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  • Carin Paupore posted an article
    This word cloud tells a powerful story of international volunteer collaboration advocating for the p see more

    “As a Rotarian & an RPCV, there are opportunities to make a difference if you are willing to act." – Peace Corps Journey


    As Partnering for Peace (PFP) approaches its 10-year anniversary, now is the perfect time to reflect on the impact of this unique organization. Founded in 2012, PFP aims to foster partnerships between Rotary International and the United States Peace Corps through service, friendship, and mentorship.

    In honor of this collaboration, we generated a word cloud from tweets about Rotary and Peace Corps. This word cloud tells a powerful story of international volunteer collaboration advocating for the peace, sustainability, and transformation of vulnerable communities. Working together, Rotary and Peace Corps bridge cultures and connect continents for a better future. 

    What does this visual representation mean? Let’s dive into four of the main word cloud terms:

    1.   Rotary & Peace Corps

    Rotary International and the United States Peace Corps intersect at the center of PFP. By partnering together with the support of PFP, the two agencies aim to increase their collective impact globally. 

    PFP established a formal partnership with Rotary in 2015 and recently renewed the MOU. A group of Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) Rotarians inspired the agreement. In addition, PFP joined the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) as an affiliate organization. PFP has continued to grow from this small group of founders into a global membership of nearly 150 RPCV Rotarians.

    The relationship between PFP, Rotary, and Peace Corps encourages ongoing networking, technical support, and fellowship. This collaboration maximizes the influence and sustainability of volunteer projects to promote peace.

    2.   Kickoff

    Peace Corps and Rotary held a kickoff event for their historic collaboration. In 2016, the two organizations agreed to participate in a one-year pilot program in the Philippines, Thailand, and Togo.  The agreement enabled the two organizations to share their resources and knowledge to boost the impact of development in the three target countries.

    Peace Corps Acting Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet noted that “we are eager to join together in common efforts to inspire volunteerism across the country and around the world.” This kickoff encouraged volunteers from both organizations to expand existing connections to achieve lasting impact.


    3.   Collaboration & Partnership

    Not surprisingly, collaboration and partnership are central to this word cloud. PFP’s mission focuses on promoting collaboration and partnership efforts between the Peace Corps and Rotary communities of the Peace Corps and Rotary according to the partnership’s objectives and each organization’s strategic priorities.

    4.   Retirees

    As Americans live longer, healthier lives, older volunteers are on the rise for both Rotary and Peace Corps. Some older volunteers, like Douglas Crumley, joined Rotary Club to “feel like [they’re] doing more than taking up space.” Retirees seek out volunteer opportunities to stay engaged in the community, form friendships, and give back to others.

    Both Rotary and Peace Corps, which have no upper age limit for volunteers, are actively enlisting older adults to get involved. The Peace Corp began working with the AARP in 2011 to connect older volunteers with service opportunities. Similarly, Rotary clubs across the country try to set dues at an affordable rate and provide diverse opportunities that allow people with all ability levels to participate.

    The “myriad of volunteer projects give retirees outlets for their professional skills,” explains the New York Times. Volunteering allows older Americans to use their lifetime of knowledge to help others while exploring new adventures and reigniting old passions.

    Together, these words paint a vivid picture of the power of relationships. PFP, Rotary, and Peace Corps have made incredible strides in mobilizing communities to advocate for education, health care, economic growth, environment, youth development, and agriculture. To learn more about Partnering for Peace, look for us at the Rotary International Convention in Houston, Texas, this June! Register today!.


  • Carin Paupore posted an article
    Vana Prewitt's experiences as a PCV and Rotarian have crossed borders and shaped service projects. see more

    Rotary will forever be linked to my Peace Corps service in Liberia (1984-86). As an educational radio broadcaster and trainer, I worked with the Liberian Rural Communications Network to train broadcast students recruited from various ministries to produce educational programming in sixteen languages, supporting national efforts for agriculture, health, and basic literacy. One of our assignments was to develop programs that would promote an upcoming vaccination campaign.


    The World Health Organization, UNICEF, and Rotary International were involved in the 1985 vaccination campaign. Peace Corps Volunteers assisted with logistics and communications in villages for these humanitarian groups and I consider myself privileged to have participated. Fifty percent of Liberian children died before their fifth birthday in 1985. Prior campaigns had failed for different reasons and our challenge was to convince villagers to gather their children and go to clinics on vaccination day. None of us knew we were making history in Rotary’s promise to eradicate polio. 


