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  • Cortney Copeland posted an article
    “Be passionate and move forward with gusto every single hour of every day until you reach your goal. see more

    Moving Forward

     

    “Be passionate and move forward with gusto every single hour of every day until you reach your goal.”

    ~ Ava DuVernay

     

     

    One definition of “momentum” is a force that keeps growing or building.

    In this, the second quarterly update on equity and social justice work undertaken by the Peace Corps family, we look at recent and near future events and activities that provide fuel to the anti-racism force.

     

     

    The RPCV Alliance for Ukraine

     

    A major pillar of our 2021 Strategy for Equity and Justice Work Plan is “Incorporating Equity into Our Actions and Programming”.  This past quarter showed progress on that front in two ways.

     

    1. In July,  BIPOC Mental Health Month, the Connections Program invited Nia Velazquez Cortez, LMSW, (Group 51) to present  "Self Care Practices: Techniques for Connecting with Yourself and Protecting Your Well-being".

      You can watch the session recording and download the slides  here. (Enter the passcode .Q@H1A=X to view the recording.) 
       
    2. The Alliance now has the beginning of a DEI Project Checklist to guide our Board and Committees in designing events and programs to meet the needs of all of our members.  You can access the beta version here. It is definitely a work in progress, and we invite all comments and critiques. 

      Email us your thoughts and suggestions: allianceforukraine@gmail.com
      We can always get better, but we have to start somewhere!

     

    Peace Corps Ukraine

     

    Congratulations to four PC Ukraine staff for receiving an award from PC HQ!  As reported previously, this spring Peace Corps mandated unconscious bias training for all staff worldwide.  Our dedicated Ukrainian staff members, Valya, Volodya, Iryna S. and Natasha S. were recognized for facilitating this global training initiative.  Molodtsi!

     

    National Peace Corps Association

     

    The NPCA has announced a few upcoming events that you will not want to miss:

     

    • September 23–25:  The annual  Peace Corps Connect conference is taking place virtually again this year.  The entire program is always worthwhile, but if you only have time for one session, make it "From Peace Corps to Black Lives Matter: Striving for Allyship at Home and Abroad" on Saturday, September 25th from 1:15 pm-2:45 pm Eastern Time. This interactive session promises to tackle tough topics of racism, unconscious bias, and allyship — as those relate to experiences both during and after Peace Corps service.  

      Register here:  Peace Corps Connect 2021

     

    Peace Corps Headquarters


    Celebrating the contributions of an amazing Black woman, the Peace Corps honored Carol Anne (Aziza) Reid with the 2021 Lillian Carter Award. Read the announcement here

    Congratulations, Aziza!

     

     

     September 01, 2021
  • Cortney Copeland posted an article
    Social change is unbearably slow and messy. The question is, what are you doing to hold those you ha see more

    In the RPCV Alliance for Ukraine's 2020 Action Plan for Equity and Social Justice, we committed to providing regular updates on our own efforts and those of Peace Corps Ukraine to confront racism, bigotry, and inequality. Here is our update as of May 2021. Have questions or want to find out more? Contact us with your inquiries and ideas!



     

     May 2021: A Year of Racial Reckoning

     

    The end of May marks one year since the murder of George Floyd. The brutality and ubiquity of those nine minutes caught on video by a young bystander forced white Americans to confront the reality of institutional racism not only in law enforcement, but in every corner of society.  Hundreds of thousands of people of all races took to the streets in cities and towns across the country and around the world, demonstrating that this time, after untold numbers of previous killings of Black people, things were different. Best-seller lists, newsfeeds, and “Dear Customer” letters indicated that soul searching was occuring on every level, from individuals to giant corporations to city councils to nonprofit associations.   

     

    George Floyd’s killer was held accountable, but Breonna Taylor’s (and many others’) were not. Police reform measures and voting rights laws are being debated in city halls, state houses and Congress. The pandemic made our country’s health and economic inequities painfully clear. So, what is next?

     

    Social change is unbearably slow and messy. The question is, what are you doing to hold those you have power over accountable for moving the needle in the right direction? That includes the power of your vote, the power of your dollar, the power of your voice, individually and through the organizations you are affiliated with. If you are a person of color willing to share your power, the Alliance is looking for board members with your experience and perspective. Please contact us at allianceforukraine@gmail.com, write to us on Facebook, or reach out to any of our current board members.   

     

    Below  is a summary of how your RPCV world has changed in response to the antiracism movement of the past year. There is so much more to do. It is up to each of us to keep the momentum moving forward.

     

    The RPCV Alliance for Ukraine

     

    • Engaged Peace Corps Ukraine staff to focus on “Changes Necessary for the Safety of Black and POC Volunteers in Ukraine”, a list of exhortations compiled by PCVs in 2019.

    • Adopted an Equity and Social Justice Action Plan and accompanying work plan for 2021.

    • Joined OrgsinSolidarity, an association of organizations dedicated to promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in the fields of international peace, security and conflict resolution

    • Pursuant to the 2021 Work Plan:

    • Created an Equity and Justice Fund and raised over $1200; $1000 earmarked for Black PCV retreats

    • Revised Bylaws to include the following statement of shared values:  “The shared values of the RPCV-AUA include respect for human dignity, equity, inclusion, collaboration, commitment to service, and justice for people of all races, ethnicities, nationalities, religions, genders, and sexual orientations.”

