June 25, 2002 - Senator Chris Dodd holds Hearings on the New Peace Corps Legislation

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Discussion Stories: June 25, 2002 - Senator Chris Dodd holds Hearings on the New Peace Corps Legislation
Senator Chris Dodd holds Hearings on new Peace Corps Legislation

The Final Version of the Peace Corps Bill
To amend the Peace Corps Act to promote global acceptance of the principles of international peace and nonviolent coexistence among peoples of diverse cultures and systems of government.

Senator Dodd's Opening Statement at the Hearings
"We can begin to address the needs and challenges of today's and tomorrow's Peace Corps, so that it can continue to be relevant for the 21st century."

Testimony at the Hearings

Peace Corps Director Gaddi Vasquez
"Collectively, we are all at the beginning stages of reviewing the legislation."

"One of the major strengths of the (original) Peace Corps Act is that it is a broad authorization, which has over the years, given ample opportunity for the agency to maintain its independence and its effectiveness."

Former Peace Corps Director Mark Schneider
"I strongly support the fundamental purpose of the Act."

NPCA President Dane Smith
The NPCA supports the bill and intends "to work hard for its passage."

RPCV Barbara Ferris
"I speak in strong support of the Peace Corps Charter for the 21st Century Act."

RPCV John Coyne
Senator Dodd, I join with other RPCVs in "thanking you for working to strengthen the Peace Corps."

Reports on the Hearings

The Orange County Register
Director Vasquez cautions against changes that may hinder decisions.

John Coyne reports on the Hearings
Senator Dodd made the point that he hoped to have this Act passed by this July.

Background Information on the Bill

Coverage on the Previous Draft Bill

RPCV Congressmen support Peace Corps Autonomy

Rep. Sam Farr discusses the legislation with PCOL

The Case for Peace Corps Independence

The Peace Corps Fund

By Bankass.com on Tuesday, July 02, 2002 - 5:43 am: Edit Post

All the members, Senator Dodd, The NPCA and the new Administration are totally off the mark on this legistlation. A bunch of Ivy league Bunk. They have stricken the most important part of the bill by having two volunteers at every site for safety. 15 Volunteers have been killed, died or are missing since 1996. Many more have been harassed, beaten and threatened during service. This legislation furthers the cover up at Peace Corps. Its unsafe as an organization and treats volunteers and volunteers who have experiences without civil rights. The Peace Corps will continue to send volunteers out into Muslim countries, alone saying its safe.The State Department knows whether its safe or not the Peace Corps will contend. Just ask any volunteer how many State Department officials they saw during their service. Very Few. Volunteers are the program and volunteers should make up the prevention of death or violence by having two volunteers in every village. No Compromise. The Inspector General at Peace Corps is hired by the director of Peace Corps. He or She is not independent.

By Steve Manning on Tuesday, July 02, 2002 - 11:45 pm: Edit Post

I guess a real issue is, assuming the figures cited are accurate, how does this death rate compare with that expected in various segments of U.S. society for people of the same ages as the volunteers involved. I'm not sure the average death rate in suburban America is less than that, let alone in rural or urban America or in other overseas positions.

A second issue is, is there statistically valid evidence that placing two individuals in the same place actually would lower the death or injury rate (or other undesirable events), either in the host countries or in the U.S.?

Are there not many more situations in which the host country can optimally use one volunteer than those in which they can use two at the same location? If so, do we want to shut ourselves out of these situations without assessing the risks and benefits on a case-by-case basis?

And finally, are there data on whether volunteers in pairs are more or less effective than other volunteers, as volunteers?

