Peace Corps Story Telling Event (3/4)

PC Story telling flyer-page-001On  March 4 from 12-1 p.m. in the Fireside Lounge, there will be a Peace Corps Storytelling event as part of Peace Corps week.

Returned Peace Corps volunteers will share stories from their placements and a Peace Corps recruiter will be on hand to answer any questions.

UMBC Launches New Partnership with Peace Corps

Joby Taylor is Director of UMBC’s Shriver Peaceworker Program.

Joby TaylorUMBC’s new Peace Corps Prep program is now open for applications!   In the BreakingGround spirit of infusing our campus with a culture of engagement, service, and social change agency, we’re proud to announce this new program open to all majors.  UMBC students interested in international service experiences, careers in international development, or even just preparing for a life of thoughtful global citizenship should all consider applying to Peace Corps Prep!  You’ll have the chance to meet with Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and others to learn more about living and working abroad as you bring together the courses and experiences you’ll need to prepare yourself for your own international journey.

Complete the online application (through Feb 20th for this semester).

Peace Corps Prep

Contact the author, Joby Taylor, at

Peaceworker Fellows Host Peace Corps Director at Lakeland School

Joby Taylor is Director of UMBC’s Shriver Peaceworker Program.

Joby TaylorWhat a wonderful surprise for me to get a call from the Peace Corps a couple weeks ago asking about having the new Director, Carrie Hessler-Radelet, come to Baltimore to meet our Shriver Peaceworker Fellows and learn about their community development and service work!  After a bit of quick planning, our Peaceworker Fellows and graduate students Greg Couturier (School of Social Work) and Brooks Binau (Geography and Environmental Systems Department) hosted Director Hessler-Radelet and a small group of us for a full morning of program tours and engaged conversations at Lakeland Elementary-Middle School.  Lakeland is a public school in Baltimore City, where Greg and Brooks have been working alongside other UMBC students and staff, including myself and Peaceworker Assistant Director Meghann Shutt, for the past year as part of a multi-faceted UMBC partnership.

It was a personal pleasure for me to spend time with Director Hessler-Radelet, who is President Obama’s recently confirmed appointee to lead the Peace Corps, especially because the Peace Corps was first directed by Sargent Shriver, who also founded UMBC’s Shriver Center and Peaceworker Program.  Her visit to Lakeland to shadow our Peaceworker Fellows was an opportunity to highlight Returned Peace Corps Volunteers’ ongoing service and see first hand the work that they are doing alongside other UMBC programs aimed at addressing pressing social problems.  As they led us around the school, she also learned about the innovative work of UMBC’s Choice Program, the Sherman Scholars Program, Shriver Center Service-Learning, and a grant initiative funded by 21st Century.  Led by dynamic Lakeland School staff and leaders, Greg and Brooks are contributing to our partnership goals of engaging parents, connecting the school more broadly to the surrounding community, and improving school climate.Shriver Peaceworker

As we all toured the school’s new projects and vibrant new gardens Director Hessler-Radelet learned how Greg and Brooks were bringing back home the skills and experience they gained abroad in Peru (Greg) and Zambia (Brooks) and putting it to work in Baltimore by contributing to this dynamic community school building effort.   She saw the food pantry that is expanding as a resource for Lakeland families and met the Experience Corps staff who are creating inter-generational opportunities that engage seniors in supporting students and classrooms.  She smelled and tasted the expanding school gardens and related projects like solar ovens and dehydrators (I ate a large handful of fresh cherry tomatoes off the vine!).  Back inside, Greg introduced her to the Choice Program staff and fellows who work to improve attendance and behavior issues with some of the schools most vulnerable students.  In a roundtable discussion with leading community members, Pam Oliver and Ms. Emma, and Lakeland Principal, Najib Jammal, she learned about partnerships that are making Lakeland one of the most dynamic community schools in Baltimore.

