps initiatives in the field of malaria and maternal and child health. He retired from Peace Corps toward the end of 2019 and is currently working as an independent consultant.

     

    Alissa Everett (1995–97), a critically acclaimed photographer, has produced a digital catalog of her latest exhibition, Covering Beauty, which is on display for the 59th Venice Biennale as part of Personal Structures at the European Cultural Centre until November 2022. Covering Beauty draws upon work spanning Everett’s entire career — from the war in Iraq to the latest conflict in Ukraine, traveling with the International Organisation for Migration to capture humanitarian response efforts. “I would describe myself as a documentary photographer rather than conflict photographer,” Everett says. “What speaks to me the most are moments of unexpected beauty that happen in our daily lives, in both conflict and non-conflict zones.”

     

     

     

     

    ZAMBIA

    Genevieve de los Santos Evenhouse (2007–08; Guyana, 200809; Uganda, 201516,) was one of the five recipients of the 2022 John F. Kennedy Service Awards for tirelessly embodying the spirit of service to help advance world peace and friendship. She grew up in the Philippines, then emigrated to the United States in 1997. Evenhouse pursued a career at the intersection of nursing, public service, and volunteerism, earning her doctor of nursing practice in 2020 — while continuing to serve as a full-time school nurse for the San Francisco Unified School District, where she has served since 2009.

     

     

     

     

    Holly Rendle (1996–97) co-founded Books 4 Zambia, leveraging the connections made during her Peace Corps tour in the country to provide books to communities lacking these educational materials. She and her husband have sent supplies to the African country several times over the last two decades under the name Project Zambia.

     

     

  • Communications Intern posted an article
    Thanks to the groups and individuals who have supported evacuated Volunteers and their projects see more

    Thank you to the groups and individuals who have supported evacuated Volunteers and their communities around the world during this time of crisis.

    By NPCA Staff
     

    In the months since the unprecedented global evacuation of Peace Corps Volunteers, National Peace Corps Association Affiliate Groups across the country have been generous with time and support they have shown evacuated Volunteers. They have provided service and assistance here in the United States during the COVID pandemic.

    A number of affiliate groups have also made generous donations to enable NPCA to provide vital transition support and services to the 7,300 recently evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers. This crucial support amplifies our community’s global social impact by providing small grants for the projects of evacuated Volunteers. And it sustains important connections with communities around the world during a time of crisis. Find out more and make a gift here.

    To all who have given support to NPCA’s Community Fund, the RPCV Benevolent Fund, and to to the Global Reentry Program: Thank you! We give special thanks to these NPCA Affiliate Groups for their generous donations: 

     

    • Atlanta Area Returned Peace Corps Volunteers

    • Friends of Colombia

    • Friends of Jordan

    • Friends of Nepal

    • Heart of Texas Peace Corps Association 

    • Peace Corps Iran Association

    • North Carolina Peace Corps Association

    • Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of New Jersey

    • RPCVs of Northeastern New York

    • RPCVs of North Florida

    • Southeast Michigan Returned Peace Corps Volunteers

    • Tennessee Returned Peace Corps Volunteers

     

     

    A place to stay: Schoolgirls at Enukweni Community Day Secondary School in Malawi. A safe place means access to education. Volunteer Lydia Babcock was working with community members to obtain grant funds to renovate the hostel where they live during school terms. Then Babcock was evacuated. NPCA groups and members stepped up and funded this project and others. Photo by Lydia Babcock.

     


    This story was first published in WorldView magazine’s Fall 2020 issue. Read the entire magazine for free now in the WorldView app. Here’s how:

    STEP 1 - Create an account: Click here and create a login name and password. Use the code DIGITAL2020 to get it free.

    STEP 2 - Get the app: For viewing the magazine on a phone or tablet, go to the App Store/Google Play and search for “WorldView magazine” and download the app. Or view the magazine on a laptop/desktop here.

