RPCV/W CALL TO ACTION: Fight Against Racism The Board of Directors of the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Washington, DC (RPCV/W) is calling on its members to stand up against racial injustice and racism, reaffirm equality, and support African-Americans, Americans of African Descent, and more broadly, people of color in the United States as they fight for basic rights and dignity every second of every day. Police-involved killings, beatings, harassment, and mistreatment, as well as the weaponization of the police against people of color, happen far too often. Just last week, George Floyd was strangled and died at the hands of Minneapolis police. Amy Cooper, a Caucasian woman, harassed Christian Cooper, a Black man, called 911 on him, and put his life at risk because he asked her to follow the rules and leash her dog. Two young HBCU students, Messiah Young and Taniyah Pilgrim, drove home in Atlanta and were stopped by a group of close to 10 officers, their car windows were shattered, they were dragged from their car, they were tased and arrested, simply for driving home from a protest after curfew. These are just a few of the threats people of color are facing in our country on a daily basis.
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I was never a Peace Corps volunteer, but after studying and writing about the agency for six years, there are parts of the Peace Corps experience that feel very familiar. The culmination of those six years of research has just been published in a book called The Death of Idealism. It’s a provocative title—it’s intended to be. The book is actually about rationalism, professionalization, and some of the social forces that emerge within late-stage capitalism.
RPCV/W COVID Community Support In a time where COVID-19 has shut down most of DC and business has taken an important backseat to safety, we created the RPCV/W COVID Community Support Initiative to connect our community members with resources, visibility, and ways to support. If you are able to support or benefit from the businesses below, please reach out to them. We can all use a little bit more love and community during this time.
Viral Disruption: RPCVs, where are you on the change curve? by Anne Pellicciotto, President and Chief Change Agent, SeeChange Consulting, RPCV MX (2010-12) We are a good six weeks into this coronavirus crisis – terms like #socialdistancing and #shelterinplace are regular hashtagged parts of our speech, similarly face masks and gloves have become regular parts of our wardrobes.
I laid on my back in my bed trying not to move. I focused on taking short shallow breathes. Perspiration beaded off my body as I lay completely still. This was a hot summer day on the border between the countries of Mozambique and Malawi. Just an hour earlier I had been sweating at my desk in the local public health department. I was working with the data collection unit. Floor fans sat amongst the collection of desks; circulating sedentary office air. I could not take it any longer. I invoked my “remote working” privileges and embarked on the trek across town, through a dusty dry wind barrage, towards the usually chilled solitude of my little cinder-block house. Alas, waiting for me at my tiny abode was not the atmosphere of productivity I had been longing for. This was one of the many uncomfortable days of my Peace Corps service.
Dina was a Small Enterprise Development PCV in Senegal ’97-’99 and a Crisis Corps (now Peace Corps Response) volunteer in Guinea ’00-’01.
Samantha (aka Sam) comes from a small town in rural Arkansas, the state where she spent the first 24.5 years of her life. She has always been passionate about photography and the idea of telling people's stories. This led her to pursue a Studio Arts degree at Hendrix University in undergrad. She specialized in photography and pottery but fell in love with gardening. Post-graduation, Sam spent six months volunteering at Heifer Ranch, a teaching farm for Heifer International located in Perryville, AR. She then joined Americorps VISTA to work on school gardening and nutrition programs, which she enjoyed for almost three years.
Joelle is an RPCV who served in Burkina Faso. Following Peace Corps, Joelle remained abroad for over a decade, ultimately living and working in approximately eight countries.
Ty Miranda is excited to join the RPCV/W board as Social Director. Ty served as a Youth Development Peace Corps Volunteer in Thailand, from 2015-2017.