14th World Map at Norwood Elementary School

From December 7-11, 2016, ten RPVCs (Karmie Johnson, Julie Thach, Joanna Farrell, Stephanie Bergado, Tatiana Nieuwenhuys, Kirsten Strawn,
Kathy Angus, Amy Hutson Badham, James Clark and Laurel Hitchcock) completed our 14th World Map in Alabama. The newest map is located at Norwood Elementary School in Birmingham and was painted with the help of students from the 4th and 5th grade classes.  Many thanks to Principal Daniel, the teachers and all the students who helped make this map possible.






In Country with Katelin Adams, Nicaragua, 2012-2015

Who I am: My name is Katie Adams, and I served in the Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) program of Peace Corps Nicaragua. I started here in September of 2012 and would have completed service in November 2014, but I extended for an extra 6 months as a Regional Volunteer Leader and finished in May 2015. For my extension, I moved to the local department capital called Somoto, a town famous for its proximity to the beautiful Somoto Canyon and for its long tradition of baking rosquillas, small corn and cheese based cookies that are perfect with a cup of locally grown coffee.

As a Volunteer Leader (PCVL) I conducted site visits with volunteers in my region as an extra means of support and was more involved with local site development for future volunteers. I also worked on a grant project funded by USAID’s Small Project Assistance (SPA) program to provide monthly professional development encounters for 25 local high school English teachers. Each encounter involved a morning of workshops focused on new methodologies and teaching strategies and an afternoon of English class using textbooks provided by grant funds. It was great to see teachers progress in their English levels as we work through the curriculum. Their enthusiasm for practicing English and implementing new strategies in the classroom was really motivating.

What I did in Peace Corps, including where and I served: Although I’ve moved sites twice (once mid-way through my service and once to become a PCVL), I’ve always lived in the department of Madriz, which is found in the northern mountainous region bordering Honduras. My initial site was the medium sized town of Palacagüina. I worked there for my first year before being transferred to a smaller village just an hour away called San Lucas where I spent my second year of service.

In all the places I’ve lived and worked and traveled in country, one thing I always come back to is how Nicaraguan girls are negatively affected by a machista culture that teaches them not to advocate for themselves and pursue their dreams. I was working with a group of adolescent girls in my site to talk about life skills and reproductive health, as well as dance and play sports. Additionally, for the second two years of my service, I was involved in organizing the national girls’ empowerment retreat, Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World), held in the department of Jinotega. Each year GLOW brings 60 girls together from across the country to participate in a 5-day camp where they have the chance to discuss how gender stereotypes and inequality impact their lives and create a network of young women ready to create positive change in their communities.

Why I went and what impact I think my service had (on others and on me): I decided to join Peace Corps directly after earning a BA in Spanish with a minor in Economics at Birmingham-Southern College because I wanted to connect what I had learned about community, relationships, and the complexity of service (as well as my Spanish skills) with real-world work on the ground in another country. I wanted to commit myself to integrating into a new culture and test my ability to adapt, be patient, and have an open mind in the face of cultural differences and challenges.

Although most of my service officially focused on work with local English teachers (planning and giving class, organizing professional development workshops, and using resources available to design new materials), I think one of my bigger impacts has been the work I’ve done with young women. Seeing how young women can become more comfortable talking about their bodies and standing up for their rights has been the biggest reward of my service and has definitely influenced the career path I plan to pursue in the near future as I return to Birmingham to work before going on to study for a Master’s in Public Health.

I would recommend Peace Corps to today’s college students because: It’s a chance to step outside everything you know and love and rediscover it in a new way. For a long time I’ve been deeply committed to using my life in service of others, but I didn’t really know how that would play out after graduating college. I was often overwhelmed by big, complicated issues like poverty, racism, and inequality and couldn’t see how my contributions would make any difference. Then a friend shared the following quote during a service-learning activity: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive” (Howard Thurman). Not only has Peace Corps service tapped in to those things that make me feel alive, but it has also opened up new roads and paths of interest to follow as I continue learning, serving, and living.