  • Orrin Luc posted an article
    Updates from the Peace Corps community — across the country and 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 V. Deekle (Iran 1968–70)

     

    Jamie Hopkins, who served as a Volunteer in Ukraine 1996–98, leads the Eagan Community Foundation in Minnesota and spearheaded a three-day film festival in support of Ukraine in April and May. Krista Kinnard (Ecuador 2010–21) has been named a 2022 finalist for the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal, for her work spearheading new, efficiency-boosting and cost effective technologies for the Department of Labor (DOL). Rob Schmitz (China 1996–98) had a stint as guest host of NPR’s All Things Considered radio show. Tommy Vinh Bui (Kazakhstan 2011) was nominated as Local Hero of the Week for his good deeds and unwavering commitment to serving his Los Angeles community during the COVID-19 pandemic. We share news about more awards, medals, and director roles.

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

     

    CHINA

    Rob Schmitz (1996–98) became a guest host of NPR’s All Things Considered radio show in late April. As NPR’s Central Europe Correspondent, Schmitz covers the human stories of a vast region, such as Germany’s management of the COVID-19 pandemic, rise of right-wing nationalist politics in Poland and creeping Chinese government influence inside the Czech Republic. Before reporting on Europe, Schmitz worked as a foreign correspondent covering China and its economic rise and increasing global influence for a decade. He also authored the award-winning book Street of Eternal Happiness: Big City Dreams Along a Shanghai Road which profiles the lives of individuals residing along a single street in the heart of Shanghai. During his first week as guest host, Schmitz talked with a Shanghai resident who discussed her experience with Shanghai’s zero-COVID strategy and the recent pandemic restrictions. Listen here.

     

     

    COSTA RICA

    Lane Bunkers (1989–91) took on responsibilities as of Peace Corps Country Director of Costa Rica in March. Bunkers steps into this new position a year before Peace Corps Costa Rica’s 60th anniversary and amidst the first wave of Volunteers returning to service overseas. In his director’s welcome, Bunkers wrote, “In Costa Rica, the pandemic impacted the social, economic, and political environment, as it did throughout the world. The country’s recovery will take time, and Peace Corps is well-positioned to support the communities where our Volunteers serve.” He brings an extensive career in leadership and international development, including three years serving as Peace Corps program and training officer in Romania and in the Eastern Caribbean. Prior to his new role, Bunkers worked for Catholic Relief Services for more than two decades. While there he oversaw a $25 million annual budget invested in initiatives ranging from water and food aid for drought-stricken regions to improving educational outcomes for malnourished children.

     

      

    ECUADOR

    Krista Kinnard (2010–2012) was named a 2022 finalist for the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal, for her work spearheading new, efficiency-boosting and cost effective technologies for the Department of Labor (DOL). Since starting her role as DOL’s chief of emerging technologies in 2021, Kinnard has focused on ways to use artificial intelligence, automation, and machine learning to reduce the time employees spend on repetitive tasks. She also collaborated with the department to establish a technology incubator, inviting DOL staff to propose ideas that could benefit agencies and the public. Before working at DOL, Kinnard was the director of the U.S. General Service Administration’s Artificial Intelligence Center of Excellence. Her data-driven expertise sharpened during her Peace Corps service where she was able to apply her quantitative skills to real-world problems. Afterward, she pursued a master’s in data analytics and public policy before building AI and machine learning tools for federal clients as a data scientist at IBM.

       

     

    GUYANA

    Nadine RogersDr. Nadine Rogers, who serves as country director for Peace Corps Guyana, is a 2022 recipient of the Global Achievement Award from the Johns Hopkins University Alumni Association. “This well-deserved and extraordinary accomplishment highlights her incredible contributions in the international arena," says Peace Corps CEO Carol Spahn. Dr. Rogers has almost 30 years of experience in management, health policy implementation, science administration, and education and communications across the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. She has previously served as a foreign service officer at the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator under the U.S. State Department, and for 10 years she worked at the U.S. National Institutes of Health, handling scientific review of multi-million dollar research grant applications focused on HIV/AIDS prevention and services in populations at risk-for or addicted to drugs, both domestically and internationally. She has served the U.S. government across the globe, including in Vietnam, Cambodia, Uganda, Ethiopia, South Africa, Zambia, and in the Caribbean.

