Celebration of Service: Vivian Davis (South Africa, 2012-2014)

On May 1, HoTPCA members got together at a local assisted living facility to celebrate the Peace Corps service of Vivian Davis (South Africa, 2012-2014). At the time of her service, Vivian was 78 years old, which makes her one of the oldest PCVs in the history of the Peace Corps! While in South Africa, Vivian served as an HIV/AIDS volunteer and spent much of her time building relationships in her host community. At Vivian’s celebration, we met Vivian and her family and together we looked over pictures and artifacts from her amazing life (apart from her Peace Corps service, Vivian has lived abroad in multiple continents). The crowd was also treated to the musical talents of an Austin-based African drumming group, and many of the facility’s residents, including Vivian, joined the group and played percussion instruments at the event.

This was an amazing celebration for HoTPCA to be a part of, and we’re so thankful to the staff at The Harbor for inviting us to share in Vivian’s ceremony. We enjoyed swapping Peace Corps stories with each other and with Vivian, and we were in awe of her energy and the fondness with which she remembered her service. To put it in perspective, think back to some of your own Peace Corps experiences: remember those tough days, when you just couldn’t muster the energy to leave your hut/apartment/house and go talk to one more person? Remember those social interactions that still felt awkward loooong after you had sworn in and started calling your host site “home”? Now imagine that you are 78 years old and having the same experiences, good and bad. Vivian’s service was – and is – inspirational and we were honored to meet her and learn more about her life and her time as a PCV.

Our HoTPCA board has been so inspired by Vivian’s stories that we’ve begun developing a partnership with the staff at The Harbor assisted living facility. Our hope is to eventually create an annual day of sharing and storytelling between residents at The Harbor and Austin-area RPCVs. Many residents were once world travelers and have loads of memories to share of their favorite international places. We’re hoping that if a group of RPCVs shares artifacts, photos, and stories of the places they’ve served and traveled, it will help revive memories and stories that the residents can share about their own time abroad. We’ll be working more on this “Day of Sharing” event over the summer, so look out for more details to be announced in the fall! If you’d like to help develop this event or have an idea to contribute, please contact HoTPCA’s Membership Committee Chair, Michele Hockett Cooper at michele.hockett@gmail.com.