I just attended the National Peace Corps Association Annual Gathering in Nashville, Tennessee.  The big news was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding by Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radalet and NPCA President Glenn Blumhorst for cooperation and collaboration between the two organizations in building a “Peace Corps family” to unite serving Peace Corps Volunteers with Returned Peace Corps Volunteers.  Among others, specific goals will be to promote use of the vast pool of experience held by RPCVs by serving PCVs and encourage PCVs after termination of service to engage in the Third Goal, “Bringing the world back home,” via membership in the NPCA.   Carrie expressed her surprise that there had never been a formal agreement between the two organizations before although there has always been a de facto strong relationship.

Carrie spoke about the Peace Corps today and  its new orientation resulting from an extensive review of the organization.   Of special importance are the matching of Peace Corps Volunteers with resources from other US government agencies, NGOs and private corporations in joint undertakings to solve problems in host countries.   Another welcome change is the Peace Corps reducing the length and complexity of the application process to make it easier for interested persons to join the Corps.   We have all heard or known about people who have given up in their application for the Peace Corps or simply not even applied because  of  the formidable hurdles to cross.  Carrie stated the Corps seeks to make the process as quick and easy as applying for college.

Carrie emphasized that the Corps will continue to be a “skills based” organization seeking to place the “perfect” volunteer in the “perfect” job.  New techniques and procedures are being implemented to insure this.

All in all a strong statement of new direction for the Peace Corps and the National Peace Corps Association which are good to hear as the Corps faces considerable challenges to its continued existence.