    • Revised Bylaws to include an Equity and Social Justice Officer to provide organizational accountability

    • Ongoing monitoring and responding to diversity, equity and inclusion activities of Peace Corps affiliated organizations, i.e. Peace corps Ukraine, National Peace Corps Association, and Peace Corps Headquarters, including a written response to the NPCA’s Connect to the Future Report 

    • Recruited three new Board members in 2021, including one of color.

      


     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Peace Corps Ukraine

     

    • Engaged with RPCV Alliance for UKraine in several Zoom sessions focussed on Intercultural Competence, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ICDEI)

    • Implemented mandatory unconscious bias training of all staff based on Peace Corps global training initiative. See their recent Facebook post for an update.

    • Revising re-entry orientation and pre- and in-service trainings to include unconscious bias and other ICDEI topics


     

    National Peace Corps Association

     


     

    Peace Corps Headquarters

     

    In case you missed it, Peace Corps recently released a new publication called Inside Peace Corps, which provides updates on several ICDEI topics.  

     

    Also, on May 19, 2021, they held a panel discussion - “RPCVs Advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” - as part of the ongoing 60th Anniversary celebrations. Three RPCVs that are DEI professionals discussed how their Peace Corps service informs their careers.  At the end of the program, Deputy Chief of Staff, Jacklyn D. Dinneen presented a status report on the Peace Corps’ DEI efforts to date. If you weren’t able to attend this event, you can watch a recording online!

     

  • Cortney Copeland posted an article
    Updates on progress toward equity and social justice in the Ukraine RPCV community and beyond see more

     

    Alliance for Ukraine  

    Quarterly Equity and Social Justice Report 

    November 2021

     

     

     

     

    Gratitude 

    Despite the complicated history surrounding it, Thanksgiving Day is the perfect time to reflect on who and where we are in this world.  

    In her beautifully written and inspiring book, Braiding Sweetgrass, Indigenous botanist, professor and poet,  Robin Wall Kimmerer writes:

    “You can’t listen to the [Haudenosaunee] Thanksgiving Address without feeling wealthy.  And while expressing gratitude seems innocent enough, it is a revolutionary idea.  In a consumer society, contentment is a radical proposition.  Recognizing abundance rather than scarcity undermines an economy that thrives by creating unmet desires…. The Thanksgiving Address reminds you that you already have everything you need….That’s good medicine for land and people alike.”

    Be inspired:  Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address Greetings to the Natural World

    An extra special object of gratitude this Thanksgiving:  Justice for the family of Ahmaud Arbery and a pensive hope that the criminal court systems will continue to push back against racist attitudes and procedures nationwide. (Looking at you, Wisconsin)  #justiceforahmaud

    Here are the latest social justice happenings in the Peace Corps adjacent world:

     

    The RPCV Alliance for Ukraine

    • Co-sponsored, with Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Washington DC, and three other RPCV Affiliate groups:  No White Saviors + Returned Peace Corps Volunteers: Reflecting on the White Savior Complex and What it Means to Decolonize Partnerships session on Wednesday, November 17.  This provocative virtual education event was attended by over 400 participants around the world, including from Kyiv.  If you were unable to join the event, watch the recording here:

     

    • At its October 28, 2021 meeting, The Meaningful Diversity Equity and Inclusion Working Group of OrgsinSolidarity reviewed and offered helpful comments on the Alliance’s DEI Events Checklist.  As mentioned previously, this document is evolving as we learn what works and what doesn’t.  Speaking of what works and what doesn’t, at the same meeting, guest speaker, Dr. Vic Marsh, an expert in Diversity and Equity programs in the federal government provided insight on research that showed that based on EEOC records of U.S. companies with over 100 employees, mandatory diversity training actually reduces the diversity of the workforce within the next five years.  On the other hand, the research showed that high level Diversity Task Forces that are focused on problem solving are highly effective, as are mentor matching programs.  
       

    • In September, the Alliance was a co-applicant with Northern Virginia Returned Peace Corps Volunteers for a grant from the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) to implement an Anti-Racism program specifically designed for RPCVs, which was piloted last year by NOVARPCV.  The idea is to scale the reach of the program by training two members from 10 Affiliate organizations to provide the six-week anti-racism course to up to 20 participants from each organization. We are still waiting to hear the official word from NPCA, but since we were encouraged by them to apply for this grant, we are hopeful that we will begin the train-the-trainer classes in the new year and be able to roll out the program to Alliance members mid 2022.  More to come on this exciting opportunity!

     

      

    Peace Corps Ukraine

    • In September, Peace Corps Ukraine staff participated in Kyiv Pride 2021 in support of the LGBTQI+ community.  As they put it in their Instagram post:  “We stand by the principals of equality, non-discrimination, and respect for all.”  

     

     Photo courtesy of Peace Corps Ukraine, September 2021

     

    National Peace Corps Association

    If you missed the Peace Corps Connect 2021 Conference in September, here are two videos of interest :

     

     

    Peace Corps Headquarters

    • Here is Acting Peace Corps Director Carol Spahn responding to Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) at a U.S. House of Representatives Foriegn Affairs  Committee when asked about recruiting new Volunteers who are people of color

    • In early November, the Peace Corps released a report from its Sexual Assault Advisory Council. Here is  a summary and analysis put together by NPCA.  Many of the proposed key reforms to protect PCVs from violence and trauma will be familiar to Alliance members as similar to those contained in  “Changes Necessary for the Safety of Black and POC Volunteers in Ukraine”, a list of exhortations compiled by Ukraine PCVs in 2019.