The content and opinions expressed in this blog are mine. They do not represent the US Government or US Peace Corps - Jud Dolphin

Saturday, May 28

PC Acronyms

 The Peace Corps loves acronyms.
Of course there are the easy ones like PCV or Peace Corps Volunteer.  But then there are more complicated ones like PCMO or  Peace Corps Medical Office and PST or Pre-Service Training.   Some people experience ET or Early Termination, but most of us go all the way.   Right now I am experiencing COS or Close of Service.   I finished my two page check-list and have said my goodbyes to a wonderful PC Staff.

In less than 24 hours, I depart from Ukraine leaving behind a DOS or Description of Service  in my official record.  Take a moment and give it a read.  Soon I will be a RPCV or Returned  Peace Corps Volunteer and a proud one at that!

"The U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires, a. i., James D. Pettit swore in Mr. Judson W. Dolphin as a Peace Corps Volunteer on June 18th, 2009 in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Mr. Dolphin was assigned to Konotop, a City of 95,000 Ukrainian and Russian speakers in Sumy Oblast which is located in the northeastern part of Ukraine.  He worked as a full-time NGO/Community Development facilitator at Hearts of Love Charity Fund, which has a director, 6 primary volunteers and many other occasional volunteers.

As a Community Development volunteer, Mr. Dolphin focused on transferring organizational development skills. He consulted with his primary organization, conducted workshops, and implemented projects. During his second year in Konotop, Mr. Dolphin connected with secondary organizations including governmental, NGO and educational institutions.

Yelena Yuschenko, Director of Hearts of Love Charity Fund, was his counterpart. Ms. Yuschenko along with other volunteers opened Hearts of Love in the fall of 2008 as an activity and support center for special need children and their families. Mr. Dolphin was their first Peace Corps Volunteer arriving in June of 2009.

Ms. Yuschenko introduced Mr. Dolphin to the community during a partnership meeting within the first week of service. Mr. Dolphin followed up with individual meetings and further networking to broaden his contacts in the community. Within three months, he had met with over 25 leaders from the NGO, educational, governmental and business sectors.

Mr. Dolphin deepened relationships through an innovative 10 week Leadership English Course. About 15 leaders participated in the twice weekly course that ran for 10 weeks. He authored the curriculum and tailored material to the abilities and interest of his adult students. As skills and English language learning were being shared, mutual trust was developing.

For example, when flu quarantine closed Ukrainian schools, including the Konotop Institute where classes were being held, the City Department of Pensioners and Disabled Persons volunteered a space so that the classes could continue. Having a US Peace Corps volunteer freely using a space in a city governmental building is unusual and was a first in Konotop.

At his primary site, Hearts of Love, Mr. Dolphin worked with volunteer staff to start an Art Expression Class for special need children. Collaborating with Ukrainian volunteers set the framework for transfer of skills and eventual sustainability. Now even when Mr. Dolphin is away from site, the Art Class continues with about 10 children participating each week.

In the winter of 2009, Mr. Dolphin provided guidance in developing a funding strategy for his host organization. Higher energy costs and increased activities at the Center required additional funding.

Through a series of discussion and presentations, it was decided to initiate a local funding strategy to supplement grants from foreign benefactors. With additional guidance and training provided by Mr. Dolphin, Hearts of Love held a successful charity auction selling bead-work that children and parents had made. A silent auction was also organized with services or goods that had been solicited from 16 local businesses of whom most had never contributed to Hearts of Love before. Over 3800 UAH was raised along with much media exposure.

Media reports during the holiday season stimulated copy-cat auctions raising additional money. In 2010, the Charity Auction was repeated with expanded leadership and is on the path for sustainability

In January of 2010 Mr. Dolphin led a needs assessment process involving children, volunteers and parents at his site. The idea for a SPA project emerged calling for a computerized learning center for the special need children of Hearts of Love. Often, these children are passed over in school and do not have access to the power of computerized learning.

Implementation of the project was delayed because of unforeseen illnesses, but in September 2010, a computerized learning center was opened. Five Ukrainian volunteers now teach and oversee about 25 children (non-duplicated number) each month. Plans are underway to secure additional funds for connecting to the Internet.

Also in 2010, Mr. Dolphin developed a series of Organizational Development Seminars. Leaders from both government and non-government sectors had heard about success at Hearts of Love and wanted to benefit from the knowledge and skills that Mr. Dolphin brought with him from a life time of non-profit management and teaching experience.

