Category Archives: Peace Corps and NPCA

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Peace Corps Connect is coming to the Rocky Mountain State!

See you in Denver, August 4, 5 & 6, 2017

University of Denver
2199 South University Blvd, Denver, CO 80208
Located on the light rail line
(Take the A Line from Denver International Airport to Union Station.
Take the E-line from Union Station [downtown] to the University of Denver station.  Approximately 2 hour ride).  

Google other routes (car, bus).   Or support a Colorado-grown ride share App developed by members of the Ethiopian/Vietnamese immigrant community:  Hovit.  Download the app for $15.00 off your first ride. 

About Peace Corps Connect 2017

  • Partnering for Progress: Taking Collaborations to New Heights. Keynote speakers, panelists, exhibitors, and breakout sessions will all address this theme through focus areas such as global health, environment, economic development, equality and justice, and education and youth development.
  • Registration http://www.peacecorpsconnect.org/events/peace-corps-connect-partnering-for-progress.
  • Lodging:  Dormitory rooms will be available at an affordable rate.  The co-hosts, the RPCVs of Colorado, http://www.peacecorpsconnect.org/events/peace-corps-connect-partnering-for-progress.
  • Annual RPCVs of Colorado picnic (Sunday, August 6).  The RPCVs of Colorado would also like to invite everyone for our annual RPCV of Colorado picnic. The picnic will take place outdoors on the University of Denver campus, with food and drink provided via catering. Conference registration will include a ticket for the picnic.  Tickets will also be available just for the picnic.

Ethiopia & Eritrea RPCV events TBD

  • E&E RPCV Affiliate Meeting (Business meeting) 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Friday, August 4, 2017.  DU Campus, Anderson Academic Commons (Library)
  • Optional dinner at a favorite Ethiopian restaurant 6:00 p.m. Friday, August 4, 2017.
  • Pre-conference (August 4)  There will be a pre-conference event on the Peace Corps and Rotary partnership on August 4.
  • Harris Wofford Reception, Saturday, August 5, 2017 on the University of Denver campus
  • Taste of Ethiopia, all day, Saturday August 5, 2017. Location :  Parkfield Lake Park, 15555 E. 53rd Ave. Denver, CO 80239
  • All conference picnic, Sunday, August 6, 2017.

 

All day event.  Free admission.  Food for purchase. Traditional dancing, music, fashion show, booths, and citizenship ceremony.

 

 

Ethiopian restaurants:

Ethiopia-related sightseeing:

City of Axum Park 4400 Bruce Randolph Ave. Denver, CO 80207.On January 20, 1995, Denver Mayor Wellington Webb signed the proclamation and declared the day as Axum Day. On November 12, Mayor Webb led a delegation to visit Axum. The people of Axum turned out in mass lining the streets of the city. To commemorate the occasion, Denver Street was named in the middle of Axum. In turn, the City of Denver named a park in honor of the Sister City relationship.

 Gloria Curtis (Asmara 1963–65) was instrumental in directing the painting of buildings on the park.

axum-park-3 axum-park-4

 

axum-park-1axum-park-2

 

Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library. 2401 Welton St, Denver, CO 80205. Denver First Lady, Wilma Webb, was presented with a beautiful Ethiopian dress which is on display at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library  2401 Welton St.  Denver, CO 80205

Denver First Lady Wilma Webb was presented with an Ethiopian dress during a visit to Axum.

Denver First Lady Wilma Webb was presented with an Ethiopian dress during a visit to Axum.


 

 

 

 

Peace Corps and the NPCA

2017 Sargent Shriver Leadership Summit

As reported in part by Haskell Ward (Nazareth 1963–65)

2017 Shriver Leadership Summit

The E&E RPCVs are fortunate to have Haskell Ward (Nazareth 1963–65) participate in the 2017 Sargent Shriver Leadership Summit held at Georgetown University March 3rd and 4th, 2017.  Although Haskell was unable to attend the first day of the advocacy sessions, he was able to take full advantage of the conference including presentations, reports, panels, and workshops.

