Paid PCVs

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Peace Corps Library: Special Reports: Sargent Shriver calls for a new Peace Corps (11/15/01): May 28, 2002 - PCOL Op-Ed: Why the Peace Corps needs a Fourth Goal : Paid PCVs

By Dave Johnson on Wednesday, June 05, 2002 - 9:42 am: Edit Post

I feel that both my PCV service in small business and my wife's service in early childhood education would have gone better and produced more if the organizations we served had paid for our services. We who come from a capitalist society should realize that often, free help is worth just that, nothing. I feel that, if the community had paid for my services, they would have more aggresively utilized them. They might not have been so quick to request a PCV if it was going to cost them and, they might have been more apt to set up programs where these services, if requested, would pay off for them. As it was, they had no incentive to either refuse my services nor to utilize them. That was a bad dynamic.
I, of course, don't mean that the PCV should be paid directly or the PC should profit from their volunteers. Payment would be worked out for each case and, it would be appropriate to what could be paid. Any "profits" could be placed in some sort of fund for projects.
I worked in third world countries as an advisor/ consultant and, in every case, the host country kept a close eye on me and saw to it that I was putting in time and actually doing what I said I would do. That served as an incentive to me and, in the end, allowed me to come away feeling I had accomplished something, a feeling lacking with my PC experience.
There are few communties so poor they can't afford even a token payment. If such communities exist, exceptions could be made.
So, was my experience unique in this respect and thus am I completly full of shit or can other identify? Dave Johnson

By Joe Mlynarczyk on Wednesday, June 05, 2002 - 4:36 pm: Edit Post

You're totally right and this is similar to the model Bill Gates is following.

By Julie Dervin on Wednesday, June 05, 2002 - 10:24 pm: Edit Post

You didn't include what you and your wife were there to do in small business and early childhood education. Were you frustrated because people didn't respond to the models that you proposed? What had the community requested that you do, and to what extent did the people in the community know what your role was to be?

By Dave Johnson on Wednesday, June 05, 2002 - 11:17 pm: Edit Post

I didn't really want to personalize it that much lest it become whining about our lack of success. My wife was assigned to a school as a teacher trainer. The teachers didn't feel they needed any training. What they wanted was someone to take their classes for them so they could sit and visit. PC didn't see it that way. They didn't want her to teach students but to bring new methods to the teachers. The teachers advised Marcia to bring a book to read so the day wouldn't seem so long to her. They said that every time she talked to them it just meant more work for them trying out new methods when they felt the old method of them copying it on the board and the students copying it from the board to their copy books was just fine.
I was assigned to help small businessmen in a rural coop. The coop was riddled with corruption and they weren't at all interested in anything I had to offer.
In spite of what we saw as underutilization, we were extended for an additional year at another site. This time Marcia was an advisor at a teacher's training school where she met, not resistance but, indifference. In both these cases, it wasn't the schools which requested her, it was the Ministry of Education in the Capital. The schools had no say in it. As for me, I made it thru with secondary projects, some of which were quite rewarding but, they were things I made up myself to keep busy.
I base my recommendation on the experiences of others as well as my own. It would have been a completely different ball game if the teachers in both these institutions had wanted advice and innovative thinking enough so they would have been willing to pay for it and, if the coop felt the need of outside "expertise". They didn't and so the time of two highly trained and highly motivated people was essentially wasted. Dave Johnson RPCV Paraguay 1989-93

By Ronald G Ison (ronison) on Thursday, June 20, 2002 - 9:48 am: Edit Post

As far as I can tell it was/is the cooperatives program that is completely full of shit.

By Tanya ( - on Thursday, January 06, 2005 - 12:22 pm: Edit Post

Dave, it sounds to me that the problem lies in site selection and placement rather than making poor communities pay for your services. In the Dominican Republic I've faced many of the same indifferences to my help from teachers. The trick is to find those one or two teachers who do want your help and then go with that. Once the other teachers see that your ideas work or are worthwhile, they will come on board. In my third year I worked in the PC office as the coordinator for the education program and finding schools that truly wanted the volunteer and were willing to implement change was a major priority. But even finding the most interested community does not mean that all volunteers will find "success".

By V.K. Bullock ( - on Tuesday, August 23, 2005 - 4:58 am: Edit Post

V. Bullock 2001-2003 South Africa

It is inspiring to hear some of the obstacles facing PCVs world wide. I remember our last session at COS, 2003. What similarities, a non caring community and staffs for the most part, who were not particularly beholden to us for coming. Re thinking it, I am the one who gained from the experience. I learned from the people. It was my position from the beginning that the first thing was to respect what had already been accomplished in the primary schools by those who were already there. The attitude that we came to teach you something is not always welcome.

By Anonymous ( - on Tuesday, June 26, 2007 - 1:17 pm: Edit Post

I am not sure who put this in here in my name but it was not the Ron Ison to whom it is attributed.

Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.