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  • Orrin Luc posted an article
    After a send-off from First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, they headed for Zambia and the Dominican Republic. see more

    After a send-off from First Lady Dr. Jill Biden at the White House, Volunteers headed for Zambia and the Dominican Republic in March. Here are the 24 countries they will be returning to first. More are being added this spring.

     

    By NPCA Staff

    Photo courtesy Peace Corps Zambia

     

    Two years after all Peace Corps Volunteers were brought home from service overseas because of COVID-19, Volunteers are returning to posts around the world. On March 14, the first group of Volunteers arrived in Zambia. On March 23, Volunteers arrived in the Dominican Republic — the second group to return to service.

    Over the past two years, Peace Corps Zambia staff have supported projects from rural aquaculture and reforestation to education and public health. Volunteers will work in those fields and others, including food security and HIV treatment and prevention. They will also support efforts to disseminate COVID-19 mitigation information and promote access to vaccinations. In the Dominican Republic, Volunteers will focus on supporting communities in efforts to overcome the educational and economic shocks caused by COVID-19.

    The news that Volunteers will be returning to two dozen countries in 2022 was confirmed on March 3 at a special event hosted by the agency, “The Peace Corps Reimagined: A Keynote Address and Forum.” Carol Spahn, who has been serving as CEO of the Peace Corps, gave the roll call of posts that had met rigorous new criteria for health and safety, and for which invitations were out for Volunteers to return to service. They are: Belize, Benin, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Eastern Caribbean, Ecuador, Ghana, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgyz Republic, Mexico, Namibia, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, The Gambia, Togo, Uganda, and Zambia.

     

    White House send-off: In March, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden with Volunteers preparing to return to service in Zambia and the Dominican Republic. Photo by Erin Scott / The White House

     

    The Associated Press published a story about Volunteers’ return to service that was picked up around the globe. They spoke with Campbell Martin, a recent graduate of UCLA soon heading to The Gambia to work in education — at a time when all Volunteers will also be contributing to COVID-19 relief efforts. When Martin got the news, “I was absolutely ecstatic,” he said. “This has been a dream of mine ever since I finished high school.”

    NBC News published a story recapping key points of the forum as well. Among the returning Volunteers they spoke with is Olivia Diaz, who is returning to Zambia to work on reforestation and community conservation and, as she said, to “deepen roots of connection.”

     

    The first 24: Volunteers are slated to return to all of these countries in 2022, with more being added throughout the spring. Graphic courtesy Peace Corps

     

    The two years in which there have been no Volunteers serving overseas have been far from idle. In addition to work by staff around the world, the agency launched a Virtual Service Pilot, which is ongoing. Last year, more than 150 Peace Corps Response Volunteers partnered with FEMA to support community vaccination efforts in the U.S. For its part, National Peace Corps Association supported evacuated Volunteers’ projects in communities around the world through its community fund. NPCA also convened conversations that shaped the community-driven report “Peace Corps Connect to the Future,” with an array of recommendations for how to reimagine and retool the Peace Corps for a changed world.

    Judging from what Carol Spahn shared about the agency’s strategic plan on March 3, the recommendations in the NPCA-published report have shaped thinking and steered the agency toward a focus on accountability, equity, and transparency. “This is not the same Peace Corps you know from 10 or 20 — or even two years ago,” Spahn said. “We have preserved the enduring ‘magic’ that brings us together again and again — after all these years — to support an agency and a mission we love and care about while fundamentally changing the pieces that make us better.”

     

    READ MORE: From the Peace Corps agency, an inside look at Volunteers returning to service in Zambia.

    • william epstein I did not receive notices of the recent comments until today. Is the dialogue between members being controlled...undercut? Perhaps those of us who are disenchanted with the highhanded behavior... see more I did not receive notices of the recent comments until today. Is the dialogue between members being controlled...undercut? Perhaps those of us who are disenchanted with the highhanded behavior of the NPCA junta should begin to share our concerns with our reps in Washington. Lobbying is not rare skill of the privileged; most can take to it right away. Actually those without prominent positions in weak orgs get a better hearing than those orgs when we present ourselves as concerned citizens rather than experts. I am a very concerned citizen about the crap being dished out by the junta.
      2 months ago
  • Jonathan Pearson posted an article
    Under her leadership, Volunteers have worked with FEMA and have begun to return to service overseas see more

    Carol Spahn has led the agency during a challenging time in Peace Corps history. On Wednesday, President Biden announced that he intends to nominate her to serve as the 21st Director of the Peace Corps.

