Survey request from PhD candidate Meghan Kallman – Brown University

Dear RPCVs of Northeastern New York,

My name is Meghan Kallman, and I am a PhD candidate in the department of sociology at Brown University, in Providence, Rhode Island.  I am writing a dissertation about the relationship between organizations and social change work. I am interested in civic participation, the third sector, and development; in other words, what happens when people try to make their worlds better, and what do formal organizations have to do with that process?

I have elected to write my dissertation on the Peace Corps because I am interested in the effects of volunteering on people’s lives: how are volunteers’ biographies, identities, and politics shaped by participation? How do individual volunteers carry their Peace Corps experience with them throughout their lives and careers? How does this sort of international service experience permanently affect people?

As a part of it, I have created a survey for RPCV’s asking about their experiences abroad. I would be extremely grateful if you would distribute it to your listserv, via Facebook or your social media outlets, and to any other RPCVs in your personal or professional networks. The link is here: https://brown.co1.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_0v3sObMYOUf8N0N

You should find the survey intuitive and enjoyable, and it should take about twenty minutes to complete.

This research has been approved by the Brown University Institutional Review (ethics) Board and is supported by the National Science Foundation and the Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy. Please contact me should you have any questions or concerns. I very much appreciate your consideration.

Regards,

Meghan Kallman

Greetings from Becky Raymond in Blantyre, Malawi

The following is an excerpt from a recent email from longtime RPCVs of NENY member, Becky Raymond. Becky is currently serving in Blantyre, Malawi on a Peace Corps Response assignment.

______________________________________________

All is well. We arrived 2 weeks ago, 8 Peace Corps Response volunteers; 4 “older” and 4 “younger”, all women. The group includes 2 PhDs, 1 MD, 1 former Associate Peace Corps Director (me) and four out of 8 are former PC volunteers.

We had a 10 day orientation/training at a hotel/conference center in the capital Lilongwe, focusing on Peace Corps admin policies, Malawian government structure, district level structure and resources (or not), cross-cultural orientation, and Chichewa language (I am having a harder time learning a new language this time around.)

We met with USAID and Embassy officials, got fitted for bikes, went to the market on a crammed mini-bus and bargained as best we could, all in the first week.

Then our Malawian counterparts (District Directors of Planning and Development) arrived for two days of collaborative orientation. It focused on understanding American and Malawian work styles, helping recognize cultural differences that might create barriers, reviewing District Implementation Plans and beginning to develop a work plan for the next 12 months. The work plans will be further developed over the next weeks as we do an organizational assessment, attend many meetings, and learn the assets and challenges of the district council to which each of us is assigned. HIV and AIDS prevention is under the National AIDS Commission and implemented through local district or municipal councils. (It’s always HIV and AIDS here, not HIV/AIDS)

We left Lilongwe on Wednesday the 19 with our counterparts and were driven to our assigned sites. I have been assigned to Blantyre, the second largest city. It’s the commercial capital of the country, so think of me as living in the New York City of Malawi!  I live in a house vacated by the previous PC Response volunteer. It has 2 bedrooms and a large yard with fruit trees and, get this – a garden!!! At the moment my furniture consists of a bed, a table and 5 chairs. Peace Corps provided us with a medical kit, water filter, bike, helmet and mosquito net. We also were given a “settling in allowance”, the equivalent of $290 to purchase supplies and get through the month. Budgeting is challenging, there are many initial expenses. Our monthly “salary – living allowance” is $212. We are expected to live at the level of our counterparts.

I have purchased a mini stove/oven (like a large toaster oven with two burners on top) and a small dorm-size refrigerator, plus many kitchen and cleaning items. For food there are two large but expensive grocery stores; Shop Rite and Game (South African). There are smaller Malawian groceries throughout the city, one not far from my house. In addition, I purchase many staples at the local market. The variety of vegetables and fruit is just wonderful. The market also sells used clothing (you know those bags of clothes we all donate to Goodwill, etc.) plus hardware, cloth for whatever article of clothing you may want to have made by a local tailor, and beautiful local crafted baskets, wooden furniture, etc. The wood products are an issue because Malawi’s forests have been largely depleted due to cutting for firewood – over population. I am trying to get used to the vagaries of water and power outages, washing my clothes by hand, city noises, walking or biking everywhere (good for my health), not getting run over because they drive on the left side like the British, and how to look “professional” while sweating. The only air conditioning I’ve experienced was at a bank.

I am enjoying being in Malawi. The people are friendly and welcoming. They appreciate that we make an effort to speak Chichewa, however badly we mispronounce. My first day of work is tomorrow, so expect much more detail about what I’m doing the next time I write.

-end-

RPCVs of NENY and the US Committee for Refugees and Immigration – How We Can Help

Hi all,
Several meetings ago we had some speakers present to us from the Albany branch of USCRI (The US Committee for Refugees and Immigration). One of the ways they thought our RPCV community might be able to help was with language skills. They sometimes need volunteers to help translate. I will compile a list of people who are willing to possibly help and then I will share the information with USCRI.
If you are interested please send me your full name, phone number &/or email, and languages. Also please specify your language level – beginner, intermediate or fluent.

You can send your information to: sypoggi@gmail.com or rpcvneny@gmail.com

Let me know if you have any questions.

Peace,
Sara Poggi

Legislative Victory for Peace Corps Commemorative!

Congress 1

Reposted from: http://www.peacecorpsconnect.org/2014/01/legislative-victory-for-peace-corps-commemorative/ 2014 is off to an excellent start for the Peace Corps community. Monday evening, the U.S. House of Representatives gave final approval to Peace Corps Commemorative legislation. The measure was approved by a vote of 387 to … Continue reading

Confirmation Hearing, Webcast for Nominee to Lead the Peace Corps

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a confirmation hearing next Wednesday, November 6th, for President Carrie Hessler-Radelet Obama’s nomination of Carrie Hessler-Radelet (Samoa 1981-83) to serve as the next director of the Peace Corps.

The hearing will be held at 10:30 AM in Room 419 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.  Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) will preside over the hearing.

The hearing is also scheduled to be available by webcast.  Follow this link for more details.

Hessler-Radelet has been serving as Acting Director of the agency since September 2012.  This past July, she was nominated to become Peace Corps’ 19th Director.

The National Peace Corps Association will provide full details of the confirmation hearing as part your November advocacy update, due out late next next.

JFK Library Announces Memorial Project, Requests Peace Corps Input

JFK 50th anniversary project:
November 22, 2013, will mark the 50th anniversary of the passing of John F. Kennedy. We intend to turn the focus away from his passing and back to his life, and the ways his legacy lives on today.
Together, with the participation of the JFK Library and Museum, we are teamed to produce: “An Idea Lives On”; a digital extension of the library and museum that will collect stories from all over the world about how JFK’s values, policies and ideals continue to thrive today.
These stories will take many forms. Video, audio, text, photos, tweets.  We are inviting former Peace Corps volunteers to share their stories. Their stories about how their lives and work have been influenced by this iconic figure that was taken too soon. Their stories about how JFK lives on today.

Their stories will be one of many, creating a collection of testimonials demonstrating how JFK and his inspirational ideas still live on in our everyday lives.  We are hoping to facilitate our project by getting in touch with former Peace Corps volunteers.

If you are interested in participating, please contact Karen Dola at karendola@gmail.com as soon as possible. She is in charge of the project for the JFK Library and Museum.