Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month Web Event: Diversity in Peace Corps

Diversity among Peace Corps Volunteer groups serving overseas is crucial to the success of the entire program — for many reasons. Peace Corps promotes person-to-person diplomacy, and aims to increase understanding among people of other countries about the United States. Without recruiting Volunteers who reflect the rich array of cultural and ethnic and racial heritages that make up U.S. communities, host country nationals in Peace Corps countries can’t begin to grasp the ways of life that exist here in the United States.

Tomorrow Peace Corps will highlight and celebrate the contributions of Asian and Pacific Americans in Peace Corps service. Last year, hundreds of Asian and Pacific Americans served as Peace Corps Volunteers, providing needed skill sets and services to Peace Corps host countries.

Returned Volunteer Mike Buff  — of South Korean descent — will host an online information session tomorrow Continue reading

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HIV Positive and Serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer

Contributed by Elizabeth Tunkle, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Zambia and Lesotho.

When you join the Peace Corps, many people ask you why. I never had a very good answer. But the truth is something way down deep inside of me told me that is what I needed to do and I listened. I really had no idea what I was getting into. I thought 2 years would go by in a flash and I would come home better for having gone so far from home and for having done such a noble thing. Two years did not go by in a flash and I came home changed but not how I thought I would.

I started out my service in Zambia and after getting posted to my village, as I was settling in, I met my future boyfriend. When we started dating, I asked him if he had been tested for HIV. He told me yes. He told me his test was negative just 1 year before and he had not had unprotected sex since his last test. We mutually decided it would be safe for us to use birth control and not condoms. We were wrong. Despite the fact that I knew all about HIV prevention I had unprotected sex with him anyway.

A few weeks later, I decided we should get tested. I had a bad feeling. I tried telling myself that it couldn’t be me. I was going to be fine. Too many times in my life I had played with all kinds of fire and survived. Not me. I was too nice and honest and fun and giving and I practiced yoga and meditation. We get bonus points in life for being good, right? No, I guess we don’t. HIV doesn’t just choose mean people or people who tell lies. It turned out it chose me. We found out my boyfriend was positive and that I was also infected. As if that news isn’t devastating enough, the Peace Corps told me I Continue reading

New Podcast: A Pride Month Interview – Lesbian and Gay Perspectives in AmeriCorps and Peace Corps

June is Pride Month, so The New Service podcast from

Gay Pride 8-colors Flag by Stonewall Veteran Gilbert Baker

Gay Pride 8-colors Flag by Stonewall Veteran Gilbert Baker

Idealist.org is taking a closer look at the experience of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals serving in Peace Corps and AmeriCorps.

Today’s guests are lesbian and gay former service corps participants:

  • Chad Jeremy, a former AmeriCorps NCCC corps member, currently a training specialist with AmeriCorps NCCC in Perry Point, MD. Chad is an officer with National Service GLOBE, an affinity group for LGBT folks involved with national service.
  • Kate Kuykendall, a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (China, 1999-2001); currently a Public Continue reading

A Pride Month Interview: The First Known Transgender Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Speaks Out

A Pride Month interview.

A recently-Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, and the first known transgender person to serve, writes about his experiences—first on the website for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Returned Peace Corps Volunteer group (also known as the LGBT RPCVs), and now in an interview with my intern Sara Lozito and me.

The interview here is timed to appear on the same day as our podcast interview for Pride Month. The RPCV has chosen to remain anonymous for security purposes.

To give you a little background here are some excerpts from the LGBT RPCVs website:

My desire to become a Peace Corps volunteer stemmed from not only believing in the mission and goals of PC, but because I wanted to gain valuable international experience Continue reading

Pride Month Podcast Transcript

Gay Pride 8-colors Flag by Stonewall Veteran<br> Gilbert Baker

Gay Pride 8-colors Flag by Stonewall Veteran Gilbert Baker

Below is the transcript of our June podcast, “Lesbian and Gay Perspectives in AmeriCorps and Peace Corps.” Huge thanks to podcast intern Sara Lozito, an AmeriCorps member, for work in creating the transcript.

Amy: Welcome to the Idealist podcast. I’m Amy Potthast and this is the The New Service Podcast from Idealist.org – moving people from good intentions to action.

June is Pride Month, so The New Service podcast is taking a closer look at the experience of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals serving in Peace Corps and AmeriCorps. The terms lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender are abbreviated throughout the show as LGBT or GLBT.

Today’s guests are lesbian and gay former service corps participants: Continue reading

“Have Rainbow, Will Travel” – Peace Corps Info for Prospective LGBT Volunteers

In honor of Pride Month, Peace Corps will offer an online info session this Saturday, June 20th, 11 am – 12 pm Pacific time, exploring the issues faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals who serve their country through Peace Corps.

All Peace Corps Volunteers must work hard to adapt to their service assignments, learn a foreign language, and fit in with the local culture. LGBT Volunteers face special additional challenges, including being discreet, if not entirely closeted, about their sexual identities while in their host communities.

This online info session — requiring an internet connection — will discuss topics such as:

  • Balancing the desire to be true to ourselves with the need to be respectful of the host community Continue reading

Connecting Service to Employment for Members of All Abilities

Participating in national and community service is one way for people with and without disabilities to gain valuable experience and skills toward employment. The National Service Inclusion Project is currently looking for success stories from service members with disabilities about how his or her service experience has linked them to full or part time work. If you are a service member with a disability who would be interested in sharing your story of your transition from service to employment, please submit your story here.

Below is Michael Agyin’s story of how his service experience led to his current position within the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood and Community Service.

During his term of service in 2000-2001 with National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), Michael Continue reading