The Truth about the Peace Corps

As the Peace Corps turns fifty, now is an auspicious time to discuss Peace Corps reform. With annual expenses of less than $500 million, the organization costs little when considered in the broader budgetary debate on Capitol Hill. Over the past ten years, two disparate narratives have encompassed most talk surrounding the organization. The first has to do with Peace Corps volunteer (PCV) safety. The second issue has to do with inadequate funding.

First, the claims that the Peace Corps is not doing enough to keep volunteers safe are, for the most part, baseless. Many of the rules designed to make PCVs safer are either ineffectual or counterproductive.

Is there risk in joining the Peace Corps? Absolutely. But people are also at risk when they drive to work, cross the street, go skiing and pass through Manhattan’s Riverside Park late at night. Bad things happen. Female volunteers are at greater risk than men for obvious reasons, but that does not mean that Peace Corps Safety and Security policies are always are putting PCVs in imminent danger. Many times these rules are just annoying hoops that PCVs jump through until they start to ignore them.

However, a few “Safety and Security” policies are counterproductive. For example, an official rule of Peace Corps Guatemala states that volunteers are not allowed to leave their site more than one weekend per month for recreational purposes. When a volunteer does leave, that person is “required” to call the Peace Corps office and leave a message stating where they will be and how they can be reached. The thinking is that, in case of an emergency (like a natural disaster) administrators will know where all their volunteers are.

This is a terrible idea. Volunteers invariably fail to report their travel plans because they do not want to be reprimanded. Administrators must know this; it is an obvious point. Most Peace Corps volunteers are adventurous, worldly people in their late-twenties and most live in rural communities. Consequently, these folks will want to “get out of site” a bit more frequently than the Peace Corps prescribes. So PCVs usually do not call out of site. Many times, administrators do not know where volunteers are. And round and round we go.

Many people have argued for greater funding for the Peace Corps. However, more money is not the best way to go about improving the organization.

The most frustrating aspect my Peace Corps experience was that administrators did not seem to care very much about volunteer achievement. While achievement was certainly encouraged, many Peace Corps administrators were happier to see quiet volunteers, staying out of trouble. In fact, I know people who did (literally) almost nothing in two years of service. If readers to do not believe this assertion, I would encourage them to ask around. Trust me. It happens. Being a Peace Corps volunteer is not easy and working with counterpart NGOs can be frustrating. Nevertheless, there is always something that can be done. After all, these are developing countries.

The Peace Corps has no accountability mechanism. Rather, administrators seem to just look the other way instead of dealing with volunteer laziness, complacency or frustration. There is plenty of all three; I promise. While many smart people, including some US Congressmen, have good intentions, they are wrong on this issue. Bolstering accountability must come first, not additional funding or superficial safety regulations.

Most former volunteers know the truth. The Peace Corps is riddled with inefficiencies. The application process is even worse. This bureaucracy needs to be streamlined. PCVs must be held more accountable in terms of productivity. I do not pretend to have all the answers, but it is important that people start asking the appropriate questions.

I do love the Peace Corps. It is because I care so much, that I raise these issues. In my lifetime, I am not sure that the US role in world affairs has ever been more controversial. Budgetary constraints and overextension abroad are huge problems. Guess what? The mission of the Peace Corps is more relevant now that ever. The Peace Corps is soft power on steroids. There is no better way for the US to promote its interests abroad, but the Peace Corps could be so much better than it currently is.

Since 1961, nearly 200,000 volunteers have served. Reform will be a slow, organic process. Former volunteers must demand meaningful change. Answering the call to serve is not an ephemeral moment, but a lifestyle choice. Let the debate begin.

This article was previously published in The Journal of Foreign Relations.

Taylor Dibbert

Taylor Dibbert holds a BA in political science from the University of Georgia and a Master of International Affairs degree from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA). He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala from 2006-2008. He is the author of the recently published book, Fiesta of Sunset: The Peace Corps, Guatemala and a Search for Truth. 

27 Responses to "The Truth about the Peace Corps"

  1. Gerald Cox  September 30, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    I don’t know what Mr. Dibbert was doing while in the Peace Corps but I can say for myself and the more than 100 other Peace Corps teachers with whom I served in Kenya (1983 to 1984), that we worked very hard and in very difficult conditions. We showed up every day in the classroom, taught students who were often poorly prepared, and made do with very few resources. Moreover, many of us did this while fighting long periods of illness, isolation, and loneliness. I can’t imagine what sort of efficiency improvements Mr. Dibbert would try to bring to bear on the Peace Corps, but I can tell you that, with few exceptions, volunteers are highly motivated and are doing the best that can be done in very difficult circumstances.

