|By firstname.lastname@example.org on Wednesday, August 14, 2002 - 1:29 pm: Edit Post|
IF I WERE THE COUNTRY DIRECTOR, CHARGED WITH THE RESPONSIBILITY OF PLACING A "PEACE CORPS TEAM" IN A SENSITIVE SITUATION ,I WOULD RESEARCH THE COUNTRY VERY WELL BY ASKING THE CORRECT QUESTIONS FROM THE RIGHT PEOPLE AND GETTING THE CORRECT ANSWERS. CHARLIE ZIMMER
|By Cara Diaconoff on Saturday, November 09, 2002 - 5:43 pm: Edit Post|
I haven't read all the stories under this heading yet, but as a former PCV in Russia, I can certainly speak to just how "long-brewing" the visa problem--and, in a larger sense, the Peace Corps PR problem--has been in Russia. From my own personal standpoint, I have to say it was true that many volunteers were ill-prepared for their assignments. Indeed, the agency itself was ill-prepared to handle our arrival at all. In summer 1997, we came in on three-month tourist visas, with assurances that at the end of three months we'd all receive two-year ones. When the time came, only about 10 of the 40 of us received the promised long-term visas. The rest of us had to work out our visa problems individually with the city governments of the sites to which we were posted. In the case of my intended site, the city government was unable to work out a visa for me, and I was left with no site at all. The same thing happened to 4 or 5 other volunteers.
Many of the American volunteers spoke good Russian and had been to the country before. But about half of us didn't speak the language and had no real Russian experience, and though more of us had graduate degrees than was the case for Peace Corps groups in other countries, still I would say that many people, myself included, had no special expertise in English-teaching or small-business administration, the two Peace Corps areas in Russia. No special effort seemed to have been put into recruiting. Russians are a proud people, and those of them who were old enough to remember the Cold War often bore us a great deal of resentment. I know that, overall, I had an extremely disappointing experience as a volunteer in Russia--although I stuck it out almost the whole 2 years (20 months), and if the government is now making it even more difficult for the groups to obtain visas, I say they should heed the long-overdue message and pull out of there. It is demoralizing to both local people and volunteer when the agency's mission is as ill-planned and executed as the PC's is in Russia.
Cara Diaconoff (Western Russia PCV 97-99)
|By hb1736 on Friday, May 23, 2003 - 1:53 am: Edit Post|
I served 96 to 98 in Russia 5 and there were problems soon (about spring of 97) after our arrival. Many PCV's were sent to Riga while waiting a little while (as I recall it was typically not that long at this time). Work was disrupted. It came as little surprise when I heard they were pulling out. I would tend to agree that programming, risky recruits (at least one in our group) and inexperienced recruits could potentially have aggravated paranoia about PCV activities in business and education.