Interested in learning more about my life in Peace Corps? Read my blog at: katiewandering.wordpress.com

2015 Map Project in Camden, AL

During the summer of 2015, RPVCs Karmie Johnson and Amy Badham along with a small group of family and friends traveled down to Camden, AL to begin  the 2015 GBRPCV’s annual Peace Corps Map project. That first day, they drew the outline of the world map in a common area of an after-school program facility. On June 5, older students participated in the painting of the map. Approximately 30 middle and high school age students participated in the completion of the map. An additional 150 K-12 students participated in geography and writing lessons using the map directly. It provides an continuous educational and decorative touch to the facility that houses BAMA Kids, an effective after-school and summer program that meets the needs of at-risk youth in the Black Belt region of Alabama. The project was such a great success, that the administrator of the facility requested United States and Alabama maps as well.

Fellowship Opportunities with Catholic Relief Services

2015 IDFP flyer - including webinar information 09.29The Catholic Relief Services IDFP provides an overseas opportunity to those interested in careers in international relief and development with a faith-based organization. Fellows increase their overseas experience and gain project management skills as they contribute to the work of Catholic Relief Services. More than 80% of IDFP participants go on to become program managers with CRS.  These 10-month fellowship opportunities are based overseas in one of our country programs.  Fellows experience different facets of running a CRS program overseas. They are exposed to project management, business development, budgeting, working with donors, working with partners, monitoring and evaluation, and reporting.

While we are unable to make a visit to your campus this fall, we would like to offer interested students the opportunity to participate in an on-line information session hosted by our team. We will be hosting two types of online info sessions this fall:

Open webinars for anyone interested in the IDFP. These webinars will take place during specific dates & times in October & November. See the flyer with more information, including the schedule for the open webinars.

Individualized webinars for specific universities, graduate programs, or classes with 10 or more students interested in the IDFP.

These online information sessions are usually 30-45 minutes long. They are designed as interactive sessions where we discuss the program, provide application tips and answer questions regarding the application process, the fellowship year and a career with CRS. It would be great if you spread the word about our program amongst your other RPCVs as well.

September Peace Corps Events in Birmingham

There are two Peace Corps recruiting events scheduled in September that you might enjoy attending:

September 22nd: Hispanic Heritage Month Diversity Dinner at Cantina Tortilla Grill in Birmingham:  Go to the link to rsvp   http://www.peacecorps.gov/volunteer/learn/meet/events/21112/

September 23rd: A screening of the movie “Girl Rising” from 4:30pm to 7pm in Ryals Hall Rm. 407.  We will begin the film about 4:50pm to give  people time to get in and settled with food and to leave time for Q&A at the end. For information and to rsvp: http://www.peacecorps.gov/volunteer/learn/meet/events/21065/

Fundraiser – 2016 Peace Corps Calendars

It is not too early to think about gifts for stocking stuffers/teacher and/or family and PC colleagues.  We have the image001international calendars for 2016.  These are our only fundraiser and any profits are used to support Peace Corps Partnership Projects or our own Alabama pcvs in their service projects or care packages.  Everyday has a special holiday to celebrate with our friends around the world.  This is a “happiness” gift.

Countries featured this year include: Mozambique, Namibia, Moldova, Jordan, Peru, Sierra Leone Ecuador, Thailand Tanzania, Ethiopia, Poland, Mexico and Turkey.

Calendars are $10 each or $8 each if you order 10 or more.  As they have cost us more this year, we will have to charge for shipping if we can’t get them to you in person. ($2.50 for 1-3, $5.00 for 4 or more).  Email Kathy Angus (kjangus@charter.net).  Let her know how many you would like and she will get them to you.

August 1 Lake Party

August 1st Lake Party

The Greater Birmingham Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (GBRPCV) are co-hosting a delightful summer lake party on Smith Lake on Saturday, August 1, 2015 with Southeastern Outings. You are hereby invited to attend! You are also welcome to invite friends and family members you think would enjoy this event.

The goals of this party are to offer all participants a relaxing, fun day of lakeside activities and to provide information on the Peace Corps to those party participants interested in learning more about the Peace Corps. We are hopeful that some who attend will eventually submit their applications to serve as Peace Corps Volunteers overseas.

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