       

     

    KAZAKHSTAN

    Tommy Vinh Bui (2011) was nominated as Local Hero of the Week in April for his good deeds and unwavering commitment to serving his community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Bui was working as a Los Angeles Teen and Adult Services Librarian when the pandemic shut down libraries. With a love for his community and a penchant for service, he sprang into action seeking ways to help such as donating blood to the Red Cross to help with the blood shortage; delivering convalescent plasma to hospitals around and outside of Los Angeles; assisting Project Roomkey — an initiative started by the California Department of Social Services, providing shelter for unhoused people recovering from or exposed to COVID-19 — in its efforts to help vulnerable people get off the streets and find resources. As part of the last cohort to serve in Kazakhstan, Bui’s Peace Corps service began in March 2011. He served as a community development and education Volunteer until he was evacuated in November of that same year and credits his experience as a major contributor to his personal and professional growth.
     

     

    KENYA

    Josh Josa (2010–12) is a 2022 finalist for the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal, an honor reserved for the most innovative and exceptional federal workers. As a member of the Deaf community and a first-generation Hungarian-American, Josa’s commitment to equity and inclusion in education is fueled by his first-hand experience with the stigma, barriers, and lack of resources students with disabilities face in school. While working as an inclusive education specialist at the U.S. Agency for International Development, Josa has sought to design and implement programs delivering quality, equitable, and inclusive education to all children and youth. He has worked tirelessly to advance educational inclusivity for students with disabilities, whether it be in Morocco, Kenya, or the United States.

     

     

     

    LESOTHO

    Travis Wohlrab (2013–15) received the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal for developing a livestream production capability and supporting agency communications programs. This medal recognizes those who significantly improve NASA’s day-to-day operations. Wohlrab is the engagement officer at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, where he has worked since the end of his Peace Corps service. During the onset of COVID-19, Wohlrab used his video production expertise to produce livestream events — such as Town Halls and public outreach events — which were crucial to helping the center continue to disseminate information and operate as it had before the pandemic.

     

     

     

    NEPAL

    Lowell Hurst (1976–78) received the 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award, along with his wife Wendy, from the Pajaro Valley Chamber Of Commerce and Agriculture. Hurst has dedicated his life to education, public service, and volunteerism starting with his Peace Corps service — followed by the more than three decades he spent teaching science and horticulture at Watsonville High School. In 1989, he was elected to the Watsonville City Council, served on the body for three stints over three decades, and served three mayoral terms, retiring from the political arena after his final term.

     

     

     

     

    NICARAGUA

    Heather Laird was appointed the new medical director of Volunteers in Medicine Clinic of the Cascades (VIM) in April. She first got involved with VIM by serving as a volunteer nurse practitioner in 2013, while working at her full-time job in telemedicine. Laird shifted away from telemedicine to work with patients in person at Mosaic Medical — a community-founded health center focused on making high-quality healthcare available to Central Oregonians, regardless of life circumstances. Inspired by her Peace Corps experience, which allowed her to learn technical skills that would help her community, Laird pursued a master’s in environmental and occupational health sciences at University of Washington before attending University of California, San Francisco, and obtaining a degree to become an adult nurse practitioner. “I am looking forward to harnessing my experience and education to help the underserved in Central Oregon through my role at Volunteers in Medicine,” Laird said.

