commented on The Problem with Peace Corps
2014-05-28 17:44:05 -0400
Alan, I agree “Peace Corps is not about the past, it’s about the future” but I disagree that the Peace Corps community focuses solely on the past. There are countless examples of RPCVs and groups such as RPCV/W taking their experiences and making an impact in both local and global communities
First, understanding our history is essential in moving forward. For example for me and others the founding of the Peace Corps has impacted our families. Understanding the history and reason why Peace Corps was created is fascinating and important in understanding of who we are and where we are today and how we can move forward.
On September 25, 2011, RPCV/W led a moving commemoration for the 50th Anniversary of the Peace Corps (you can find the documents on this website). These events were planned and implemented by over 100 volunteers. Speakers reflected on the past, the present and the future in a nearly two hour program addressing nearly 5000 RPCVs at Arlington National Cemetery Memorial Amphitheater.
Concluding this day, over 5,000 RPCVs then walked across the Arlington Memorial Bridge with the flags of the 139 Peace Corps countries. By walking away from the cemetery, it was the symbol of hope for the future.
Secondly, our community for the last 53 years has impacted the US and abroad in so many positive ways. Peace Corps volunteers have come home to be teachers, doctors, business leaders, and public service leaders. Our experiences impact what we do for our own communities. RPCV Alumni groups are constantly looking for ways to collectively make a positive impact. They mentor, volunteer, and fundraise. Countless RPCVs have created their own charities to focus on issues that they are passionate about.
We have had ~70 Political Leaders at all levels making a difference in Public office, 25 are running for office in 2014. We currently have 5 RPCV Congressmen who work very hard to move our country forward; three more RPCVs are running for Congress because they are inspired by their own service.
RPCV/W each year honors a “Peace Corps Champion”, a RPCV who continues to ensure Peace Corps remains relevant. The National Peace Corps Association, each year honors, groups, individuals who have ‘practiced’ the Third goal through programing _groups or creating Non-profit organizations-individuals.
Our community is very focus on the future. This is evident through RPCV/W’s efforts to continue the third goal, empower our community to continue to make a difference through the Partnership for Peace program. RPCV/W also makes a point to uplift the Peace Corps community through professional development events and they facilitate opportunities to network with like-minded individuals for the purpose of helping RPCVs make a difference in the future by becoming key leaders.
Finally the National Peace Corps Association has a strong Advocacy program where we advocate for strong funding for the Peace Corps, address key issues that impact the PCVs and recent returned as well as issues that the RPCV Community cares about(poverty, climate change). This past March we had nearly 100 RPCVs on Capitol Hill telling their story and demonstrating that Peace Corps should continue for another 50 years.
Perhaps it seems like the community is obsessed with the past but our actions indicate otherwise. We need to remember and honor the past, persevere in the present without forgetting the future