AS FIRST COAST RETURNED PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEERS, WE WISH TO PROMOTE MEANINGFUL INTERACTION BETWEEN REFUGEES , AND US CITIZENS AS A CATALYST FOR FORGING AN ONGOING, SUPPORTIVE NETWORK. OUR MAIN OBJECTIVE IS TO FOSTER SHARED UNDERSTANDING, TOLERANCE AND PEACEFUL COEXISTENCE.IN THIS WAY WE HONOR THE THIRD GOAL OF THE PEACE CORPS.
2019 Goals and Events
We will build on our previous years activities of supporting our members who would like to organize a dinner for their neighbors and friends who want to understand the Refugee experience. These dinners have been in collaboration with Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement, and Luthern Social Services who have access to Refugee chefs who will prepare the dinner with the RPCV host. FCRPCV has been working to find a way to live up to the Third Goal of the Peace Corps Act. This is our way to accomplish that vision. Let us know if you would like to participate.Our chair, Michelle Karolak, Mauritania, is looking forward to working with you. Just send an email to I WANT TO BE A HOST or TEXT her at 904-868-6999.
On a late Saturday, January 26,2019, 43 of us gathered at the farm of Ja Htu Bu Sarah Male. While Burma is known today as Myanmar, in deference to our Hosts, we guests enjoyed Burmese Food, listened to Refugee Stories, witnessed dancing in native customs & discussed ways to support Refugees with our panel of experts under the leadership of Bernadette Miron, Colombia. Our panel and hosts helped all of us understand the difficulties and hardships that legal entries to the United States endure.
On Wednesday April 10, our 5th Signature Project Dinner was held. 15 gathered at the office of Luthern Social Services where host Nina Frank, Moldova introduced refugee chef Jane Logvinova who came from Ukraine with her children and husband after the dissolution of the Soviet empire. Her sister had come to Jacksonville several years ahead of her assisting with paperwork and paving the way for the rest of the family. She was reunited with her son after he completed his mandatory military service. With no English or work history, her first job in the US was as a housekeeper. Later, she was hired as a case worker at LSS where she honed her English and helped to resettle refugees until retirement a few years ago.
On Thursday April 26, at Jan Miller's home, the first Signature Project event of 2018 was held. "A Taste of Ethiopia" was the focus of food and discussion with Muni from Ethiopia via Sudan. Muni's family, was resettled, as refugees, with the help of the Catholic Charities Resettlement program. Jan & Muni shopped and prepared the food. 20 invited guests came and enjoyed the Ethiopian meal.
After the meal, Jan addressed the group explaining FCRPCV’s Third Goal: to promote understanding of others on the part of Americans. The purpose of our events is to foster mutual understanding, tolerance and peaceful coexistence.
Jan then introduced Muni and helped Muni tell her refugee story. Many questions were asked and answered. At the end of the evening everyone went away with a little more knowledge about Ethiopia, Ethiopian food, culture and the refugee story.
On Saturday September 29,at Maureen and Steve Orr's home, the second Signature Project dinner was held. "A Taste of Afghanistan". A four course meal was prepared complete with choice of appetizers and entrees. After a full meal, the group of 16 entered into a full discussion.
On Sunday, December 2, at Phil Stantial's House we had our third dinner. Phil served in Sierra Leone and was Country Director in Slovakia. A mixture of 16 neighbors, and friends were feasted to a "Taste of Iraq". The Chef was Malath, who with her husband, and children were Refugees from Iraq. The discussion of Malath's refugee experience was extremely enlightening. In addition the discussion guide , prepared by Nina Frank, Moldova helped to dispel the Myths of the Refugee experience.
2017 SIGNATURE EVENT
Early in 2017, the Board wanted to continue the Signature Project concept. At a January Board Retreat, it was apparent to us that the refugee crisis was of paramount importance. We have members who are working full time with two of the three Refugee Resettlement Programs in Jacksonville. Their insights, experiences and passion helped us formulate a "getting started" project. An opportunity presented itself, in the form of a welcome dinner for refugees, partially funded with a Federal Grant and performed by staff of the Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement Program. At the first organizing meeting of the committee,comprised almost entirely of refugees, FCRPCV was asked to provide an dessert in the form of Chocolate Chip cookies, 1000 of them. We were also asked to attend, "because North Americans buy tickets, but they don't come, because they are afraid of us." So our 'getting started" Signature Project for Refugees resulted in our membership baking1000 Chocolate Chip cookies and raising money to support for the 4th Multicultural Tasting for the Refugee Community in Jacksonville on behalf of POWR. Total cash contribution from FCRPCV was $964. Non-cash contribution was reported at $1,228 for a total of $2,192.
2016 SIGNATURE EVENT
Midway through 2015 several Board members worked to create our first Signature Project. In May of 2016, we delivered to Jacksonville, The Third Goal International Film Festival to Celebrate the 55 th Anniversary of the Peace Corps. By all measures this event was a success. The underwriting of the Film Festival by Scott and Nancy McLucas, Senegal,the partnership with Players By The Sea and sponsorship by NPCA, Total Wine, Lin Smith Design was instrumental in this success. Donations by 34 persons, including non RPCVs, was very helpful.Of course the membership gave of its time and talents to provide food representing countries of service. It was indeed a grand Festival.
Click here to read the original Committee report.
Click here to get the Facts about Refugee Resettlement in the United States