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Third Goal Newsletter Article

I was asked to write an article for the Peace Corps Cape Verde newsletter about my experiences speaking in the USA over Christmas break.

The Petes and I at our swearing in ceremony with our language instructor Tereza. Short Pete and I are rocking our quasi-traditional Cape Verdean dress shirts (the same one I wore to all of my presentations in Merka).

Bring it Home to America

“I hope you got some rest on the plane,” my Dad told me as we trudged through a half foot of Indianapolis snow, “because you are speaking to our youth group in a couple hours.”  Dressed in the dark blue long-sleeve African dress shirt a tailor in Assomada made for swearing in, shorts and flip-flops, my only concern was getting to the warmth of the waiting car.   I had not slept in the past 36 hours, but I did manage to finish a simple PowerPoint presentation during my overnight layover in Boston.

A few weeks before returning home, I e-mailed friends, posted on Facebook and asked my family to see if any of the local community groups they were involved in if they would like to hear me speak about The Peace Corps, life in Cape Verde or anything else related to my service.   I vaguely remembered hearing of an incentive for carrying out the Third Goal: speaking about the Peace Corps translates into reimbursed vacation days.   The Third Goal of the Peace Corps is to help Americans understand the people and cultures of other countries.   This greater understanding of the world will thereby foster the spirit of world peace, friendship and civic mindedness.

The first group I presented to asked that I talk about water conservation in Cape Verde.  They were in the midst of a funding drive to pay for the building of water filtration systems in Africa.   I stumbled through the presentation, jet-lagged and still freezing.  After I finished, the first question came as a bit of a surprise, “What exactly is The Peace Corps?”   I guess I left that part out.  I am easily the best Peace Corps Volunteer ever.

Despite my glaring omission, a few kids in the youth group and the leader approached me afterwards and expressed their desire to give a donation.  Yet another contingency I hadn’t planned for.  My presentation included websites, my blog address and email for further information, but did not include a request for donations or any information on how to help.  I mumbled something about the Cape Verde country fund, but then remembered Lynette’s idea to set up a clothing drive for kids at the Centro de Juvenile in Picos.   The youth group resolved to start a clothing drive to send me back to Picos with a suitcase of clothes.

The remaining three presentations were far better than the first.   I received a variety of unsolicited donations ranging from clothes to promises to fund projects to a very tightly packed box of 100 toys from the dollar store.   A few newspapers heard about the presentations and contacted me for an interview.  The publicity from the newspaper articles led to an explosion of blog hits and even more promises to help fund projects.

The refund of vacation days was easy.   I sent an e-mail to my APCD with an accounting of Third Goal hours and my days were refunded.  Up to three days of vacation can be earned back.   Each eight hours spent engaging in third goal activities (including reasonable travel time, preparation time, presentation time, etc.) is worth one reimbursed vacation day.  More information on finding interested community groups, preparing and giving Third Goal presentations and a Third Goal activity kit is available on the Peace Corps website.

One Comment

  1. action jackson wrote:

    ok, 2 weeks since the last post, time to update this with some new stuff, and where’s the law posts you promised, eh?

    Monday, March 28, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

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