RPCV NYC held its 5th Annual Story Slam on the upper West Side on Saturday night, June 25th, at Hostelling International. A packed house of RPCVs, and would be PCVs, heard eleven, mostly humorous, tales from Peace Corps life.
Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of New York City is a nonprofit group connected with the NPCA It is made up of, mostly, recent (i.e., within the last ten or fifteen years) PCVs.
This group, like all RPCV groups, either by location or country of service, is involved in fund raising projects of countries where they serviced, and also for local NYC projects. Donations at the door (suggested $5) went to help underfunded project through the Peace Corps Partnership Program.
That said, what was the evening like?
My experience with RPCVs and their stories over the last 55 years is that all of us have one good paragraph, one great story, one lasting detail of our tour that has stayed with us all these years.
We cherish the story that crystallizes for us ‘the flavor of the time,’ what it was like —at least in memory — of our life and time way back then. While these stories are based on fact, on an incident that REALLY happened, that moment has gowned over time, deepened in details, expanded to include humor or pathos, become in many ways “creative non-fiction.”
All of this is fine, great entertainment, as well as instructive.
What the New York Peace Corps group has given these PCVs of New York City — eleven of them last night — was a chance to get on stage (so to speak,) and tell their tale one more time in front of an appreciative audience that nodded knowingly while silently thinking, “That is so true. I’ve been there; I did that!”
So the evening was a chance to relive the Peace Corps experience all over again.
The MC for the evening was Peter Clark (Kyrgyzstan 2009-11). (Peter might be the tallest PCV to ever serve). He handled the task as if he did it for a living somewhere down in lower Manhattan. And the RPCVs who told their stories on Saturday evening were equally charming, prepared, and professional. They were:
Andreea Surdu (Kyrgyzstan 2010-12)
Greg Emerson (Peru 2003-05)
Albert Tan (Macedonia 2006-08)
Naomi Meyer (Burkina Faso)
Joshua Norman (Togo 2000-02)
Sarah Porter (Macedonia 2005-07)
Marian Rivman (Philippines 1966-68)
Brian Campos (Cameroon 2013-15)
Britta Seifert (Kyrgyzstan)
Jane Garcia Buhks (Nicaragua 2010-12)
Robyn Fiedler (Nicaragua 2010-12)
For me, the most reflective piece was the story told by Sarah Porter. She linked growing up and her own family with the family she found in the Peace Corps, her Macedonia group. While Sarah’s talk, as were all the others, just eight minutes long, she has a bigger story to tell if she decides to write her memoir.
You, too, can share in their stories and hear them “live” on the group’s podcast called “Peace Corps Stories, the Unofficial Podcast.” It can be found on pretty much any podcast platform (like iTunes), but here is a link to it on Stitcher:http://www.stitcher.com/
The first one is by the President of the New York group, Sarah Porter, the driving force behind this group of RPCVs in New York. Well done, New York!
Click all photos for larger views.