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Re: extra PCVs

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  • Bob Utne
    Certainly, the Peace Corps needs adequate staff to support the volunteers in the field. In my opinion, the primary responsibility of Peace Corps staff is to
    Message 1 of 6 , Oct 7, 2002
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      Certainly, the Peace Corps needs adequate staff to support the
      volunteers in the field. In my opinion, the primary responsibility
      of Peace Corps staff is to assure the security of the volunteers.
      However, as we all know, there is no 100% secure situation in any
      developing nation and, in fact, our own cities. The world is
      becoming a too dangerous planet.

      This is precisely why we need a drastic increase in the amount of
      volunteers throughout the developing world. Areas of extreme
      poverty, within a world of plenty, are the breeding grounds of ill
      health/nutrition, hatred and violence.

      Each new volunteer has the oppportunity of making a small difference
      both abroad and as a returned volunteer. If the selection process
      fails to weed out those who would create a negative difference
      abroad, it needs to improve. My guess, however, is that these cases
      are relatively few and that the average American is capable of well
      representing her/her country abroad and being of positive service to
      the host countries.

      The Peace Corps needs to remain extremely honest with its recruits
      to inform them that, basically, PCVs will be on their own when
      serving overseas and only when an area is deemed too dangerous, they
      will be evacuated.

      On the other hand, some would rather eliminate the Peace Corps in
      favor of the US becoming the defacto police force of the world,
      sending in CIA agents and Special Forces to eliminate any who would
      cause us harm, either real or perceived; to protect our sources of
      foreign natural resources and to support our international business
      interests.

      Tough balancing act for our political leaders and we citizens who
      elect them to office.


      jonathonwithano wrote:
      > Generally speaking, I think that the concept of increasing the
      number of Peace Corps volunteers is a mistake. In my opinion, the
      Washington headquarters is not capable of handling the extra staff.
      I also feel that the selection process is being compromised.>
    • jonathonwithano
      The following is an excerpt from an article in the New York Times that I believe was published in the paper in early August. (This information was also posted
      Message 2 of 6 , Oct 9, 2002
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        The following is an excerpt from an article in the New York Times that
        I believe was published in the paper in early August. (This information
        was also posted on the Gabon discussion site this summer.) My opinions
        as written in my previous message regarding Washington's inability to
        handle extra PCVs stem from the information in this article.

        NY TIMES:
        Reported assaults on Peace Corps volunteers abroad more than doubled
        over the last decade, and organizational problems in the agency may
        be limiting its ability to ensure volunteers' safety, a study by the
        General Accounting Office has found. President Bush has proposed
        doubling the size of the Peace Corps, to 15,000 volunteers, and
        expanding its presence to dangerous countries, including Afghanistan.

        Critics say that since Sept. 11 Americans abroad face increased risks
        and that expanding the Peace Corps presence might put volunteers in
        harm's way. "I've been to Afghanistan, and it's a dangerous place
        for a young person," said Representative Martin T. Meehan, Democrat
        of Massachusetts, who requested the accounting office report after a
        volunteer from his district, Walter J. Poirier, 22, of Lowell,
        disappeared in February 2001. Mr. Poirier was working on a tourism
        project in the Zongo Valley in Bolivia, three hours from La Paz.

        Four volunteers have been killed since 1997 ((including Karen Philips
        in Gabon, 1999)). Incidents of "major physical assault" on
        volunteers, attacks with weapons or injuries, rose to 17 per 1,000 in
        2000, up from 8 in 1991, the report said. In addition, "major sexual
        assaults," including rape, fluctuated in that period, with a high of
        12 in 1997 and a low of 8 in 1995.

        The full extent of violence against volunteers may be significantly
        higher because many crimes go unreported, the report said. The report
        suggested that organizational problems in the Peace Corps were most
        likely worsening the problem. A five-year employment limit for
        supervisors, intended to keep the agency innovative, has resulted
        in "a situation in which the agency staff are continually
        `reinventing the wheel,' " the report said. The report also found
        that directors in the 70 or so nations that have invited the Peace
        Corps were largely autonomous, complicating the task of keeping tabs
        on volunteers and ensuring safety. Most volunteers, Peace Corps
        officials said, are in isolated locations. END


        Below are my original comments regarding the topic. I will further
        elaborate if necessary, but I stand behind the statements in the NY
        Times article.

        > > Generally speaking, I think that the concept of increasing the
        > number of Peace Corps volunteers is a mistake. In my opinion, the
        > Washington headquarters is not capable of handling the extra staff.
        > I also feel that the selection process is being compromised.>
      • Bob Utne
        When I met with Sargent Shriver, earlier this year, he mentioned that protecting the PCVs abroad was his most important function as Peace Corps Director and
        Message 3 of 6 , Oct 9, 2002
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          When I met with Sargent Shriver, earlier this year, he mentioned
          that protecting the PCVs abroad was his most important function as
          Peace Corps Director and the same responsibility was demanded of
          each Country Director.

          However, no one can provide 100% assurance that a PCV will not be
          assaulted, no matter what the training or country supervision. It's
          a dangerous job performed by some of our brightest and most able.
          Recruits should be fully informed of the possible dangers and
          trained on how best to avoid them.

          The alternative is replacing the US Peace Corps with US Marines.
        • jonathonwithano
          As a RPCV, I tend to agree with you regarding some of your statements. In terms of security, however, I think the solution is for Washington to get its act
          Message 4 of 6 , Oct 9, 2002
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            As a RPCV, I tend to agree with you regarding some of your statements.

            In terms of security, however, I think the solution is for Washington
            to get its act together before the Peace Corps increases the number of
            volunteers.




            --- In gabondiscussion@y..., "Bob Utne" <bobutne@a...> wrote:
            > When I met with Sargent Shriver, earlier this year, he mentioned
            > that protecting the PCVs abroad was his most important function as
            > Peace Corps Director and the same responsibility was demanded of
            > each Country Director.
            >
            > However, no one can provide 100% assurance that a PCV will not be
            > assaulted, no matter what the training or country supervision. It's
            > a dangerous job performed by some of our brightest and most able.
            > Recruits should be fully informed of the possible dangers and
            > trained on how best to avoid them.
            >
            > The alternative is replacing the US Peace Corps with US Marines.
          • Bob Utne
            My read is that no PCV or RPCV every thought Washington has its act together . Same situation exists in the FBI and every other Federal agency that has
            Message 5 of 6 , Oct 9, 2002
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              My read is that no PCV or RPCV every thought "Washington has its act
              together". Same situation exists in the FBI and every other Federal
              agency that has offices in the field.

              I spent six years working for a small office in the Executive Office
              of the President and was based in Washington headquarters. We had
              eight regional offices and those in the regional offices thought we
              knew nothing about their needs or even gave a crap. They were right.
              Ask the FBI agents in Arizona and Minnesota what they think of their
              headquarters.

              I'd rather have a stand up Country Director working his/her butt off
              to protect his/her PCVs than rely on DC-based bureaucrats.
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