    Radio programming featured typical announcements and discussions with prominent officials. However, our best effort went into a serialized radio drama about Flomo, Fatima, and their two children. Week after week, villagers gathered around radios to hear Fatima try to convince Flomo to vaccinate their children. Flomo countered that it took 2-3 days away from the farm and he needed their help. They did not know if the vaccines would be safe, or if a nurse would show, or if there would be enough supplies. There were so many doubts. Fatima eventually managed to overcome all obstacles raised by Flomo by collecting the facts.


    The student broadcasters loved this project. Liberians are gifted storytellers and enjoy role play. The radio novella was a big hit. We heard stories that whole villages had clustered around the only radio with batteries to follow the discussion between family members, village elders, and health officials who answered questions. Of course, the villagers talked back to the radio, took up one side or the other, and pantomimed the radio actors, which was the goal. The topic needed to be raised and villagers needed to sort out their priorities before vaccination day arrived. We hoped but knew too well how things fall apart in Liberia, so were cautious as well.


    The radio drama format allowed villager concerns to be presented and solved in a nonthreatening way. The students had fun throwing in the typical village banter and humor. A problem-solving dialogue allowed all sides and options to be presented.  Field nurses and the health minister were interviewed to reassure villagers that this event would succeed.  For me, the phenomenal results came down to one word – Rotary.


    Typically, there were no medicines or supplies at clinics that were rarely staffed because the nurses were rarely paid. It took a big leap of faith for a Liberian in 1985 to believe that a group of foreigners could succeed where no one else had. The last time a campaign had been held, the vaccines were not kept cold, arrived inert and needles were reused in some cases. Inoculated children developed abscesses, infections, and diseases that were supposed to have been prevented, making people more suspicious of vaccinations.


    On Vaccination Day, parents stood in long lines with their children in the hot tropical sun. Villagers had walked many miles to get their children to the clinics that were fully staffed and supplied with cold vaccines in the care of Rotarians. Rotarians made the commitment to hike into the jungle with coolers and vaccines to save the lives of village children I loved. It was Rotary’s face on this miracle.  They blew me away with their planning, efficiency, effectiveness, communication, calm within a storm, and absolutely brilliant results. I was in love. I knew then that if I ever joined an organization, it would be Rotary. 


    I tried, but Rotary would not have me. I learned that only men could be Rotarians and gave it no more thought. It took a Supreme Court case to get women the right to become a Rotarian, but by then I was launched into a very busy career in organization development. I finally invited myself to join a Rotary Club in New Bern, North Carolina, after waiting decades for my lifestyle to catch up with Rotary demands and rules. Up until that time, my schedule and life were far too busy to work around Rotary’s restrictions. 


    On the whole, I love my Rotary friends. A visit to one club is like visiting another village. Some things are similar and others new. It is a relief to see online formats, virtual clubs, and flexible ways to engage. As a return Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV), I am action oriented and want to connect with beneficiaries. New club design ideas can cater to special needs like environmental activism, a popular cause for many young people. However, traditional Rotarians seem slow to adopt and use online resources. In my club of about 100 people, only 3 have taken an online class. I would support a Rotary wide effort to upgrade our member skills in computer use. 


    I joined the Peace Corps a second time as a counterpart in developing knowledge management systems when I became a RSVP to a U.N. supported agency in St. Lucia. I moved to a small fishing village when the project ended and was a charter member of the Gros Islet satellite club in Vieux Fort. We remain friends and are often in touch. This is a club of really YOUNG people who had been Rotaractors, and there was such a difference from the traditional New Bern club.


    My Lucian club was engaged with the local community to discover the best ways to serve. They were visible in the community doing a variety of projects. An important part of their Rotary experience was in direct service where they could see the results of their efforts. They felt better connected and more committed to service projects when volunteers worked together for a common benefit.  Camaraderie developed quickly and member participation was high. Action learning was a successful strategy with young Rotarians that I believe could be useful everywhere.

  • Charlie Hunt posted an article
    Support Evacuated PCV ongoing projects. see more

    Peace Corps Volunteers (PCV) during their service occasionally have reason to  raise funds to bring their in-country project to the next level.  During service PCVs can raise funds through the Peace Corps website.  That came to a full stop when all of the volunteers were evacuated due to COVID.  Some of the evacuated PCVs had the support in place to continue those projects and were interested in continuing.  The National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) has created that opportunity at their website.  Currently there are seven project needing financial support.  The countries with active projects are Moldova, Vanuatu, Columbia, two projects in Benin  and two projects in Albania.  

