Awards for "Top" Volunteers?

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Speaking Out: January 23, 2005: Index: PCOL Exclusive: Speaking Out (1 of 5) : Archive of Stories: November 1, 2005: Headlines: Speaking Out: Awards: Humor: Peace Corps: Peace Corps establishes awards for top Peace Corps Volunteers : Awards for "Top" Volunteers?

By kdawn ( - on Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - 11:33 am: Edit Post

This idea should be rejected flat-out. Who is to define the criteria for "top" volunteers, and who could ever truly know what individual volunteers are doing in their own unique ways? This reveals the superficial level of understanding on the part of those who suggested the idea. It is insulting to people who work out of a sense of personal integrity to think that an "award" from peope who don't understand would be in the least way meaningful!

RPCV Ethiopia

By Anonymous ( - on Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - 11:42 am: Edit Post

Awards for PCVs? dumb! Dumb, DUMB! PCService is its own reward!!!

By John Woods ( - on Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - 12:38 pm: Edit Post

I understand, I think, why Gaddi Vasquez wanted to establish these awards, but I also agree with the PCOL that this is probably a mistake. When I was in Ethiopia in 1967 in the middle of my second year, I decided I would like to extend my service. I wrote the country director explaining why I wanted to do this. Because I had had an argument with the headmaster in front a visiting PC staff person, I was turned down, at least initially. I wrote another letter saying that while they had the right to say no, I had read recently that the PC was not the individuals who made it up, but that each individual was the PC. In that case, my perception of my qualifications to serve a third year were as valid as the country director's, and in fact he agreed, and my third year was my best, I believe. My point is that each individual really is the Peace Corps. The quality of service of each person combined with that every other person is, ultimately, what has defined the success of this wonderful organization, and that is what we should continue to emphasize.

By Reinaldo ( - on Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - 12:50 pm: Edit Post

I recently interviewed 45 members of my Peace Corps group about their current activities and their achievements as Community Development volunteers. Those who successfully completed high visibility projects attribute the results to their good fortune in being assigned to a site with motivated co-workers and committed local leadership. In short, awards for Post-PC service by staff and RPCVs seem fine but for active PCVs the reward should remain the experience itself.

Ronald A Schwarz (Colombia One, 1961-63)

By Anonymous ( on Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - 12:51 pm: Edit Post

I would have to say that this was a great idea by the director Gaddi Vasquez. Let's stop being to devisive on everything the director does. He got it right this time! Thanks Gaddi!!

By mompomrichards ( - on Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - 1:03 pm: Edit Post

Awarding rewards will deminish the Peace Corps. It is about service not awards. I agree that this should be scrapped. Mary Richards- RPCV-Belize(1989-1991)

By Anonymous ( on Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - 1:25 pm: Edit Post

Every Peace Corps volunteers' work should be recognized and commended. This should be done at the contry level during COS. The context of each volunters' acheivement and service is much more important than a comparative award.

Looks like the machine is driving once again, in the dark, without headlights.

By Leo Cecchini ( on Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - 2:21 pm: Edit Post

Deep six the awards idea. This smacks of incentive awards given for high productivity in business. PCVs do not need these to do their best and to single out a few would be a disservice to all.

By Rod Rylander ( - on Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - 2:53 pm: Edit Post

It seems impossible to find the "best two" peace corps volunteers, especially in the field. Therefore I think the awards would create more ill feelings than good. Rod Rylander

By Dan Riordan ( - on Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - 3:07 pm: Edit Post

Why is everyone acting like this is a new idea? When I was a PCV and staff member (1985-1995), there was a "Volunteer of the Year" chosen every year, flown back to DC for an awards ceremony.

I don't see the big deal. OK, PC service is not a competition. Neither is acting in a movie. Neither is being a soldier. Neither is your current job. People in all those situations should be doing their best and most aren't motivated by the prospect of an award, but in each circumstance, excellence is rewarded by an award (unless the management at your current job is really bad).

I didn't get picked to be Volunteer of the Year. And I didn't want to be. That's not why I joined Peace Corps. And it often seemed to me that volunteers were chosen at least in part because of the country they served in, and white 20somethings were not as ubitiquous among VoYs as in the PC population as a whole.

But I saw some VoYs who were great people, busted their humps to do a great job, and were thrilled to be recognized for it. Why rain on the parade?

By Salimatou ( - on Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - 4:54 pm: Edit Post

Bad idea.

Lest we forget that there are 3 mission statements that serve as the foundation of service within the Peace Corps -
- Cultural exchange between Host Country Nationals and PCVs
- International Cultural Education for Americans by RPCVs
- Work-related project completion

While serving in Senegal, I noticed that the "squeaky wheels" and the "self-promoters" were always the ones featured in newsletters and weblogs for Peace Corps....some of the "best volunteers," carrying out all 3 aspects of servitude, rarely come to the attention of the Directorial Staff because they are too busy living/working/experiencing to call attention to themselves.

I also agree with the statements made above asking the simple questions of who would make this decision and upon what criteria would the decision be made?

By Ralph Bishop - Tanzania 12 ( - on Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - 10:00 pm: Edit Post

I see absolutely nothing wrong with an award that truly recognizes outstanding performance. And I don't think that anybody joins the Peace Corps with the thought of winning such an award. The problem I have is that the criteria are so vague. And the nomination form is more an exploration of the persuasive ability of the nominator than the achievements of the nominee. This is precisely why the MacArthur foundation neither solicits nor accepts nominations.

Were the Peace Corps to set up a similar nominations board composed of people who might have global scope as well as information about outstanding development projects throughout the world in which PCVs were involved, the process might well be cleaner, fairer, and more valid. These people could be from the UN, other NGOs such as OXFAM or AFS or World Vision; they could be selected officials from host countries, you get my drift. That's something I could support.

Otherwise it just becomes another feel-good exercise in organizational politics.

By geistweidt ( - on Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - 12:50 pm: Edit Post

This is stupid -- not necessary! Looks like Vasquez is trying to promote himself.

By Linda L. Gerra ( - on Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - 4:35 pm: Edit Post

I agree with most of the entries - that the reward idea is stupid. Volunteers have many ways of serving and promoting a cross-cultural experience. These are intrinsic rewards and would be difficult to quantify.

By J. Kelley ( - on Thursday, November 17, 2005 - 8:49 pm: Edit Post

What has happened to the role of the Peace Corps volunteer as a participant with the people of the host country? The people we work with should be the ones to receive the awards. It is their country, their lives and their real sacrifices that make everyone of our experiences possible.

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