By bankass.com on Saturday, July 06, 2002 - 1:32 pm: Edit Post

Steve Appreciate your response. 1.The Figures are accurate. Just, look it up. Do you want me to name each person? What I want is care and support of volunteers on the ground, not offices of Safety in Washington, DC that waste the tax payers money and make other volunteers uneasy.
2.Death Rate compared with US Suburban Cities. Eight Volunteers since 1999. Say 4,200 serve each year that is 12,600 people and eight people are dead and four are murdered in my opinion that's an injustice.Gearon, Schnieder,Baquet, Pearson and now Vassquez are responsible as well as others who tolerate it for dangerous policy that contributed to these tragedies.
3. Two Volunteers would increase communication between Americans if someone was physically attacked. Especailly, women Steve. It would increase support in terms of man and woman power. Human Resources. Perhaps, we should start the statistics for these occurences in foreign countries at Peace Corps, just being snide. Approximately, 75% serve with another volunteer now. Its those twenty five percent that need protection whether they like it or not. (Steve once you have a problem at your site, you will think differently.)
4. if we have pairs in every case, more volunteers will join Peace Corps.
3A. How would you measure the data on pairs

By Chris on Saturday, July 06, 2002 - 7:44 pm: Edit Post

I would half to agree with Steve. I was a PCV and I'm a woman. I served in two different sites b/c of a health issue; my first site being one of the most remote where I was the only American for miles around and the other was a more integrated town with other aid workers and I was near other PCV's. In my experience and that of my fellow women co-PCV's, we felt safer in the towns that were isolated and where we were by ourselves. We all experienced more harassment and general safety problems at sites where this "doubling up" system many people support was implemented. I don't think this "doubling up" system will solve anything. Rather I think that the Peace Corps headquarters in each respective country need to be better at site assessment and receive more volunteer input. I think that saying that the State Department should know whether or not we are safe is only helpful in a general sense. Obviously Iraq isn't a safe place to be, but anyone with a brain can figure that out but being able to assess the safety of a country (and the parts of a country) that a volunteer spends most of his or her own time in is something better left up to Peace Corps b/c as badass says, how many of us have seen a state dept. official at site? None, that's because none of them go to these remote areas to even see what it's like. how many state department officials live in a small village working at the grassroots level and developing a close relationship with the HCN's that you live side by side with? I'd guess zero. They're too busy riding around in their Land Rover's telling the HCN's what they need. If a site isn't safe for one volunteer then why put two there? Two weeks after moving to my new site someone in my village tried to sexually assault me. There's no way that having a second PCV there would have prevented that. The only thing that kept my attacker from fully assaulting me was the safety traing I received in PST. Also, if you integrate yourself into the community like you should there will be people looking out for you. Also, in regards to the volunteers who have passed, some of them went against basic peace corps safety training-- i.e. leaving site without authorization, leaving site without letting someone at site know where you were going, travelling in methods that were deemed unsafe by PC. We have all done these things one time or another but these are choices that we have made and they have consequences that we choose to ignore, and most are lucky to escape the consequences. On a side note, sites where there were more volunteers together tended to have less contact with the HCN's because they were tempted too often to go hang out with the fellow americans than spending time with the locals.

By bankass.com on Tuesday, August 06, 2002 - 5:45 am: Edit Post

I appreciate your comments. I am not a "badass" as you might say. But, there is one issue that gets me upset and its Peace Corps safety and security issues. Prevention: You would have never had that training if we hadn't pushed Peace Corps on safety. Also, you have proved my point. There are many assaults of volunteers. Was there another volunteer at your site. If not perhaps, the assailant wouldn't have if they thought there was another person there. Just a thought. I am working on an assumption. More importantly, I am glad to hear everything turned out ok for you in general. I think there are times that two will defer attacks, yes I do. I also, don't think it will hurt the program. I spent most of my time with locals. 15 volunteers have died, been killed or are missing. You may not have had a bad experiences, but their choice to join Peace Corps should not be a fault. They were good folks.

By Greg on Monday, September 09, 2002 - 10:04 am: Edit Post

Bankass, I have to agree with Chris: many (though maybe NOT all) of the people who have disappeared or been killed had put themselves in unnecessary risk and went against common sense and PC rules. We have all chosen to break a rule at one point or another. Many of the rules that were put there for our safety seemed unnecessary once we got to Post and integrated into community. Most of us who chose to ignore a rule here or there got lucky, a few did not. Once you've removed all the incidents where the Volunteer ignored a rule and/or common sense, NOW how does the statistic hold up to those of living in the US? I do not claim to know, but life in the US is not 100% safe either.