     

    By Jonathan Pearson

    Photo from Peace Corps video

     

    In a release issued by the White House on April 6, President Biden announced that he intends to nominate Carol Spahn to serve as Director of the Peace Corps. 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. Just weeks ago the first Volunteers began returning to service overseas in Zambia and the Dominican Republic, and Volunteers are expected to return to more than 20 countries in the months ahead.
     

    “We congratulate Carol Spahn for her pending nomination as Peace Corps Director, and applaud President Biden for his choice,” said National Peace Corps Association President & CEO Glenn Blumhorst. 

    “We congratulate Carol Spahn for her pending nomination as Peace Corps Director, and applaud President Biden for his choice,” said National Peace Corps Association President and CEO Glenn Blumhorst. “NPCA has 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 Carol’s 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, and we urge the Senate to swiftly bring forth this nomination for consideration and bipartisan confirmation.”

    Prior to serving as acting director, 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.

     

    Leading the Agency at a Challenging Time — and Ensuring It Can Meet the Needs of a Changed World  

    Last year, under Spahn’s leadership, the agency created a domestic service initiative for only the second time in Peace Corps’ history, working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to support vaccination campaigns across the United States. The Peace Corps also continued to expand the Virtual Service Pilot, a program launched in late 2020 to match returned Volunteers with partner organizations around the world.

    During the past year, some of the agency’s longstanding shortcomings were also brought into focus. One pair of articles by USA Today delved into how the agency has not adequately addressed sexual assault of Volunteers — a problem going back years. After the first of those articles appeared in May 2021, Spahn ordered a five-year review by the independent Sexual Assault Advisory Council. Shortly after that report was completed, it was made public by the agency in fall 2021. Drawing on recommendations that report provided, in March 2022 the agency released a briefing paper and roadmap for how to better address sexual assault reduction and response. 

    In December 2021 and January 2022, USA Today also published a pair of articles on the highly disturbing killing in 2019 of Rabia Issa, a mother of three in Tanzania who was struck by a car driven by a Peace Corps official. Both the actions of that staff member and the agency’s response sent shock waves throughout the Peace Corps community. Carol Spahn spoke to Peace Corps staff about this tragedy during a global town hall meeting in January. From staff and the wider Peace Corps community the agency has heard calls for greater transparency going forward — and that the agency live up to its ideals.

    Spahn has said on multiple occasions that the pandemic has underscored just how vital the mission of the Peace Corps is. “The pandemic has set back years of development progress and produced unprecedented challenges,” she said last October at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing. “It has also underscored our world’s profound interdependence and shared future. Recovery will require international cooperation not only at the government level, but also at the community level. And that is where the Peace Corps as a trusted community partner will return to service in new and time tested ways.”

     

    “Intercultural competence, diversity, equity, inclusion is at the core of who we are as an agency and what we do. Our approach encourages deep humility and builds transferable skills as our staff and Volunteers partner at a grassroots level with people from 64 different countries.” 
          —Carol Spahn


    Spahn also told the committee that during the suspension of Volunteer service overseas the agency has redoubled its commitment bolster support systems for Volunteers and, crucially, to ensure that a focus on intercultural competence, diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (ICDEINA) within Peace Corps is a top priority. “Intercultural competence, diversity, equity, inclusion is at the core of who we are as an agency and what we do,” Spahn said. “Our approach encourages deep humility and builds transferable skills as our staff and Volunteers partner at a grassroots level with people from 64 different countries.”

    At those hearings, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks praised Spahn and her leadership team for their work to advance ICDEINA within the agency. And, he noted, his examination shows that the Peace Corps is ahead of many other federal agencies in this regard.

    In March 2022, as part of Peace Corps Week — marking the March 1 anniversary of President Kennedy’s executive order establishing the Peace Corps in 1961 — the agency hosted a community forum and announced the first countries to which Volunteers would begin returning to service in 2022. The forum also highlighted further details on ICDEINA plans, including additional staffing to address key issues, expanded training for worldwide staff and future Volunteers, reforms to reduce economic barriers to service, and more.

