[In preparation for the National Peace Corps Association's Annual General Meeting, Board Meeting and Advisory Council meeting -- all taking place this week -- NPCA President Kevin Quigley has prepared a discussion paper on planning for the 50th anniversary of Peace Corps.]
In 2011, the Peace Corps community will be marking 50 years from when President Kennedy asked us to give two years of our lives to travel abroad, help others help themselves, and bring our experiences home in ways that serve the country.
With hundreds of events at home and abroad, we will celebrate Peace Corps’ many accomplishments and recognize the nearly 200,000 who served and the tens of millions of lives influenced. This milestone anniversary provides the chance to consider in what ways Peace Corps might be modified to realize more of its potential, be part of a constructive U.S. role in the world and respond to the heartfelt desire of so many to serve.
To prepare for these anniversary events, we have some guiding principles:
- Ownership. Peace Corps belongs to the world… not to the federal agency, not to the National Peace Corps Association and its network of groups, staff or volunteers. Rather, it belongs to anyone who understands the power of individuals to contribute to a better world.
- Participation. These events will be designed so that people everywhere where Peace Corps is valued can join the celebrations.
- Purpose. These events must be more than looking back. They need to advance the essential work of Peace Corps, promoting human development, peace and prosperity.
- Aspiration. These events will help realize the Peace Corps community’s long-held dream of having a national focal point to share our stories, meet and remember.
We developed a framework to help organize these events:
- Policy. Peace Corps has succeeded moderately well. However, after 50 years, it is important to consider whether the goals and the model need to be revised to improve impact. This would involve organizing a High Level Commission comprising senior leaders of Peace Corps and others to think strategically about how to improve Peace Corps.
- Events. In addition to a major event on the National Mall, September 22-25, 2011 we anticipate that there will be events in all 139 Peace Corps countries. We expect that most of NPCA’s 130 formally organized groups would put together events celebrating Peace Corps’s anniversary and that the many institutions that cooperate with Peace Corps, such as USAID, World Bank, CARE, Save the Children, etc…, as well as universities that have Peace Corps programs, would also organize events. To mark the anniversary, we expect that many individual community members and related organizations would organize book and documentary projects, blogs, podcasts, and other forms of new media.
- Project. We would like to see a community sponsored anniversary project that would provide the opportunity for discernible progress on a major development challenge, preferably one linked to the Millennium Development Goals such as girls’ access to education or access to potable water. The community would garner support for a variety of partner organizations working on particular projects directly related to these efforts.
- Legacy. We think that this milestone anniversary is the opportunity for our community to achieve a long-held dream to create a museum/memorial space close to the National Mall. Towards that end, we hope to enter into a partnership with the US Institute of Peace which is building a Public Education Center at their new facilities on 23rd and Constitution Avenue, just across from the Vietnam Veterans and the Lincoln Memorials.
This is an ambitious agenda that will require the involvement of many different individuals and organizations all around the world to succeed. For NPCA, we will inform the community about these upcoming activities and engage members in ways that best meet their own interests. We also expect to play a leading role in organizing the policy and legacy components of this upcoming anniversary.
As part of this effort to inform you about the anniversary-related events, we have created a landing page at www.peacecorpsconnect.org/peacecorps50. If you wish to share your ideas and suggestions you can do so at [email protected].
[Text of this post available in .pdf format ]