     

     

    UKRAINE

    Jamie HopkinsIn April and May, Jamie Hopkins (1996–98), who serves as executive director of the Eagan Community Foundation, spearheaded the Twin Cities Ukrainian Film Series. “It’s important for me to tell people about Ukraine,” Hopkins said. “I’ve been trying to do that for 25 years, and for the first time people are really anxious to learn.” Together with the Emagine Theaters, the foundation put on a three-day film fundraiser to benefit a variety of needs in Ukraine, including funding for filmmakers documenting the current war and community foundations in the areas hardest hit. “I want to make sure that opportunity exists today to do that (make Ukrainian films) in the future,” Hopkins said. As a Peace Corps Volunteer, Hopkins served as a teacher trainer in the town of Ukrainka in the Kyiv Region — something she describes as “most rewarding experience of my life.” Hopkins has served as the Eagan Community Foundation’s executive director since 2016. She originally joined the foundation as a board member in 2013. 

  • Orrin Luc posted an article
    Peace Corps Community members testify for RPCVs to receive Maryland in-state tuition. see more

    It’s a change long overdue. And advocacy from NPCA and dozens of returned Volunteers ensured support for bipartisan legislation signed into law in April.

     

    By Jonathan Pearson

     

    Far too often, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers are left behind at the state government level when it comes to benefits that are afforded others for their service to our nation. In the state of Maryland, a bill was just signed into law to address one of those inequities: who qualifies for in-state tuition.

    Marylanders seeking in-state tuition have to prove they have lived in the state for the past two years. Because returning Peace Corps Volunteers serve overseas, they have been found to be ineligible for the tuition benefit once they come home—because of the residency requirement. This is despite the fact that other forms of public service, including military service and AmeriCorps, have an exemption to this rule. Now RPCVs do, too.

    In January of this year, NPCA President Glenn Blumhorst and former Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen appeared (virtually) at a public hearing before the Maryland State Senate’s Education Committee to testify on legislation for RPCVs to receive in-state tuition. One of NPCA’s goals was to have Peace Corps service treated on par with other forms of national service. Jody Olsen, who was on the faculty of the University of Maryland–Baltimore School of Social Work prior to becoming the 20th director of the Peace Corps, spoke to lawmakers about her personal experience as an educator in Maryland: “I watched the value that Returned Peace Corps Volunteers brought to their graduate education,” she said. “They offered so much in the classroom, they offered much with the faculty. In fact, faculty would tell me they are some of the strongest students they had in their master’s degree program.”

    Along with verbal testimony, NPCA submitted written testimony that included comments and statements of support collected in a 24-hour period from more than 50 members of the Maryland Peace Corps community. And the news is good. The Maryland State House and Senate both passed their versions of the bill overwhelmingly, and Gov. Larry Hogan signed it into law the week of April 11.

     

  • Communications Intern posted an article
    Updates from the Peace Corps community — across the country and 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 V. Deekle (Iran 1968–70)

     

    Carrie Hessler-Radelet (pictured left), a former Peace Corps director, begins a new position as president and CEO of Global Communities — an organization whose recent efforts include working in partnership with communities in Ukraine to provide essential non-food items, mental health support, and assistance to internally displaced persons. President Biden appoints Lisa E. Delplace as a member of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts to help oversee the cultural and historic preservation of the District of Columbia. A new director of operations for a Panama-based tour company. Two RPCVs receive awards for their commitment to leadership and global citizenship.

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

     

    DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

    Ryan Stock (2007–09), a political ecologist, is the 2021–22 recipient of the Faculty Emerging Leadership Award at Northern Michigan University. He is an assistant professor in the Earth, Environmental, and Geographical Sciences Department. With an extensive list of published works, Stock has several ongoing research projects including environmental injustices of solar PV life cycle, climate adaptation and vulnerability of farmers in India, gendered livelihoods and solar development in Ghana, and climate policy in South Asia. Stock has held many leadership roles promoting environmental sustainability, gender inclusion, student involvement, and anti-racism. He was the impetus for the NMU Carbon Neutrality Task Force which aims to create a carbon neutral campus by 2050 by improving waste and recycling, protecting freshwater resources, promoting education and awareness, and building local partnerships. Stock is a member of the Sustainability Advisory Council. Off-campus, he serves as a member of the Marquette County Climate Action Task Force and advocates for the City of Marquette to commit to carbon neutrality through its Climate Action Resolution.

