World Wise Schools has matched up Peace Corps Volunteer Julia H. with American TESOL Institute for a two-year exchange of ideas, stories, pictures, and artifacts that help ATI students in the classroom learn about the people, geography, environment, and the culture of the world.
Hey ATI students! Mwa la la po? (how are you all in Oshiwambo, the local language). My name is Julie and I'm currently a Peace Corps volunteer serving in Namibia in Southern Africa and will be here for 2 years. I arrived in Namibia in August when I completed a two-month training program in a town called Okahandja. The training consisted of medical, safety, technical, cultural and language sessions from 8:30 to 5 everyday during the week and sometimes even on Saturdays! There were 45 Americans with us from all over the US since the beginning and we spent all that time together so you can imagine we all became pretty good friends. While in Okahandja, we all lived in different neighborhoods with host families so it was a really good introduction to Namibia and its people and culture.
After 8 weeks as Peace Corps trainees in Okahandja, we swore in as volunteers on October 16 and moved to our sites the next day! The volunteers in our group are spread out throughout the entire country and the majority of our group are English, Science, or Math teachers since we are all education volunteers (there are also health volunteers in Namibia). I am a bit of a special case because although technically I am lumped in with the education volunteers, I actually am not a teacher at a school. I am an ICT Volunteer (Information and Communications Technology) and am working at a community library at my site. Of our group, there are four ICT Volunteers and only two of us won't be at schools.
So now that you have the background, I can tell you a little bit about my site, which I have been at now for two weeks! I was placed in a small town called Omuthiya in Owamboland which consists of four regions in the Northern part of the country. Omuthiya was recently proclaimed a town and is definitely in the PROCESS of developing. I kind of feel like I have the best of both worlds here since I do have some of the amenities of a town but also live 4km off the main road (about an hour's walk) in a village. I definitely mean *some* amenities since there is no grocery store here and I have to travel 80km to my shopping town of Ondangwa to buy food! I am living on a traditional Owambo homestead with a host family who are really awesome. A homestead is a collection of huts and houses owned by one extended family and surrounded by a ton of land. My Meme and Tate (Mother & Father in Oshiwambo) are older and their kids are all grown and have moved away but there are several Namibian students (or learners, as they are called here) who live here and help out because of the homestead's proximity to local schools. Additionally, there are several farmers who also live and work here. I have my own little 4-room concrete house on the homestead and there is no electricity or running water. There is a water tap in a different section of the homestead so I am able to fetch water whenever I need it. A lot of other volunteers on homesteads have bucket showers and pit latrines but I am lucky enough to have a flush toilet and (cold!) shower which are both located in another little house on the homestead.
My job is still pretty new which means I'm still getting the hang of things and figuring things out but I'm really liking it so far. I am currently helping to open a new library in town which has included setting up a computer lab there, helping to move in furniture, facilitating setting up the internet, and organizing and shelving books. Organizing the books is what my days mostly consist of right now. It's very time consuming! I can't wait for the library to actually be open. I have lots of ideas for what I want to do there when community members start using it!
So that's a little snapshot of my life right now. It's all very new and exciting and I'm really liking it! Where are some of the places that you all will be teaching? What are some of your reasons for wanting to teach abroad?? I'd love to hear about you guys!! Feel free to e-mail with any questions - firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll do my best to answer you as quickly as I can. Talk to you soon!!
Peace Corps Volunteers Return to the Americas for First Time since 2020 Evacuation
WASHINGTON ? Today, the Peace Corps announced that Peace Corps volunteers have arrived in seven countries in North, Central, and South America. These volunteers are the first to return to the region since the agency?s unprecedented global evacuation in March 2020, when global operations were suspended and nearly 7,000 volunteers from more than 60 countries were evacuated.
?Our volunteers are ready to work hand in hand with communities across the Americas to meet this moment,? said Peace Corps CEO Carol Spahn. ?The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are far-reaching and the work of our partners and volunteers is critical to response and recovery efforts across the globe.?
