New Director Aaron Williams Posts Video Greeting to Peace Corps Community

The newly sworn-in director of Peace Corps — RPCV Aaron Williams — issued this message on Youtube (transcript below):

Transcript:

This morning I was sworn in as the 18th Director of the Peace Corps. While preparing for this day, I decided that the first thing I wanted to do was to take a moment to introduce myself to the Peace Corps community and thank you for everything you have done and continue to do.

As a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, this is quite an emotional moment. When I was in that small town in the Dominican Republic, I was consumed by the same daily thoughts: How was I going to master another language? What did it mean to be a 20 year old, training rural school teachers, many twice my age? How would I make a life in a community so far from my home? In 1967, I couldn’t have imagined all of the people who had worked so tirelessly to allow a Volunteer like me to help in this small community – a community that most staff would never get the chance to see or experience.

Today, the rolls are slightly reversed. I have spent most of my career working in developing countries – but now I will have the extraordinary opportunity to work with the staff in the U.S. and abroad to ensure that the next generation of Volunteers will have the same quality experience that I had in the Peace Corps. Everybody’s service is unique, but I know that no matter where or when someone served – being a Peace Corps Volunteer is a life changing experience. We all tried to make a difference every day.  We accomplished a lot with very little. And most importantly, we had the opportunity to recognize what we can achieve when given the tools to succeed. As President Kennedy envisioned, we learned to understand, respect and admire our host communities and countries.

This is my first day at Peace Corps headquarters since my nomination in early July. I am truly excited and honored to be here. In these first few weeks, I will be spending time getting to know many of you, listening to your ideas, and getting reacquainted with this agency that has meant so much to all of us. We’ll immediately move forward addressing the challenges — both old and new – the agency faces.

At this historic moment, America is now led by a President committed to renewing the call to service and the Peace Corps is on the cusp of our 50th anniversary — I believe there could be no better time for us to work together to capture the imagination of those Americans interested in serving. I can’t do this alone. I look forward to working with you to maintain the high standard that has been set by all of those who have come before us. Together, in the 21st century we will build on this legacy and grow a stronger Peace Corps that continues to champion world peace and friendship.

Returned Peace Corps Volunteers on the March!

RPCVs marching. Check out more photos on Flickr. Search "PeaceCorpsInauguration2009"

RPCVs marching. Check out more photos on Flickr. Search "PeaceCorpsInauguration2009"

Organized by the National Peace Corps Association (the independent group of Peace Corps alumni), the Peace Corps community participated in the Inaugural Parade for President Barack Obama, eliciting a huge smile from “the Service President.”

According to blogs posted on PeaceCorpsConnect.org:

Returned Volunteers, two currently serving Volunteers and current and former Peace Corps staff carried the flags of the 139 countries where Peace Corps Volunteers have served during the 48-year history of the agency. Many marchers are also wearing the national dress of those host countries.

Read more on the Peace Corps Polyglot blog!

You can see footage of the event on CSPAN — starting at 37 minutes, 40 seconds into the video. The Providence Journal blog offers this eye-witness account from 67-year-old Brazil RPCV Lucy Mueller.

And check out greetings from the gathered Returned Volunteers, speaking many different languages:

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Calendar Sales Generate Funds for Peace Corps Projects Overseas

Practical gift benefits the field work of Peace Corps Volunteers and brings the world back home.calendar_06

Groups of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers produce and sell calendars yearly; profits go to overseas projects, including those run by current Peace Corps Volunteers in the field.

The most established calendar of its kind is the RPCV International Calendar produced yearly through the Madison, WI, RPCV group. 100 percent of proceeds from calendar sales fund approved projects taking place around the world.

Through the RPCV International Calendar’s group sales initiative, other groups that sell the calendars can also raise funds to support their work. For example, calendars sold through the Friends and RPCVs of Guyana generate revenue for approved projects taking place in Guyana.

Another RPCV group produces and sells its own calendars — see the Peace Corps Panama Friends calendar that supports Peace Corps Panama projects.

To read more about donating to Peace Corps projects directly and the Peace Corps Partnerships Program, visit the Office of Private Sector Inititatives web pages at PeaceCorps.gov.

On the Hill, RPCVs in, RPCVs out

The Peace Corps Polyglot—the blog of the National Peace Corps Association, the independent group of images-2Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCV)—announced last week that RPCV Congressman Chris Shays (R-CT) was defeated Nov. 4.  Shays served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Fiji (1968-70).

The blog post also follows the fate of other RPCVs up for election this fall.

Shays has been an active proponent of national service in the House and participated in the Service Nation Summit September 12th in New York. He co-founded the bi-partisan Congressional National Service Caucus in 2004.

On the topic of national service, from his Congressional web site:

I believe national service is one of the wisest and least costly investments our government can make. For example, AmeriCorps volunteers provided:

• 3.8 million CNCS program participants;
• 216 million hours of service;
• Recruiting and/or managing 1.8 million volunteers.
According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, 72 percent of AmeriCorps members continue to volunteer in their communities after their term of service ends and 87 percent of former AmeriCorps members accept public service employment.

National service benefits both the recipient and the giver. Volunteers not only address an immediate need, they lead and teach through example, and through that example they learn the value of serving and helping others.

I still remember how I felt as a 14 year-old watching the 1960 Presidential election between Vice President Richard Nixon and Senator John Kennedy. I felt energized listening to Senator Kennedy when he spoke of the Peace Corps and making the world a better and safer place. I wanted to be part of his vision. Years later, that dream was fulfilled when my wife Betsi and I served two years in the Peace Corps.

The same powerful emotion, the same sense of energy, eagerness and anticipation we felt in the sixties, is alive today.

Read the independent Peace Corps Online story about Shay’s loss.

Agency Director Proposes Peace Corps Foundation

Peace Corps Director and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) Ron Tschetter today proposed the creation of an independent Peace Corps Foundation.

Since the inception of Peace Corps during the Kennedy administration, the agency has had three goals. The third goal has been to bring the world back home. The vision of the Peace Corps Foundation to support educating people in the United States about Peace Corps host countries and cultures.

This is from the press release issued by Peace Corps on Oct. 24:

Describing the idea during a town hall staff meeting, Director Tschetter said, “The Peace Corps Foundation would foster greater participation and support to Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and their organizations, encourage cross-cultural exchange, volunteerism through community events, classroom visits, and other educational activities. We now seek support and authority from Congress on this key priority for our agency, and I look forward to moving ahead on this initiative as soon as possible.”

“Groups such as the National Peace Corps Association and the numerous ‘friends of’ groups comprised of Returned Volunteers could greatly benefit from Foundation resources…

Ultimately, a Peace Corps Foundation building in Washington D.C. would serve as an educational facility where Americans, particularly children, would come and learn more about other cultures and countries, as well as how the Peace Corps fulfills its mission of promoting peace and friendship worldwide. The Foundation would also complement the Peace Corps’ Third Goal activities such as Peace Corps Week, the Coverdell World Wise Schools Program, and the publication of educational materials for teachers and students.”

Peace Corps Week takes place in the late winter and encourages RPCVs to speak about their cross cultural experiences in their communities and local class rooms.

World Wise Schools allows classrooms to adopt currently serving Peace Corps Volunteers as correspondents.

RPCVs and National Peace Corps Assocation-affiliated RPCV groups will likely greet the news of support for Third Goal activities with hope and curiosity.

Many groups work hard to make connections between their host countries and the United States, for example, members of the Columbia River Peace Corps Association in the Portland, OR, area have been working hard for years to launch the Museum of the Peace Corps Experience.

These are the three goals:

  1. Helping the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
  2. Helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
  3. Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.