Rotary and Peace Corps: A Natural Partnership
Rotary International and Peace Corps share the goals of making the world better by promoting service and understanding across cultures. Good clubs and good Peace Corps volunteers both understand the importance of partnerships. In 2015, Rotary International and Peace Corps formalized a service partnership to promote collaboration on issues that both organizations care about including education, health, community economic development, environmental management, youth, and agriculture.
Peace Corps has volunteers in more than 60 countries, and Rotary Clubs can be found in almost all of them. Peace Corps Volunteers know their communities very well, understand what local needs and priorities are, and have a broad network of contacts. Depending on the context, Peace Corps Volunteers may work with the local government, community organizations, and/or non-governmental organizations. With their language and cultural competence, Volunteers can serve as bridges between their communities and Rotary Clubs elsewhere. They are also very well placed to help with the oversight of projects.
Once they return to the United States, many Peace Corps Volunteers go on to become members of Rotary Clubs as a way to become more involved in their own communities and support communities in other countries.
For Rotary Clubs in Countries where Peace Corps Volunteers Serve: The Peace Corps Office may be able to point you to volunteers with the right skills or living in communities of interest. Invite these volunteers to one of your meetings or arrange a visit to see them. He or she may like to present about his/her experiences and community needs. (Hint: Let them stay with one of your members for a night so cost isn’t a barrier and bonus points if they can use a washer/dryer).
For Rotary Clubs in Countries Where Peace Corps Volunteers Do Not Serve: If you live in a country where Peace Corps does not serve, but are interested in exploring partnerships in a particular country that does have volunteers, reach out to Rotary at firstname.lastname@example.org
For Rotary Clubs Interested in Partnering with Returned Peace Corps Volunteers: Contact your Peace Corps Regional Recruitment Office to meet local RPCVs. RPCVs often belong to regional groups (Peace Corps Volunteers of Washington DC, Columbus, Boise, etc.) as well as alumni groups for the countries where they served. Regarding the latter, there are many alumni who remain engaged with countries where there is no longer a Peace Corps program such as Iran, Russia, Eritrea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, etc. Invite them to a meeting or social event and consider taking part in one of theirs. If you meet one, you will know most of them before too long.
Finally, feel free to contact me with experiences or ideas for how Rotary Clubs and Peace Corps Volunteers can work together to make a difference at home and abroad.