    Reply
    • Taylor Dibbert  October 1, 2011 at 9:39 am

      Dear Mr. Cox,

      I agree with you. I did not mean to imply that most Peace Corps volunteers are lazy or incompetent. On the contrary, most of the PCVs I know served their country with dignity and grace. Having said that, I do think the absence of accountability (at least when it comes to work) is still a big problem in the Peace Corps. And it is a problem that I would like to see talked about more often.

      Reply
      • Gerald Cox  October 2, 2011 at 3:22 pm

        Mr. Dibbert,
        Your initial meaning was clear. In your original commentary you stated that there was plenty of volunteer laziness, complacency or frustration: “there is plenty of all three; I promise.” In your reply to my comment, you stated that “[you] did not mean to imply that most Peace Corps volunteers are lazy or incompetent.” It seems disingenuous in the extreme to tar Peace Corps volunteers with these epithets and then to parse words: regardless of whether you use the words “most”, “many,” or “plenty,” your comments were inaccurate and insulting.
        Gerald Cox

        Reply
        • PCV-current  October 4, 2011 at 4:37 pm

          Mr. Cox,

          I’m not sure what fantasy world you’re living in, but there are many volunteers who accomplish absolutely nothing while serving overseas. They typically try to justify the absence of work by falling back on goals 1 & 2. “While maybe I didn’t really facilitate any development, but I did shared American culture & values”. I argue that while this would have been very relevant when the PC was created (during the cold war), it’s time to for it to end.

          Peace Corps has since cast itself as a development agency, and needs to do a better job of being one. Like the OP has said, there is absolutely no system of accountability when it comes to getting work done – volunteers are free to do as little as possible and not face any repercussions. For Peace Corps to make a quantifiable difference in the host-countries, drastic change is needed. As of right now, Peace Corps is only playing development.

          My recommendation would be that Peace Corps needs to begin verifying that its applicants are dedicated to the idea of development, and also have respect for it. As an education volunteer I see many volunteers who come as teachers, are confused by the scientific field of development, can rattle off some key words after PST(sustainability, community involvement, skills transfer), and then proceed to teach for the sake of teaching.

          Volunteers who are less technically qualified, but have degrees in development studies, must attain certain certifications…why shouldn’t the other half be required to prove their suitability by completely coursework in development studies?

          I’ll end with that and look forward to your response.

          Thanks for your service.

          In Liberty,

          Anon

          Reply
          • Gerald Cox  October 4, 2011 at 6:19 pm

            Anon,
            I’ve been explicit about who I am, where I served, and what I saw. If you would like to do the same, we might have the basis for a worthwhile conversation. At this point, I’ll just say that I don’t see anything wrong with “teaching for the sake of teaching” as you put it. Also, I don’t see much value in insisting that “less technical” PCVs have rigorous coursework in development studies — and I that as someone who holds a Ph.D. in Economics (University of Michigan, Economic Development was one of my two principal fields). Being a good teacher and having the right motivation is more than enough to make a good PCV. Perhaps we can continue our conversation once I know with whom I talking — please have the courage of your convictions and tell us who you are and where you are serving.
            Gerald Cox

    • PCV-current  October 6, 2011 at 3:21 pm

      Mr. Cox

      Unfortunately I am not comfortable divulging more specific information about my identify or location of service. I would however, caution Mr. Cox to remember that it’s been more than two decades since he last served in Peace Corps, and much has changed.

      It has become a dysfunctional organization which lacks strong leadership and a clear pathway. And has become too decentralized (not physically) and fails to adequately support volunteers.

      You say that simply going to a country and making an effort is sufficient, I say prove it. Peace Corps isn’t able to drop down deeper than the surface level when it comes to this. “We have over 200 volunteers working with host-country nationals in water sanitation, education, and HIV/AIDS…and they are making a huge difference”. Or are they?

      And how dare you infer that I lack the traits of courage and conviction. I’m simply protecting my position as a PCV…it wouldn’t be the first time that a volunteer is reprimanded for posting unpopular & critical comments.

      Also, I said that MORE technically qualified applicants (those with teaching degrees, etc.) should be required to have completed SOME coursework in development studies.

      *I’m not too far away from Kenya.

      Reply
  2. Kh  September 30, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Pc is more dangerous. That is why they need to know where they are; discounting this rule is an excuse to harm.

