Four Reasons why Peace Corps Alumni Political leaders could make the world better

By Kristina J. Owens, Co-Founder

Google alerts are one of my favorite tools to keep track of some of the amazing things our fellow Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Political leaders are doing. The other day I had an alert that led me to this article: “NC House debates state retirement benefits for Peace Corps volunteers” Its not good news, the legislation almost passed, and in the end it was sent back to committee. The State Assembly of North Carolina currently has no Returned Peace Corps Volunteers(that we know of). The legislation was about giving RPCVs the option to buy retirement credit for the years they served. The positive thing about this was a Military veteran stood up for us:

The Peace Corps, like the military, is a federal entity where people sign up to actually serve our country,” Martin said.

It got me thinking what if there was a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer also present? So here are Four Reasons why Peace Corps Alumni Political leaders could not only make the world better but the country we call home.

Reason One: Everyone would know that Peace Corps still exist!

Why is this a big deal? Well knowing Peace Corps Volunteers are still serving this country in a positive ways is important for its continued existence. It also means stereotypes could be thrown out about Peace Corps. RPCV Political leaders are as diverse as our country. We can all agree the impact of the Peace Corps is oftentimes intangible but we know one thing for sure it not only makes a positive impact on the people we served but on ourselves.

Reason Two: Peace Corps Alums remember and empower the voiceless!

Our Peace Corps services gave us more empathy than we ever thought we had. When a legislation is proposed our questions would be(and are)how does this affect everyone? Not just key stakeholders but everyone! Our concern is regardless of the political views of our party. Its about making sure everyone’s perspective is heard. The belief that everyone has something to bring to the table is important is forever ingrained.

Reason three: Compromise is not a dirty word

In an ideal world we(Peace Corps Alums) want peace and prosperity for all but we also understand how hard it is to get there. It comes in baby steps and over many years. We also know just by getting everyone to sit at the same table is a huge undertaken more than most of us may know. Coming to a compromise is even more of an accomplishment. RPCVs may not necessarily be happy with the compromise but they do know its a step forward.

Reason Four: We are great listeners and amazing storytellers

Peace Corps alumni (RPCVs) are incredibly diverse but we love people, whatever our personality style, we are fascinated by people. We want to know everything about them so we can find a way to help them reach their goals (if that is what they want!). The extroverts of us love talking and telling stories, though we may talk your ear off about our adventures, we were also listening to your stories. We may surprise you when we ask you about something you told us last week, last year or ten years ago. Listening for all of us is a skill that we learned pretty quickly as volunteers. It was essential for our own success.

And finally…….

As of the date of this post there are only 22 Returned Peace Corps Volunteers(RPCVS) running for office and/or re-election in November 2016. We have 220,000 alumni of the Peace Corps. They all do amazing things but we, PC to Politics, would like to see more RPCVs stepping up to run for office! Peace Corps alumni bring a positive perspective to public policy. Our Peace Corps services strengthen those ideals. As Volunteers, we made an impact as global citizens we can do so much more through political leadership.

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Kristina J. Owens is the co-founder of PC to Politics along with her twin sister Wendy Owens. Kristina is a Master’s International Returned Peace Corps Volunteer of Bolivia.