This March, all Peace Corps Colombia volunteers were evacuated and forced to return to the United States. FOC helped welcome the 96 evacuated Colombia Peace Corps volunteers by hosting a virtual happy hour. In total, 45 people joined the Zoom call. Attendees ranged from Peace Corps volunteers that served in the 1960s-1970s, 2010s, recently evacuated PCVs, and NPCA staff.
In addition to reminiscing about parties on patios in plastic chairs and exchanging stories about working and living in Colombia, we were able to hold a productive conversation concerning the immediate needs of evacuated volunteers and how FOC could help assist the 96 evacuees in their readjustment. It was this conversation that led to the formation of FOC’s inaugural Mentorship Program and our Speaker Series events.
Virtual Reunions – 7 total with FOC’s Zoom Account
- Barry Bem, Colombia 13 (1963-1965)
- Carolyn Denton, (1964-1966)
- Irv Dubinsky, Colombia VI (1963-1965)
- Constance Ray, CII-4 (2012-2014)
- Sheila Goggin, Colombia 55 (1967-1969)
- Michael Band, CII-3 (2011-2014)
- Alyssa Galik, CII-8 (2016-2018)
Like many organizations and businesses, FOC was forced to adjust in order to continue operations during the global pandemic. One of the first things we did was purchase a Zoom account.
Without the option to travel this year, FOC decided to offer our members access to our Zoom account to host virtual reunions with their Peace Corps Groups. Seven different Peace Corps Colombia groups took advantage of this opportunity to reunite with old friends!
Virtual Reunion Testimonials:
“Offering the Zoom through FOC was a lifesaver. Since we were going to have an in-person reunion in September which could not happen because of COVID-19, it was just what we needed to solve our dilemma.”
– Carolyn Denton
“The group was happy to visually see one another on the zoom call. Last year eight of us had a reunion in Times Square in September, 2019. So the zoom call was another opportunity to connect as a group, which was greatly appreciated.”
– Irv Dubinsky
“It didn’t matter that 57 years had passed, or that we were all meeting once again via Zoom rather than in person. More than 20 members of the original group of Educational Television Volunteers (1963-65) were just the same….old friends enthusiastically catching up on our lives. Our last actual reunion was more than two years ago. Now, thanks to Friends of Colombia, we found each other virtually through the organization’s Zoom account. RPCVs checked in from all over the world and the U.S.: Tel Aviv, Cali, Puerto Rico, both U.S. coasts (California, Florida and DC) and many points in between.
What were we all up to now? Enjoying current projects and watching our grandchildren thrive. Helping new immigrants settle into American life. Working for peace and reconciliation. Helping communities with food needs during the pandemic. Teaching. Writing. Still learning. And always remembering—and cherishing—our days in Colombia.
Before we knew it, our time on the call was up. But we ended with a plan…we will ‘Zoom’ again soon!”
– Pat Kelly Colombia XIII
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to set up a Zoom meeting with your cohort!