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IHRN Human Rights Fieldwork Training 2006Siobhan Cummiskey3-13-07  10:55 am
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Kelly Pohl (c-67-174-182-238.hsd1.co.comcast.net -
Posted on Sunday, March 19, 2006 - 2:55 pm:   

I will finally, after dreaming and researching for 13 years, be leaving in January 2007 for Africa to serve in the Peace Corps. I know myself and my motivation to volunteer. But, I have to be prepared for what to expect as far as what sort of political agenda the Peace Corps, as a governmental agency, expects me, as a volunteer, to push. Are volunteers expected to espouse any specific pro-US propaganda? If so, what is the best way to handle these expectations as I am not willing to be a pawn for the government. Serious responses would be greatly appreciated. You may email me at pohlkelly@yahoo.com as well. Thank you.
Anonymous (adsl-67-127-227-114.dsl.irvnca.pacbell.net -
Posted on Monday, March 27, 2006 - 12:16 pm:   

No, you will not be expected to expose any pro-US propoganda. I was a volunteer in a highly politicized situation (Honduras during Contra War) and never felt any pressure to push US propaganda. None. However, if you come with your own political agenda and try to push it, you could have a problem. Note the recent problem of Derek Volkart, who was un-invited from Peace Corps after calling the US a facist country in a newspaper interview before departing for an assignment in Africa. I happen to agree with Peace Corps' decision in this matter. We don't need US policy pawns in Peace Corps, but neither do we need people who publically denounce the US. Focus on the problems of the community where you are placed, not your own ideologies, and you will be fine.
Anonymous (c-24-56-218-209.chrlmi.cablespeed.com -
Posted on Friday, April 14, 2006 - 5:06 pm:   

I second that. The Peace Corps philosophy is almost the opposite of what you are thinking it might be. Peace Corps volunteers are encouraged and sometimes mandated to NOT get involved in politics (even politics of the country where you are stationed). This is one reason why it was so important for the Peace Corps to get out from under the same umbrella as the military. Peace Corps is very non-political and non military. This way it is safer and volunteers can focus on the main tasks at hand, which are to help the people of the country where you are stationed.
Joanne Marie Roll (joey) (dialup- -
Posted on Friday, April 14, 2006 - 11:10 pm:   

What I think you might find, however, is in your site in Africa the people with whom you live and work will have all kinds of political ideas about the United States. I bet you will be challenged all the time and people will demand to know what you think about what the US is doing, has done and will do.
That's the tricky part.

Some may be very angry at the US and some may be very sophisticated and looking to use you to further their own agenda. Being open to the people of the world and learning about your own country from them is part of the PC experience.
I envy you just starting out! I am sure if you are both honest and cautious and mindful that what you say could impact other serving Volunteers, you will do just fine. Good Luck.
former volunteer (ca07-ch01-bl07.va-ashburn0.sa.earthlink.net -
Posted on Saturday, April 15, 2006 - 2:17 am:   

Try to remember this. You are sent for an assignment to work in your field. Be good at that field and stick to the work at hand. Promote your self creativity to the assignment. Have your personal beliefs about the US government, but remember get caught up in the exchange of ideas and methods of your job and assignment. By the way, its better not to tell administrators of Peace Corps, you aren't going to push the pro-government stance. That just gives them the red flag.

Talk about your work with them. That's my advice.

former volunteer
Anonymous (pool-71-110-140-187.lsanca.dsl-w.verizon.net -
Posted on Friday, June 02, 2006 - 9:53 pm:   

I hope you do better in your assignment than you did in 13 years of research of the Peace Corps.
Lesotho RPCV

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