Mr. Dolphin conducted a needs assessment with leaders and potential participants. From this information, he developed a series of four 3 hour seminars in both English and Russian. He worked with a translator and presented each seminar twice in order to better accommodate schedules.

As a result 26 leaders participated in one or more of the seminars. They gained information and practice for developing mission statements, conducting SWOT analysis, building teams, working with volunteers, growing as leaders and of course, understanding fund raising strategies, organizational stability and grant writing.

As word spread about the value of the Seminars, Mr. Dolphin was invited to adapt the material for special audiences. The City Department of Families and Children held a meeting on volunteering and Mr. Dolphin presented information on working with volunteers to about 50 people. And then youth leaders of the City met to learn skills and share ideas. Mr. Dolphin presented leadership skills and team building to 23 young leaders. All presentations were conducted with Russian translation.

Mr. Dolphin was honored by the Konotop Institute and Polytechnic School during its 120th anniversary. Among the many business, educational and business leaders, he was invited to briefly address over 100 people who had gathered to mark the occasion. It was a very special honor to be the only American to be a part of this historic moment.

Also while serving in Konotop, he has made brief presentations at half dozen primary schools, several youth organizations and other meetings. On one occasion he shared the podium with several of Konotop’s remaining Great War veterans. Stories of personal sacrifice during the War were blended with other stories about individuals volunteering to make the country a better place to live. Mr. Dolphin concluded his remarks by paraphrasing President Kennedy, “Ask not what Konotop can do for you, but what you can do for Konotop?”

In the summer of 2010, Mr. Dolphin and other Peace Corps Volunteers discovered a lack of English literature books in all of Konotop. A rich cultural exchange and world of new ideas was closed to the people of Konotop. Mr. Dolphin set out to correct this deficit. At first he was rebuffed by the city library. They were not interested in partnering. But then, Mr. Dolphin approached the English teachers, librarians and director at the Polytechnic School. They were enthusiastic and eager to partner.

Over the next 6 months a small team works steadily.   As a result, an English literature library of more than 300 books was opened on March 2, 2011. Access is open to anyone on Konotop and a month long public education campaign was launched to inform the community about this new opportunity.  Within the first month 38 books had been circulated. More will follow since the School plans to integrate an English Literature course into their curriculum.

During his intensive work with the Polytechnic School, Mr. Dolphin started a monthly advanced English conversational seminar. Each seminar was interactive and gave students a chance to leave textbooks and have real English conversations. About 18 students participated in each session.

In February and again in May of 2011, Mr. Dolphin was invited by Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv to teach in their Institute of Leadership and Management. It’s the only institute in Ukraine offering a master level program in organizational development and NGO management. Their goal is to equip Ukrainian leaders for developing Civil Society.

Mr. Dolphin taught a 6 hour seminar on Public Relations and Media, a 3 hour seminar on Fund-raising and Grants, and another 3 hour seminar on Story Telling. Each was well received and sixty-five leaders participated in one or more of the seminars.
Continuing their relationship, Nataliya Bourdon, Director of the Institute of Leadership and Management, has invited Mr. Dolphin to be a long-distant advisor. They plan to have regular Skype conversations as this important effort to build civic society continues.

Throughout his Peace Corps service, Mr. Dolphin enjoyed his exposure to Ukrainian culture. While his language level was tagged at low intermediate, he had no difficulty in developing many new friendships. During a thank you party as he prepared to leave, more than 40 of Konotop’s leader and friends came to say farewell.

Mr. Judson W. Dolphin left Konotop, Ukraine on May 25, 20011 for end of service meetings with the Peace Corps staff in Kiev.

Following Ukraine's Declaration of Independence in 1991 and its decision to become an independent democratic country, a bilateral agreement was signed by US and Ukrainian Presidents to establish a U.S. Peace Corps Program in Ukraine in 1992. Since then, US Peace Corps Volunteers have been serving in Ukraine in the areas of business development, education, environmental protection, youth development, and community development. Mr. Dolphin work as a Community Development Volunteer, as well as his role as a representative of the people, culture, values and traditions of the United States of America, was part of a nation-wide development effort in Ukraine.

Mr. Judson W. Dolphin completed his Peace Corps service in Ukraine on May 27, 2011."

1 comment:

  1. As I am just beginning to wrap up training, I am overwhelmed by this declaration of service. WOW!! You are truly an inspiration to future volunteers all over the world.
    Thanks so much.