A Towering Task


The RPCV/W Board of Directors was recently approached by Alana DeJoseph, who is working on a documentary about the Peace Corps. She asked if RPCV/W would support her project in three ways:

  1. Endorse the film on our website and social media outlets;
  2. Help the film financially by raising money to help her complete it; and
  3. Promote the film once it is completed.

The board discussed these requests at length and decided that this is not a decision we can make alone- it should be decided by the RPCV/W member community. We asked Ms. DeJoseph to share more about the project and what she is asking of RPCV/W.

Please read her request below and let us know what you think. Should the RPCV/W community endorse all three of her requests, one or two of them, or none of them, and why or why not? Feel free to write your thoughts in the comments section of this blog or email them to [email protected]. We will review all the responses and come to a decision.

Thank you for your time and we look forward to hearing your thoughts.

-The RPCV/W Board


A Towering Task


Telling the Peace Corps Story


Imagine an in-depth documentary about the whole history of the Peace Corps - not just the 60s, not just individual volunteer experiences, but a thoughtful consideration of the agency’s past and its relevance in the future. With the support of RPCV/W, this story can and needs to be told…

When we think of the Peace Corps, we think of volunteers across the globe working in large and small communities, connecting with other cultures, and ultimately bringing “it” home. For everyone this “it” may be something different, but for all it is life changing. And these volunteer experiences are what ultimately make the Peace Corps what it is. However, the story that hasn’t been told, is the story of the agency itself; not just an ode to the illustrious beginnings in the sixties, not an homage to individual volunteer experiences, but a thorough, in-depth consideration of the whole history of the agency, - with a look into its continued relevance in the future.

Much of this story takes place in Washington, DC, where JFK signed the Peace Corps Act, where heroic battles concerning the Peace Corps were and continue to be fought, for independence, for funding, for recognition… Several interviews for this program have already been recorded in the Nation’s Capital, and many more will need to be captured. Ambassadors of the countries we serve in, RPCVs shaping policy that will affect the Peace Corps in many ways, and, of course, the Peace Corps staff, all gather in DC to ensure that there will be a Peace Corps for years to come. 

This independent production (working title: A Towering Task) is intended for PBS broadcast in 2017 with online streaming and community showings to follow. And for all its ties to DC and the RPCV community, RPCV/W has a special stake in it.

Over the course of the production, there will be many opportunities for support. First and foremost, an endorsement by RPCV/W will give the documentary an important boost and set the bar for many of the other member groups. Furthermore, it is through our unique RPCV network, especially the RPCV/W network, that we can connect to the voices that need to be heard. And as the keepers of the Peace Corps’ institutional memory, RPCVs have safe-guarded much archival material- at American University, the Smithsonian, and much in individual homes and families (think of the film/video recorded by family members who visited your site in the 60s, 70s, 80s all the way to current day).

Underpinning such an endorsement with financial support will ensure that this story can be told well. The story that will be told will aim to be the story that unites us and doesn’t just make us proud of our experience, but of the existence of an agency dedicated to peace, we can accomplish great things. The NPCA is the fiscal sponsor of this documentary (accepting donations to support the production), but the RPCV regional and country of service groups are integral in making its production a reality. By endorsing this effort and financially supporting the production, we as the RPCV community can come together.

Alana DeJoseph

DeJoseph Productions

  • Kate Schachter
    commented 2015-05-05 11:26:43 -0400
    Thank you, RPCV/W, for your fund-raising support of this documentary project. It is proceeding very well, has great definition from an experienced documentarian/producer, and I’m happy to share a short (3:05) video that displays the intent and urgency of the film.

    There are so many things to direct your attention to: extreme poverty, earthquake and typhoon disasters, empowerment projects, entrepreneurial projects. And now a documentary about Peace Corps. Prioritizing budget dollars is a personal decision, and I cannot make that for you.

    But I can say that setting the path for a strong and vibrant Peace Corps is very important. Congress needs constant reminders about the value of volunteers working in countries where they are needed and wanted…especially around budget time. The general public needs to be kept aware that, yes, Peace Corps exists and understands its role. The people in the small community that you served in, who excelled because you were there, need to know that their experience with you is ongoing.

    We keep the long view in mind, as well as the short-term immediate relief/support issues.

    Enjoy tonight!

    RPCV/Ghana 2004-07
    RPCVs of Madison / Communications Coordinator
    NPCA member and Board Emeritus
  • Kate Schachter
    commented 2015-02-10 13:10:52 -0500
    Hello DC Friends,

    Today I sent the following message to your Board, for discussion at the meeting on Sunday. RPCVs of Madison are sending out an invitation and encouragement to join the film production effort. The project is well-defined, and RPCV groups have the opportunity now to rally around it.

    Let me add, for this blog post, that our group did not put any stipulations for our input, content editing, or screen acknowledgement on Alana. That kind of control is the domain of significantly higher investors, in the 100’s of thousands of dollars. I don’t think any of us have that kind of money. We chose instead to trust Alana’s intent and judgment.
    Dear Group Leaders,

    How many times have you mentioned your Peace Corps service, and someone says…”oh, Peace Corps? Is it still around?” It has happened to me a surprising number of times, at my doctor’s office, from my customers, from any number of casual and professional contacts.

