Peace Corps & Rotary Collaborate to Build International Understanding Through Service

Paige McKay Kubik presented fellow Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) Ms. Flora Tano and Ms. Jackie Valadez from the Atlanta Peace Corps Recruiting Office. Flora and Jackie presented stories and the framework for volunteering in the Peace Corps. The Peace Corps is a volunteer program run by the United States government. Its official mission is to provide social and economic development abroad through technical assistance, while promoting mutual understanding between Americans and populations served. Peace Corps' traditional program requires volunteers to make a two-year commitment – 27 months actually, which includes a 3-month training program to create understanding in all aspects of the Peace Corps, and to prepare for one’s specific assignment. One of the main objectives of the Peace Corps volunteer is to build trust. The average age of a volunteer is 26 years. Peace Corps also makes 3-12 month assignments for highly skilled professionals through its Peace Corps Response initiative. Participants in this program average in age 44 years. All Peace Corps assignments are linked to Rotary’s six core objectives: to promote peace; to fight disease; to provide clean water, sanitation and hygiene; to advocate for healthy mothers and children; to support education; and to grow local economies. Both Flora and Jackie recruit on college campuses, always taking advantage of undergrads who have joined Rotaract – it’s a ‘sell’ made easier. Currently, all Peace Corps volunteers have been called back to the USA owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. Normally however, there are about 7,000 volunteers spread throughout the world as follows: Asia 12%; Africa 44%; Caribbean 5%; Europe & Central Asia 13%; Latin America 18%; North Africa & Middle East 4%; Pacific Islands 4%. About 34% of Peace Corps members are people of color, with some 66% being Caucasian. Flora stated that she was born in the Ivory Coast but chose China for her service, despite differences in her race and being from a different nation on a different continent. She was assigned to a remote area in China and always attracted attention, and was constantly being photographed; especially when she made dramatic changes in her hair style. She managed the language reasonably well (said she had to!) and said she alsways felt welcome because of the positive way she was received and treated. In fact, her China hosts were always concerned about her family because of the racial unrest in 2013 when Trayvon Martin was killed. Jackie had a similar experience with her reception in Panama, but for different reasons as the daughter of immigrants from South America. Like Flora, Jackie worked very hard to be of value to the Panamanian people and her newly created friends.

Posted by Neil Shorthouse
September 25, 2020 2:00pm


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