     

    Next Step: Senate Foreign Relations Committee

    After President Biden formally nominates Spahn, she will appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for a confirmation hearing. The Peace Corps director is the last major Biden administration nominee within the jurisdiction of the Foreign Relations Committee to come before that body.

    Should Spahn receive approval from the committee, her nomination will go to the full Senate for a final confirmation vote.

     

    Here is President Biden’s official nomination announcement.

     

    Story updated April 7 at 19:30 Eastern. 


    Jonathan Pearson is Advocacy Director for National Peace Corps Association

  • Communications Intern 2 posted an article
    Two dozen countries have welcomed them back. And more than fifty countries have issued invitations. see more

    Two dozen countries have welcomed them back. And some fifty countries have issued invitations for Volunteers to return.

     

    By Steven Boyd Saum

     

    Two years after all Peace Corps Volunteers were brought home because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they began returning to service overseas in March 2022. We shared the exciting news in the previous edition of WorldView that the first Volunteers had returned to Zambia and the Dominican Republic.

    In the months since, posts around the world have been busy welcoming back Peace Corps Volunteers and Response Volunteers to work alongside communities. As of August 2022, Volunteers have returned to some two dozen countries — more than a third of the posts where Volunteers were serving in 2020. That includes nations in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia, and Europe. There will be more Volunteers beginning service overseas in the months ahead, in those countries and dozens more. By our counting, invitations are out for Volunteers to return to 51 countries — more than three quarters of the posts where Peace Corps Volunteers had been serving in 2020. 

    In order for the agency to issue invitations for Volunteers to return, each post must meet robust reentry criteria which involve health, safety, and other logistical factors. Living with COVID-19, a horrific war in Europe and consequent economic mayhem, as well as other regional turmoil, it’s crucial to ensure safety of Volunteers and communities alike. Indeed, despite global tumult, this is a hopeful time for the agency, with this return also representing a rededication to the mission of the Peace Corps.

     

    Despite global tumult, this is a hopeful time for the agency, with this return also representing a rededication to the mission of the Peace Corps.

     

    Earlier this year, a group of departing Volunteers met with First Lady of the United States Jill Biden. On July 19, the first cohort of Volunteers to return to Panamá met with Second Gentleman of the United States Doug Emhoff at the White House. Emhoff also hosted the soon-to-be Volunteers and Peace Corps CEO Carol Spahn for a roundtable. “It’s always incredible to meet with young people dedicated to changing the world,” Emhoff posted on Twitter afterward. And, to the Volunteers, he wrote: “I know you’ll bring great passion and energy to your projects.” 

    Based on conversations and leadership that has shaped the return of Volunteers to service overseas, humility and a spirit of cooperation in a changed world are a crucial part of the mix, too. 
     

    Sendoff from the Second Gentleman: Doug Emhoff, center, with the first Volunteers returning to Panamá, as well as agency leaders. Photo by Lawrence Jackson / The White House

     

    Where Volunteers Have Returned

    These include 23 posts and 26 countries — since the Peace Corps post in the Eastern Caribbean includes four countries.
     

    Zambia | March 2022
    Dominican Republic | March 2022
    Colombia | April 2022
    Namibia | May 2022
    Uganda | May 2022
    Mexico | May 2022
    Ecuador | May 2022
    Eastern Caribbean | May 2022 (Includes four countries: Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, and Grenada)
    Belize | May 2022
    Peru | May 2022
    Paraguay | May 2022
    Togo | June 2022
    Senegal | June 2022
    The Gambia | June 2022
    Benin | June 2022
    Rwanda | June 2022
    Kyrgyz Republic | June 2022
    Ghana | June 2022
    Sierra Leone | June 2022
    Costa Rica | July 2022
    Kosovo | July 2022
    Madagascar | July 2022

     

    Photos courtesy Peace Corps posts

    Invitations Are Out

    Here are the additional posts that have met safety criteria and for which there are invitations for Volunteers to begin serving in 2022 and beyond. Including the countries to which Volunteers have already returned, invitations are out to 47 posts and 51 countries. Take note of the last post on this list: Viet Nam. In summer 2020, the Peace Corps formally signed an agreement to launch that new program. It is one that, needless to say, is loaded with tremendous historical significance and a long-term sense of what it means to build peace and friendship. 

    These posts are listed in alphabetical order, not necessarily in order to which Volunteers will be returning in 2022. As the past two years have taught — with lessons sometimes repeated again and again, to the frustration of would-be Volunteers and host communities alike — there may be contingencies that push back planned dates for Volunteers to return.

