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Take an RPCV to Work Day!

Last week marked 52 years since the Peace Corps’ inception in 1961, and it celebrated with a week-long series of activities carried out around the world. Three recently returned volunteers (RPCVs) – Alayna Garvin (Romania 2007-2009), Debra Howe (Malawi 2010-2012), and Kathryn Jacoby (Ghana 2008-2011) visited the BBG headquarters and Voice of America for “Take an RPCV to Work Day.”

RPCV Debra Howe and IBB Deputy Director Jeff Trimble

Kathryn Jacoby shared with us this account of her visit:

“The bustling energy of a major news agency in the morning is invigorating. We met and greeted RPCVs and VOA staff before attending the morning editorial meeting, where major news items were discussed and each department presented their stories for the day—an unusual opportunity to hear top professionals in the field discuss a day’s worth of news topics in 30 minutes.

The experience had a two-fold importance for me: I saw a bit of the around-the-clock work and the dedication to VOA’s mission that goes into producing the broadcasts that I listened to in the field; and I also saw some of the daily activities of a job in international journalism, and received warm smiles and sage advice from RPCVs who had been in my position in the past. This was a fantastic experience!

The RPCVs spent time with individuals across the BBG and VOA who had also previously served in the Peace Corps, including Connie Stephens (Niger), Kristy Hays (Belize), Stephen McGinley (Tonga), Kelsey Marsh (Lesotho), and Nancy Coviello (Namibia).

Behind the Scenes: April Deibert

April tours Voice of America headquarters in the Wilbur J. Cohen Building,  Washington, D.C.


“When I first started working for the Office of Digital & Design Innovation, I was given a tour of VOA headquarters by one of my supervisors.  It was great to get a historical perspective of the agency and to see the Cold War-era building it is housed in (that still has rooms that were used as potential nuclear fallout shelters and beautiful vintage brass escalators), and to meet and interview interesting on-air staff, editors and producers.

Getting an overall feeling for how each department operated separately and then together helped shape my perspective on what ODDI’s role is to facilitate the use of innovative technologies to reach different global populations. I’ve learned that the strategy behind what appears to be a simple production to the public can go far deeper and be far more intellectual than what an information consumer may realize.  The BBG is unique because it uses research to localize social media for its many global audiences.”

April Deibert is a contractor working on multimedia blogging and production for the Office of Digital and Design Innovation.  You can find some of her work on their website.

Happy Chinese New Year!

Chinese New Year celebration at VOA

L-R: Fangfang Zhang (Congressional Reporter), Xiaobei Zhang (Teaching English Show), Wancheng Chao (Tiger Mom Show host). Photo by Xiao Chang

Last week the Chinese Service of the Voice of America hosted a Chinese New Year celebration. The festivities included the opportunity for visitors from inside and outside VOA to get to know individuals working in the service and to see the shows that they produce. The event also featured traditional homemade food, which helped engage guests across all offices and divisions of the Voice of America and the International Broadcasting Bureau through some delicious culinary diplomacy.

“We wanted to make it traditional but also creative,” said Fangfang Zhang, a Congressional Reporter for VOA, “We arranged our classic Chinese dishes throughout the service.  Every dish was named according to a show of the Chinese service or a current issue we are dealing with. Wancheng, who hosts the Tiger Mom show, hosted her food stand to celebrate her show and called her salad Tiger Mom Salad.  It was so much fun!”


Interview: Glenn Kates, Manager of Digital Initiatives at RFERL

Glenn Kates

Glenn Kates is one of BBG’s secret weapons, although he’s not such a secret to all those he’s worked with around Europe and Central Asia.  As the Manager of Digital Initiatives at RFERL in Prague, he is responsible for developing and implementing forward thinking digital strategies for journalists in some of the world’s most remote, censored (and sometimes hostile) locations.

Read an interview with Glenn Kates on BBG’s Innovation Series blog.

A look inside VOA Indonesian Service with Ade Astuti

Ade Astuti

Ade Astuti has been in the news business for nearly 10 years.  At the BBG, she’s been employed in a wide range of capacities—everything from Reporter to Producer to her current position as New Media Manager.

In this role, she took on exclusive responsibility for managing the digital and social media, including mobile apps, of VOA Indonesian Service.

Read more about Astuti and her work at VOA Indonesia on BBG’s Innovation Series blog.