Peace Corps Turns 45

The NPCA and Group Leaders Forum meetings in DC

Bob Findlay
West regional representative to NPCA board

To mark the occasion, the annual general meeting of the NPCA, the Group Leaders Forum, and the NPCA board meeting were all scheduled for Friday, September 15 in Washington, DC. Major decisions in the meetings focused on individual and group memberships in NPCA. Procedures for both have been greatly simplified in the past year, and will be even more so with the adoption of a single membership category at $35 with the option of joining geographic groups such as WSPCA, COS groups, and/or the NPCA in an a la carte manner. An associated change will be a simpler and more direct payment of membership fees to NPCA and groups. Trina James, who ably organized the last great rpcv gathering in Chicago, has brought new life to the Group Leaders Forum as its newly elected coordinator.

Over ninety visits to congressional representatives and senators took place the day before during the NPCA advocacy effort proactively focused on increasing appropriations for a larger number of Peace Corps volunteers as promoted by the president. Ironically, the venue for the morning kick-off meeting was usurped by Bush, who was lobbying congress to approve the interrogation of suspected terrorist detainees.

45th AnniversaryInterspersed with all these meetings were celebrations of the 45th anniversary of Peace Corps. A lunchtime reception at the Ghana Embassy was a central event and there were many Country of Service receptions and dinners over the weekend. Personally, I attended a reception at the Colombian Embassy that was a last minute event as the incoming Colombian Ambassador, Carolina Barco (the former foreign minister and only two weeks in office) by chance noticed mention of the Friends of Colombia PC group in the embassy files. Her twenty-minute talk to the rpcvs was in the most beautiful Spanish I have heard in years. PC has not been in Colombia in twenty years, yet the FOC group is actively supporting small enterprise and educational projects in country.

Although NPCA represents us very well as our lobby group in Washington, DC, its finances continue to be fragile and the annual gatherings will be rather low-key, but there are plans underway for a large gathering to celebrate the Fiftieth anniversary of Peace Corps in 2011.