Look at me all awkwardly professional on my first outing for an “official” RPCV event (I’m the one in yellow). The awkwardness is only in the picture though. I had a fantastic “Take an RPCV to Work Day” today. On Tuesday I received an email from theÂ Office of Third Goal and Returned Volunteer Services, or “RVS INFO” as they appeared to my inbox. It is incredibly useful to actually be in the location of my home of record, because they presented me with an amazing networking and learning opportunity at a local non-profit, OneStar Foundation. A quick visit to their website where the tagline/mission statement is “building a stronger nonprofit sector for a better texas” and I was hooked. I wrote back as quickly as possible to try and insure myself one of the three available spots. And I followed up via telephone a day or so later. Well, everything worked out, and I spent more than half the day receiving invaluable insight into and advice from the inner workings of a nonprofit agency filled with super-sharp people. This is a great program that the RVS office has put together, and an even better specific agenda for the day from the organization, because it is the rare opportunity that you get to talk for most of the day in a basically one-on-one fashion like this with people – without the stress of it being an interview, but really the chance to learn. We shared our Peace Corps stories and then heard about the different components of the organization: an overview from the CEO; the fiscal team let us hijack their meeting to ask questions; how the complex AmeriCorps*Texas program works and interacts with/through them; a demo of their great Texas Connector tool (you should go check it out and try the free demo); an overview of grants management; and a round table from this group of amazingly and diversely skilled people.
However, as outstanding as the day was, I still can’t quite pull it together to look comfortable in the pleasant picture taken at the end of the event. Sigh. The other RPCV, Jenn in the blue sweater, and I got lunch afterwards and we both laughed at our default “this is my professional pose” hand-holding. She did her service in Swaziland a couple of years ago, and probably could not have had a more opposite experience in terms of living conditions. However, it was awesome to swap stories and find a lot of similarities in our experiences – especially in terms of the return process and what it is like to go through that logistically and emotionally. We find ourselves in remarkably similar situations in terms of not feeling settled anywhere and wondering how you commit to things when you don’t know where you will ultimately be. Very, very nice to share that experience with someone. And just to really top it off, look at all the new tags I get to create for this post!