    If you know of clubs or individuals who have connections to these countries, please encourage them to review the projects and consider offering financial support at the NPCA website

    As the NPCA states at the donate webpage: In establishing the Peace Corps, JFK spoke of the “great common cause...of bringing to man that decent way of life which is the foundation of freedom and a condition of peace.” Today, people continue to be confronted by war, poverty, disease and a changing climate, and now when our own country is experiencing divisiveness, intolerance, and fear—that “great common cause” is more urgent than ever.  Support for NPCA and our partnered campaigns will deepen the Peace Corps communities' global impact by empowering members and groups to champion that “great common cause.” From advocacy for a bigger and better Peace Corps to supporting sustainable international development projects, we are building a better world dollar by dollar. Join us, and be a part of our community of changemakers.

  • Rotary And Peace Corps Announce Partnership see more

    WASHINGTON, D.C., May 5, 2014 – Peace Corps Acting Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet and Rotary International General Secretary John Hewko today signed a letter of collaboration strengthening the organizations’ cooperation in the United States and abroad to promote global development and volunteer service. “The missions of our two organizations reflect and reinforce each other,” Hessler-Radelet said. “In our increasingly interconnected world, bringing the Peace Corps and Rotary together in common cause provides more opportunity than ever to leave a greater impact.” At Rotary International World Headquarters in Evanston, Ill., the two organizations committed to explore initial collaboration in the Philippines, Thailand and Togo. Across these three countries, Peace Corps and Rotary volunteers will be encouraged to share resources and expertise, and Peace Corps volunteers and Rotary clubs in the U.S. can connect to boost the impact of development projects. Through the Peace Corps Partnership Program, Rotary clubs can provide small grants to support volunteers and their communities. “It makes perfect sense to leverage the strengths of both organizations to achieve maximum impact, efficiency and sustainability in the projects we carry out,” Hewko said. “Together we will work to improve lives and build stronger communities, and – in doing so – address many of the root causes of violence and conflict, such as poverty, illiteracy, disease, and lack of access to clean water and sanitation.” The Peace Corps and Rotary will also work together to recruit more Americans into Peace Corps service and share their knowledge and understanding of the world with fellow Americans. Both organizations have rich histories of promoting peace and friendship between cultures and undertaking sustainable development activities to help communities in need throughout the world. They also have networks of volunteers and members dedicated to making the world a better place. Peace Corps and Rotary programs overlap in more than 60 countries, and many returned Peace Corps volunteers join Rotary clubs. The organizations have previously partnered on projects in literacy, water sanitation, and health, and Rotary funds have helped to purchase everything from construction materials to library books.

  • Highlands Ranch Rotary Club Works With Peace Corps As Part Of Give A Book Program see more

    At the end of October a team from the Highlands Ranch Rotary Club joined with other Rotarians from various parts of the U.S. and with current Peace Corps volunteers, in order to distribute books and establish a community library in the Monterrey area of Costa Rica.

    On this service trip, Rotarians from Highlands Ranch Rotary in Colorado were joined by Rotarians from the Rotary Club Cantonment, FL. Rotary Club of Casa Grande Daybreak,  Casa Grande,  AZ and Palisades Rotary Club, NJ. 

    With more than 775 million people over the age of 15 being illiterate, a key goal of Rotary International is to support education. Children may be more inclined to undertake a higher level of education if they are introduced to reading at an early age. The program, Give a Book, is designed to develop and increase literacy at all ages and to promote cultural awareness and global goodwill towards others.

    A highlight of the visit was the dedication of the Sue Fox Memorial Library. Sue had been a Peace Corps volunteer in her early 20’s and was recently President of the Denver Rotary Club. Sue helped to facilitate a memorandum of understanding between Peace Corp & Rotary. The MOU allowed for Rotary and Peace Corps to connect on service projects and this project was one of the first under this MOU.

    During the trip,  21 elementary schools received sets of 150 books. Sixteen smaller schools each received sets of 50 books. 45 books were provided to the International Baccalaureate program at a high school in San Carlos. The Sue Fox Memorial Library received approximately 800 books from the Give-A-Book warehouse, which were paid for by a grant from the Sue Fox Memorial Fund and Rotary District 5450.

    A currently serving Peace Corps Volunteer said, “I really cannot express just how grateful my community and I are to have met you. Your visit was incredibly special and the kids and teachers have been telling me how thrilled they were to meet with the Rotarians. I hope you know how much of a difference the books make in these kids’ lives. Monterrey has the wonderful advantage of being very protective of their traditional culture and supportive of youth initiatives, but one of the biggest challenges of the education system here is the promotion of creativity and critical thinking. Books open up new worlds for these kids, and I’m looking forward to working with the school principals, teachers, Ministry of Education, the local government, and the local girl and boy scouts to promote a reading culture. A love of reading truly does bring infinite rewards.”

