In honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Peace Corps, Friends of Ecuador, led by Tad Baldwin, organized a gathering on September 23, 2011 at the residence of the Ecuadorian Ambassador to the United States. Joined by more than 200 of FOE’s closest friends, the evening was a tremendous success. Tad Baldwin reports on the festivities, and we link to our Flickr feed of photos.
While the main event for Ecuador RPCVs was the Friday night discussion/reception/dinner at the Ambassador’s Residence there were one other event we co-sponsored and the march behind the Ecuadorian flag over Memorial Bridge from Arlington Cemetery on Sunday morning.
The co-sponsored event was a “cocktails for good” fundraiser at the Capital Hill Hawk n’ Dove restaurant for the Amazon Partnership Foundation. Ecuador RPCV Susan King is a board member of this new non-profit and also assists with their fundraising activities. Using the recommendations of their Ecuadorian Board, the Foundation provides technical assistance and small grants to Amazon communities which initiate project ideas. FOE, in its role as helping channel funds raised by RPCV connected non-profits, recently sent $1,000 to a group working together with a current volunteer on environmental education.
The big FOE event took place at the Ecuadorian Ambassador’s Residence and attracted over 200 RPCVs and spouses, the largest gathering of Ecuador RPCVs in Washington to date. As those of you who attended know, the arrangements were endangered first by the joint expulsion of country Ambassadors (the Ecuadorian one (Ambassador Luis Gallegos), having agreed to co-sponsor the event)and then on August 13th by our earthquake which structurally damaged the Embassy where the event was to be held. The embassy agreed to shift the event to the vacant Ambassador’s Residence which is quite elegant but smaller in size, limiting the attendance unfortunately.
Three presentations, followed by questions, were given by Susan King as noted above, RPCV Kathleen Vitale of Endangered Threads (documenting weaving arts in Ecuador and Central America), and Sargent Shriver International Service Award winner RPCV Loren Finnell, president of The Resource Foundation (which provides over $10M in grants annually to 187 non-profits in Ecuador and 16 other Latin American and Caribean nations).
After a reception, Ecuadorian Charge D’Affairs Isabel Albornoz provided her greetings prior to the Ecuadorian Dinner featuring shrimp ceviche and other delicacies from the Sierra and Coast. One of our committee members, Gary Garriott, had located an Andean musician who was accompanied by six other experienced flute, guitar, and mandalin players. The “Sol de Los Andes” provided very loud and typical music to both accompany dinner and encourage dancing until the end of the evening.
Sunday morning started with a laying of a wreath on President Kennedy’s grave and then an emotional several hours of presentations at the Arlington Cemetery Amphitheatre, in honor of the 268 volunteers who have died in service. The words by a brother of one deceased volunteer and the mother of another were especially moving. This was followed by the traditional walking behind all the country flags by the 5,000 plus RPCVs and spouses.
There were numberous other events, both social and educational, sponsored by the NPCA and Peace Corps itself. I only had time to attand the panel headed by Bill Moyers entitled “The Future of the Peace Corps”. It would be great to see the momentum generated by the weekend encourage more membership in both the NPCA and Friends of Ecuador!