    In fairness, this is interlaced with the opposite response: {sigh with longing, reflective look} “I always wanted to do Peace Corps.”

    Here is a chance to weight those responses more on the second scenario than the first.
    Support “A Towering Task,” [http://peacecorpsdocumentary.com/] a documentary film project by Producer/Director and RPCV Alana DeJoseph. Fundraising has begun in earnest for this project, a reflective and forward look at Peace Corps told around the three goals.

    The RPCVs of Madison support this project in words, but also in action. Our group has made a $1,000 donation to this project – a small amount for a towering undertaking – but clear evidence of our support. This is our direct invitation to you to join the fun and identify ways you can participate. There are several ways your RPCV group can help:

    • Join us to create a coalition of RPCV support so that Alana may leverage larger funding. Commit a financial donation at whatever level your group can manage. Your group might want to bundle individual donations from members or host a special fund-raiser for the documentary. Multiple contributions of varying amounts, from a coalition of RPCV groups, add up and show larger contributors that our community supports the project. Donations can be made to the National Peace Corps Association, indicating that it is for “A Towering Task.”
    • Spread the word around your group and your community, through social media or press information or an event fundraiser. Find ways to reach out to larger donors, and contact Alana.
    • Inform your members that Alana is looking for both video/film footage and still photos from all eras of the Peace Corps. Get your members involved; they can contact her directly [[email protected]] with questions and information.

    We invite the Peace Corps volunteer community to join us and rally around this project. Peace Corps is our story. It is our legacy. It is our future. Let the dream continue to grow and flourish. Together, we can share the story of the Peace Corps, its achievements and its future.

    Kate Schachter
    RPCV Ghana 2004-2007
    RPCVs of Madison / Communications Coordinator
    NPCA member and Board Emeritus
  • Kate Schachter
    followed this page 2015-02-10 12:34:39 -0500
  • Alana DeJoseph
    commented 2015-02-10 10:33:49 -0500
    Just to clarify: Roger Landrum asked me to post his comment below. And @zel Fairlie: Yes, I am an RPCV. I served in Mali from 1992 – 1994.
  • Alana DeJoseph
    commented 2015-02-10 10:30:52 -0500
    The need is clear to better inform the American public about the achievements of the Peace Corps over 50 years, what it is doing today, and its continuing relevance in today’s world. Many Americans don’t know what the Peace Corps is doing today or even that it still exists. It is far better known in host countries than it is at home. Alana DeJoseph has the plan, the skills, and the drive to remedy this by creating a fresh, comprehensive documentary about the Peace Corps story for showing on public television (not just the 60s PC but the larger 50-year story). Alana is a professional documentary maker with an excellent reputation, a RPCV, and has a great script constructed around the Three Goals.
    RPCV/W can play a leadership role in the wider RPCV community with timely support for this documentary project. By endorsing the project and asking members to bundle financial support, RPCV/W can help build a coalition of RPCV groups to leverage this new documentary to completion. RPCV/W has provided this kind of leadership before. RPCV/W built a coalition of alumni groups to organize the 25th anniversary celebration attended by 5,000 RPCVs. The profits from that effort financed the opening of NPCA offices in DC with paid staff. The effort also stimulated a broad expansion of RPCV groups, both geographic and country-of-service.
    The simple truth is that by acting together, by collaborating, RPCVs can make important things happen, like this new documentary. All it takes is a sense of broader mission and a national vision by RPCV groups and RPCVs. This vision is the greater Peace Corps legacy, and RPCV/W, as the largest group, can help inspire a coalition of support for telling the great Peace Corps story to the American people. Please let the board know you want RPCV/W to support this very important project. Roger Landrum (past RPCV/W president, past NPCA board chair, RPCV Nigeria 1961-63).
  • Zel Fairlie
    commented 2015-01-08 16:33:11 -0500

    Is the film maker a RPCV or at the very least will the film/production company employ RPCVs? In terms of the RPCV/w financially endorsing her, we need to be very clear on her motivations – whether to benefit Peace Corps or for profit and production value for her film company.



    Morocco 01-03
    RPCV/w Board 03-07
  • Ken Hill
    commented 2015-01-07 16:18:39 -0500
    Alana DeJoseph (RPCV-Mali) is a gifted film-maker, as her documentary about the Forest Service attests. My advice would be for RPCV/W to proceed cautiously regarding its support for this much larger and as yet casually defined project. RPCV/W may wish to form a small group of interested and qualified RPCV/W members to take a closer look at the project and come back to the RPCV/W Board with its recommendations. There are important questions about the focus, scope and feasibility of Ms. DeJoseph’s project that should be considered carefully before one of the largest RPCV groups makes a decision which could mean endorsing the project with limited information about it. Time to look closely and, if RPCV/W chooses to endorse the project it should have an oversight mechanism to follow its production closely.
  • Kj Pettersen
    commented 2015-01-06 17:41:36 -0500
    I think this would be a really amazing project, but putting the RPCV/W stamp on it in terms of financial or promotional support should come with stipulations that RPCV/W gets frequent updates on progress and is a part of the decision making process of how the film develops, what’s included and not included, the angles of the story, etc. I personally would support the project based on this stipulation being approved.