National Peace Corps President and CEO Glenn Blumhorst, Senator Harris Wofford and Haskell Ward at the Shriver Leadership Summit 2017 in Washington.

Joby Taylor, Chair, NPCA Board of Directors and Glenn Blumhorst, NPCA President & CEO opened with an Annual Report and NPCA program Overview. Key programs included:  The New Political Landscape; and An Improved and Expanded Peace Corps.  Workshops on ensuring the future of the Peace Corps included:  Grassroots Efforts (Scaling up our Nationwide Mobilization), Grassroots Efforts (Capitol Hill, the White House & Beyond), Fundraising (Securing Resources to Drive Change).  Topics of interest also included support of refugees, RPCVs for environmental action and building community. The opening day also featured a conversation with Acting Director Sheila Crowley.

Haskell Ward with Acting Peace Corps Director Sheila Crowley at the NATIONAL PEACE CORPS ASSOCIATION SHRIVER LEADERSHIP SUMMIT IN WASHINGTON

Haskell reports that those who attended the advocacy sessions with members of the U.S. House and Senate were cautiously optimistic. He quoted Board Member Juliana Essen’s recent Peace Corps Connect article, “The next few days could make it or break it for the Peace Corps, so we are depending on each and every one of you for a win.  Fortunately, our community is stronger than ever — if we all pitch in, we might even convince Congress to increase Peace Corps budget instead.”

Further, he states that in one form or another much of the thrust of all the sessions were influenced by the subject of one of the opening topics: The New Political Landscape. The future of the Peace Corps will take place within the dynamics of this new reality. Having said that, the general consensus was that the situation was sufficiently fluid that an effective mobilization campaign by members of the Peace Corps community might very well produce unexpected and surprisingly positive outcomes for the agency’s future. In other words, if enough energy is produced by RPCVs and allies to their members of the House and Senate, then there is a strong probability of success.

With my friend Maureen Orth

This observation might really sum up the dinner speech of Jason Gross, Executive Director of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition who stressed the need for immediate and broad appeals to members of the House and Senate, especially to those members in our districts who sit on the foreign affairs subcommittees.

On a much lighter note, Haskell had an opportunity to spend time with Harris Wofford (Democratic Senator from Pennsylvania, and former Peace Corps Ethiopia Director 62–64). “I sat with Harris Wofford at the dinner meeting, fifty-four years since our first meeting. He is as inspiring as he was the first time we met. He’ll turn ninety-one on April 9, and I asked him how he is holding up, and he said ‘quite well, except for an emerging hearing problem.’ He also said, though, when I told him that I turn seventy-seven next week (March 13), ‘I’ll trade my years for your soon-to-be seventy-seven! ’  It was worth the trip to Washington to see the fire still in his eyes.”

Haskell with Senator Harris Wofford, our Ethiopia Peace Corps Director.

Peace Corps and NPCA

Celebrate the 55th anniversary of the Peace Corps at the annual RPCV conference in Washington, Sept 21–25

The National Peace Corps Association’s Peace Corps Connect: Peace Corps Beyond will be holding its annual conference in Washington, D.C. September 21st through September 25th and celebrating 55 years of Peace Corps.

For general information and registration for the conference click on the following link:  Peace Corps Connect registration 2016.

PLEASE NOTE:  There is a special film presentation on Thursday, September 21st from 10:30am to 12noon on the Eritrean refugee crisis, followed by a discussion with the America Team for Displaced Eritreans to learn more about the issues and how you can get involved.

Bete Giyorgis in Lalibela

Bete Biyorgis in Lalibela

And now a message from the chair of the E&E RPCVs local arrangements committee, Amanda Sutker:

We are looking forward to participating in the National Peace Corps Association’s Peace Corps  Connect conference this September.