    Reply
  3. Joanne Roll  September 30, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    As a RPCV, I believe that one of the benefits of service is that you earn an absolute right to state your opinion and have it respected by others, most of all RPCVs. Conversely, one cannot take one’s own experience and apply it globally, as Taylor Dibbert has done, to all PCVs in all countries through time. Taylor, you do not have the right to claim my experience to support your personal agenda.

    The Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act of 2011 has bipartisan support and is expected to be voted on in Congress by mid-October. It would give Volunteers the right to be transferred from a site where they feel unsafe.
    It would provide applicants and trainees with current information about violence in a proposed country/site. It would guarantee supportive counseling and medical support to victims of crime. It would also make sure that all Volunteers had the means to communicate, quickly, with Peace Corps staff. This legislation is based on the experiences of Volunteers with sexual assault and subsequent inadequate response from the Peace Corps administration.
    Peace Corps does have an admirable record of evacuating Volunteers from crisis zones, safely. The reporting rules facilitate that ability.

    Dibbert doesn’t appear to understand much about the organization of the Peace Corps agency or why it operates as it does. There is constant staff turnover because tenure with the agency is limited to five years. Additionally, some thirty decision making positions are reserved for political appointees. There is no preference given in civil service for Peace Corps service. Political appointees may or may not have prior experience as a Volunteer. There is virtually no institutional memory nor systems in place to hold anyone accountable – staff or Volunteers. I think this system needs to change. Perhaps this is where Dibbert and I might be in agreement.

    However, the kind of rant that Dibbett makes is not atypical for returning and frustrated PCVs. It has been going on for decades and has had little effect.
    Factual based advocacy might.

    Reply
    • Taylor Dibbert  October 1, 2011 at 9:47 am

      Dear Mrs. Roll,

      First, my intention was not to take my experience and apply it “globally to all PCVs in all countries through time.” However, the safety and security policies that have been designed over the past decade or so are not usually country specific. They are rules that are created in Washington, DC and then applied to Peace Corps countries throughout the world. The article is intended to be a critique of the Peace Corps “today.” Having said that, I think some readers who were Peace Corps volunteers in earlier times might also agree with me or at least find that my argument is not irrelevant.

      As far as the legislation you cited. If it passes I hope it turns out to be extremely effective. I am not “anti-safety” but I am against the idea that more rules will always make people safer. It is comments like the one you made in your response that worry me: “The reporting rules facilitate that ability.” Mrs. Roll, this is exactly my point, the reporting rules do not facilitate anything except less safety and less transparency if people don’t even follow them. I have spoken with a number of other volunteers in various countries, and the point I’m making about not calling out of site is not something that just happened in Guatemala from 2006-2008.

      It sounds like we actually do agree a lot on reforming the Peace Corps bureaucracy. Which, again, would imply that the second main point of my article is not Guatemala specific, but that it is applicable in a more general sense as well. I do not understand this statement: “Dibbert doesn’t appear to understand much about the organization of the Peace Corps agency or why it operates as it does.” This is an absurd statement. Of course I am aware of how the bureaucracy operates; all PCVs know this stuff. But the article I wrote is an op-ed not a high school research paper, so I didn’t go into detail about it.

      Let me be clear, I think that the rapes, sexual assaults, etc. that have been committed against Peace Corps volunteers are deplorable. I understand the Peace Corps might not always have done a perfect job of responding to these incidents.

      My main concern is that two big ideas have monopolized the debate about Peace Corps reform: people who are always talking about safety and those who think that more money will solve all or most of the problems. Only talking about reform in these two contexts is unacceptable.

      Reply
    • Alexander Dean  October 1, 2011 at 6:59 pm

      Really surprised by the heat being generated here and the hostility. Taylor Dibbert hasn’t insulted the Dali Lama and didn’t indict every single PCV experience; he simply raised two important points that he thinks need to be looked at carefully — based on his experience. And for the record, my college girlfriend did the Peace Corps thing and completely agrees with him.

      I pursued a career in business and based upon what I’ve heard I firmly believe bureacracy is a huge problem for the PC. The turnover issues Ms. Roll references only underscores the validity of Dibbert’s claims. I would think that a $500 million enterprise could get McKinsey to do a pro bono research study to accurately asses the issues being so hotly debated. And really, given the financial crisis this country is facing, every government funded entity should be able to withstand close scrutiny and demonstate their effectiveness against some metrics.

      JFK had a dream. In some ways, the Peace Corps has probably exceeded his wildest hopes, but at age 50 it may be time to rethink its execution strategy.