As of May 31, Peace Corps Volunteers are serving in Belize, Dominican Republic, the Eastern Caribbean, Ecuador, Colombia, Mexico, Paraguay and Peru, in the Americas region. Volunteers will collaborate with their host communities on locally prioritized projects in one of Peace Corps? six sectors ? agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health or youth in development. Projects include English language teaching, a youth health and wellbeing program, literacy projects, and environmental education. Volunteers will also engage in COVID-19 response and recovery work. This group of volunteers includes both first-time volunteers and those evacuated in early 2020.
Currently, the agency is recruiting volunteers to serve in over 30 countries around the world at the request of host country governments. Volunteers have already returned to a total of 11 countries around the world. The Peace Corps continues to monitor COVID-19 trends in all of its host countries and will send volunteers to serve as conditions permit.
About the Peace Corps: The Peace Corps is an international service network of volunteers, community members, host country partners and staff who are driven by the agency?s mission of world peace and friendship. At the invitation of governments around the world, Peace Corps volunteers work alongside community members on locally-prioritized projects in the areas of education, health, environment, agriculture, community economic development and youth development. Through service, members of the Peace Corps network develop transferable skills and hone intercultural competencies that position them to be the next generation of global leaders. Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, more than 240,000 Americans have served in 142 countries worldwide. For more information, visit peacecorps.gov and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
WASHINGTON ? In a ceremony at the United States Institute of Peace, Peace Corps Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Carol Spahn presented the John F. Kennedy (JFK) Service Awards to five exceptional Peace Corps staff and returned volunteers. The award, presented every five years, commemorates President Kennedy?s vision, leadership, and commitment to public service by recognizing members of the Peace Corps network who embody the spirit of service and help advance world peace and friendship. The event was attended by former Peace Corps directors, staff, members of the Peace Corps network, and returned volunteers.
?Peace Corps was built on the premise that peace is not the exclusive mandate of politicians and world leaders,? said Spahn. ?It requires each and every one of us, day in and day out, deeply connecting as individuals to people and nations around the world and contributing our unique cultures, identities, skills and passions.?
The awards were given to two current or former Peace Corps staff members, two returned Peace Corps Response volunteers, and one returned Peace Corps volunteer (RPCV).
Complete List of JFK Service Award Winners
Peace Corps Staff
Roberto ?Ambet? Yangco, Peace Corps/Philippines, 2002-present
Ambet Yangco?s efforts to support Peace Corps partner organizations and RPCVs?many of whom still see him as a mentor?have had life-changing impacts on volunteers and thousands of at-risk youth. His commitment to service has helped protect Filipino adolescents from homelessness, trafficking, violence and drugs, through education, work, and life skills development. Many of his program participants have been inspired by his dedication and pursued careers in social work as a result.
Ambet Yangco has been a member of the Peace Corps/Philippines staff for 20 years. First hired as a youth sector technical trainer, Yangco quickly moved up to regional program manager, then sector manager for the Community, Youth, and Family Program. During the pandemic, Yangco served as associate director of programming and training. A social worker by training, he began his career as an HIV/AIDS outreach worker for the Children?s Laboratory Foundation in Manila. He then served as an educator in a shelter for homeless children and worked for World Vision as a community development officer.
Dr. Mamadou Diaw, Peace Corps/Senegal, 1993-2019
Dr. Mamadou Diaw was known at Peace Corps/Senegal as ?The Dean? due to his longevity, diligence, wisdom and untiring effort. Over a quarter of a century, Diaw had an outsized impact on the service (and often the future professions) of more than 1,000 volunteers and approximately 3,200 communities in Senegal. He also influenced Peace Corps/Senegal?s programmatic direction and choices the Peace Corps made at a global level.