Our group has reserved a block of rooms at the Crystal City Marriott at Reagan National Airport for the event at the following rates: September 21 – $234; September 22, 23, 24, 25 – $109. You may reserve your room by calling 1-800-228-9290.
Be sure to mention Ethiopia and Eritrea Returned Peace Corps Volunteers.

Stelae in Axum

Stelae in Axum

In addition to NPCA’s scheduled programming, the Ethiopian ambassador will host us at the Ethiopian Embassy on Friday, September 23rd. The Ethiopia/Eritrea Returned Peace Corps group will also hold a general members meeting at the hotel on Saturday, September 24th. We will introduce the new board, present projects from the Legacy program, honor Marian Haley Beil, and hold group reunions at that time.

Amanda Sutker is chairing the local arrangements committee

Amanda Sutker is chairing the local arrangements committee

For additional questions, please contact Amanda Sutker at amsutker@gmail.com.

 


 

Peace Corps and NPCA

Peace Corps Beyond: Peace Corps Connect 2016 — September 22-25, 2016: The Annual Conference of the Peace Corps Community

E&E RPCVs will be there. Will you?

Peace Corps Connect is the Peace Corps community’s annual conference hosted by the National Peace Corps Association and its local affiliate groups and the 2016 conference will be held in Washington D.C to celebrate the 55th anniversary of the Peace Corps.

E&E RPCV is planning programs, social events, and networking geared specifically toward RPCVs from Ethiopia and Eritrea. New Board Member, Amanda Sutker, and her fellow RPCVs in the DC area, are hard at work planning the events. They have held a block of rooms for Thursday, September 22 – Sunday, September 25 at the Crystal City Marriott at a rate of $109/night.  To reserve your room, please call Marriott Reservations at 1 (800) 228-9290 or (703) 413-5555 and identify yourself as a part of the Ethiopia/Eritrea RPCV group.

Save the date: September 22–25, 2016 and watch for details on our group  Facebook page and a future issue of The Herald.

Volunteers interested in making a 15-minute presentation at the Ethiopia & Eritrea RPCVs group meeting should send an outline and presentation proposal to Amanda at amsutker@gmail.com by August 1.

In addition we will join our colleagues who have served around the world in celebration of 55 years of Peace Corps recognizing the impact that Peace Corps has had both home and abroad, and the hopes for the future.

Join us at Peace Corps Beyond

Event Details

National Day of Action
Join fellow RPCVs on Capitol Hill to advocate for a bigger, better Peace Corps
Location: Capitol Hill
Date: ThursdaySeptember 22, 2016
Save the date! Registration will open shortly.

Affiliate Group Network Annual Meeting including E&E RPCVs
Location: TBD (Washington, DC)
Date: Thursday, September 22, 2016

Peace Corps Beyond
Location: George Washington University in Washington, DC
Date: Friday and Saturday, September 23–24, 2016
Save the date! Registration will open shortly.

NPCA Walk for Peace
Location: Walking route through downtown Washington, DC
Date: Sunday, September 25, 2016
Save the date! Registration will open shortly.

Peace Corps and NPCA

Interview with NPCA President Glenn Blumhorst

by Janet Lee, Editor (Emdeber 1974–76)

Glenn Blumhorst is the President & CEO of the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) and an RPCV from Guatemala (1988–1991).  In early December, he and his associate, Amanda Silva, RPCV Indonesia 2013-2015, visited Colorado, attended the RPCVs of Colorado annual Holiday Party and met with a group of RPCVs in Boulder. The visit was part of a nation-wide road trip to reach out to established RPCV groups and to meet with recently returned Volunteers.

The Editor of The Herald took this opportunity to interview Glenn about changes that are underway with the NPCA.

The Herald
The most noticeable changes to NPCA are eliminating membership fees and broadening the scope of who is eligible to become a member. What do you hope to accomplish with these changes? Tell us more about the “New” National Peace Corps Association.