     

    KENYA

    Lisa E. Delplace (1982–84) was appointed as the newest member of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts by President Biden. She is principal and CEO of the Washington, D.C.–based landscape architecture firm Oehme, van Sweden (OvS). In this new position, Delplace will represent landscape architects, a role which was previously missing from the commission. She is tasked with preserving and enhancing the District of Columbia’s visual and cultural character as well as helping to plan for public spaces, monuments, climate change–related issues, and security matters. Her previous work ranges from sculpture parks to urban redevelopments and examines the compelling structural relationship between architecture and landscape. She is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects Council of Fellows — one of the highest honors ASLA bestows upon members — and she is a visiting critic and lecturer at various universities and organizations. In addition to her Peace Corps service in Kenya, she has international experience working in Europe and the Middle East.

     
     

    LESOTHO

    Madeline Uraneck (2006–09), a long-term contributor to international education and service, has received the 2022 Global Citizenship Award from the Wisconsin Council of Social Studies. The recipient of this award exemplifies social studies principles by improving the quality of life for others and promoting the common good. Uraneck has traveled to more than 60 countries, studied six languages, and willingly self-identifies as a “global citizen”. As a well-respected educator, Uraneck values the connections she makes within other cultures, learning languages from children and meeting kind strangers. She has won several awards including DPI by Goldman Sachs Foundation Award for State Leadership and Council of Chief State School Officers for International Education. She is a professional member, presenter, and key-note speaker for Wisconsin Council for Social Studies and has authored Planning Curriculum in International Education and How to Make a Life, a story of her interactions with a Tibetan refugee family in Madison, Wisconsin.

     

    NIGERIA

    Mary Johnson has been selected as a 2022 GenEd Teacher Fellow and will embark on a ten-day intensive professional development program in July. The fellowship, which is based at the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute, offers professional development workshops about human rights and genocide with a closer look at the Armenian experience. Johnson is an affiliate and adjunct professor for Stockton University’s Holocaust and Genocide Studies, a program that prepares its graduates for careers in education, museums, and organizations that aim to stop and prevent mass atrocities. For more than three decades, Johnson was the senior historian for Facing History and Ourselves, an organization that challenges students and teachers to confront racism and prejudice, where she facilitated seminars and workshops, wrote curricula, and conducted research.

      

     

    PANAMA

    Megan Thompson (2018–19) is the newly appointed director of operations for Retire in Panama, a full-service relocation tour company known for its innovative approach to supporting expatriate residents with their relocation and resettlement needs. Retire in Panama also shares educational resources to connect prospective clients and current clients with housing, financial planning assistance, and access to Panama’s history and culture. Thompson brings to the new roles a strong leadership foundation gained during the two-year advisory position she held with the company, and she brings a unique cultural understanding of Panama gained from her experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer who worked on environmental conservation, recycling and trash services, and sexual wellness education. In her new role, Thompson will oversee all aspects of operations, including personnel and contractor management, client services, tours and logistics.
     

     

    SIERRA LEONE/NIGER

    Mary Alice Serafini (1969–72) retired in March 2022 from her position as assistant vice chancellor for student affairs and executive director of the Pat Walker Health Center at the University of Arkansas. As a Volunteer in Sierra Leone and Niger, she served as a teacher before starting her employment at the University of Arkansas in 1991 as the assistant director of administration for the Health Center. Recognized for her support and advocacy for international students and scholars, Serafini has been committed in her leadership programs focused on student diversity and inclusion. She is a longtime member of the NASPA, the professional association of student affairs, and helps inspire undergraduates to see student affairs as a viable career path through the NUFP Mentor Program. During her time with the university, Serafini championed for the counseling center’s expansion, which included the addition of mental health and wellness promotion, the growth of counseling staff, and the creation of designated, welcoming space within the Pat Walker Health Center. Her compassionate leadership and service to others earned Serafini the respect and love of her colleagues and students. During her retirement, she plans to continue volunteering and engaging in public policy.