Dr. Mamadou Diaw joined the staff of Peace Corps/Senegal in 1983 as associate Peace Corps director (APCD) of Natural Resource Management. He managed agroforestry, environmental education, park and wildlife and ecotourism projects. From 1996 to 2001, he also served as the coordinator of the USAID-funded Community Training Center Program. In 2008, Mamadou become the senior APCD for Health and Environmental Education. He then received his Master of Science degree in Environmental Health from the University of Versailles in 2014 and, at the age of 62, received his PhD in Community Health from the University of Paris, Saclay.
Returned Peace Corps Volunteer
Liz Fanning, Founder and Executive Director, CorpsAfrica
After working in service-related opportunities for a number of years, Liz founded CorpsAfrica in 2011 to give emerging African leaders the chance to serve like Peace Corps volunteers in their own countries. In the 10 years since, CorpsAfrica has hosted hundreds of volunteers to serve in rural areas of Morocco, Senegal, Malawi, and Rwanda and completed over 500 projects.
Liz Fanning served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco, working as a parks, wildlife and environment educator. She established CorpsAfrica, after completing her Peace Corps service. With a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and History from Boston University and a Master?s in Public Administration from NYU?s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, Fanning?s career includes work with the American Civil Liberties Union and the Near East Foundation. In 2019, Fanning received the Sargent Shriver Award for Distinguished Humanitarian Service from the National Peace Corps Association. She is a 2021 AARP Purpose Prize Fellow.
Returned Peace Corps Response Volunteers
Genevieve de los Santos Evenhouse, Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP), Registered Nurse at the San Francisco Unified School District
Genevieve de los Santos Evenhouse applies cultural competencies learned during her Peace Corps service to dispel false stereotypes and myths about healthcare abroad to educators in the San Francisco Unified School District where she has served as a school nurse since 2009. Her tireless commitment to her profession and cultural alignment in community-based health settings in the U.S. and abroad exemplify the spirit of the JFK Service Awards.
Evenhouse grew up in the Philippines and immigrated to the United States in 1997. In 2020, she received her Doctor of Nursing Practice while serving as a full-time nurse for the San Francisco Unified School District. Besides volunteering in two health offices in the Philippines and with the Women?s Community Clinic in San Francisco, Evenhouse served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guinea and Zambia and as a Peace Corps Response Volunteer in Guyana and Uganda.
Karla Y. Sierra, Master in Business Administration (MBA) Director at the LIBRE Initiative
Through Karla Sierra?s work at The LIBRE Initiative, a Hispanic advocacy organization in El Paso, Texas, she is involved in a variety of community initiatives and leads a team of staff and volunteers. She educates and empowers Hispanic community members? voices in the political process and through financial literacy training, issue advocacy, and community service opportunities. Because El Paso is the largest border city in the United States with a steady influx of immigration from Mexico, Central, and South America, Sierra?s work has ripples which reach well beyond the border, impacting families and lives in several countries and promoting the goals of the Peace Corps.
Sierra graduated from Colorado Christian University with a Bachelor?s in Business Administration. She received her MBA from the University of Texas at El Paso, after which she joined the Peace Corps, serving in Panama as a community economic development volunteer. She extended her service through Peace Corps Response and spent an additional year as a consultant. During her service, she created partnerships with the Ministry of Education and the UN?s Development Programme to reduce poverty, increase awareness of HIV and AIDS, and assist in implementing sustainable projects.
Today, the Peace Corps, in conjunction with the State Department and agencies across the U.S. government, released a first-of-its-kind report on the implementation of President Joseph R. Biden?s Memorandum on Advancing the Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Persons Around the World. The progress shared by the Peace Corps highlights the agency?s policies and programming to promote the human rights of LGBTQI+ volunteers, staff and counterparts across the world.
?The Peace Corps is incredibly proud of and thankful for the meaningful and unique contributions the LGBTQI+ community has made in service of world peace and friendship,? said Peace Corps Chief Executive Officer Carol Spahn. ?We will continue to intentionally foster equity and inclusion for the LGBTQI+ community with policies and work centered on our shared dignity, humanity and connection.?