     

    Albania and Montenegro (Includes two countries: Albania and Montenegro)
    Botswana
    Cambodia
    Cameroon
    eSwatini
    Fiji
    Georgia
    Guatemala
    Guinea
    Guyana
    Indonesia
    Kenya
    Lesotho
    Malawi
    Mongolia
    Morocco
    North Macedonia
    The Philippines
    South Africa
    Tanzania
    Thailand
    Timor-Leste
    Viet Nam

    By October 2023, Volunteers are expected to be back in most of the 60 countries where they were serving in 2020. In addition, programs will be reopened in Sri Lanka and Kenya. 

     

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

     


    Steven Boyd Saum is the editor of WorldView.

  • Orrin Luc posted an article
    NPCA wholeheartedly supports the nomination of Carol Spahn. see more

    Today National Peace Corps Association sent a letter to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee supporting Carol Spahn’s nomination to serve as the 21st Director of the Peace Corps. Here’s what we said. And here’s how you can help ensure a better and stronger Peace Corps for the future.

     

    By Jonathan Pearson

    Photo courtesy Peace Corps

     

    In April President Biden officially nominated Carol Spahn to serve as Director of the Peace Corps. She began serving as acting director in January 2021 and has led the agency through one of the most challenging periods in Peace Corps history. In the weeks ahead, Spahn is expected to appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for a confirmation hearing. While we’re waiting for the date of the hearing to be announced, NPCA sent a letter to the committee supporting Spahn’s nomination.

     

    “NPCA has been honored to work with CEO Spahn and her strong leadership team during the past 18 months,” we write. “We have full confidence in her commitment to the continued redeployment of Volunteers to the field in a responsible manner, and are confident that the next generation of Volunteers will experience a better, stronger Peace Corps prepared to meet new global challenges.”

     

    “NPCA has been honored to work with CEO Spahn and her strong leadership team during the past 18 months,” we write. “We have full confidence in her commitment to the continued redeployment of Volunteers to the field in a responsible manner, and are confident that the next generation of Volunteers will experience a better, stronger Peace Corps prepared to meet new global challenges.” 

    Read NPCA’s letter below. Then, write to your Senators and ask them to confirm Carol Spahn to lead the Peace Corps.

     


    June 23, 2022

     

    The Honorable Robert Menendez (D-NJ) 
    Chairman

    Senate Foreign Relations Committee

    423 Dirksen Senate Office Building

    Washington, D.C. 20510-6225

     

    The Honorable James Risch (R-ID)
    Ranking Member

    Senate Foreign Relations Committee

    423 Dirksen Senate Office Building

    Washington, D.C. 20510-6225

     

    Dear Chairman Menendez and Ranking Member Risch,

    We write to express National Peace Corps Association’s (NPCA) wholehearted support of the nomination of Carol Spahn to become the twenty-first Director of the Peace Corps. We urge the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to move swiftly to support this nomination and work for full Senate confirmation of Chief Executive Officer Spahn as soon as possible.

    NPCA has been honored to work with CEO Spahn and her strong leadership team during the past 18 months. This has been an incredibly challenging time of planning for the Peace Corps’ future in the face of a global pandemic. During this time, we have been deeply impressed by CEO Spahn’s leadership and collaboration with the Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) community. We have full confidence in her commitment to the continued redeployment of Volunteers to the field (which began this past March) in a responsible manner. We are confident that her leadership, coupled with passage of significant Peace Corps reauthorization legislation before Congress, will ensure that the next generation of Volunteers will experience a better, stronger Peace Corps prepared to meet new global challenges.

    Because of her leadership during arguably the most difficult period in the Peace Corps’ history, we believe President Biden was wise in putting forth this nomination. While our nation — and particularly the world — are not fully free of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is hope that the number of Peace Corps Volunteers returning to service will steadily grow through 2022 and 2023.

    As CEO Spahn noted last fall during a hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC), the work of these redeployed volunteers will include addressing the pandemic. “The pandemic has set back years of development progress and produced unprecedented challenges. It has also underscored our world’s profound interdependence and shared future. Recovery will require international cooperation not only at the government level, but also at the community level. And that is where the Peace Corps as a trusted community partner will return to service in new and time tested ways.”