      Cheers,

      AD

      Reply
  4. Taylor  September 30, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    I’m a current Volunteer serving in PC Paraguay. You raise fine points, I just think that the line between accountability and flexibility is blurry. I would say I spend most my day “not being productive” by American standards, but I think talking with locals, and helping my host family with lunch is just as much apart of what I’m supposed to be doing here as teaching language classes.

    Reply
    • Taylor Dibbert  October 1, 2011 at 9:54 am

      Hi Taylor,

      I agree; you make great points. That is one of the main reasons why the issue of holding PCVs more accountable in terms of work is such a challenge.

      I am not implying that PCVs must treat their work like a 9-5 job. I think talking with locals and helping your host mother are good things that every PCV should be doing. I just also think that the PCVs should be held to slightly higher standards when it comes to their primary or secondary job, whatever that might be.

      Reply
    • lordblazer  January 23, 2014 at 11:50 am

      Yea people forget also that PCVs are on 24/7. quite literally, PCVs are held accountable for their actions 24/7. you are never off the clock.

      Reply
  5. Joanne Roll  September 30, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    Taylor,

    Are you Taylor Dibbert? The short bio indicated that you were a Volunteer in Guatemala and I did not think you were still serving. If so, I am not quite sure what it is you are saying. I cannot reconcile what it being said in the article about Volunteers not being accountable and the comment that you felt you were “not being productive by American Standards.”

    I would like to see systems that allow for more “feedback from the field.”
    Peace Corps has been in both Guatemala and Paraguay for decades. There should be amble records in both countries about what Volunteers have done, how Host Country Nationals evaluated the work; what has been learned and where the focus should be for best results. Did you find such records? If so, was the information helpful?

    If you are not the Taylor Dibbert who posted the article, please make that clear!
    Take care.

    Reply
  6. Joanne Roll  October 1, 2011 at 10:45 am

    Dear Mr. Dibbert,

    I think I now understand that Taylor of Paraguay is not Taylor Dibbert. i wish Taylor of Paraguay the very best in his service.

    I, of course, Mr. Dibbert, am a RPCV from “earlier times.” We too had reporting requirements and restrictions on “out of site” time. They were ineffective because in the early 60s, communication took days. If there were evacuation plans, I was never told of them, also typical of those times. Because my site was in an area that became targeted for the violence that was to mark my host country for generations, I am particularly sensitive to safety measures. I am impressed with the fact that Peace Corps has successfully evacuated whole contingents during host country political emergencies. I attribute that to the monitoring of Volunteers’ locations. If you disagree, I would appreciate hearing your take on how Peace Corps has been able to do that.

    Now this statement of yours: “First, the claims that the Peace Corps is not doing enough to keep volunteers safe are, for the most part, baseless.” You are, sir, a ignorant fool. Read the testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs in May of 2011. The testimony is from the Inspector General of the Peace Corps, the mother of murdered Volunteer Kate Puzey, and Peace Corps women who were raped during service.

    RPCVs have been “bull s*&ting” about Peace Corps accountability for fifty years. It a time honored tradition. You have earned the right to join it. However, fundamentally, the organization is not designed for accountability. It is not a totally civil service system. Volunteers are not employees; they enjoy an unique status, that of Volunteer, and they serve at the “pleasure of the President.” Any
    discussion of reform, must begin with facts; not opinions. I do think it is a discussion worth having.

    The legislation created because of the testimony from Peace Corps women will put into law one form of accountability, and is one important reform step. I think because of the unique factors in Peace Corps organization, accountability will have to be accomplished by legislative mandated systems, very difficult to do.

    For example, I personally believe that the opinion of host country nationals should be paramount in evaluating a Volunteer’s effectiveness. However, that too is fraught with political implications. A Volunteer working well with a disenfranchised population may be threatening to an entrenched bureaucracy.
    I would also like to see the status of “Volunteer” amended by a personal service contract. Such a contract would spell out mutual rights and responsibilities between Volunteer and the PC agency.

    Now, finally, Mr. Dibbert, just out of curiosity, why did you begin by addressing me as “Mrs. Roll”?

    Reply
  7. James  October 1, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    I always thought that accountability was deplorable for PCV performance, and worse off PC does not even quantify achievements by PCV’s to know what is going on in the field. They just highlight feel good stories. Yes, we all have the best of intentions, but so many volunteers under-perform or at least do not achieve as much as we would have liked to.

