Tiffany James posted an articleRecognition for two members of the Peace Corps community see more
Awards for two members of the Peace Corps Community
Photo: Maurice Lee, recipient of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Award for Health Equity
By NPCA Staff
Maurice Lee | Ecuador 1996–99
Maurice Lee was recognized with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Award for Health Equity for his work with St. Vincent de Paul’s Virginia G. Piper Medical and Dental Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona. Lee is chief medical officer and medical director there; he also founded the Arizona Safety Net, a collaboration among more than 40 Phoenix-area free and low-cost clinics aimed at improving health equity for Arizona’s uninsured. The award has been presented by the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics since 2016.
Bennett VanOudenallen | Guatemala 1999–2000
Bennett VanOudenallen received the GRAMMY Museum’s 2021 Jane Ortner Education Award, a prestigious honor recognizing K–12 teachers who use music as an academic tool in the classroom. Over the past 13 years, VanOudenallen has taught social studies at Mount Notre Dame High School in Cincinnati.
What moves him? “I love guiding students through the deconstruction of music’s — specifically my personal passion, the banjo’s — current stereotypes in order to build a deeper understanding of all the complex and blended elements that lead us to the depth of variety that music offers today.”
Orrin Luc posted an articleInvitations have been sent for Volunteers to return to five countries see more
Eight posts have met criteria for Volunteers to return. Invitations are out for five: Belize, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and Zambia. And the agency is recruiting returned Volunteers for the Virtual Service Pilot.
Colombia mural: one of the countries to for which Peace Corps has sent out invitations for Volunteers to return in 2022. Photo courtesy Peace Corps
By NPCA Staff
It’s the news that thousands of us have been waiting to hear since March 2020: The Peace Corps has begun issuing invitations for Volunteers to return to service overseas. Eight posts have met the agency’s criteria when it comes to “robust health, safety, and security standards that must be met prior to Volunteers returning to countries of service.” And invitations have begun going out for Volunteers, both new and returning, to serve in Belize, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and Zambia. More invitations are forthcoming.
Volunteers have been invited to serve beginning in late January to March, “so long as conditions allow,” the agency notes. “As part of the Peace Corps’ return to service, all Volunteers will be expected to contribute to COVID-19 response and recovery efforts. In addition, Volunteers will be required to accept the additional risks associated with volunteering during a pandemic and comply with agency standards for mitigating these risks, wherever possible.”
“Regardless of sector, every Volunteer will be involved in mobilizing for vaccination response, overcoming vaccine hesitancy, recovering educational gains that were lost … We are very inspired to get out and be part of the solution as we recover from the isolation and the impact of COVID-19.”
—Carol Spahn, Acting Director of the Peace Corps
In a conversation hosted by the Commonwealth Club of California on December 2 — the same day Peace Corps announced the news on its website — Acting Director Carol Spahn underscored that COVID-19 “has impacted each and every country we serve. So regardless of sector, every Volunteer will be involved in mobilizing for vaccination response, overcoming vaccine hesitancy, recovering educational gains that were lost … We are very inspired to get out and be part of the solution as we recover from the isolation and the impact of COVID-19.”
As country director for Peace Corps in Malawi, Spahn has seen “the real importance of Volunteers’ contributions at the last mile” when it comes to controlling HIV/AIDS — a scourge that has been with us 40 years now. Likewise, Spahn cited Volunteers’ historic work to help end smallpox in Ethiopia and Afghanistan, part of global efforts that led to the eradication of smallpox more than four decades ago.
Green field: flag of Zambia, one of the posts Peace Corps Volunteers have been invited to return to in 2022. The nation first hoisted this flag in 1964. Since Volunteers first arrived in 1994, more than 2,400 have served. Photo by Mykhailo Polenok/Alamy
Virtual Volunteering Positions Are Open, Too
The agency is seeking participants for a new and expanded round of the Virtual Service Pilot program as well. Partners from 28 countries and more than 230 returned Volunteers have participated since October 2020. The new round is open to any Returned Peace Corps Volunteer who is prepared to spend 5 to 15 hours per week working with a host country partner.
This story appears in the 60th anniversary edition of WorldView magazine.
Story updated December 19, 2021 at 2 PM Eastern.
Steven Saum posted an articleI banged on the door. Margarita came running. “Que pasó?” see more
Ecuador | Becky Wandell
Home: Portland, Oregon
By 10:30 Sunday night, March 15, I had settled into bed and checked my phone. I scrolled past messages exploding: Start packing. We’re going home.
Not me — I’m extending for a third year! Besides, we’re on a “standfast,” schools are closed. I’m safe with my host family here in Ibarra. The Ecuadorian government is already taking precautions!
My phone rang — my supervisor. Two checked bags. Be ready to leave by midday.
Upstairs I heard the TV in Margarita and Jose’s room so I knew they were still awake. I banged on the door. Margarita came running. “Que pasó?” The three of us stood in the doorway, holding each other, crying.
I banged on the door. Margarita came running. “Que pasó?” The three of us stood in the doorway, holding each other, crying.
The next morning I texted the principal of the school where I had been teaching and training teachers. I had a packet of maps from the U.S. for the school. She came, said she would share my goodbyes. We stood in the street and cried. All morning long my extended family called or came by: I would always be part of their family, their doors were always open, they would wait for my return. Then little Pablo: “No te vayas, Becky! No te vayas!” Don’t go!
Margarita made a lovely soup for lunch — our last meal.
Showing for GLOW: Girls Leading Our World
In a hotel conference room in Quito, we learned our service was officially being terminated. Ecuadorian borders were closed. It took three different flights to get us all from Quito to Guayaquil for a connection to the States. Airport staff were fully suited, masked, gloved. They took our temperature from 12 feet away. They squirted disinfectant gel into our hands.
When we arrived in Miami, we headed to customs. No masks, no gloves, no gel. I stepped up to the customs official, expecting questions about where I had traveled from, where I was going. He only wanted to know if I was carrying any agricultural products. I thought, Their script is a little out of date.
Then he said, “Welcome home.” A strange concept when your heart is on a different continent.
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