Also, with regards to doubling up the posts - are you suggesting putting two volunteers in the same house? or just the same community? If it is the latter, then Chris's attacker could easily have determined if the other volunteer was around or not. Even if it was the former, that may have happened. I don't know many volunteers that would have been happy sharing their living space with another volunteer for two years. Every volunteer I have ever known has their own view of how a PCV should live and how much/little they want to share that space with a HCN. To place to volunteers, who potentially would be in different programs, require different language skills (local/colonial, etc), different levels of interaction with HCN's, could detrimentally impact their ability to integrate with their community. Not to mention the chances of personality conflicts between volunteers adding to stress and potential harassment between PCV's.

There are risks to everything we do in life. I am NOT suggesting that the PC and State departments couldn't do more, but I also know that most of the stories that I've heard about a PCV dying, they had done something that (at least in hindsight) was clearly dumb. Maybe there should be more site visits (but I do not know any volunteers that would welcome that), clearly there could be better analysis of the sites and the potential issues. Most PCV's have more information about their post than the State department (appears to) or even PC at times. Communication is a good thing. On the other hand, how many PCV's get tired of filling out all the requests for information they get at COS and start making things up for their own entertainment? I'd like to think this would not happen in a case as serious as site safety, but if the questions appear to be as arbitrary as some of the rules, there are people who will always second-guess authority if they can't see the point.

By bankass.com on Tuesday, October 01, 2002 - 10:25 pm: Edit Post


Its simple blame the volunteer right? That is what many volunteers say. He or she broke the rules. 21 volunteers killed, have died or are missing since 1996. That is too many. I think it is a shame that volunteers don't speak for volunteers who have died, been killed or are missing. Those volunteers should be honored not blamed for the mishap in their service. Your "statistics game" is absurd. Good Policy would have prevented many of these deaths. The program administrators have your attitude. Haven't you ever broken a rule? I think it is about time you start thinking about "people" you served with instead of stats.

By James B. Hawkins on Friday, November 22, 2002 - 1:22 pm: Edit Post

My daughter has recently been selected to join the Peace Corps. I was concerned about her safety and now that I have read the above statement regarding the many deaths of PCV, I am really concerned. Of course, I realize that it is her decision and I want her to do what she thinks is right. When she is given a specific assignment, will we be able to find out about safety there? Do most of the deaths occur in a particular part of the world? Do you have any more pertinent information that we may gain access to?

By egarner (clients.cexp.com - on Monday, January 05, 2004 - 5:35 pm: Edit Post

I have just submitted application for the PC also, and this is the first negative line of thought I've see. Bankass - could you provide a little insight as to your experience, and where you're pulling facts from. Not sure if PC and US are good at covering negative details, or i'm just missing something.

By bankass.com (0-1pool136-67.nas12.somerville1.ma.us.da.qwest.net - on Monday, January 05, 2004 - 7:49 pm: Edit Post

To egarner,

I have had a negative experience with the Peace Corps administration, but my experience as a volunteer was very good until the last week of my service.

If you are joining the Peace Corps, I encourage you to do so, but insist that they don't send you out alone especially in a Islamic Country.

Peace Corps needs major reform, but the ability to the goals that President Kennedy put forward are something very rewarding.

Safety is a huge concern. My telephone number is 978-462-3868

By About to Apply (cpe-65-31-246-111.new.res.rr.com - on Sunday, March 05, 2006 - 5:12 am: Edit Post

Hello, I am graduating college in May of '06. I am seriously considering joining the Peace Corps. I would like to go to Africa. I am a white, 22-year old, female. I am wondering if it is safe for me. How often are there safety problems for volunteers in Africa?

By Egghead ( on Wednesday, November 22, 2006 - 10:17 pm: Edit Post

this whole thing is a pieceof @@%$#%#@

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