A MUSEUM OF THE PEACE CORPS EXPERIENCE
by Nicola Dino (Ecuador 1993-1997)
Hello to the Friends of Nigeria from Portland, Oregon. I am so happy to be able to let you know about our project of building a permanent museum of the Peace Corps Experience.
Above: Nicola Dino
For more than a decade, the Committee for a Museum of the Peace Corps Experience (CMPCE), a group of dedicated returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs), has worked toward the goal of building a brick and mortar structure to house documents, 3-D items and oral histories of RPCVs. There is no such all-inclusive museum that we know of. We are a totally volunteer committee and no one receives any remuneration. The Portland Museum Committee members are: Martin Kaplan (Somali Republic 1962- 1964), Bill Saphir (Thailand 1967-1970), Ron Myers (Malaysia 1972-1974) and Nicola Dino (Ecuador 1993-1997).
Our mission is to inspire connection with the world by sharing the Peace Corps Experience. We intend to help preserve and celebrate the stories of returning Peace Corps volunteers, remember PCVs who have died during service and fulfill the Peace Corps’ third goal of bringing the many cultures home to Americans and broadening geographic education and cultural understanding. We believe the establishment of a museum dedicated to sharing your stories of your Peace Corps experiences through the artifacts and pictures brought back provide a glimpse of the work that has been done and a window into the future of diplomacy and understanding on the international stage as we have and continue to do. Visitors to the Museum of the Peace Corps Experience will be encouraged to think about the global reach of the Peace Corps over half a century and be inspired to consider the profound potential for positive change that exists in each individual.
Over the past 15 years, CMPCE has held numerous shows and exhibits of RPCV memorabilia in Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington. In 2011 we were the moving force behind a major exhibit at the Oregon History Museum commemorating the 50th anniversary of Peace Corps. We have continually partnered with schools and civic organizations having had nearly ten temporary exhibits. Recently our informational wall panels, which were created for the 50th Exhibit, were exhibited in Ohio at the Dayton International Peace Museum and at Wilmington College. We welcome you to visit our website: www.museumofthepeacecorpsexperience.org there you will find more interesting facts and pictures from past exhibits as well as updates for meetings and planning.
We understand that in order to grow we have to publicize our group and develop partnerships with other RPCV organizations and individuals around the country who are like-minded and want to share his/her own legacy. In September, prior to the Peace Corps Connect Conference in Washington, DC, we held the first national meeting of CMPCE at the George Washington University Library. There were nine RPCVs in attendance and since then a number of others have asked to participate. We are discussing what are the best ideas and options to start with. This is such an exciting time in the history of the museum committee. To this end we encourage those of you would like to be part of what we consider the fourth goal: preserving the legacy of Peace Corps to participate in making this a reality.
During the Peace Corps Connect Conference, we had a table set up to meet and greet as many attendees as possible to talk about the museum project. The response to our project was/is overwhelmingly positive. We know the time is right to get this project moving. Many of you are willing and ready to donate your items as well and until we get a place to store items, we have to say, “Not yet”! When that time comes, we can tell you what information we would like to have about the item(s) and where to send them along with your story about the item(s).
Thank you to all who stopped by our table at the exhibit to talk and share ideas. I appreciated all the comments, questions and concerns about our project. We, the committee continue to welcome your input and ideas. One idea for example, is to start with having a virtual museum that can be accessed from right where you are!
We can do this together as we continue looking forward. There are ways to participate and be a significant part of this effort. Among the particular skills needed are: museum professionals and cataloguers; archivists; artistic people; financial wizards; fundraisers; grant writers; special project organizers; database specialists; exhibit specialists or any other ability that could be useful in a museum setting. Again, we welcome your ideas and inquiries about any aspect of our efforts.
Financial assistance in the form of donations are also welcome and can be made at our web site using PayPal, or by check payable to CMPCE and mailed to us at: CMPCE, P. O. Box 2427, Oregon City, OR 97045. The National Peace Corps Association also has a Community Fund Project, where donations can be made for the Affiliate Group Members.
The most important point is that we can have our legacy live on through our stories and artifacts. There is no better time than now to remember the people, the work, the hope and the heart that has been and is Peace Corps.