    This is the third trip to Costa Rica by members of the Highlands Ranch Rotary Club and based on experience the committee has decided to concentrate on 3 key areas.

    1. Work with the Give a Book program + the local Peace Corp and deliver books to children of Elementary age.
    2. Establish community libraries wherever possible.
    3. Work with International Baccalaureate schools to help with English Language study and global business foundation study.

      ~Philip Calderbank, Rotary Club of Highlands Ranch, Colorado.

  • Partnership Takes On Cervical Cancer In Senegal see more

    Until the 1950s, cervical cancer killed more American women than any other type of cancer. Widespread screening has drastically decreased the number of those deaths in the United States, but in the West African country of Senegal, the disease remains prevalent. Every year, more than 1,400 Senegalese women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and hundreds of them die from it.

    To Andrew Dykens, a professor of family medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), the situation is especially galling given how easy this form of cancer is to catch.

    “Cervical cancer develops very, very slowly,” Dykens says. “There are five to 15 years from the first cellular changes to the actual cancer development. So you’ve got time during that phase to do something about it.”

    That’s exactly what he’s doing, with the help of the Peace Corps, Rotarians, and UIC. 

    Dykens – who is a member of the Rotary Club of Chicago, the director of the Global Community Health Track at UIC’s Center for Global Health, and a former Peace Corps volunteer – is bringing together those organizations and Senegal’s Ministry of Health and Social Action to reduce the number of women who die from this highly treatable disease. 

    Training for health care workers in Kedougou. Courtesy of Andrew Dykens

    A bit of background: In 2010, Dykens launched Peace Care, a nonprofit that helps communities and organizations work together to bring resources where they are needed. “It dawned on me that the Peace Corps should be working more closely with, for example, academic centers, because these centers have technical expertise but don’t have a footprint in local settings,” he says. “Meanwhile, the Peace Corps has people who are extraordinarily knowledgeable about the local context.” 

    And Rotary? “Rotary loves to build capacity,” he says. “If we can build the capacity to implement evidence-based solutions that already exist, we don’t need fancy tools like MRIs or robotic surgery. Not that those tools aren’t good, but there’s a basic level of access to primary health care that doesn’t exist.”

    After hearing from Peace Corps staff in Senegal about the need for cervical cancer screenings there, Dykens and Peace Care started training health workers in the Kedougou region of the country to detect abnormal cervical cells via a simple but effective method. A vinegar solution, dabbed onto the cervix, reveals abnormal cells that can be killed immediately with a cryotherapy gun and CO2tank – no electricity required. This is far easier and less expensive than the standard Pap test, which requires looking at cell samples under a microscope to identify abnormalities. 

    “Cool, right?” Dykens says. “This technique has been around for decades, and it costs so little and saves women’s lives. So how is it that in this day and age, in Senegal, there are 10 rural regions that have no access to cervical cancer screening?”

    Part of the answer is local influence. “In some cases, the local opinion leaders are very conservative on women’s issues, and they are reluctant to help the women go for consultation,” says Manuel Pina, an obstetrician/gynecologist and member of the Rotary Club of Dakar-Soleil who is working with Peace Care. “But Rotarians are also opinion leaders. We have already done local talks on the importance of this project, to help end all of the rumors and bad information linked to cervical cancer.” Pina notes that they also encourage families to have their daughters vaccinated against human papillomavirus, which causes cervical cancer.

    Rotarians and Peace Corps volunteers have a long history of working together on projects, and in 2014 the two organizations began a more formalized partnership. The cervical cancer screening project demonstrates how a grassroots effort can benefit from the combined strengths of the two organizations.

    The Rotary clubs plan to apply for a Rotary Foundation global grant to help expand cervical cancer screening services to the Tambacounda region. “Not just for the purpose of building capacity, but also to build a training center for cervical cancer screening,” Dykens says. Eventually, that center could also train health workers to screen for and treat other diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, and other types of cancers, he adds.

    Dykens says support of Rotarians in the United States and in Senegal will continue to be key.

    “Rotarians do things right,” he says. “They work systematically and always engage local voices and perspectives, and that is what ultimately creates success. Rotary has worked a long time on polio and done an amazing job. And in my mind, access to primary care is the next polio.”

