Over the last year we have had a number of meetings taking place within the Peace Corps regarding the 50th Anniversary, meetings organized by the old administration and now with the new director, Aaron Williams. Some of these proposals for what to do on the Anniversary are on the Peace Corps website. Take a look.
Representatives of the NPCA have been asked to attend the Peace Corps meetings, but unfortunately they have not been able to bring much influence or many ideas to the table. While the NPCA has a limited membership (maybe 4k) they have a good database of recent RPCVs. The Peace Corps’ lists are longer and more accurate, however.
The Peace Corps didn’t track RPCVs until RPCV Carol Bellamy came into the office in 1993. She put together a data base then of about 90,000 names and addresses of RPCVs.
The NPCA (since the 25th Reunion in 1986) has had reunions, but not since Kevin Quigley, the CEO and President of the National Peace Corps Association, realized the NPCA loses money every time RPCVs gather in the same room. He hasn’t organized a meeting of the community since the Chicago RPCVs had their summer event, which was, I think, six years ago?
Events organized by the NPCA would help to launch this 50thAnniversary, but that is not going to happen. The NPCA, with its limited membership and limited money, doesn’t have the funds to cover a gathering of RPCVs anywhere, anyplace, any how.
The Peace Corps itself has similar money problems. Being a government agency they can’t spend money on what is basically a bunch of old RPCVs getting together to tell lies about what they did when they were young and overseas.
As I previously detailed on this website, the 25th reunion of RPCVs would never have taken place but that the Washington, D.C. group organizing it received a grant of $25,000 from the McCarthy Foundation. Only then did Director Loret Ruppe jump into the planning so the agency could take control of events — fearing an RPCV uprising. She, however, got herself (and the agency) in trouble with the IG’s office for spending money on ‘non Peace Corps work.’
The Peace Corps has to be careful how they spent our tax dollars. (Who do we think we are, Goldman Sachs?”)
So….what to do? There is a way, but it has to start with the agency.
Anyone who has spent ten minutes around Peace Corps HQ realizes that the best recruiters are former Volunteers who come home and return to campus or their hometowns and talk about their life in the Peace Corps. (Not that the Peace Corps needs to worry about recruitment today, what with this economy. Young people are flocking to the Peace Corps for work, health insurance, and a way to put off paying back their college loans for a few years.)
I suggest that to start organizing this 50th Anniversary in D.C., an event that is beyond the current capabilities of the Washington RPCVs, the NPCA, or the Peace Corps, Aaron Williams needs to appoint — with a staff and budget — a Third Goal Director, someone (an RPCV) who can rally the RPCVs, get them united to the cause of the agency, and to get them to come to D.C. in the fall of 2011.
There are a number of very practical reasons for an Associate Director for the Third Goal, but the most important one is that RPCVs vote, and they vote in their home districts. Letters, emails, and phone calls ‘back home’ get the attention of their congressional representations. These letters and emails show support for the Peace Corps and that translates into support in Congress, which translates into $$$ for the PCVs overseas and the expansion of the agency. Remember, MorePeaceCorps? Or is it, BoldPeaceCorps?
The Peace Corps, as an agency, has never, never cared or successfully recruited RPCVs to support its work. The 50th gives us a golden opportunity.
So, on this 50th Anniversary, lets get the Golden RPCVs to come to D.C. and more importantly, rally behind the agency. To do this, we need an Associate Director for the Third Goal at HQ in Washington.
It is not the whole answer, but it is a start.