Blumhorst
Historically, the NPCA has been a membership dues organization, however, after looking at our community we wanted to further engage and better serve the greater Peace Corps community, and in the New Year we will complete our transition to being a mission-driven and project-oriented organization. Currently, anyone with any affiliation or affinity for Peace Corps ideals is welcome to become a member of the National Peace Corps Association.

Because membership is free, members who are committed to the mission of the NPCA are welcome to contribute or continue contributing as “Mission Partners.” Mission Partners can choose their level of investment in funding any of our 3 areas:

  1. Helping RPCVs thrive through transition services spanning career development, mentorship or health care issues.
  2. Making Peace Corps the best it can be by advocating for greater funding to increase the number of  Volunteers in the field to 10,000, calling for extension of federal Non-Competitive Eligibility Act, increasing the number of companies partnered with Employers of National Service, and building partnerships to secure new resources for Volunteers in the field.
  3. Increasing our Development Impact through our collaboration with the White House and Peace Corps on the Let Girls Learn initiative, investing in partnerships with RPCV-run organizations such as Water Charity for WASH projects.

The Herald
Describe the launch of the Peace Corps Community Fund.  What opportunities will it provide for RPCVs?

Blumhorst
The Peace Corps Community Fund is aimed at better serving, engaging and connecting the Peace Corps community. The NPCA is always strongest when our community comes together and is driven by common goals. We were able to secure the highest Peace Corps budget for the 2016 fiscal year, because our community mobilized to make this happen. There is so much more that can be done when we have the investment and engagement of the Peace Corps community, the Community Fund is our way of expanding those services and creating more opportunities that RPCVs want from us. Let us know your ideas; we want to know how we can help!

The Herald
Any advice on how RPCVs can advocate for current and future Volunteers in the field? How is NPCA advocating on their behalf?

Blumhorst
Great question! The most important thing RPCVs can do is meet with their House and Senate Representatives. Time and time again we’re told that face time between a constituent and a Member of Congress is the most effective means of advocacy. Talk about your positive experiences from Peace Corps and how those experiences have affected you and your host community. If you’re interested in organizing a meeting, or inviting your Members to an RPCV-led event, please get in touch with our advocacy team, and they’ll walk you through it. Also, you can use our software to contact Members of Congress; request that they meet with Volunteers in the field while they’re on Congressional Delegations; and ask that they raise awareness for the Peace Corps by promoting the agency and its work — to that end, feel free to supply them with press releases of RPCV constituents and those currently serving, and notify them of RPCV-led events, especially service-oriented projects.

The NPCA advocacy team is here to assist and represent you every step of the way. We are the sole advocacy body for the Peace Corps community, and will continue to build on successes in the past by advocating for RPCVs and the agency, whether it’s reform or appropriations. Aside from providing you with talking points, materials and advice, we’ll also connect you with our vast team of advocacy coordinators all over the country — like the fabulous Suzanne Smith of Colorado. And while you may not be able to meet with your Members of Congress, we do. We’re on Capitol Hill all the time, meeting with Members and staff. It’s what helped secure Peace Corps’ FY16 budget of $410 million — the agency’s biggest budget ever. Please contact our advocacy team for more information.

The Herald

Berhane Daba, winner of the Harris Wofford Award, and her mentor/American mother Mary Myers-Bruckenstein (Addis 68-70)

Berhane Daba, winner of the Harris Wofford Award, and her mentor/American mother, Mary Myers-Bruckenstein (Addis 68-70)

Peace Corps Connect in Berkley was a highly successful event. A highlight for RPCVs from Ethiopia/Eritrea was the selection of Berhane Daba, president and founder of Ethiopian Women with Disabilities Association for the Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award. What does NPCA have planned for the 35th anniversary in Washington D.C. September 22-25, 2016?

Blumhorst
The NPCA is excited that this year’s Peace Corps Connect, September 22-25, 2016 in Washington DC, will be held in conjunction with the 55th anniversary of the Peace Corps. The Peace Corps  has had a profound global impact and our community has a wealth of knowledge and experience with which we continue to affect change. The conference will create discussion sand open dialogue about how Peace Corps can continue to have impact in the coming years, with a specific focus on our core mission areas: girls education and empowerment, peace and security, economic development, global health, and environmental sustainability.