As the Director and her team left Lakeland they headed off for a small hole-in-the-wall taqueria run by a local family. Our Peaceworker group had just had a great working lunch there a few days earlier.  “There are no seats and it’s not quick,” we told her, “but the papusas and tacos are made to order and high on taste.”  “That sounds perfect!” the Director instantly responded.  With that spirit of enthusiasm for local taste and an eye for real community, I know that she’ll be a great leader of the Peace Corps!

Here is a great video of the Director’s visit.

Contact the author, Joby Taylor, at

Shriver Peaceworker Fellows Join National Day of Action

Joby Taylor is director of the Shriver Peaceworker Program.

Joby TaylorAdvocacy is a skill that all of us can use in our effort to create positive social change! There are so many ways to get involved in making a difference, and letting your voice be heard by public officials is one important way to impact issues and policy.

Last fall, UMBC’s Shriver Peaceworker Fellows participated in an “Advocacy 101” workshop to get them thinking about and practicing these important skills.  We spent part of our retreat weekend in discussions, brainstorms, and mock meetings focused on advocacy training. Then, on February 28th, as part of Peace Corps Anniversary Week, we hit the Hill–Capitol Hill that is!

Six Peaceworkers cleared their schedules and traveled to Washington DC to spend the day meeting with diverse Congressional Offices. We shared stories from our Peace Corps experiences and talked about the many lessons they taught us and their ongoing influence on our commitment to service and civic engagement back home.  Beyond sharing personal stories, we took the opportunity to ask our members of Congress to support a strong Peace Corps (and thoughtful foreign policy) for years to come.

Shriver PeaceworkerDid you know that there are currently five members of Congress who are Returned Peace Corps Volunteers? We met them all at the start of our day as they gave us some insider tips for our Hill meetings and then sent us out with an inspired charge to really make our voices heard. By day’s end our group, along with 90 total Returned Volunteers, had met with over 150 Congressional Offices!

This day of meeting with public officials and talking about a program that’s dear to our hearts was an experience that we can now apply to advocacy for other issues that we’re passionate about. Whether it’s writing a letter, making a call, or walking the Hill…think about adding Advocacy to your civic skill set. And if you are interested in the Peace Corps, call us at The Shriver Center and we’ll be happy to tell you more.

Contact the author, Joby Taylor, at

Idea + Action = Change

Joby Taylor is director of the Shriver Peaceworker Program.

“What is going to change the world today is the same thing that has changed it in the past: An idea and the service of dedicated individuals committed to that idea.” —Sargent Shriver

This short video tells my story of coming to The Shriver Center at UMBC to participate in the Shriver Peaceworker Fellows Program. Our program and Center are named for Sargent and Eunice Shriver and it’s hard to think of any family that has made a deeper positive impact on our world through their service and civic engagement!

[Read more…]

An Artistic Response to Food Waste

Charlotte Keniston is a graduate student in Imaging and Digital Arts (IMDA).

Having recently returned from two years in the Peace Corps in rural Guatemala, I arrived in Baltimore to begin graduate school with a keen awareness of the gross amount of food wasted by Americans daily. I moved into a neighborhood in Southwest Baltimore that is labeled a “food desert,” an area in the industrialized world where healthy food options are hard to come by. My neighbors, many of whom do not have cars, ride multiple crowded city buses with children in tow simply to procure food. Prohibited by the difficulty and distance, many simply eat what is available at corner stores in the neighborhood, little more than processed foods and soda.

As an artist I chose to respond to this problem in a way that I felt was both tangible and meaningful—by hosting community meals. The food served at these community meals is prepared simply, with ingredients that other people have discarded. The meals are advertised around the neighborhood a few days ahead of time and when the hour comes, all are welcome to sit at the table and partake. The placement of the table is strategic, in front of a community garden, or abandoned (city-owned) space that could feasibly support a locally owned grocery store or co-operative. The goal is not to feed the world or to change public policy, but to invite people affected by food injustice to eat together and envision change.

Contact the author, Charlotte Keniston, at