What is wrong with the Office of Third Goal in the Peace Corps? (Washington, D.C.)


The DC Office of the Third Goal has 16 employees — yes, 16 employees. I wonder what do they do all day?

After five months of asking by Joanne Roll (Colombia 1963-65), they still have not listed any books written by RPCVs or Peace Corps staff on their webpage. The ‘official’ Mission Statement of the Peace Corps states:. The Office of Third Goal and Returned Volunteer Services (3GL) engages the Peace Corps community to further intercultural understanding and supports Volunteers through career transitions.

Is there any better way for Americans of all ages to learn about the developing world than to read the prose and poetry of RPCVs? Com’on Peace Corps turn to former Volunteers to tell the world about living and life overseas. They know the story and they have written brilliantly about their experiences for 56 years. Wise up and use their books. 

Peace Corp Washington

Office of Third Goal (3GL)* Mission Statement

The Office of Third Goal and Returned Volunteer Services (3GL) engages the Peace Corps community to further intercultural understanding, and supports Volunteers through career transitions.


  • Develop and implement the Peace Corps’ Third Goal programming, outreach, and training, leveraging the Peace Corps experience to increase Americans’ global and intercultural competence. o Incentivize Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) and Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) to achieve the Third Goal through innovative contests (Blog it Home, Storytelling Contest) and campaigns. o Design and oversee annual Peace Corps Week activities that encourage PCVs and RPCVs to bring the world home to American communities. o Provide trainings, promotional items (including Third Goal Kits), and other resources to PCVs, RPCVs, and staff to assist them in supporting the Third Goal. o Connect American classrooms and community groups with current and returned Peace Corps Volunteers through World Wise Schools programming, resources, and events to increase global competence and 21st century skills.
  • Engage and support RPCVs as they return home from service with career resources to aid their transition. o Host RPCV Career Link, a searchable web-based jobs board featuring positions around the world with employers seeking to hire RPCVs. o Hold career conferences, career events, and career fairs in cities around the country to bring local RPCVs together for career development training, networking, and events with local employers. o Promote career and transition information and services through a variety of avenues including emails, web chats, phone calls, social media, and web site resources to reach RPCVs wherever they live with whatever questions they have. o Offer individual career counseling sessions to provide tailored feedback and strategies for making the most of Peace Corps service to obtain positions. o Support Volunteers by providing career information through Close of Service Conferences (COS) and COS emails, alerting them to the career resources available.

Transition Briefing Book 2017 | Director’s Office (D) and Sub-Offices 46

  • Engage employers (public, nonprofit, and corporate organizations) to hire RPCVs by promoting the benefits of Peace Corps service and noncompetitive eligibility. • Collaborate with RPCV Groups nationwide, including the National Peace Corps Association, to support RPCVs in Third Goal and career events and activities. • Produce official documentation of Peace Corps service to support RPCV employment, education, and other post-service transition issues. • Maintain RPCV contact information and other data through the RPCV Portal, surveys, and focus groups.

Budget and Human Resources Overview Office

2017 Peace Corps Budgeted (USD, Millions)

Other sources: PEPFAR and Reimbursables

FTE (incl. USDH, experts, & PSCs)

Office of Third Goal 1.7 M N/A 16

Key Issues and Challenges

The Office of Third Goal and Returned Volunteer Services staff is committed to elevating the Third Goal and supporting returned Volunteers. 3GL benefits regularly from the support and collaboration of other departments and staff within the agency, which significantly extends our impact. We have existing systems and programs that are highly valued by our audiences, such as career counseling, RPCV Career Link, Third Goal Kits, Blog it Home, World Wise Schools lesson plans, Speakers Match, and RPCV Career Conferences. We embrace the spirit of constant improvement and innovation, adding new programs such as the Peace Corps Storytellers Contest, World Wise Chats, and Employer Spotlight Webinars. We are tech savvy and willing to pilot new approaches to engage our audiences, embracing Microsoft Dynamic agency Customer Relationship Management (CRM), GovDelivery, Eventbrite, and Google Hangouts. The Peace Corps has a strong brand with educators, employers, partners, RPCVs, and RPCV groups and routinely message over 100,000 constituents.


