Sunday, January 30, 2011

La Multi Ani Peace Corps!

Celebrate Peace Corps Romania's 20th Anniversary and Peace Corps Worldwide's 50th anniversary world wide with us! Please visit our celebration site at to learn more about what PCRo is doing and how you can help. You can also contact me at

20th/50th Anniversary Launch

La Multi Ani was part of the ending of every speech at the anniversary celebration in mid-January 2011. This year Peace Corps is celebrating its 50th anniversary and Peace Corps Romania (PCRo) is celebrating its 20th. With good reason to celebrate the PCRo staff put together a program including speeches from the ambassador, selected members of the PCRo staff, partners from the Ministry of Education, and finally the volunteers. The PCRo Country Director moved the program along as partners from Romanian NGO's, PCRo staff, and the media looked on. The large TEFL PM office became a small conference room for the day as people packed into every corner and empty space available. Despite the crowded environment there was only positive sentiment in the air as the speeches began.

Ambassador Gitenstein gave the first speech of the ceremony. Since his appointment to the office in 2009 he has been an outspoken supporter of Peace Corps in Romania, a quality that not every Peace Corps post enjoys in its ambassador. He has not only supported but has actively been involved in a number of volunteer projects including a Model UN conference and a Habitat for Humanity build. In his speech he stressed his support and belief in Peace Corps Romania. The highlight of his speech came at the end when read the words of a beneficiary of the program. It was a thank-you letter from a former student of a PCRo TEFL volunteer to her former American teacher now living in the US several years later. That former student whose life was so positively affected by a Peace Corps volunteer is now working to support volunteers as an assistant for the TEFL program in the PCRo office in Bucharest.

Speeches continued with the TEFL Program Manager outlining the future of the program, and the Ministry of Education expressing their support for the program. Ever few years the need for PCRo is evaluated. Within the past couple of years PCRo has made some big changes including moving to an all TEFL program where every volunteer entering PCRo will be entering as teachers of English.

Finally the volunteers presented themselves to a room full of Romanian partners and media. The three volunteers were PCRo's volunteer leaders Chris, Alicia, and Ben. After already serving two years at their respective sites Chris, Alicia, and Ben now work to support volunteers, develop training programs, and create partnerships with local NGO's. They impressed the crowd by conducting their speeches in Romanian. Opening with a small activity, they aimed to express the diversity of the PCRo program. Every person sitting down had a card, the 20th anniversary logo was printed on one side and the other side contained the name of a community that a current Peace Corps volunteer is serving in. The presenter then asked those who did not recognize the name of the community on their card to raise their hands. As the majority of the hands were raised people could see that Peace Corps serves communities that are not well known and not often served. The volunteers continued to speak about their experiences and about what Peace Corps means to them.

Following the speeches the crowd filed into other rooms of the Peace Corps office where they mingled with each other, snacked on appetizers, and eagerly waited the cutting of the cake. The cake had the new 20th Anniversary logo on it and was delicious. As the crowd mingled, images of volunteers and their communities were projected on the wall and one of the computers displayed the new 20th anniversary web site. After enjoying their cake and the company, people began leaving marking the end of the day's celebration. Even though that day's celebration had come to an end it was only the beginning of a year of celebrating through service projects around Romania and at Peace Corps posts around the world.

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