 


Peace Corps

Interview with new Peace Corps/Ethiopia Country Director Brannon Brewer

by Janet Lee (Emdeber, 1974–76)

The Herald:  Please give us a brief overview of your background, including prior Peace Corps Director assignments, other international posts, and where you served as a Volunteer?

2014 12 03 CD Brannon BrewerBrewer: My background has been varied and spanned a number of locations.  I worked as staff to a couple of U.S. House Members when I was younger, and had a business in the States.  But my true career was really set in motion when I joined Peace Corps as a Small Business Volunteer in Moldova in 1997. For all the wonderful people I came to know, and the experiences I would never trade, it was still a rather bleak place to be following the fall of the Soviet Union.  I did, however, meet my wife, Sophia, while we were both serving. So Moldova started both my overseas career and my family at the same time. Sophia now serves as a USAID Health Officer in Addis.

But back to the question, I found the overseas experience somewhat addictive, and we soon moved to Romania for several years, and children started entering the picture for us. I then became the country director for an NGO in Addis, where we spent about three and a half years between 2007 and 2010.  But for me, NGO work didn’t have the same satisfaction as my PCV days, so I joined Peace Corps as a country director and I served in Guyana and then Liberia.  Ebola was ravaging the people and country, and we evacuated the PCVs from Liberia, though not a single Volunteer wanted to leave their friends, students and communities. It was a hard time on many levels.  But Peace Corps offered me the opportunity to join the team in Ethiopia, and I gladly jumped at the chance! Sophia and I now have three kids, and our youngest was actually born in Addis the last time we were here.  It seems we were meant to be back.

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The Herald:  How have your experiences differed from country to country?  What has been a unifying theme?

Brewer: Every country is so different, and that’s really the whole draw of living abroad.  We all as people share certain things in common, yet it is the things that are unique and special about each culture and society that should be recognized and celebrated. It troubles me if people talk about entire regions of the world in broad strokes that ignore their particular qualities.  It’s commonly done when referring to “Africans” as if it’s one big country, but it’s also done for South America, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and so forth.  Until you live within a culture, learn it’s traditions, values, and ways of life, then it’s very difficult to understand and appreciate the differences.  And no one gains that insight and appreciation like a Peace Corps Volunteer.

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The Herald:  I believe Ethiopia has one of the largest contingents of Volunteers in Africa.  What makes it so popular? What role does the Ethiopian government (at all levels) play in its success?

Brewer: Even though Peace Corps was re-established only in 2007, it is among the largest posts in terms of Volunteer numbers. Ethiopia has such a rich history that it is an attractive post even for those who have never travelled abroad.  We have roughly 225 Volunteers and Trainees right now working in our three projects of Health, Environment and Secondary Education, and I anticipate we will average about 260 by the end of 2015.  Peace Corps has programs in the countries where the needs match well with the strengths of the agency and the qualifications of generally younger Volunteers, though many of the most effective are those who join with an entire career of experience to draw from. Working as complements to the government of Ethiopia, Volunteers are able to engage in activities that improve the opportunities in life for others, improve their quality of life, and to help communities realize their aspirations. Ethiopia has a current population of about 90 million, so there are plenty of communities that can benefit from hosting a dedicated, resourceful, and technically qualified Volunteer.

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The Herald:  There is obviously no typical Volunteer. What are the demographics of the recent groups?  Youngest to oldest, male and female.  What are their assignments?  Where are they stationed?  Rural or urban?