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  • Having watched this from the beginning, with initial enthusiasm, I think it was a mistake to combine something as defined as “Returned Volunteer Services” with something as amorphous and hard to define as “Third Goal (activities). The PC has a duty officer to field calls about volunteer and volunteer family concerns. Very specific. A little like dialing 911.

    For ‘Third Goal” stuff, to the contrary, my experience today with that office is indifference. They don’t answer their phones, and don’t return calls. Don’t follow up on enquiries and ideas from RPCVs or RPCV organizations. Stuff like this might best be left to a non-gov’t organization like the NPCA, working with various “Affiliated Organizations” on a local level.

    The original “Third Goal” applied to informing the folks back home about what the volunteer had learned from his/her service. What I am seeing today, after many years of watching, is that RPCVs seem to be community-minded, and more often than not, after the first year or two after returning, their efforts are directed at unrelated “unpeacecorpsy” needs at their local schools, local hospitals, and assistance with things from building trails in parks, to assistance for the elderly to recent immigrants (not necessarily from the volunteer’s country of service). All of it, is admirable to be sure — but far in addition to what the founders of the original Peace Corps imagined in 1961. With our statewide RPCV organization, a loosely-knit unstructured affliation of RPCVs and like-minded friends, held together solely by a ListServ graciously provided by our University, I doubt that of the total message load even 10% apply to the original thoughts of the founders.

    One thing that continues to impress me, is the enthusiasm and appreciation local officials have for returned volunteers. They trust them, they recognize that they’ve given something of themselves, and always welcome their comments.

    I always will remember a long time ago, giving an impromptu speech to a town council, of a small rural town in New Mexico. When I finished, the council chairman thanked me for coming to talk to them, and then deferring the reason I had come, he looked about his council members, and instead asked “Where do we sign up ??” I think the author of the original Peace Corps Act, the late Sen Hubert Humphrey, would have applauded. He was one who seemed to anticipate things like this. John Turnbull Lower Canoncito, New Mexico.

  • Thanks, Joanne. Yes I was aware of the role that UNM had played in training early volunteers for Latin American assignments. I’m a graduate of UNM, myself.

    i was aware of the records that UNM has concerning early PC training. In fact, that was a reason a year or so ago, that I had suggested that it might be an appropriate and inexpensive location for the then-proposed national PC Library. Or, maybe as a transitional location, before large amounts of money were spent, testing the concept and actual utilization.

    I remember at the time the PC decided to move training to Puerto Rico and then host countries, I wondered if the UNM Latin America program, with it’s in-country schools and facilities, might have been a better choice, or at least an interesting alternative. I imagined that we could provide a bit more transition for the trainees. I do know of some who washed out due to too abrupt a transition. The “Blank-out response”. And then NMSU, in Las Cruces, has programs with facilities across the border in Cd. Juarez, Mexico. I think, trainingwise, there was a LOT that New Mexico could have offered.

    Another favorite local story, was during the early Poverty Program (Shriver again), I briefly worked for a job-training program here. All the trainees had to fill out a long Federal form, for the Dept of Labor. Everything was going fine, and then a phone call from Washington. “What are you guys up to ??” Seems all the applicants north of Socorro checked the square “Spanish-speaking, Other”. Everybody south of Socorro checked the box “Mexican-American”. How can you have that many “Others” in a place called New MEXICO ?? “. It wasn’t over for the “Others”. The term “Native American” hadn’t caught on yet, and most of the Navajos, Apaches, and Pueblos checked the Race box “Other” — and wrote in “Indian”. It was territorial governor Lew Wallace (author of “Ben Hur”) who once observed “All calculations based on experience elsewhere, fail in New Mexico ! ”

    I think if New Mexico ever adopted a state song, the title probably would be “The Trouble With _____________ is. . .” FITB. The first two choices would be “Anglo Women” and then “Spanish Women”. Then a bunch of others, including “People in suits and ties”, “Forest Service Guys”, and “Spanish Fathers-in-Law”. JAT

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