The Peace Corps continues to advance this Presidential Memorandum by:
Moving forward the Peace Corps will continue to support the advancement of the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons around the globe via culturally appropriate volunteer programing, engagement with LGBTQI+ communities of our host countries, and prioritizing equity and inclusion in our domestic and overseas training and organizational development.
For more information about the Peace Corps? work to advance intercultural competency, diversity, equity, and accessibility, please visit www.peacecorps.gov/equity.
Today, the Peace Corps announced that the agency will close its post in Myanmar. Peace Corps Chief Executive Officer Carol Spahn issued the following statement in response:
?Due to continued instability, unrest and armed conflict created by the military coup in Myanmar, the Peace Corps is unable to plan for the safe return of Volunteers. After careful consideration, we will now begin the process of closing our Peace Corps/Myanmar post.
?We are grateful for the support of the Embassy in Yangon, the State Department and all of our partners. And, we are incredibly thankful for our staff and the people of Myanmar, especially those who joined us as we worked together towards our shared goals. Our work and the relationships will live on in the enduring bonds that have been formed in the name of world peace and friendship.
?While we are unable to send Volunteers back to Myanmar in the foreseeable future, we are hard at work sending Volunteers back to posts worldwide as health and safety conditions permit. We stand ready to reengage with Myanmar when the conditions would allow for a safe return.?
A total of 87 Volunteers served Myanmar communities to support English education, between the post opening in 2016 and the global evacuation in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Today, the Peace Corps released three reports highlighting the agency?s commitment to Intercultural Competence, Diversity, Equity Inclusion and Accessibility (ICDEIA) at every level of the organization.
?The Peace Corps? very mission depends on fostering a deliberate practice and culture of ICDEIA until it is inseparable from our way of connecting, doing, and being,? said Carol Spahn, Chief Executive Officer of the Peace Corps. ?Over the last two years, we have received thoughtful feedback and important ideas from the Peace Corps network about how we can better reflect the diversity in American society and be more inclusive for all who answer the call to serve.?
This input from the Peace Corps network, combined with thoughtful planning and analysis by Peace Corps staff, created the building blocks to ensure that ICDEIA is incorporated in the agency?s day-to-day work, overarching strategic priorities and goals for creating fair and transparent systems that are critical for the Peace Corps to achieve its mission. During the last two years, the Peace Corps has taken the following actions, among others, to advance ICDEIA before returning Volunteers to overseas service:
The three reports released highlight a combination of feedback from the Peace Corps network and create specific, actionable and measurable goals that will guide the future of the Peace Corps. The three reports released today include:
For more information about the Peace Corps progress and longer-term plans to advance ICDEIA, visit www.peacecorps.gov/equity.
Members of the Peace Corps network and the American public can provide feedback on the Peace Corps? Agency Equity Plan and overall ICDEIA work, on an ongoing basis, by contacting the Office of Intercultural Competence, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility at ICDEIAinput@peacecorps.gov. In your outreach, please provide your relationship to the Peace Corps (returned Volunteer, staff, community member, etc.). It is optional, but welcomed, to share respective demographic information (such as race and gender).
WASHINGTON ? Today, the Peace Corps announced that 35 Peace Corps volunteers have arrived in the Dominican Republic and Zambia, and are among the first volunteers to return to overseas service since the agency?s unprecedented global evacuation in March 2020. The Peace Corps suspended global operations and evacuated nearly 7,000 volunteers from more than 60 countries at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
?This is a historic moment at a pivotal time in the world. We are witnessing the largest vaccination effort in history, ongoing concerns about COVID19 and a war that is expected to broadly impact food security,? said Peace Corps CEO Carol Spahn. ?The return of Peace Corps volunteers to the Dominican Republic and Zambia is just one step in returning volunteers to countries around the world to partner with host communities and support urgent response and recovery efforts.?
