A Send Off event for volunteers about to leave for their assignments and Welcome Back for newly returned volunteers was held on Thursday, June 25th in Highland Park, Middlesex County.
NJ Peace Corps recruiters Rachel Bueide and Patrick McGettigan did a great job organizing and staging this event. Thanks to them for bringing this event to New Jersey to supplement events of this kind that regularly take place in New York and Philadelphia.
7 invited future Peace Corps Volunteers attended and they will be serving in Timor Leste, Namibia, Uganda, Mozambique, Paraguay and Fiji. In total, approximately fifty people attended the event that evening including these invitees with family members and RPCVs.
There was broad RPCV participation for displays, panelists, refreshment contributions & general attendees to make new PCVs/new RPCVs & family members welcome. RPCVs who set up a county of service display, some of which included a sampling of food from their country, included Phil Levy (El Salvador), Kelly Matthews (Paraguay), Christie Musa & Peter Arney (Sierra Leone), Larry Rubel (India), Gerry Gillio (Iran), Nancie Gunkelman for Aaron Gunkelman (Cameroon) and Owen Fitzgerald (Mali), Cathe Tansey (Morocco), Dennis Ng (Philippines), Edie Ben-Israel (Malawi), Julia O’Conner (Uganda/Guyana) and Dave & Cathy Owens (Jordan).
Panelists shared information about their service such as how to best assimilate into their community and what their most rewarding experience was etc., to help prepare the new volunteers for theirs. The panelists were Kim Pernice- Zambia, Kelly Matthews- Paraguay, Dave Owens – Jordan and Nate Rossi- Cameroon.
The event ended with a candle ceremony with earliest volunteers first in line, saying their name, country of service and years of service after their candle was lit and then lighting the next person’s candle. The new volunteers were at the end and it was quite touching knowing they would soon leave for an experience that would change their lives.