    –Anne Ford

    reprinted with permission from The Rotarian, December 2017.

  • Souns Literacy Program Goes International With Assistance Of Peace Corps Volunteers see more

    Beyond building little readers, the Souns program helps Rotarians by exposing them to the surprising readiness of young minds. Children want to read more than we want them to acquire these basic skills. As projects go, the Souns program is:

    • Simple to implement
    • Cost effective,
    • Measurable in its results

    Through the Souns early literacy program, early childhood educators and parents acquire tools to help children build early literacy skill by introducing a concrete letter in association with its most common sound in the child’s language. The child first learns the individual letter sounds, then how to build words by listening to spoken sounds, and finally to read words by sounding out the letters.

    While Souns is easy to implement, does not require extensive training, and utilizes durable materials, sustainability has been the key to progress. From observations – seeing a child delight in sharing their first written “story” or gleeful about sounding out their first sentence at age 5 – is the greatest assurance of sustainability. A teacher who feels empowered in his or her teaching is going to want to continue the successful method. We even hear anecdotes of teachers taking the Souns materials with them when they leave one school to go to another. Preschools with a long history of using Souns have assimilated the program so well that their experienced teachers train new teachers. Ultimately, success in the classroom –  building little readers – is the greatest assurance of sustainability.

    An evaluation of over 6000 preschool students using Souns in the United States and Puerto Rico found that 96.5% met or exceeded expectations in letter-sound knowledge and only 3.5% were below expectations.

    Souns taught in schools in Pretoria, South Africa.

    What is happening now with Souns? My club and clubs in my district have joined other clubs in the USA and international clubs to expand the reach of Souns, sometimes getting together as Rotarians to review and/or train…building Rotarians as well as little readers. Global grants such as the project in South Africa reaching township children have escalated into additional Rotary Global Grants. Since Souns is not language-specific, Peace Corps in South Africa has embraced Souns to help their education volunteers bridge language barriers. Interestingly, most letters have the same sound across languages. Souns is in many Head Start programs across the U.S., from Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, to Texas. Head Start is well established and is the greatest access point to disadvantaged children in the United States.

    Where is Souns going next? Namibia, Guatemala, Haiti, and India, with escalating projects in South Africa and Puerto Rico.  A Peace Corps volunteer is seeking Rotarian help to bring Souns to Namibia. Souns left the Rotary Convention in Atlanta in the hands of a Rotarian going to Guatemala. Those involved with a project in Haiti want to add Souns to their program, and India is having Souns introduced by Rotarians from Colorado. Puerto Rico has just had a grant approved that will reach 815 classrooms.

    Growth means more volunteer trainers are needed. There are no special qualifications to being a Souns trainer, except a willingness to learn. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer Souns trainer, please let me know. It is a hands-on experience that keeps on giving.

    ~Brenda Erickson, Rotary Club of Peachtree City, Georgia, USA, and Montessori school teacher

    Reprinted with permission of The Rotarian, September 2017.

    See this Vimeo video

     September 29, 2017
  • Charlie Hunt posted an article
    Rotary And Peace Corps Partner On Computer Classroom In Senegal see more

    Rotary has partnered with Peace Corps in Senegal to create a unique partnership in Gueoul. The project combines a computer classroom with a Cyber Cafe- a business that sells access to the Internet, photocopying, lamination, and other goods, and the profits go to pay the salaries of classroom teachers and the other expenses of the classroom. The project is run by a current serving Peace Corps Volunteer, who is helping to make the Cafe sustainable.

    Classroom users

    A French class at a highschool in Boulder has connected with the Lycee in Guéoul. The teachers in Guéoul and Boulder conferenced via Skype to plan how to work out a joint lesson plan between the two classes. The students exchanged essays and biographies. Then, one day the Guéoul students tromped through that hot sand over to the InformatiqueSkyped the Boulder students. Yalla, baax ne! God is good. That’s what they say over there when a good thing happens. See the disbelief and awe on these faces? They are talking to fellow students 5,400 miles away. A grandmother has also connected with her grandson. Fatou is 93 years old, and her grandson is in the States. They both feared that she would die before they got to see each other again. She managed to walk to the Informatique. I was there and watched the joy and warmth as they talked to each other for 20 minutes. For more information about the project, please visit the Friends of Gueoul website.