     

    SOUTH AFRICA

    Juhi Desai (2018–20) has been elected president of the Student Bar Association at the University of Virginia Law School. Before entering law school, she served as an elementary school teacher in South Africa with the Peace Corps and was evacuated in March 2020 because of COVID-19. Prior to serving with the Peace Corps, she taught civics and economics, AP U.S. history, and world history at a high school outside Boston. As an attorney she plans to work as a public defender and notes that “the United States is the most incarcerated nation in the world.” 

     

     

     

    WESTERN SAMOA

    Carrie Hessler-Radelet (1981–83) will assume the role of president and CEO of Global Communities on October 1, 2022. She has been serving as president of the organization since September 2021. Last year Global Communities also completed a merger with Project Concern International, where Hessler-Radelet had been serving as president and CEO. Global Communities is devoted to providing a more equitable future through humanitarian assistance, sustainable development, and financial solutions. Currently, the organization is working in partnership with communities in Ukraine to provide physical and mental health support and to assist internally displaced persons. Hessler-Radelet has worked in previous global leadership positions as director, acting director, and deputy director of the Peace Corps. Before being appointed as Director of the Peace Corps by President Obama, Hessler-Radelet oversaw public health programs in 85 countries as the vice president and director of John Snow, Inc., a public health management consulting and research organization. Hessler-Radelet brings to her new role decades of global health experience which includes serving as the lead consultant on the first Five Year Global HIV/AIDS Strategy for the President George W. Bush’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), working with USAID in Indonesia on maternal and child health and HIV programming, founding the Special Olympics in The Gambia, and being the third generation in her family to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

  • Orrin Luc posted an article
    Updates from the Peace Corps community — across the country and 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 V. Deekle (Iran 1968–70)

     

    Park Ranger Shelton Johnson (pictured) who received the 2022 American Park Experience Award for his lifelong efforts advocating for diversity in U.S. national parks. Kathleen Chafey, the founder of a Montana State University program to support nursing students from Indigenous communities, has endowed a professorship to ensure the program continues to thrive. An RPCV is appointed to finish a term in the North Carolina State House. New leadership roles supporting efforts in sustainability as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

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

     

     

    CHAD

    Jim Diamond (1971–73) received the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau’s 2021 Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award. The award is presented to an individual whose dedicated work and service have significantly contributed to the advancement of Pennsylvania agriculture. With nearly 60 years of experience teaching agriculture in Pennsylvania and around the world, Diamond has made vast contributions to agriculture working as an assistant professor of agricultural education at Penn State University, an international agricultural and extension education consultant for the United Nations, and a vocational agriculture instructor at Upper Bucks County Area Vocational Technical School. For nearly a decade, Diamond served as the Dean of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at Delaware Valley University.

     

     

      

     

    COLOMBIA

    Kathleen Chafey (1963–65), a retired director of a Montana State University program supporting Indigenous students pursuing nursing degrees, established an educational endowment in support of the program in years ahead. The fund is named the Kathleen Chafey Nursing Professorship to honor Chafey’s efforts to found and establish the Caring for Our Own Program (CO-OP) in 1999 to help improve the quality of health care in Native American and Alaska Native communities. Since its inception, CO-OP has nurtured more than 100 Native American students, most of whom have gone on to serve tribal communities as licensed nurses working in Montana or to pursue a doctoral nursing program.