    I thought a novel solution to this would be to require a partial subsidy by the counterpart agency. Also, counterparts should have a hiring process to contract the PCV. This would increase involvement by the host agency, and the PCV would get a say into what situation he/she is getting into. To top this off, PC should monitor what successes its volunteers achieve and publish these results openly. Not to say whether a volunteer is good or bad, but to measure if the programs need to be improved.

    Reply
  8. Joanne Roll  October 1, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Mr. Dibbert,

    I have not read your book, “Fiesta of Sunset”, but, I did read a very positive review of it on Peace Corps Worldwide. That review would suggest that you are far more capable of a reasoned analysis than your article here would indicate.

    You call for more accountability on the part of serving Volunteers and then justify ignoring an accountability requirement – in site for three weekends out of four – because Volunteers are “worldly adventurous people.” Breaking that rule negates a reasonable safety and security reg. But you attack the safety and security reg, rather than the requirement that Volunteers stay inside for most weekends.

    Reply
  9. Joanne Roll  October 1, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    Correction: “Stay in site”

    Reply
  10. Joanne Roll  October 1, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    To Alexander Dean,

    I am not sure where you see hostility. Citing facts to refute generalization or false statements is not hostile. Dibbert’s statement:

    “First, the claims that the Peace Corps is not doing enough to keep volunteers safe are, for the most part, baseless.”

    is ignorant. He is a fool to think he will not be challenged for such a stupid, sweeping, and false statement. I cited the Congressional testimony that refutes his statement. Right now, Mr. Dean, a group of very brave women, who were assault victims during their Peace Corps service, have worked very hard to promote legislation to address very real safety problems. The legislation has bipartisan sponsorship and is supported by thousands of Peace Corps Volunteers, serving as well as returned. It is on the verge of passage. I would urge you and your RPCV girl friend and everyone to contact their Congress delegation and ask them to support this very necessary legislation.

    I did point out internal contractions in Mr. Dibbert’s article. I do think that reform is very necessary for the Peace Corps. I would like to see personal service contracts for all Volunteers. I also believe that successful service as a Peace Corps Volunteer should be a prerequisite for any job with the Peace Corps agency. I deplore the number of political appointees running the agency.

    However, I sense that you are not aware that the unique organization of the Peace Corps, including the staff turnover, is mandated by law, not by bureaucratic fiat. The organization lacks the power to change itself. Reform must come from Congress. For that to be successful, facts, not opinion, must be the basis for discussion.

    An agency assessment was ordered by Congress last year. Peace Corps produced such an assessment and it can be found on the Peace Corps government website. I don’t particularly agree with it. However, you should read it before recommending that such an evaluation be done.

    Reply
    • lordblazer  January 23, 2014 at 11:49 am

      The secret with peace corps is that many volunteers participate in victim blaming. In this way it is like a cult. If you are older and more mature you don’t get caught in the crossfire of this, but you see it in the volunteers fresh out of college.

      Reply
  11. Frank  October 2, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    During my two years in the PC, the female PCVs who were sexually assaulted/molested had more to fear from the male PCVs than the HCNs. Nobody ever talks about that dirty little secret of the PC.

    Reply
  12. Joanne Roll  October 2, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    The Senate has passed the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act, unanimously. It now goes to the House. The legislation does not limit
    threats, harassment, or assaults to specific genders, ethnicity, or job titles.

    One of the most tragic Peace Corps murders is recounted in the book, “American Taboo.” It is the murder of one Volunteer by another.

    Reply
  13. Joanne Roll  October 5, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    For those of you in the DC area, there will be a Hearing on the Future of the Peace Corps:

    U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
    Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Peace Corps, and Global Narcotics Affairs

    HEARING:
    Peace Corps, The Next 50 Years

    Presiding:
    Senator Menendez

    When & Where:
    Thursday, October 6, 2011
    10:30 am
    Room 419
    Senate Dirksen Office Building

    Reply
  14. Joanne Roll  October 7, 2011 at 4:40 am

    All,

    The Senate Hearings today focused on reforming the Peace Corps management to make it more responsive to Volunteer input. I hope all of you find this encouraging. I did. I think that the concerns expressed here were echoed in one form or another at the Hearing. Senator Menendez seems sincere and knowledgeable.

    Something I find very sad is that when Volunteers, serving and returned, talk over time and space, we know our own experience but not that of other Volunteers.