    CEO Spahn has also demonstrated robust leadership on key policy and management issues that are as necessary as they are challenging. Her request last fall to the Sexual Assault Advisory Council to review and update recommendations of the past five years, the public posting of that report, and her outreach to the Peace Corps community to share its concerns and proposals proves her strong commitment to the issue. It is this type of transparency, which she is guiding, that will help support survivors and lower the risks of sexual violence.

    Similarly, the Peace Corps is receiving praise for its efforts to advance intercultural competence, diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility within its ranks. During that same HFAC hearing, Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks praised recent agency work in this regard, saying “I understand also that the Peace Corps has instituted this robust program that you've talked about in your opening statement, intercultural competence, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and that you've been leading these efforts. You know, and you probably, from my examination, are ahead of a lot of other agencies”.

    The issues outlined above and many more critical to the Peace Corps community were included in NPCA’s Peace Corps Connect to the Future report (November 2020), which reflected a series of community conversations and town hall meetings with more than 1,000 RPCVs about the future of the Peace Corps. We have been very pleased with the way CEO Spahn has embraced the report and its recommendations, many of which have been implemented over the past year.

    Lastly, as a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Romania 1994–96), former Country Director, and Chief of Operations for Peace Corps’ Southern and Eastern Africa region, we at NPCA believe that Carol Spahn possesses the background, dedication, and proven track record to move the Peace Corps forward. We respectfully request that your committee move her nomination swiftly to the full Senate for its consideration and ultimate confirmation.

     

    Sincerely,

    Kim Herman
    Interim President & CEO
    National Peace Corps Association

     

    Jed Meline
    Interim Chair – Board of Directors
    National Peace Corps Association
                                                           

     


    MORE: Read the letter as a PDF here. 

     

    Write Your Senators to Support the Nomination

     

    Jonathan Pearson is the Director of Advocacy for National Peace Corps Association. Write him here.

  • Jonathan Pearson posted an article
    An update from the RPCVs for PSLF Relief see more

    The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program has also been a focus of concern for members of the Peace Corps community, because returned Volunteers were left out of reforms that were supposed to help them. Now here’s some good news.


    By Katie McSheffrey


    Photo by JessicaRain / Wikimedia Commons

     

    Last October, the U.S. Department of Education announced an overhaul of the troubled Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF). But that initial overhaul, did not include proposals to help Peace Corps Volunteers. National Peace Corps Association has covered this in podcasts and WorldView magazine. Months later, those of us who have been leading the RPCVs for PSLF Relief Facebook group have some good news.

    First, a bit more background. In October 2021, the Secretary of Education announced a limited time waiver, through which borrowers may receive credit for past periods of repayment that would not otherwise qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. The limited time waiver expires October 31, 2022. Unfortunately this waiver did not help the majority of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, whose loans were in economic hardship deferment status during their Peace Corps service. But advocacy efforts to fix the problem have now paid off.

     

    The Department of Education has announced a one-time addendum to the limited time waiver for borrowers under income-driven repayment plans, including those who are pursuing Public Service Loan Forgiveness. The deadline to apply is October 31, 2022.

     

    On April 19, 2022, the Department of Education announced a one-time addendum to the limited time waiver for borrowers under income-driven repayment plans, including those who are pursuing Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Included in the one-time addendum is a clarifying point that will greatly benefit many Returned Peace Corps Volunteers: “Months spent in deferment before 2013 will count under the waiver. Additionally, ED will include Economic Hardship Deferment on or after January 1, 2013. These periods of deferment will also be applied to your account in fall 2022.” 

    Unfortunately, periods of in-school deferment still do not count. That may affect Volunteers who participated in the Master’s International Program. 

    One important deadline to note: This limited time waiver will end on October 31, 2022. To take advantage of the waiver, borrowers must take steps as outlined on the Department of Education website to sign up for Public Service Loan Forgiveness prior to that date.

    While this is positive news for returned Volunteers to be included in the time-limited waiver, NPCA and the RPCVs for PSLF Relief Group are still working to advocate for permanent, retroactive change to the PSLF program to ensure all returned Volunteers qualify for this program, regardless of status while serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Be sure to keep up-to-date on the latest changes to the PSLF program, as the Department of Education continues to update guidance for borrowers.