Brewer: There is no typical Volunteer, as we all come from every demographic, but I believe there are shared characteristics that every Volunteer has in common. I find that enthusiasm, perseverance, resourcefulness and creativity are some of the most important qualities.  Volunteers care for people and earn personal fulfillment and gratification from benefitting someone other than themselves.  I’ve heard some say that the current generation of younger Volunteers lacks the sense of service, work ethic, etc. of previous generations of Volunteers, but I don’t find that at all the case.  Those who join Peace Corps today are made of the same fabric, and join for the same reasons, as those who first answered the call of President Kennedy. Yes, it’s a different world, but the adventurous, can-do spirit of service, is still found in those that commit themselves to our three goals.

The average age of our Volunteers is 25, and being 70 percent female — numbers that basically match the agency ratios.  The projects have largely been urban based, but we are in the process of shifting sites to more rural environments where an average kebele community may consist of only a couple of thousand people.  These are the environments where PCVs can thrive, where they can work directly with the people, and develop personal relationships.

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The Herald:  My group trained in Harrar and Dire Dawa, areas that have been forbidden to current Volunteers until recently. Volunteers in my day were pulled from the north after the Derg took over and travel was forbidden up north.  Recently Volunteers have been stationed as far north as Axum. What considerations are taken to ban or open up a site to Volunteers? Have you had an opportunity to do many site visits?  How does your office communicate with Volunteers in remote areas?

Brewer: Volunteers are allowed to visit Dire Dawa and Harrar, though not the areas surrounding those specific towns. Peace Corps places PCVs in only the four regions of Tigray, Oromia, Amhara, and SNNP. These are the regions with the highest population densities and offer conditions where PCVs can live and work with the greatest assurance of physical well-being.  Ethiopia is in a rough neighborhood within the Horn of Africa, and most border areas present concerns. Our post has a safety and security team that assesses each site, and we share information with numerous organizations and agencies, including the U.S. Embassy, to continually evaluate the safety of our program areas.

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The Herald:  What is your vision for the future of Peace Corps/Ethiopia?

Brewer: I want to see a post where Volunteers and staff share common goals, and are all moving in the same direction and for the same purpose. I want to see projects that fill a niche in the development of Ethiopia, and that result in clear impact on a broad scale. I want Peace Corps to be well known for the contribution our Volunteers offer through their service, and I do not want us to be the best kept secret in Ethiopia. I want Volunteers who are so well prepared to participate in their communities that they don’t want to leave after two years. I want them to thrive, to excel, and to find the fulfillment and satisfaction that makes them appreciating the opportunity they had for the rest of their lives. Likewise, I want all Ethiopians who have ever known a Volunteer to remember fondly the time they spent together, and to realize the opportunities in life that they would not have had had they not benefitted from the Volunteers’ service in their communities.  All of this is why we are here.



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Peace Corps

It’s Peace Corps Week Again

During the week of  March 1-7, RPCVs organize to spread the message and story  of Peace Corps

From Peace Corps Office

Each year, thousands of RPCVs celebrate the Peace Corps’ anniversary by organizing  third goal activities and sharing stories of their host country experiences with other Americans. These activities advance the Peace Corps mission here in the U.S. while strengthening peace and understanding between Americans and Peace Corps countries of service.

As an RPCV, you are invited to participate in Peace Corps Week by planning a presentation, a Q&A session, or an exhibit. You might write an article or a letter to the editor of your local paper. Post something on your blog.  Visit local officials and spread the word about Peace Corps.  The week of March 1 – 7 would be a perfect week to lobby your member of Congress to increase Peace Corps funding by joining the efforts of PushforPeaceCorps.

If you are interested in classroom visits, the World Wise Schools Speakers Match program helps to connect RPCVs with schools and civic groups that request speakers. Please remember to register your Peace Corps Week participation online. This is the only means we have to demonstrate the impact of third goal events to Congress. All registrants will receive a free presentation kit, which includes a world map, Peace Corps logo stickers, and bookmarks for your audience.

Visit www.PeaceCorps.gov/thirdgoal to get details, activity suggestions, and to register. You can also get more information, by emailing  us at thirdgoal@peacecorps.gov or call 1.800.424.8580, ext. 1961.