Last month, I had the opportunity to attend the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) Peace Corps Connect Conference in Austin, Texas. This year’s theme was “Innovation for Good.” I definitely got a sense of this as I seized this wonderful opportunity to meet Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) from across the country. The two-day agenda was packed with impressive speakers and panels, shared dinners and interesting volunteer opportunities.
It was not until I started settling in Porto-Novo, Benin, in my host family’s home, that I felt I may be living in the homeland of my direct ancestors. Before I arrived in Benin, I told no one that my father was Nigerian; he was in fact from the Yoruba tribe that also resided in Porto-Novo. My host family (who were also Yoruba) were very kind to me, it was clear to me they had hosted other African American volunteers. But it wasn’t until I began to tell them my middle name, my sister's and brother’s names, that I made a solid connection. We all had Nigerian middle names. These were the only things of substance our father left us after his death during our early childhood.
This May, RPCV/W’s professional development committee partnered with RPCVs of the State Department to host a panel focused on international development careers. Five returned Peace Corps volunteers (RPCVs) from USAID and the State Department, with a wide range of career trajectory and length, times in service, and backgrounds participated on the panel. The panelists came with diverse perspectives on the work that civil servants do in their respective agencies and shared the varied paths that led to their current roles. They were also quite open about the challenges they faced in such a competitive workforce. Below are insights shared by each of the panelists. Please join us for the next RPCV/W Career Panel, on June 11, focused on female leaders!
Dear RPCV/W Community, Below is a statement that our board, as representatives of our DC-based RPCV community, issued in response to an incident that occurred at a venue near Peace Corps HQ. This venue often hosts RPCVs and RPCV/W events. The incident (which is described in the letter below) was brought to our attention by RPCVs and Peace Corps employees who were at the bar for "karaoke night." The full letter is available here. Date: April 30, 2019 To: Mohammad Haji, Owner and General Manager, Recessions Bar and Grill Dear Mohammad Haji, Recessions Bar and Grill has served as an important space for Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) from our community to gather for many years. This history laid groundwork for formalizing a relationship and partnership this year between your business and our organization, the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Washington, DC (RPCV/W).
We celebrated Earth Day last week and will continue to care for our planet throughout the year. Check out what Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Washington, DC (RPCV/W) member Sam Gullion has shared about our responsibilities to care for Earth and how you can help out through RPCV/W! As you may know, this is the only planet that human beings will inhabit during our lifetime (barring some intense technological advancements just short of a miracle). You can understand why it is important for us to care for our planet and have a holiday dedicated to remembering how important the planet is. As Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs), it is probably also easy to see how the poor choices of the past directly impact the lives of people around the world today. Enter, climate change—the effects of which many of us saw in our host communities.
People of Peace Corps is a new online platform started by an RPCV/W member. It encourages RPCVs to share their favorite Peace Corps memories through a single photo. You can read more and submit your photo and caption here; follow the Instagram account @peopleofpeacecorps. *** Peace Corps service has a profound impact on the course of people’s lives, careers and entire communities, both in the United States and abroad. Peace Corps service has led to businesses, cross-cultural international friendships, and marriages. This People of Peace Corps post features Jack Fischl, co-founder of the business Keteka and an RPCV-Panama (2010-2012).
Albania: Balkan Gem of Sage, Raki and a Brutal Past If just for one day you tagged along with a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) serving in Albania, you would likely learn from more than a few Albanians that: Albanians lived under Ottoman rule for 500 years, and Albanians were isolated from the world for 50 years during the 20th century while ruled by a dictator. To hear such statements as an American in the 21st century would probably baffle you. How do you begin to imagine the impact of these intense and traumatic periods in the Albania you see today? RPCV/W member Chris Chaulk, pictured in Albania
Do you want to apply your talents to the growth of a membership organization? Do you want to be part of a community that embodies the spirit of Peace Corps? Do you want to be challenged, learn a ton of stuff, have a lot of fun, and make a significant impact? Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Washington D.C. (RPCV/W), a nonprofit organization, is looking for stellar leaders to take on volunteer roles on committees and its board of directors. This is a great opportunity for someone who wants not just a volunteer activity, but a long-term opportunity to empower the RPCV community, support returning volunteers, and build a network with volunteers from the last six decades.
Author, Dr. Ronda Ansted, is an RPCV (South Africa) and the founder of Be the Change Career Consulting. Her career coaching mobile app, My Career Design Studio, was created for those without the resources to work one-on-one with a career coach. Her mission is to help people who want to make a difference in the world to design and create their right-fit career based on their strengths and passions. I'm a career consultant who primarily works with clients in the international development and social impact fields. This means that a majority of my clients care less about money than personal mission. They may recognize that both are important to making a true impact, but salary isn’t necessarily their main concern. Salary negotiations, a difficult topic for most people, can be especially challenging for those who aren’t significantly motivated by money. Yet making a comfortable living is crucial for people in the social impact fields.
About the author of this post: Evelyn Ganzglass is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) who conducts interviews on behalf of the RPCV Oral History Project. She served in Somalia, 1966-1968. Peace Corps friends, I urge you to get involved in the National Peace Corps Association-affiliated project, the RPCV Oral History Archive Project (OHAP). Its mission is to preserve the U.S. Peace Corps legacy, since the program’s inception in 1961, as experienced and articulated by individual Peace Corps volunteers and staff. “The toughest job you ever loved” is a slogan that resonates with many volunteers. There are good days. There are great days. There are bad days. Some volunteers want to stay in their host countries forever; others can’t wait to come home. We all have stories to tell.