  • An Unexpected Act Of Kindness: Honoring Jim Swaeby see more

    Partnering for Peace recognizes one of the founding members of the Peace Corps/Rotary Partnership, Jim Swaeby, a member of the Rotary Club of Boulder, Colorado and a RPCV who served in the Kingdom of Tonga in the South Pacific. Jim served on the Rotary District 5450 Peace Corps/Rotary Alliance in the formative years of the partnership and his commitment to the partnership continues on through a generous donation from Susan Swaeby in memory of Jim. The Rotary Club of Boulder and the Rotary Club of Denver Southeast also helped to facilitate the donation from Susan and the clubs’ foundations.

    Susan provided some background on Jim’s Rotary and Peace Corps service… “Jim had a wide variety of community service over the years so I’ve listed only a few of the organizations in which he had an active leadership role”.

    “After receiving a B.S. in Business from the University of Colorado in 1967, Jim became a volunteer in the U.S. Peace Corps in the Kingdom of Tonga, a small island country in the South Pacific. He established a school to train Tongan agricultural extension agents. After only 6 months in-country, his service was cut short when he became the first Peace Corps Volunteer to be drafted while overseas. Jim subsequently spent 13 months in Vietnam with the 1st Cavalry Division. Throughout his life, Jim continued to give speeches and attend recruiting sessions on behalf of the Peace Corps.”

    “During his career Jim was a banker and a commercial real estate broker and consultant, but a large part of his life was his volunteer activities. Jim had leadership positions in a wide variety of organizations including the Technical Assistance Center, Colorado Ballet, Historic Boulder, University of Colorado Leeds School of Business Real Estate Council and Center, CU Alumni Association, Boulder Urban Renewal Authority, Boulder History Museum, and Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains.”

    “As a member of Boulder Rotary for over 22 years, he served on many committees including the Board of Directors, Foundation Board, World Community Service, Blood Drive, Awards Committee, and the Caring Committee. He received both the Quiet Hero and the Humanitarian Award from his club.”

    “Jim’s final request to those wishing to honor his memory was to do an unexpected act of kindness or generosity for someone less privileged.”

    Steve Werner, President of Partnering for Peace, noted that the Quiet Hero and Humanitarian Award definitely describes Jim. He was the type of quiet leader who could get his point across through a smile, a word of encouragement, and a short explanation about the best way to move a project forward. Jim exemplified the ideals of Rotary’s “Service Above Self” and Peace Corps’s Three Goals. Everyone who met Jim and worked with him through Rotary or the Returned Peace Corps Volunteer community valued his friendship and commitment to making the world a better place. And we were better for knowing him.

    Partnering for Peace gratefully acknowledges Jim and Susan’s donation to continuing to build the partnership between Rotary and Peace Corps.

  • Strengthening The Connection Between Peace Corps Volunteers And Rotary Members see more

    I felt right at home when my wife Ligia and I arrived at the impressive University of Denver campus to participate in the Partnering for Peace workshop, hosted by District 5450 as a precursor to Peace Corps’ annual alumni conference. The forces that shaped my life would be at this conclave, whose theme was Partnering for Peace: Taking Collaborations to New Heights. Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs), alumni of the Peace Corps international service program, and Rotarians are my kind of people.

    Over 85 Rotarian Returned Peace Corps Volunteers gathered at our workshop to discuss how to better support the communities we serve through local and international service projects. Several project leaders presented on their joint initiatives made possible through collaborations between clubs and nearby Peace Corps Volunteers: establishing a computer lab in Honduras and Senegal, transporting medical equipment to Kenya, equipping a community with access to clean water in Burkina Faso, and a joint effort to identify school needs and help fill gaps with literacy resources in Costa Rica.

    Attendees broke up into small groups for the final session to discuss strategies for:

    • Rotary clubs and Returned Peace Corps Volunteers to find one another and work together to enhance community and international service projects.
    • Identifying and promoting projects to help others learn from successful partnerships.
    • Sharing inspirational stories of joint projects to encourage members of both organizations to explore local collaboration opportunities.
    • Identifying the many different ways clubs and current and returned Peace Corps volunteers work together.

    To conclude the workshop, District 5450’s Governor Abbas Rajabi shared his story of being taught by a Peace Corps volunteer in his home country of Iran, which inspired him to continue servicing others.

    The District 5450 Peace Corps Alliance Committee, focused on connecting local Rotarian RPCVs, formed Partnering for Peace to engage Rotarian RPCVs all around the globe. Partnering for Peace is a group of Rotarians and Returned Peace Corps Volunteers working to build partnerships to create sustainable projects locally and around the world in order to promote peace.