    For those with student loans, here’s something else important to keep in mind: The PSLF Program forgives the remaining balance on direct loans after a borrower has made 120 qualifying monthly payments under a qualifying repayment plan while working full-time for a qualifying employer. Borrowers do not need to have their full 120 payments by the waiver deadline, but they do need to be signed up for the program so the Department of Education can verify Peace Corps service records. 

    Questions? Please feel free to contact the RPCVs for PSLF Relief group on Facebook.

     

     

    MORE TO THE STORY: 

    READ MORE about the Public Service Loan Forgiveness limited time waiver

    LEGISLATION INTRODUCED: On June 1, 2022, Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced the Simplifying and Strengthening PSLF Act, to streamline and improve the troubled federal program to help Americans pursuing careers in public service — including firefighters, teachers, Peace Corps Volunteers, police officers, and those working for nonprofits — have their student loan debt forgiven.

    TAKE ACTION: Share your student loan story with lawmakers by writing to President Biden and your members of Congress through NPCA's Action Center.

     

     


    Katie McSheffrey served as a Volunteer in Azerbaijan 2009–11. She is currently the chief of staff in the Office of Human Capital for the Department of the Interior. She previously served as government affairs officer and public service engagement lead with the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service and with Peace Corps Headquarters.

  • Orrin Luc posted an article
    Gonzalez has been appointed assistant director for climate and biodiversity. see more

    Patrick Gonzalez takes on responsibilities tackling climate and biodiversity with the White House.

     

    Photography by Al Golub

    By Steven Boyd Saum

     

    “Contributing science for solutions to global problems is one of the most important contributions that we can make as scientists,” Patrick Gonzalez (Senegal 1988–90) declared earlier this year at the Ecological Society of America’s annual conference. Now he has the opportunity to walk the talk in a new way: He has been appointed assistant director for climate and biodiversity by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

    A forest ecologist and climate change scientist, he has brought his expertise for years to the U.S. National Park Service as principal climate change scientist, and to research at U.C. Berkeley. But as High Country News noted several years ago, “The first unmistakable sign of climate change Patrick Gonzalez ever saw in the field was in Senegal.”

    As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal, Gonzalez heard village elders lament that the yir trees were dying. He set out to find out why — and do something about it. He returned as a researcher and, walking 1,200 miles as he collected data, he documented that “since 1945, one out of three tree species in Senegal had disappeared, and one out of every five big trees had died.”

     

    Measure, learn, act: Patrick Gonzalez at work in Yosemite National Park. Photo by Al Golub

     

    The research and insight on climate change, ecosystems, wildfire, and carbon solutions he has done over the decades has informed new actions and policies. Credit him as lead author on four reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the science panel awarded a share of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. He has also served on three U.S. delegations to the United Nations and on the roster of experts of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

  • Orrin Luc posted an article
    8/28/61 Peace Corps Director R. Sargent Shriver leads 80 Ghana and Tanganyika Peace Corps Volunteers see more

    The legislation that permanently created the Peace Corps had yet to pass the Senate. But the Peace Corps had been launched by an executive order issued in March. And the first Volunteers were about to embark on service in Ghana and Tanganyika.

     

    A moment in time: August 28, 1961. Founding Peace Corps Director R. Sargent Shriver leads 80 Volunteers who are headed for Ghana and Tanganyika, now Tanzania, to the White House, where President John F. Kennedy will give them a personal send-off.

    JFK thanks them for embarking on their service, “on behalf of our country and, in the larger sense, as the name suggests, for the cause of peace and understanding.”

    Two days later, on August 30, after a 23-hour flight from Washington, 51 Volunteers will land in Accra, Ghana, to begin their service as teachers. We’re grateful to them and the communities that have worked together with Volunteers over the past six decades. The mission of the Peace Corps, then as now, is to build peace and friendship. As if we needed reminding, that’s work far from finished.

     

     

     Photograph by Rowland Scherman, Peace Corps. Courtesy the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston

  • Jonathan Pearson posted an article
    Olsen would become the 20th Peace Corps Director. see more

    President Trump has nominated Josephine "Jody" Olsen to become the next Peace Corps Director.

    If confirmed by the Senate, Olsen would become the 20th person to lead the agency.

    Olsen, who served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tunisia, was Deputy and Acting Director of the agency from 2001 to 2009.

    Click here to read the White House announcement on this nomination.

    Click here to see the list of all previous Peace Corps Directors.

     

    Visit this post in the coming hours for more updates on this nomination.