Reinvigorating Peace Corps

Sprin 2009 cover

The Winter 2009/2010 WorldView Magazine — a quarterly publication of the National Peace Corps Association — came in the mail recently, and explores questions of how to reinvigorate Peace Corps to fulfill its potential.

The issue features results of a survey of 4,500+ Peace Corps community members: applicants, current Volunteers, and Returned Volunteers; how Peace Corps might focus on “strategic” countries and partner with other organizations; how Peace Corps might strengthen the Peace Corps Fellows USA program (in which partner universities offer funding, field experiences, and special consideration for Returned Peace Corps Volunteers); how Peace Corps can better fulfill its third goal of educating people in the United States about the wider world.

A couple articles to highlight:

• An interview with Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams:

Erica Burman, National Peace Corps Association’s communications director, interviewed new Peace Corps Director, and Continue reading

Peace Corps Community Resources: An interview with Erica Burman and Molly Mattessich of the National Peace Corps Association

Molly Mattessich

Molly Mattessich

The New Service podcast from features the national group of Peace Corps alumni. Listen here.

As Peace Corps nears it’s 50th Anniversary in 2011, applications are on the rise, fewer Volunteer positions are getting funded, the Senate just confirmed a new agency director, and the number of Peace Corps  alumni is nearing 200,000.

Helping connect the dots among the agency’s fiscal needs, and Volunteers past, present, and future is the National Peace Corps Association—the independent organization of former Peace Corps Volunteers, known as Returned Peace Corps Volunteers or RPCVs.

The National Peace Corps Association offers the Peace Corps community tools and resources to stay informed and engaged, and advocates for Peace Corps funding and support.

Today’s guests are Erica Burman and Molly Mattessich of the National Peace Corps Association. Erica Burman is the Director of Communications at NPCA, and a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer who served in The Gambia in the late 80s. Molly Mattessich manages the Africa Rural Connect project at NPCA, as well as the Peace Corps Connect online social network. Molly served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mali from 2002-2004.

I talked with Erica and Molly about NPCA’s initiatives like the More Peace Corps Campaign, Africa Rural Connect, the RPCV Mentoring Program, and Global Teachnet.

We also talked about the new online social network for the Peace Corps community Peace Corps Connected, the Peace Corps Polyglot blog, and World View magazine.

Finally, we discussed the new Peace Corps director — and departing NPCA board member — Aaron Williams, and how online communication tools are changing the Volunteer experience.

Aaron Williams’s Peace Corps Director Confirmation Could Come Quickly

Update August 7th, 2009: RPCV Aaron Williams (Dominican Republic 67-70) has been confirmed to become the 18th Director of the Peace Corps.  The United States Senate unanimously confirmed his nomination today in one of its final actions before a five week recess. Read more.

This post is by Erica Burman of the National Peace Corps Association, and originally appeared on The Peace Corps Polyglot blog.

Aaron Williams at his confirmation hearing yesterday

Aaron Williams at his confirmation hearing yesterday

It was an exciting afternoon on Capitol Hill as [Returned Peace Corps Volunteer] Aaron Williams (Dominican Republic 67-70), President Obama’s nominee to be the next Director of Peace Corps, went before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  The meeting was chaired by Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT), who also served in the Dominican Republic.

Both Dodd and Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) expressed support for Williams.  Dodd said he is excited at the prospects of working with Williams, while Isakson added “I commend the President on your appointment.”  Dodd says he plans to speak with Senate leadership to see if the confirmation can be completed before Congress breaks next week for its August recess.

The hour-long hearing included a question and answer session in which Williams indicated he wants to engage in a listening tour to engage the Peace Corps community, a “very rich and diverse population.”

Williams noted he wants to look at every possible process Peace Corps is involved in, and conduct a wide-ranging Continue reading