    The workshop was our first big step in connecting Rotarian RPCVs and inspiring action. We’ll continue facilitating introductions and promoting resources to help clubs and Peace Corps volunteers and alumni work together more closely in the communities most in need of our support. We are also eager to guide clubs and RPCVs on how to plan and implement joint service activities either locally or internationally.

    It’s exciting to see the Rotary-Peace Corps partnership continue to grow with the involvement of more RPCVs and we concluded the workshop energized and excited to continue working together with members of both organizations. I describe my own journey with Rotary and the Peace Corps in my new book, Different Latitudes: My Life in the Peace Corps and Beyond, but the formation of Partnering for Peace will take that trek for me and many other Rotarians and RPCVs to an entirely new level.

    ~Mark D. Walker, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Guatemala (1971-1973)

     September 29, 2017
  • How The Peace Corps And Rotary Led Me To A Life Of International Service see more

    As a naïve young man from Colorado just having graduated from a small university, I joined the Peace Corps with the dual purpose to travel, serve and, if possible, save the world. After four months of language and agricultural training, I landed in one of the most isolated sites in the highlands of Guatemala. Though beset with fear of the unknown and feelings of profound isolation, I became familiar with and appreciated the people of the rural community of Calapte. After several years on assignment, not only was I able to introduce new crop varieties which enhanced local production, but I mobilized the community to reconstruct their 100-year-old school. After a near-death experience took me to another part of the country, I met the love of my life and we established a stable bi-cultural home for our three children during the violent Guatemalan Civil War.

    My first real job out of the Peace Corps was with CARE International in Guatemala. I was responsible for designing an agroforestry program to combat the destruction of the environment and increase agricultural production for small farmers working on steep hills. This began my thirteen-year career promoting rural development through various international NGOs.

    My career in cross cultural settings promoting community development made Rotary a natural fit. In 1981, I joined one of the downtown Rotary clubs in Bogota, Colombia, where I was a Director for Plan International. I continued with Rotary in the United States and eventually served as president of the Rotary Club of Scottsdale in Arizona (United States). As the District Chair for World Community Service (now known as International Service) for District 5510, I lead groups of Rotarians to Guatemala, Honduras and Bolivia to form lifelong relationships with local Rotarians and develop programs such as a clean water initiative in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Naturally, my wife and I encouraged our children to consider the Rotary Youth Exchange program by hosting several students ourselves. Eventually our children participated and were hosted by different Rotary clubs in Germany and France where we made many friends among the local Rotarians.

    My work in global development came to a sudden turn after I was let go as CEO of an international NGO. This unexpected twist led me to focus on my children and six grandchildren, also provided a new opportunity to reflect on what I’d accomplished, where I’d failed, and where the international NGO community had come up short. My memoir Different Latitudes provides an insight to this life I lived, and is a tale of physical and spiritual self-discovery through Latin American, African, European, and Asian topography, cuisine, politics, and history. You can read the book here to learn more about my journey.

    ~Mark D. Walker, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Guatemala (1971-1973).

  • Pursuing My Passions Through Rotary And Peace Corps see more

    Community service has always been a big part of my life. When I was 11-years-old, I joined the youth leadership organization, Job’s Daughters. This group of adult and peer mentors instilled in me the principles of leadership, compassion, empathy and selfless service. Guided by these values, I spent much of my free time in high school and college volunteering and fundraising for various charities.

    These activities however, remained fairly separate from my studies and professional life. In 2008, I was preparing to graduate from a four-year university where I had earned a Bachelors in Business Management, and suddenly it hit me: this was not at all who I was or what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. My heart was in the volunteer work where I had dedicated so many of my years. Why does a professional career have to be separate from what one is truly passionate about? Pursuing Peace Corps was my way of finding out how to merge the two.

    I served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Cape Verde, where I worked in the area of small business and community development. The experience was life changing. When spending two years completely immersed in a small village, the community becomes your friend, and friends become your family. I learned so much about myself through cultural exchange, respectful dialogue and meaningful engagement.

    Returning to the United States left me feeling empty, yet inspired. I was saddened to leave what became my second home, but I now knew, more than ever, my life mission. I am meant to dedicate my life to a cause higher than myself, something that outlasts me, something that leaves this world a little better than I found it.

    I spent some time volunteering for non-profit organizations in the U.S. and Brazil before joining the World Bank in their mission to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. Working among esteemed economists and specialists at the World Bank inspired me, but I quickly realized that I would need to further my education in order to make a meaningful difference. After researching and applying to several programs, I decided on a Master’s of Science in International Development and Public Policy at the University of Manchester, England. As a perpetual volunteer who had only worked for about 24 months in the past 7 years, funding a graduate degree would be the next immediate challenge.

