Peace Corps South Africa has four different committees that volunteers can apply to serve on: Volunteer Advisory Committee (VAC), Peer Support Alliance (PSA), Diversity, and Resource (RC). Generally, two to three volunteers are selected from each cohort based on either an application or election process. PSA works to provide mental and emotional support to other PCVs, reaching out regularly and providing sessions on self-care. The Diversity Committee aims to foster inclusion and support of all cultures and identities in PCSA through training sessions, creation of safe spaces, and celebrations of diversity. VAC serves as the PCV-staff liaison, representing cohorts with senior PC staff in discussions on important policies and procedures. Finally, the RC is responsible for collecting and disseminating critical resources to PCVs, curating the monthly newsletter, and maintaining the shared space for PCVs at headquarters. Committees are an important part of Peace Corps; each country has its own committees, although they usually cover similar topics.
The moment I heard about RC, I was practically jumping out of my seat to join. I love resources, and I’m passionate about connecting people with the human and technical resources to achieve their dreams. I applied within two days of the application being sent, and I finally heard the good news at IST: I was accepted! I had already begun to collect a variety of toolkits related to HIV, working with orphans and vulnerable children (OVC), and math tutoring that had been very useful.
This past Sunday, I attended my first RC meeting and got to meet my committee mates. We worked at breakneck speed for two days to seriously revamp the flash drive—eliminating outdated documents, adding a tremendous amount of new resources, reorganizing folders, increasing our exercise and podcast offerings (very critical to supporting PCVs’ mental health, trust me), and copying these in an intense assembly line onto 40 flash drives. Today, we were able to present these ridiculously amazing flash drives to the newest cohort, SA36, who will swear in as volunteers on Friday. It is our hope that these resources will support them as they begin their journey as English teachers in Limpopo. As a bonus, I also had a chance to meet the new SA36 volunteer who went to Hiram College, my tiny undergrad!
Is it incredibly nerdy that I’m so passionate about resources? Absolutely. But I’m so glad that I’ve found a group of people who are equally committed to ensuring that we do all we can to provide tools for other PCVs. The knowledge of individual PCVs is astounding, and being able to pool that to aid future PCVs will aid us all in helping our schools and communities. I’m also very grateful for the other committees, and a big congratulations to my cohort mates who were selected to serve on them!
Are you a PCV who is currently serving or previously served on a committee? What was your experience?
I also wanted to thank everyone who responded positively to my last post. It was very validating to hear how much Romanticizing Peace Corps resonated with others! Finally, I want to put a quick shout-out to two of my very dear friends, Rachel and Ron, who were married this past weekend 🙂