Following up, documenting and sharing your experience
Sometimes RPCVs continue to keep in touch with the secondary activity they organized. Even after her Peace Corps service ended, Nancy Picard continued to live in Hungary for a while and assist the Sopron Women's Club, and back in the U.S., Frank Giarrizzo, a retired engineer, has made the development of VEZA, the organization he founded in Malawi, his life's work.
These are exceptional situations, however. Few Volunteers stay on in their host countries when they leave the Peace Corps, and when they return to the U.S. they are unlikely to be in a position where they can travel back and forth to their host country, as Giarrizzo does, or maintain close contact with the people they knew there, other than through an occasional letter.
Besides, your goal as a Volunteer is to work yourself out of a job. You hope the classroom your villagers are building will be completed by the time you leave, and that without your help, the community will make sure the classroom doesn't remain empty.
If, on the other hand, it looks like your community still needs a little more support - e.g., the business has gotten started but markets still must be developed - then you need to provide for follow-up.
Communicate with your APCD regularly end keep him or her abreast of your activity's status.
As in the case of HODEZ in Malawi, sometimes another Volunteer takes over a secondary activity. Less frequently, the activity becomes a new PCV's primary job assignment. It is the APCD's responsibility to decide whether or not to continue Peace Corps' support. This is one important reason to stay in touch with your APCD.
Consider in advance who can assume your role.
In Nepal, the PCVs made an arrangement with a German organization working there that had the necessary expertise to support the brailler repair project. Casey Vanderbeek spoke of finding some member of the group whom you can groom or in whom you have confidence to carry on the activity. With a small business like the fishing lures of Sierra Leone, the entrepreneurs themselves, lured by profits, will make it their business to continue, assuming they have the market and skills required.
Record your procedures so that the person who comes after you doesn't make the same mistakes you did and has your successes to build on.
It was not until Frank Giarrizzo completed his Peace Corps service and had left Malawi that his PCV replacement as TUP coordinator had problems with the procedures for repaying loans. If the project had been documented more thoroughly, fewer follow-up problems might have occurred.
Providing documentation for your secondary activity enables the Peace Corps to follow up after your Close Of Service. While working for the Peace Corps back in the United States, Phil Bob Hellmich still answered requests about the fishing lures he helped to develop in Sierra Leone and wrote a manual outlining the procedures, encouraging other PCVs to try the project.
If you think your activity is worth repeating, use your talents to publicize it.
There are many ways to share your experiences - both incountry and once you return home. You can put on workshops as several PCVs did in the examples included in this manual. You also could write to ICE, make a video, contact your hometown newspaper with a story and photos, or draft an article for the Peace Corps newsletter.
The examples included here were used because the Volunteers involved let us know of their efforts. We want to hear from you too! Tell us how you were able to get people in your community on their own to improve the quality of their lives, and what they were able to accomplish. Perhaps your story will become part of a new Above and Beyond, and you will be helping tomorrow's Volunteers make sure that their secondary activities are of primary benefit to their communities.
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