    I had been familiar with Rotary mainly because I saw their signs everywhere, from my village in Cape Verde to the streets in Porto Velho, Brazil. I reached out to my local Fairfax Rotary Club and was blessed to be connected with Rotarian Verne Tuininga, the Youth Service Director, who graciously guided me through The Rotary Foundation’s Global Grants Scholarship application process, interview and eventual acceptance process.

    I set off for the United Kingdom in September 2015, as a Rotary Global Grants Scholar. I began my graduate program where I also co-started the fundraising group Students Unite to End Polio in support of Rotary’s PolioPlus campaign. Students Unite to End Polio consisted of ten international students committed to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in an effort to raise funds and awareness around polio eradication.

    After graduating from the University of Manchester and climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, I have returned to the World Bank as a research analyst for the social protection department. Looking back, Peace Corps and the community I served, gave me the self-belief and drive to pursue radical social change; and my Rotary scholarship equipped me with the education and knowledge I needed to transform that drive into action. It may be awhile before we see the end to extreme poverty, but my experiences with Peace Corps and Rotary give me hope that lasting change is possible through time, unwavering focus and fierce determination.

    ~Cecilia Kern, former Rotary Global Grant Scholar and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer

    Reprinted with permission from RotaryService, May 2017.

  • From Rotary Scholar To Peace Corps see more

    I have heard a variety of interesting stories about why the rural Costa Rican town I live in as a Peace Corps volunteer is called Monterrey. My favorite is the literal translation: “King of the Grass,” explained by a wizened elderly gentleman as the place his family settled to farm cattle because of its nutritious vegetation. On a good day, I can get a clear view of the Arenal Volcano and see the lush farmland that stretches endlessly below. The view is breathtaking. It truly is a green kingdom.

    My path to becoming a “loyal subject” of Monterrey was influenced by a lifelong involvement in community service. I grew up participating in the Girl Scouts, 4-H, and Key Club. As an undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley, I volunteered at Kiva – a nonprofit that makes small loans to empower entrepreneurs around the world.

    One of the highlights of my undergraduate experience was starting a student group that partnered with Kiva to offer no-interest microloans to low-income entrepreneurs in Oakland, California, USA. Our first borrower used the profits generated from her microloan to fund her son’s college education. As I am the daughter of a university professor, being able to impact someone’s life this way left a powerful impression. The experience cemented my commitment to a career in local economic development.

    A Rotary global grant made possible my dream of obtaining a Master of Science in Local Economic Development at the London School of Economics. Being exposed to such a diversity of international development theories and change-makers made my time in London one of the most inspiring periods of my life. Meeting Rotarians with an incredible dedication to service at both the Berkeley Rotary Club, which sponsored my global grant, and the Sidcup Rotary Club, which hosted me in the UK, reaffirmed my commitment to dedicating my own life to service. It was actually the experience of earning a master’s degree that gave me the confidence to apply to the Peace Corps.

    I have been serving as a Peace Corps Community Economic Development volunteer for almost a year now, and my primary focus is promoting women’s empowerment and entrepreneurship. Examples of some projects I work on include helping a small women’s group plan a sewing business and partnering with Grameen Bank to offer business coaching to female microloan borrowers.

    One of my best friends and co-workers here in Costa Rica is a mother of four who works as a professional clown and volunteers for the national social service organization to entertain some of the poorest children in Costa Rica. Her life story is incredible. For someone who struggles to feed her children as a single mother, her passion for helping other children both humbles and inspires me.

    Rotary has left a profound impression on me, as will my time as a Peace Corps volunteer. I can only hope that the next step will be similarly rewarding.

    ~Jasmine Segall, former Rotary global grant scholar

    Reprinted with permission from Rotary Voices blog, March 2017.

  • Rotary and PCV Bringing Books To Botswana see more

    Two Peace Corps volunteers, Kip and Maureen Doran, took two years off from their professions as a psychiatrist and a nurse to see if they could help with the HIV/AIDS situation in Botswana, where there is a 25% infection rate in the adult population.  They ended up writing a book called Power Parents – Children and Sex. The book is designed to help parents, teachers, and counselors with strategies and techniques to reach young people about the threat and spread of HIV/AIDS.  The Ministry of Education recognized the value of the book and requested 1,000 copies for distribution to schools and libraries.  With the help of a $3,000 grant from the Denver Rotary World Community Service Committee (WCS) and other Rotary clubs in  the metro Denver areas, 750 books were shipped in November 2014.