Returned Peace Corps Volunteer

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2003: July 2003 Peace Corps Headlines: July 15, 2003 - Office of Senator Norm Coleman: Senator Norm Coleman call for "Greater Accountability" at Peace Corps : Returned Peace Corps Volunteer

By Sara Hollis on Thursday, August 14, 2003 - 10:17 am: Edit Post

I believe that we do a great service oversees by being who we are...Americans who care enough to share the blessings of our educations and skills with people who need and want these.

I also believe that we enrich America when we return. I served 1964-66 in Nigeria. I returned to earn a Master's degree in African Studies and a Doctorate in African American Studies and shared my field with University Students for some 35 years. Yes the Peace Corps accomplishes much there and here. It should be much bigger. So many West Africans have shared with me their abiding love and respect for the Peace Corps Volunteers that they met and were taught by. When I got my first college teaching job in the U.S., the Dean who hired me said that he did so because he had observed that returned Peace Corps Volunteers could be depended upon to see work as a twenty-four hour a day responsibility. I am proud to have served in the Peace Corps and continue to do community service. This fall I am being honored by the local YWCA as a Role Model. I take this very seriously. I always mention my Peace Corps service as a standard that I continue to strive to live up to. Please fight to keep and to expand the Peace Corps. Thank you,
Dr. Sara Kinkel Hollis

By jonathan berger on Monday, September 08, 2003 - 11:12 pm: Edit Post

Send Senator Coleman to a month of total immersion with John Rassias and he will understand what is going on.

Wena kon laafi.

Jonathan Berger
Upper Volta 1

By Connie Jaquith on Tuesday, September 09, 2003 - 10:06 am: Edit Post

I am a returned volunteer from Bolivia, 1968-70. I agree with Sen. Coleman that it is time for Peace Corps to establish measurable goals and objectives, then to share those written "outcomes" with the countries hosting volunteers. All of this will make Peace Corps stronger, more accountable, more able to clearly articulate best practices for program funding. Although I recall our idealism in the 60s and know Peace Corps was established in such an idealistic time, I also know the world has changed. Funding needs to follow those programs that can show outcomes accomplished and best practices for volunteer activities overseas.

I am a fund-raiser now for higher education - the proposals I write MUST clearly articulate goals and measurable objectives for programs. We should not think that Peace Corps is somehow "above" such standards - nothing else in the not-for-profit sector is immune from accountability. Federal funding should abide by similar standards, so that we can show the public taxpayers what is accomplished by the funding.

By Howard Ellegant (ellegant) on Tuesday, September 09, 2003 - 10:17 am: Edit Post

This conversation about accountability and measurability of Peace Corps activities made me reflect a bit on Peace Corps 'purpose.'

If our purpose is to build programs, processes, procedures and physical evidence of our presence, then accountability and measurability is appropriate.

If our purpose is to build bridges of friendship, understanding, trust and support then I wonder about the alignment of Peace Corps volutneer and host country national experiences and the activities of the United States Government which seem in many cases to contravene the work we have done.

We need to be clear on purpose before we can decide who is accountable for outcomes and which ones will be measured and how they will be measured.

Howard Ellegant
Colombia 1964-1977

By Leo Cecchini on Tuesday, September 09, 2003 - 10:49 am: Edit Post

If Senator Coleman wants to use accountability to examine the Peace Corps perhaps he should question why something like 80% of the $45,000 per year it costs to keep a Peace Corps Volunteer in the field goes to administrative overhead.

By anonymous on Tuesday, September 09, 2003 - 2:20 pm: Edit Post

Administrative(tenure)salaries can be the same as Volunteers.

By carol burch on Tuesday, September 09, 2003 - 6:50 pm: Edit Post

I realize that there are some volunteers who are not dedicated to their responsibilities. I would have to support the concept that the Peace Corps is obligated to devise some measure of accountability to provide a means for their removal.
During my service as a teacher-trainer volunteer, I often questioned the effectiveness of my own presence. The immediate results often appeared minimal, but in the intervening years I have come to realize that the experience did much more than change the individuals in my country of service. The Peace Corps changed me in such a way that it has impacted the lives of many others because of what I learned from the experience. The Peace Corps contributes much to the richness of life right here in the USA. Where will that be documented for accountablilty?
Carol Christianson Burch, RPCV
Marshall Islands, Micronesia 1978-1980

By Joan Borsten on Tuesday, September 09, 2003 - 10:31 pm: Edit Post

I'm all for accountability but what results would count and when? A Peace Corps volunteer's impact is not always immediate. Two of the most important contributions I made to Rincon de las Palmas (Panama) were not known even to me for 25 years. I think both were worth much more than whatever the USG invested in my service:

1) In the 60s the Alliance for Progress had built a six room/grade school house in Rincon de las Palmas. When I arrived in 1971 only one child had managed to continue his education. He had convinced a priest in Penonome to bring him there to go to junior high, and then convinced the Bishop to bring him to Panama City to go to high school. WHen I arrived he began tugging on my sleeve and asking if I would help him go to America for a year so he could learn enough English to become an engineer. I called friends in Hayward CA who arranged for him to go to high school with their son Peter. Now he is an engineer on the Panama Canal. His economic contributions to his family, based on his ability to earn an engineer's salary, changed the life of his parents, subsistence farmers previously earning about $100/year. Now everyone in the village sends at least one child to higher education.

2) The craft cooperative I started failed soon after I left, but the straw mobiles I invented and marketed in 1971-2, and taught villagers how to market in 1971-2, are still being made by my village and the next closest village, and have served as an important source of income to lots of families every year since I left.

I think those are pretty important accomplishments, bigger than anything I could have put down on a list in 1972.

By Stacy Mates on Wednesday, September 10, 2003 - 8:32 am: Edit Post

As an agriculture volunteer in Panama in 94-97, I DID have specific goals and objectives, which were reviewed quarterly. However, part of the strength of our program director was that he also acknowledged that flexibility and adaptability were more important than simply checking items of a list. Some projects that I had planned were never completed; others that I'd never imagined became primary focal points, based on the expressed needs of people in my community.

Ideally, development work should be structured to encourage flexibility, listening skills, and a focus on creating leadership within the target community-- is our goal to simply produce something for our own satisfaction (yay, I built a school!) or to assist people in improving their own lives?

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