January 10, 2003 - Moscow Times: More Exchange needed with Russia
Peace Corps Online:
Peace Corps News:
Peace Corps Headlines - 2003:
01 January 2003 Peace Corps Headlines:
January 10, 2003 - Moscow Times: More Exchange needed with Russia
More Exchange needed with Russia
Read and comment on this letter to the editor from the Moscow Times from a Canadian Volunteer in the Civil Education Project who says that in a sense, the Peace Corps is no longer needed in the former Soviet Union. What is needed are more exchanges of all sorts --- how nice it would be if the world were free enough to allow young Russians to take a mission to the United States and teach Russian, use resources with greater efficiency, and teach geography, diplomacy, science and math to North American teenagers. Read the letter at:
* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.
In response to "With Peace Corps' Exit, Russia and U.S. Suffer," a comment on Jan. 9.
For four years I worked as a volunteer with a different organization, the Civic Education Project, in a number of former Soviet republics. I lectured in economics and provided some assistance with reform efforts in universities. Along the way, I learned Russian and made a large number of really great friends.
My original mission sounds similar to most other organizations with operations in Russia and other countries -- the intention is to bring the knowledge of the West to the "lesser" countries and help the reform process. Obviously it would sound great that a country can state that it no longer needs this kind of assistance since that would imply it has caught up. At the same time, it is within the interests of these organizations to repeatedly state how far behind other countries are since it boosts the image of the West.
This is unfortunate and my mind has been changed since I left Canada, lived in the former Soviet Union and recently returned home. I think it would be better to have exchanges in general and drop the idea of the stronger helping the weaker or poorer. I have often been criticized for saying this, but I have often stated at conferences that I learned a lot from the East. Language training programs, the sciences and math in general are strong points of the Soviet educational system. Students exiting high school and entering university in that system are probably better equipped for serious study than the students I generally have in Canada. This is particularly impressive if one adds in the fact that we use so many resources to educate, yet the result is not all that great. Add to this the discipline and motivation level and, by and large, I would say that the East far outperforms the West in many ways.
I would like to conclude by saying that yes, in a sense, the Peace Corps is no longer needed in the former Soviet Union. What is needed are more exchanges of all sorts --- how nice it would be if the world were free enough to allow young Russians to take a mission to the United States and teach Russian, use resources with greater efficiency, and teach geography, diplomacy, science and math to North American teenagers.
Barrie B. F. Hebb
Department of Economics
Saint Francis Xavier University
Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada
Background on the Peace Corps in Russia
Read more background on the Peace Corps in Russia at:
Special Report: From Russia with Love 1 January 2003
PC Rep won't waste words on spying charges
Peace Corps' Man in Moscow won't waste words on the spying charges 5 January 2003
Peace Corps responds to Russian Allegations
Peace Corps responds to Russian suggestions of intelligence gathering 3 January 2003
Peace Corps disappointed with Russian decision
Exclusive: Peace Corps disappointed with Russian decision 27 December 2002
Moscow to abandon Peace Corps agreement
New York Times: Russia bars future U.S. Peace Corps workers 28 December 2002
Pravda: Moscow informs Washington of intention to abandon Peace Corps agreement 27 December 2002
Associated Press: Russia Rejects U.S. Peace Corps 27 December 2002
US Ready to Remove Peace Corps From Russia
U.S. Ready to Remove Peace Corps From Russia, Citing Disputes 17 December 2002
Russian Spy claims "groundless" says US
Russian claims about Peace Corps volunteers "groundless" says US Embassy 16 December 2002
KGB accuses PCVs of "suspicious activities"
Update: KGB Chief says PCVs involved in suspicious activities 15 December 2002
KGB chief accuses Peace Corps workers of spying in Russia 15 December 2002
KGB refuses visas to religious workers
Russia refuses visas to religious workers 2 November 2002
What RPCVs say about the situation
Exclusive: Read the advice RPCVs gave the Peace Corps in August 18 August 2002
Russia is cooling to the Peace Corps
Time Magazine says Russia "Cooling To the Corps" 23 August 2002
Radio Free Europe makes the Case for the Peace Corps in Russia 18 August 2002
Secretary of State Powell makes no progress on Peace Corps visas with Russian foreign minister 14 August 2002
Russia refuses visas for Peace Corps Volunteers
Peace Corps Moscow chief denies allegations of non-professionalism 13 August 2002
Russia Ousting Dozens Of Peace Corps Volunteers 12 August 2002
Click on a link below for more stories on PCOL
Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.
This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Russia; Speaking Out
I would like to clarify what I have stated in my letter to the Moscow Times since it seems that what I have written may be misinterpreted. I stated that in a sense the Peace Corps is no longer needed. The real question is in which sense(s) Russia needs help and in which sense(s) it does not. My point is this: that all too often we treat the Former Soviet Union as if it were behind in education in every single way when compared to the USA. I think it is inaccurate to treat one nation as the leader and the other as the follower in every sense. The USA does have the lead in some areas while Russia and the Former Soviet Republics have the lead in other areas. Thus, we should not view higher educational reform as the Americans helping the Russians reform, we should instead be focusing on more exchanges - taking the best both sides have to offer.
American High Schools are notoriously poor in many spheres relative to the CIS such as geography, languages, sciences, fitness, and access.
The point is not to Americanize Russia or Russify America - it is to reform in the interests of society - which means taking what works regardless of where it is from.