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Addressing Discrimination Using Allyship

Museum of the Peace Corps Experience joined a team of RPCVs to plan an interactive session for the 2021 Peace Corps Connect Conference about diversity, equity, and inclusion on the theme of allyship. The session, “From Peace Corps to Black Lives Matter; Striving for Allyship at Home and Abroad,” generated energy long after it ended on September 25.

Allyship is defined as recognizing one’s power and privilege and playing a proactive role in helping marginalized people to advance. An ally is someone who aligns with and supports a cause of another individual or group of people. Effective allies take action because the issue has importance for them as well as for others; showing up through actions, awareness, and empathy.

Allyship with host-country partners, communities, and fellow volunteers is at the center of the Peace Corps approach. But allyship isn’t just needed overseas, it is needed at home as well.

Session attendees viewed “Many Faces of Peace Corps; 60th Anniversary” video and respond to the question: “How are you feeling about the stories you heard on the video?” Their one-word responses populate a dramatic word cloud naming diverse emotions.

The session moves to RPCV panelists who respond to questions regarding their experiences as volunteers from under-represented U.S. populations. They reflect on specific experiences and suggest ways these situations might be better handled, including using allyship as a tool for addressing discrimination. Attendees participate in several polls and a lively Q-and-A closes the session, leaving everyone wanting to talk further.

View the video recording here.