Are you a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Hoping to Help Out in Haiti?

UPDATE 1/19/10: Peace Corps Response needs Returned Peace Corps Volunteers [only] who are Kreyol speakers to leave for Haiti within 24-48 hours. Contact pcresponse [at] peacecorps.gov.

Peace Corps has created a questionnaire (not an application) to gauge the current level of interest among Returned Peace Corps Volunteers [only] to assist Haiti via Peace Corps Response (formerly Crisis Corps).

If you are a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer willing and able to volunteer in Haiti, please copy and paste these questions, and fill out your responses, in an email to: pcresponse [at] peacecorps.gov.

Peace Corps Response is the agency’s program that mobilizes former Peace Corps Volunteers to serve in short-term, high-impact volunteer roles. Follow more news about Peace Corps and the Haiti Earthquake on Peace Corps Polyglot, the blog of the National Peace Corps Association, and on the Haiti Disaster Response discussion group for RPCVs.

Peace Corps Response — Haiti Response Questionnaire

Thank you for your interest in assisting Haiti during this time of emergency. To help us gauge the current level of interest among former Peace Corps Volunteers, please fill out this questionnaire. This is NOT an application. Please keep your answers brief (no more than 3 sentences). Please email your completed questionnaire to pcresponse@peacecorps.gov. [NOTE: please only use this form if you are a former Peace Corps Volunteer.]

Name: ______________________________

Country of Service (when you were a Peace Corps Volunteer): ________________________

Telephone: ____________________ Email Address: _______________

1. How soon would you be available to depart on a response assignment?

2. How long would you be able to serve?

3. What languages do you speak and with what proficiency?

4. What technical skills do you possess that would be beneficial in a disaster situation?

5. What prior experience have you had with disaster relief or emergency situations?

6. Peace Corps Response will most likely be sending Volunteers in the next month or so. Given this, are you open to being referred to another government agency or nongovernmental organization for an immediate assignment in Haiti?

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Returned Peace Corps Volunteers Launch Haiti Relief Discussion Group

Today, the National Peace Corps Association established a discussion group on its social networking site Connected Peace Corps for the Peace Corps Community to ask questions and learn more about disaster relief efforts in the wake of Tuesday’s devastating earthquake near Port au Prince, Haiti.

Peace Corps Volunteers have been stationed in Haiti over the years, but none are currently serving there according to Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams. (Read more about Peace Corps’s history in Haiti — the program seems to have been suspended in 2005.)

The number of members on the Haiti Disaster Relief discussion group has climbed throughout the day and contributors to the chat are sharing endorsements of organizations to support and clearing up rumors circulating on other social media sites. Others are sharing memories of their own experiences in Haiti, or its neighbor the Dominican Republic, or are sharing insights based on natural disasters they’ve been survivors of.

Currently Peace Corps Response (formerly Crisis Corps), the agency’s program that mobilizes former Peace Corps Volunteers to serve in short-term, high-impact volunteer roles, doesn’t show any listings for Haiti – but it’s still early. This Facebook group has been started to get feedback and ideas to Peace Corps and encourage Peace Corps Response to get a group together to serve in Port au Prince.

Incidentally, a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Mark Marek works for the Red Cross of Haiti. Here he is on PBS’s Newshour and on NPR.

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

Congress is Considering Final Action to Appropriate $400M for Peace Corps

More Peace Corps may be in the stars — and the budget.

Yesterday evening, Jonathan Pearson of the National Peace Corps Association’s Advocacy Program announced that According to Congressman Sam Farr, speaking tonight at an event in Washington to celebrate the Peace Corps, negotiations on the State/Foreign Operations Fiscal Year 2010 appropriations bill have closed.

Farr says the final bill contains $400 million for Peace Corps — an impressive figure that falls in between what the House ($450M) and the Senate ($373M) recommended for the Peace Corps appropriation.

The Peace Corps Polyglot yesterday sounded optimistic that because of the amount of work that Congress needs to get done by December 18th, the $400 million figure is not likely to be amended.

Peace Corps advocacy groups like the National Peace Corps Association‘s More Peace Corps campaign, and the informal group Push for Peace Corps have been urging Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and other supporters to contact their elected representatives this week to voice their support for expanded Peace Corps funding.

Yesterday the NPCA sent a letter to President Obama asking him to increase his suggested Peace Corps budget for his 2011 budget request. That letter was signed by almost 60 RPCV affiliate groups.

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 Idealist.org 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.

Africa Rural Connect Wants You to Collaborate, Share and Strengthen Ideas

Africa Rural Connect logoA contest of ideas to change African lives — deadline to vote is tomorrow at noon EDT!

A new collaboration and idea aggregator site called Africa Rural Connect launched recently, with the mission of improving lives in sub-Saharan Africa by connecting rural farmers of sub-Saharan Africa, members of the African Diaspora, development practitioners, scholars, technology innovators, returned Peace Corps Volunteers, and anyone who cares about Africa.

Developed by the National Peace Corps Association — the independent group of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers — the site offers anyone a platform for proposing ideas for Africa, and for endorsing and/or helping to develop the ideas that others have proposed. According to project director Molly Mattessich, the project was the brain child of returned Peace Corps Volunteers who served in Africa and developed energy and ideas to create sustainable change in their communities.

The contest

According to contest guidelines, people who care about rural poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa and the importance of agricultural development can submit, rate, and comment on ideas, proposals and analyses, all of which will form action Continue reading

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