     

     

     

     

     

    EL SALVADOR

    Kiva Wilson (2004–06) has been promoted to Chief Culture Officer at Material, a modern marketing services company. Wilson joined Material in 2021 as Senior Vice President of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I). Wilson brings to the role over 16 years of DE&I strategy and implementation experience, having worked on DE&I initiatives at Paradigm Strategy and Facebook as well as the Peace Corps as Head of Diversity and National Outreach. In her new role, Wilson will continue to lead Material’s DE&I efforts and develop a strategy for nurturing meaningful, collaborative, work relationships both remotely and face to face.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    THE GAMBIA

    Sabrina T. Cherry (2001–03) has been nominated for the 36th YMCA Annual Women of Achievement Award, which celebrates the accomplishments of women and young leaders in the southeastern North Carolina community. Dr. Cherry is an assistant professor of Public Health at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) and serves as Interim Director and Architect for the UNCW’s Equity Institute. She attributes her understanding of the importance of community-based health education and culturally relevant, public health initiatives to her Peace Corps service in The Gambia, and she has spent nearly two decades working in the public health field.

     

     

     

     

     

    GHANA

    Kayla Canne (2018–20), an Asbury Park Press reporter, has won a National Press Foundation award for her work investigating deplorable living conditions and discrimination in taxpayer-funded rental housing in New Jersey. Honoring journalism covering poverty and inequality in the United States, the award recognizes Canne’s 2021 series titled, “We don’t take that,” which exposed the barriers that exist for low-income tenants in their search for clean, safe and affordable housing. Listen to Canne discuss her series on WNYC's Morning Edition.

     

     

     

      

     

     

    LIBERIA

    Shelton Johnson (1982–83) received the 2022 American Park Experience Award. The award recognizes Johnson’s extraordinary, lifelong efforts advocating for diversity in national parks and helping more families and youth feel welcome by seeing their stories told in parks as well as cultural and historic sites alike. Johnson has worked for the past 35 years as a park ranger with the National Park Service at Yellowstone and now Yosemite National Park. His storytelling talents landed him a prominent role in the Ken Burns film: The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. In 2010, Johnson hosted Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King on a multi-day camping trip which was captured on national television and broadcast around the globe. He credits his work with Oprah as a significant breakthrough in introducing Black Americans to the wonders of America’s national parks, which has been Johnson’s passion throughout his career.

     

     

     

     

     

    MALAWI 

    Cameron Beach (2016–18) is both a COVID-19 evacuated Peace Corps Volunteer and a 2022 recipient of the Donald M. Payne International Development Graduate Fellowship, looking forward to beginning graduate studies in the fall. This fellowship helps fund the costs of her education and provides a pathway into a career as a USAID Foreign Service Officer beginning in June 2024.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Danielle Lee (2001–03) has been named Mountain View's first Chief Sustainability and Resiliency Officer. In her new role, which starts in early March 2022, Lee will be responsible for lead the upcoming sustainability and climate resiliency efforts in Mountain View, California; advising the city on sustainability and resiliency goals; develop programs to achieve carbon neutrality, resiliency, adaptability and equity; and promote community, city and private sector participation in these sustainability efforts, among other tasks. Since 2005, she has worked for the County of San Mateo in a number of sustainability-related roles and as an analyst, having spent the past six years as assistant director in the county's Office of Sustainability.

     

     

     

     

     

    ROMANIA

    Marc Rand (2000–02) has been included among the 2022 Nonprofit Leaders Who Will Impact the World. He is the Founder and Managing Director of Community Capital Advisors, a national consultancy focused on community investment. He also manages several nonprofit loan funds, including American Nonprofits and the Nonprofit Insurance Alliance of California’s member loan fund. Marc is the former Program Director for Loans and Affordable Housing at Marin Community Foundation.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    SOUTH AFRICA

    Kelsey McMahon (2014–16) took part in the Peace Corps’ Virtual Service Pilot (launched in October 2020 as a virtual service that provided Returned Peace Corps Volunteers with the opportunity to serve while in the United States through virtual engagements with community-based partners overseas). Using her marketing experience and creative writing skills, she was able to help a South African nonprofit improve its online presence.