    Reply
  15. liz burbank  October 12, 2011 at 2:41 am

    The Peace Corps has always been a u.s. imperialist soft power arm – like USAID /Soros NGOs – dedicated to extending and securing U.S. global domination. These ‘humanitarian’ missions serving US ‘diplomacy, democracy, development’, are designed to seduce indigenous populations, making it an easier sell for their US proxy rulers, and to seduce idealistic well-intentioned ‘homeland’ liberals.

    U.S. Department of State Commemorates 50 Years of Peace Corps … “16 Mar 2011 … U.S. Department of State Commemorates 50 Years of Peace Corps … Peace Corps

    Director Aaron S. Williams and Under Secretary of State for …” http://www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=resources.media.press.view&news_id=1736

    Reply
  16. Rob  December 18, 2011 at 6:14 am

    I’m not associated with PC in any way, however I did graduate from college with a large number of friends and acquaintances who became PCVs. I kept up with them via email, skype, and blogs. The impression I got was that while some PCVs were hardworking and dedicated people who shed a lot of sweat in their host nations, there were a lot of volunteers who were basically there to have an adventure first and help people second. More than half of the PCVs I kept in touch with admitted to having very little contact with local people, sticking to the expat and volunteer community whenever possible. A good friend told me that during the last six months of her tour she was only doing three hours of actual volunteer work a week…the rest of the time was spent watching tv and trying to spend time with a cute PCV in another part of the country. (This is a straw man argument, but it’s an example that I saw over and over again with different PCVs).

    I’m sure that I didn’t see the whole story–all the less highlight-worthy details of volunteer work. Also I graduated in the middle of the recession, so I know that many of my PCV friends joined in order to avoid being unemployed, rather than a great passion for the work. So my sample population may be atypical in that regard. But the fact that so many folks back home are reading these PCV blogs or following them on facebook and getting a bad impression should worry the PC leadership.

    Reply
    • lordblazer  January 23, 2014 at 11:43 am

      A lot of the time when the volunteer doesn’t have work to do often it is things outside of their control. I served in Morocco in Youth Development. All YD volunteers worked with a superviser at a youth center. Now if your youth cener in your site gets shut down by the ministry of youth and sports then yea you don’t get to do much. IF you want to do something you end up working on projects in other people’s site. In the summer youth are mostly away and when ramadan hits no one is doing anything and your youth center is only open 3 hrs a day like most of the gov’t. PEace Corps though has a hard time finding balance between 16 hour work days and having no work to do at all. Because during PST you will be spending a lot of time with other volunteers because you are doing CBT it is design that way. you live in a town with 4 other volunteers. Anyway it’s a tough job, especially if you get a site that’s on your own. Also PC leadership monitor these blogs so you are not getting the full picture. You should read the blog post of volunteers that were medically separated, or those who early terminated their service (many do this for safety reasons, harassment in site, authorities harassing them in site like military police who think the volunteeer is CIA. The challenges are many and there are many reasons why volunteers are at site with nothing to do. You do get the super volunteers. One thing no one tells you about these volunteers is that they’re at sites where peace corps is well known within the community. Soo when they get there, they are able to easily find counter-parts, they are able to find associations that are willing to cooperate and no one is pulling a knife on them when they are exploring their town and meeting the locals or going door to door with their superviser introducing themselves. Now that was just with PC Morocco which gets called Posh Corps. In many other peace corps countries. a lot of volunteers get sent to sites where violence and murder is an everyday thing. I had a friend who was sent to a site in sierra leone where human sacrifice was a weekly thing in his village and some villagers use to joke saying “soon it will be your turn”. This guy is seriously messed up now.I din’t have much work on my site besides my English course and did a lot of my work with search for common ground. other volunteers worked with surfing associations etc etc. I knew one guy who worked with engineers without borders to build a bridge in his old site. there is work to do volunteers have to find it, but sometimes using PACA to find out the community needs can make a community suspicious of you “hy does this american want me to know the places I frequent in my day to day life, he/she must be CIA” *throws rock at volunteer* ya you get a lot of rocks thrown at you too. (again this happens in a lot of new sites, and it one of the main reasons why certain volunteers are either spending a lot of time out of site or hiding in their homes in site(not recommended). I worked with an NGO so I had to travel around morocco a lot the problem was I never broadcasted this on my FB soooo people would see pictures of my in Agadir, or in Marrakech and go “are you sure you’re working?” and I see that question after a 14 hour day of managing a project with a local youth council or after I just finished working a summer day camp. All in all I am really confident in you not getting the full picture. You will never get it. Unless you go face to face to volunteers and they really tell you what is up.

      Reply

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