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

RPCVs: Find a Mentor, Be a Mentor

Recently-returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) can find focused readjustment support, networking help, and even career guidance through a mentoring program established by the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA).

Almost 30 NPCA affiliate groups have signed on to help facilitate the RPCV Mentoring Program which matches pairs of individuals, calling on RPCVs who’ve been back longer to actively engage one-on-one with recent returnees who are currently facing the many challenges of readjustment. NPCA member groups all around the world have been a source of support and assistance for returning Volunteers since the organization’s founding.

RPCVs who would like to mentor, or to become mentees, each fill out a compatibility questionnaire to determine common interests. Once matched, the mentorship lasts at least four months, where the pair is encouraged to meet up or chat over the phone three times or more.

Mentors receive an electronic toolkit, including a Career Resource Manual, list of Peace Corps’ medical, psychological, financial and administrative resources, relevant story-telling material from Country of Service Trainer’s Kit and much more.

Mentees receive tailored guidance about readjustment, career, education, and networking issues.

Learn more about the National Peace Corps Association, the RPCV Mentoring Program, and Peace Corps’s services for Former Volunteers. Connect with the larger Peace Corps community through the NPCA’s social networking site Connected Peace Corps.

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More Peace Corps Legislation Could Enable More to Serve Abroad

As the Serve America Act becomes law, it offers no support of Peace Corps. Legislation to increase the capacity of Peace Corps was introduced in the House of Representatives earlier this year.

A fish farming family

A fish farming family

In mid-February, Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) introduced H.R. 1066, the Peace Corps Expansion Act of 2009. The legislation calls for gradually increased funding for Peace Corps (up to $750 million in 2012), enabling more Volunteers to serve, and increasing the amount of the readjustment allowance Volunteers receive at the end of their service term.

13,011 Americans applied in 2008 to volunteer their service in the Peace Corps, a 16 percent increase over the 11,246 applications received in 2007. While applications to Peace Corps and other service corps are seeing record numbers, Peace Corps has funding for 400 fewer Volunteers this year (compared with 2008), and is reportedly offering one-year deferrals to candidates.

(In 1966, according to the Boston Globe, 15,000 Peace Corps Volunteers served in the field.)

According to the Boston Globe article about Peace Corps from this past weekend, former Peace Corps Country Director Mark Gearan said, “We spend more on the military marching bands. …This is 1 percent of 1 percent [of the federal budget]. There’s Continue reading

National Peace Corps Association Looking for Several New Interns

Peace Corps ConnectThe independent organization of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, based in Washington, D.C., is recruiting several interns.

The National Peace Corps Association is seeking the following interns:

An advocacy intern, responsible for supporting and building the network of NPCA advocates, assisting with Capitol Hill advocacy actions, website editing and general advocacy campaigning, including and especially our More Peace Corps campaign.

An assistant to the president (intern) working closely with the president of NPCA to write and edit grant proposals, fundraising letters, and articles for publication, as well as help in the development of organizational projects.

A membership and group relations intern responsible for coordinating and communicating with member groups, identifying and highlighting best practices, marketing and program administration.

And finally a communications/social media intern to work closely with the Director of Communications to help write and edit pieces for the NPCA website, blog, e-newsletter and Worldview magazine, as well as to help manage the NPCA accounts on Web 2.0 sites including Facebook, Youtube, Linkedin, and Flickr.

The internships are unpaid, but the organization’s staff is enthusiastic, wise, and caring. Deadline to apply is April 15th.

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