     

     

     

    TONGA

    Sarah Bair (2019–20) has been selected as a 2022 Presidential Management Fellow Finalist at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, where Bair is pursuing a master’s in public health. Directed by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the PMF program is the federal government’s flagship leadership development program at the entry level, offering exceptional men and women from various careers direct pathways into federal services.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Patricia Delaney (2002–05) became Dean of the School of Liberal Studies & the Arts and Academic Coordinator for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Landmark College in Vermont. As a social anthropologist, Delaney has worked in international development promoting social equity with organizations such as the Peace Corps, the United Nations, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and various partners in countries all over the world.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    TURKMENISTAN

    Andrea Armstrong (1996–98) has received Loyola University New Orleans College of Law's 2022 Dux Academicus award for her unwavering commitment to social justice and passion for knowledge. As the highest honor a Loyola faculty member, the Dux Academicus recognizes a faculty member who imparts the knowledge and wisdom of liberal arts, sciences, or professions to students in a way that truly embodies Jesuit values and philosophy.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Nathan Truitt (2000–03) has been promoted to senior vice president of business development at the American Forest Foundation (AFF). In his new role, Truitt will lead the AFF’s partnership and philanthropy strategy for all programs and products, with a strong emphasis on the rapidly expanding Family Forest Carbon Program. Prior to the promotion, Truitt worked as AFF's Vice President of Strategic Partnerships. He brings to the position international education and development experience within the nonprofit sector.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    ZAMBIA

    Caleb Rudow (2012–14) has been appointed to serve out the remainder of Representative Susan Fisher’s term for the District 114 seat in the North Carolina State House. He intends to run for a full two-year term, beginning with the primary set for May 17, 2022. Prior to his confirmation, Rudow worked as a research and data analyst at Open Data Watch in Washington, D.C., where he conducted research on open data funding, patterns of data use, and technical issues around open data policy.

     

  • Tiffany James posted an article
    Shop between March 17 through March 21 to support NPCA see more

    Enjoy fresh Guatemalan specialty coffee while supporting the Peace Corps community. Shop at Chica Bean through March 21 and NPCA will receive 15 percent from online sales.

     

    By NPCA Staff

     

     
     

    Treat yourself to incredible coffee that contributes to a better world with Chica Bean — from an RPCV entrepreneur whose Peace Corps service shaped a successful business committed to producing quality Guatemalan roasted coffee, shipped fresh from their roastery to your doorstep. Stock up on Chica Bean products through March 21 and help support the Peace Corps community.

    Co-founded by returned Volunteer Alene Seiler-Martinez (Guatemala 2008–12) and husband Josue Martinez, CHICA BEAN has brewed up a way to more equally distribute value between coffee producing and consuming countries. Try out Chica Bean’s Guatemalan specialty coffee — produced by women, roasted at origin, and delivered fresh to your door in the U.S. With a focus on quality, connection, and traceability, Chica Bean will help start your day with impact!

    EXPLORE MORE: Listen to this special “Jobs with Jodi” podcast episode where the founders of Chica Bean talk coffee, the ways Chica Bean is unique from other coffee distributors, and how RPCVs can get involved with Chica Bean's social impact mission.

    SHOP: March 17–21 and Chica Bean will donate 15 percent of sales to NPCA to support the global social impact of the Peace Corps community. Shop women-produced coffee and products.

     

    Shop Chica Bean

     

    “By roasting at origin we are cutting out a number of middle men ...it allows us a certain level of negotiating power which means we can give our clients a good price, but we can also continue to pay our producers well and still make enough to get by as a business.”
       —RPCV Alene Seiler-Martinez (Guatemala 2008–12)

    Note: This is a promotion by Chica Bean. NPCA does not endorse the products or services of Chica Bean.