By Erica Brouillette, President of the Falls Church Rotary Club, Virginia, United States and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer
I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Armenia from 2007- 2009, teaching environmental conservation and awareness to youth aged 10-16 in the small village of Aygut. I taught in an after school program with the amazing assistance of my host country national counterpart, Vica. Being an American, I was also asked to teach English, which I took on as a rewarding secondary assignment. Working with youth, I fostered awareness about the harmful effects improperly disposing of trash can have on the environment and inspired them to truly appreciate the beauty in nature all around them to encourage conservation. This was one of a few national issues confronting Armenia, and I saw much interest in all issues the country faced among the older and younger generations.
The entire experience lived up to its slogan, “The toughest job you’ll ever love!” We had lots of fun with classroom instruction, scenic hikes, and field trips to the next village. The Armenian people were the most hospitable people I’ve ever met. I’m honored to have lived among them and learned so much from them. To this day, I’ve stayed in touch with Vica and her family, who continue to live in Armenia.
My Peace Corps service really inspired me to continue community service once I returned home. I was first introduced to Rotary in December 2011 by a Past District Governor during a fundraiser for a nonprofit I volunteered with after my Peace Corps service. I engaged with Rotary as soon as I discovered it to further my service goals and stay connected to the global community. My grandmother is also a Rotarian and encouraged me to join in February 2012. She has been a trailblazer her whole life, and was one of the first women to join Rotary in 1988, when women were afforded the opportunity.
Since joining the Falls Church Rotary Club in District 7610, I’ve served in many roles on the board, most recently as the current Club President and Immediate Past President. Through Rotary, there are so many opportunities for service and networking. I graduated from the Rotary Leadership Institute (RLI) and have served as an RLI Facilitator for a few years, inspiring other Rotarians to network with each other and encourage vibrant clubs.
Most recently, I become aware of the Rotary-Peace Corps Partnership. I’ve always realized the similarities between the two organizations and the people involved with each. I am elated that these are now publicly recognized!
Since September 2012, I’ve served as Community Service Director of the Northern Virginia Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (NOVA RPCV), an affiliate group of the National Peace Corps Association. Recently, we’ve initiated a local Rotary-Peace Corps Partnership by working with refugees. NOVA RPCV has started providing drivers to transport refugees from the airport to temporary housing, as well as take them to and from needed appointments. NOVA RPCV and the Falls Church Church Rotary Club successfully implemented a joint service project packing refugee welcome kits. This was our first event together and we hope to build a long-standing partnership between the two local organizations, working with refugees and beyond for the benefit of the greater community.
- Read the Rotary-Peace Corps partnership fact sheet for collaboration opportunities for clubs and districts. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.