Mr. rice is an ignorant idiot to say the least!

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Peace Corps Library: Criticism of the Peace Corps: January 23, 2005: Index: PCOL Exclusive: Criticism: January 16, 2006: Headlines: COS - Philippines: Criticism: Black Issues: Humor: Wall Street Journal: Peter Rice says: My view of the Peace Corps is that it is really just a U.S. government program for paid vacations in the Third World : Mr. rice is an ignorant idiot to say the least!

By Claudius Isfan ( on Thursday, February 16, 2006 - 2:06 pm: Edit Post

We live in the greatest country in the world, where an ignorant idiot to say the least, like Mr. Peter Rice can insult a reputable organization such as the Peace Corps and can have many people believe every word that comes out of his mouth.

On January 26, 2006; Page A11 of the Wall Street Journal, Mr. Rice wrote an article titled Third World Aid: Send Money, Not Your Kids, describing in his mind that the Peace Corps is really just a U.S. government program for paid vacations in the Third World amongst other things about the Peace Corps. Much of the article has false statements that one would wonder where in the world did Mr. Rice get his information from!

I served in the Gambia (one of the most densely populated countries on the African continent) from July 2001-September 2003 (that’s 27 months not 20 months like Mr. Rice mentioned) and not once did I consider my time there a vacation! I started working right after our culture and language training that lasted 3 months, not the 4 to 6 months Mr. Rice had mentioned. I worked almost 80 hours a week at times, not because I had to but because I wanted to in order to make a positive and sustainable change for the communities that I had worked with while I was there. I was paid close to $100 a month some times a lot less (that depended on the exchange rate at the time) for all my work and not once did I ever take jobs away from “the many college-educated local workers who have no hope of finding jobs” as Mr. Rice stated. There were no college-educated local workers in many of the villages that I served, at best a single high school graduate. I only wished I had gotten $10,000 per year for all the effort that I had put into my service. One would question where Mr. Rice came up with the fact that all Peace Corps volunteers get so much money? It makes a person question the credibility of Mr. Rice as a American diplomat and how productive he was!

My role was to help the existing health workers succeed in their current projects and help develop new techniques for them to perform their jobs more efficiently and productively.

I do believe that Mr. Rice has no clue as to what the Peace Corps does and just generalized his encounter with Peace Corps volunteers in the Philippines which could have been just lies of what the volunteers actually do and how much they actually get paid just to get some attention in order to inflate his huge ego.

My recommendation is for Mr. Rice to actually volunteer for the Peace Corps, and let him experience the sweat and blood that a volunteer pours out during their 27 months of service, in a village that does not have the amenities (like clean running water, electricity, paved roads) and have the freedom to travel when ever one wants without stopping at every 5 villages (about 10 miles) by police and or by military personnel with AK47s asking for identification and have them search through your belongings whenever they please) as many volunteers experience on a day to day bases. After then and only then can he state that the Peace Corps is that it is really just a U.S. government program for paid vacations in the Third World.

Claudius Isfan
RPCV The Gambia 2001-2003

By MAynard B Wheeler ( - on Wednesday, March 01, 2006 - 3:37 pm: Edit Post

Indeed some PCVs had a lark for two years, but considering the ones I encountered as a PC Physician 1967-69 (Peru) who were almost all idealistic recent college graduates, the majority worked very hard in very difficult circumstances - a new language, often working solo in a rural area with few compatriots to socialize with. The pay off is impossible to measure. I returned 10 years later volunteering with health organizations and found a cadre of ex-PCVs in staff positions applying thier intimate knowledge of the language and culture to those we were working with. What an inestimable advantage! Americans are at their most effective working in foreign countries when they have the personal experience of cultural immersion abroad. Such experienced persons have filled the ranks of US Government agencies like USAID and the Diplomatic Service, to name a few. I think the issue is that too few Americans have had this experience, a key first step in globalization. Those who have not had it probably are incapable of seeing the real value.

By Anonymous ( - on Thursday, March 02, 2006 - 9:47 am: Edit Post

How is a newspaper considered to be reputable when it prints obvious claptrap like what Rice said, and refuses to print life saving facts?

By John Paskevicz, India 24 ( - on Saturday, March 18, 2006 - 10:47 pm: Edit Post

I never met anyone like Mr. Rice in my time in India. I met a few Marines and embassy clerical staff who ventured out of the compound to see what India was like. They didn't like it and could not understand how we (PCVs) could live in those conditions. For the most part I lived in a large city. I had it pretty good compared to my brothers in the group located in rural areas.
Paid vacation? Here's some more I've heard. How about, " the CCC for college grads...a means by which I could avoid the Vietnam war...therapy to get my head on straight...someplace to go to grow up." Right!
Paid vacation? Mr. Rice is an old bureaucrat. He knows that we had to submit travel expense claim forms whenever we went on official travel...just like he did as a government employee. He is aware that we were evaluated periodically to ensure that we were doing our job. He knows that some of the volunteers were taken out of areas because the risks for bodily harm were too great for them to remain at their jobs. He knows that some programs were shut down because these threats were very real. He knows that some volunteers were injured, some killed in the line of duty. He was in the embassy, he knows these things.
Paid vacation? Mr. Rice was a government employee. He read reports, he passed on information, he organized meetings, he knows what was going on with American citizens in the countries where he worked.
I'm sure Mr. Rice did a good job. He was not dumb. He was in the service long enough to retire. What is sad is he took advantage of his position and made statements which may or may not be true and applied them to an entire group of people. I would call Mr. Rice a liar. What he said certainly did not apply to me nor did it apply to anyone else I served with. I just hate it when people say things like Mr. Rice said...just to get attention, to be noticed. How shamefull Mr. Rice.
Mr. Rice, you may send an apology to me and the rest of my India group to my address. I will inform everyone of your response at our upcoming reunion.

By Dick Brandlon ( - on Monday, June 19, 2006 - 8:32 pm: Edit Post

Mr. Rice is in the same position as the many people calling for war on Iran, "Stay the Course," etc. They've never been there. Mr. Cheney - five deferments. Mr. Frist - never served. Mr. Rove - never served. I could go on for some time. I suggest:
People like Mr. Rice can charitably be described as mentally myopic. Less charitably, they can be described as having their heads in an anatomically impossible position.

By Fred Marton ( on Wednesday, February 14, 2007 - 2:04 pm: Edit Post

While I was a Volunteer in Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) I had several serious diseases including Malaria and Hepatitis. I often was quite hungry and lost a great deal of weight. I was very well received by the people and felt that I was able to at least help to improve the lives of some and win a few friends for our country. I did not have a big splashy impact on my community but, it was a mesureable and I am sure an enduring one. My living allowance was equivalent to the salaries of my counterparts in the local government, quite low by anyone's standards especially those of an Foreign Service officer. It was a sacrifice and gift of love not a vacation in any way. I find Mr. Rice's comments ill considered and very undiplomatic. I am glad he is retired and no longer represents America in an offical capacity but, I would encourage him to see about becoming a senior Peace Corps Volunteer as was Jimmy Carter's very inspirational mother, Miss Lillian, if he thinks he is tough enough.

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