News & Events2021-04-10T06:16:50+00:00

Support FOC by Purchasing a Book!

Earl Kessler, Former Peace Corps Volunteer (1965-1968) and current FOC member, wrote an informative and engaging book about the development of Puerto Badel, a rural town outside of Cartagena, when he was a Peace Corps volunteer. The book "Letters from Alfonso: Learning to Listen" tells the story of construction, development projects, and slum improvement when residents of a Colombian town, wiped out by flood, took the future into their own hands. Earl's life intersected with that of community leader, Alfonso Perez Correa. Working with Alfonso, Earl learned lessons in local participation and empowerment that have helped bring success in meeting [...]

Ensuring the Future of the Peace Corps Op-Ed

by Jerry Norris   In a March 15 open letter to Volunteers worldwide, Peace Corps Director Jody Olson wrote: we are acting to safeguard your well-being and prevent a situation where Volunteers are unable to leave their host countries.    Unfortunately, several U.S. media outlets interpreted that the intent of her letter was to also fire the Volunteers. Returning Volunteers suddenly found themselves without paid leave, with health insurance for only two months, and ineligible for unemployment benefits. For some of those returning from countries with no  coronavirus cases to U.S. hot spots in New York and California, their sudden [...]

PC Colombia Volunteers evacuated due to COVID-19 pandemic

The return of all Peace Corps Volunteers to the United States is heartbreaking to witness, however Friends of Colombia is particularly devastated to know that the countless positive relationships the PCVs formed in Colombia have been unceremoniously interrupted. In this challenging moment, FOC wanted to reassure the 96 volunteers who had to leave Colombia early know that they will always be welcome back. We expressed this idea directly to Colombian Ambassador to the United States Francisco Santos, and, in the true Colombian nature, Ambassador Santos recorded a message of gratitude and open arms. “What you give back Colombia, we appreciate [...]

Long-Time FOC Member Pat Wand Wins 2019 Peace Corps Champion Award!

By Michael Band (CII-3 2011-2014) and Pat Wand (C-8 1963-1965)  Each year the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Washington, D.C. (RPCV/W) organization honors someone whose work has made a great impact on the Peace Corps and its community by presenting them with the Peace Corps Champion Award. The 2019 Peace Corps Champion was none other than long-time FOC member, Pat Wand! Upon accepting the award, Pat shared some of her thoughts about Peace Corps past and future, "When PC started nearly 60 years ago, many people said it couldn’t succeed; it was a risky, dangerous undertaking for the U.S. to [...]

Help Send the Marina Orth Foundation’s Rural Robotics Champs to Estonia

Please help the Marina Orth Foundation’s rural robotics champs, from El Carmen de Viboral outside Medellin, Colombia, travel to Tallinn, Estonia, to participate in the 2019 International Robotex Competition from November 26 to December 3. In only their first year in our robotics program, these great rural public school kids won second place against 19 private schools to qualify at Robotex Latam. This was their first competition! To learn more about the team and donate to this wonderful program please visit: https://www.gofundme.com/f/send-colombian-robotics-team-to-estonia?rcid=r01-15683396589-4c9269adb7a5470e&pc=ot_co_campmgmt_w 

Peace Corps Connect Conference 2019: A Report

Austin, Texas, June 21-23, 2019 FOC Editorial Note: Peace Corps Connect is an event intended to unite RPCVs. It offers a space to think critically about the weight of the Third Goal, the duty we have to tell the story of our host nations and its peoples to the American public. The following Report was drawn from notes taken by RPCV (2017-19) Cutter Ulhorn at the Conference, in which he contrasted his experiences against those of Volunteers in the 1960s RPCVs are an odd bunch. They go against the grain: they care and continue to care, not just because they [...]

A Synopsis of FOC’s White Paper

Over the past several months, a new Colombian produced film titled: Pajaros de Verano (Birds in Passage) has been playing in various venues, such as Film Festivals in California and Colombia. In its opening scene, a banner reading: “Peace Corps”, is predominantly featured. The film then goes on to depict Volunteers being involved in the marijuana drug trade. Margarita Sorock, RPCV, Colombia, attended a viewing of this film in Cartagena and has written a review for the FOC Newsletter. Given that this film has now been chosen to be Colombia’s entry in the Foreign Film Category of the Oscars, it [...]

The All-Girls Little Engineers are International Robotics Champions

BY MAUREEN ORTH Guess what? Our all-girls team the “Little Engineers” are international robotic champions! Thank you, you got us there! The RoboRAVE 2018 competition ended the weekend with our girls winning first place in the middle school category, beating boys teams from China, Japan, India, the US and Mexico. This is an amazing accomplishment. We also want to congratulate our other great team, Digiminds, who were the youngest group in their category. They also made the finals, placing 7th out of 31 teams. They taught a thing or two to the older kids! It was because of your generosity [...]

Recapping the Group 46 Reunion

Attendees: Mari Kae Ennis-Applegate, Terry Applegate, Shirley Martin McGrath, Bill McGrath, Denise Martin, Susan Cole, Susan Tower Racine, John Martin. Group 46 held its seventh- yes, its seventh -reunion May 21-25, 2018 in Seattle, WA. Throughout our reunion, conversations revolved around changes in our lives, thoughts of those who could not join us, reflections about the importance of the Peace Corps – Colombia, about human nature and the world, continued involvement in the changes we want to see, cherishing of positive steps by others- from graying heads like us to young people – to make the world a better place. We gathered [...]

2017 Peace Corps Connect Recap

By Patricia A. Wand, Peace Corps Colombia 1963-1965 Political scientist Oliver Kaplan studies rural communities in Colombia and analyzes how they fared through the prolonged period of civil unrest. Kaplan introduced his findings to Friends of Colombia by playing the folksong “El Campesino Embejucao” by Oscar Humberto Gómez. In the song, the campesino is caught between a rock and a hard place, ensnared in the middle of opposing forces. The folksong articulates the difficulties faced by villagers whose lives are disrupted by years of political turmoil and militant aggression. Through his observation of various municipalities in the departmentos of Caldas, Santander, Cundinamarca and Meta, [...]

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