The volunteer cohorts serving in the Dominican Republic and Zambia are made up of both first-time volunteers and volunteers who were evacuated in early 2020. Upon finishing a three-month training, volunteers will collaborate with their host communities on locally prioritized projects in one of Peace Corps? six sectors ? agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health or youth in development? and all will engage in COVID-19 response and recovery work. Among their assignments, volunteers in Zambia will partner with communities to provide COVID-19 education and promote access to vaccinations in coordination with local leaders and partner ministries, including the Ministry of Health. In the Dominican Republic, volunteers will support communities in overcoming challenges attributed to the educational and economic impacts of the pandemic. Their activities will include recovering student?s literacy skills, addressing increased school drop-out rates, and preparing young adults for the workforce.
On March 15, the Peace Corps welcomed the first five volunteers to service in Zambia. Currently, the agency is recruiting volunteers to serve at 24 of the agency?s 60 posts, though all posts have enthusiastically requested the return of volunteers. The Peace Corps will continue to monitor COVID-19 trends in all of its host countries and send volunteers to serve as conditions permit.
WASHINGTON ? Today, the Peace Corps released a brief and roadmap detailing the agency?s commitment to further strengthen its systems, programming and approach to sexual assault prevention and to improving trauma-informed approaches to supporting survivors.
Based on recommendations from the independent Peace Corps Sexual Assault Advisory Council (SAAC), feedback received during a public call for input, current research and best practices in the field of sexual violence prevention, the brief outlines how the Peace Corps will broaden its approach to addressing sexual assault. Over the past decade, the agency has intentionally and continuously enhanced its Sexual Assault Risk Reduction and Response (SARRR) program to address sexual violence through an individual-level public safety approach. The brief and associated roadmap detail the agency?s commitment to broaden its focus to also include a societal-level public health approach. A similar approach to sexual violence prevention is followed by organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
?While the work we?ve done to minimize the risk of sexual assault is critically important and has helped to protect volunteers, we are called to do everything within our power to help stop this pervasive global issue,? said Peace Corps Chief Executive Officer Carol Spahn. ?By shifting our approach and tackling sexual violence as a worldwide public health problem, we have the opportunity to see the bigger picture, improve Volunteer safety and connect our training and support structures to the work Volunteers do within host communities for longer-term impact.?
The agency?s brief outlines how the field of sexual assault research has evolved and the steps the agency will take to further calibrate its systems according to current best practices and research. It also highlights how aspects of the Peace Corps? existing SARRR program and other agency programming, policies and procedures align with this updated approach, including recent improvements made to the sexual assault case management process; standardized operating procedures for vetting and selecting host families; standardized site history files across every post; and increased transparency through the publication of country-specific health, safety, volunteer satisfaction, and early termination information for each Peace Corps post.
A roadmap accompanying the brief outlines a number of priority actions that the Peace Corps will take in the coming months and years, including investments in new staff positions, including a prevention specialist; conducting an audit to account for existing agency prevention elements; additional reporting and monitoring systems; resources aimed at ensuring trauma-informed programming and responses to sexual violence; and mechanisms to strengthen accountability to the agency?s many stakeholders.
?Violence ? including sexual violence ? is a direct threat to the Peace Corps? mission of promoting world peace and friendship,? said Spahn. ?We are committed to leading with our values and supporting the dignity and safety of all people within the Peace Corps network, including the community members volunteers work alongside.?
Returned volunteers who have been impacted by sexual violence, or any crime while serving in the Peace Corps, can contact the Office of Victim Advocacy (OVA), which is available 24 hours a day and can provide confidential services and referrals, by phone or text at 202-409-2704 and email at email@example.com. All Peace Corps staff members are required to immediately notify OVA when they learn of sexual violence that occurred against a volunteer during Peace Corps service.