By Michael Roman
In Washington, D.C., you learn voting is just the beginning of representative democracy. For representation to work, elected officials require constituent engagement, and nowhere is this more apparent than on the hill. Peace Corps advocacy day began with over 150 advocates in the sanctuary of a Lutheran Church adjacent to the hill in the early morning of March 8th. On this day, over 1,000 volunteers were in the field in over 40 countries. We gathered to use our voices and stories to improve the Peace Corps service. Hundreds of meetings were held, and all offices, including a very stunned Rep. George Santos (NY-03) legislative aide, received an advocacy packet on the Peace Corps reauthorization act of 2023.
Though I have advocated for Multiple Sclerosis R&D and climate action, this year was my first advocating for Peace Corps. Peace Corps is one of the most bi-partisan government agencies, and as such, all offices welcomed my team with open arms. In addition, several, with whom we had not scheduled a meeting, created time to meet with us.
"Peace Corps is one of the most bi-partisan government agencies,
and as such, all offices welcomed my team with open arms."
Our group included one currently serving volunteer on administrative leave from Peru and four returned volunteers from four decades of service. All, but I, were rookies, and by the end of the day, all were seasoned advocates! The day closed with a group picture, reception, and speech of gratitude by Rep. John Garamendi (CA-08), the only RPCV representative in congress today.
Mike and other RPCVs meeting with Congressional representatives
Michael Roman (Kiribati 2000-2002) serves on the Board of the RPCV4EA and NPCA. Over decades, Mike has recorded Kiribati's environmental changes and transnational migration patterns while collaborating with governments, international media, non-profit organizations, and citizens worldwide to raise global consciousness of the climate crisis from the front lines.
Mike Roman speaking in Washington, D.C.