February 22, 2003 - Peace Dividends: To All Alaskans: People here in Thailand ask me where I'm from, ...

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Thailand: Peace Corps Thailand: The Peace Corps in Thailand: February 22, 2003 - Peace Dividends: To All Alaskans: People here in Thailand ask me where I'm from, ...

By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, February 22, 2003 - 6:28 pm: Edit Post

To All Alaskans: People here in Thailand ask me where I'm from, ...

To All Alaskans: People here in Thailand ask me where I'm from, ...

To All Alaskans: People here in Thailand ask me where I'm from, and I proudly answer Alaska, even though I know perfectly well that they are expecting me to say what country I am from. I feel however, that maybe Alaska is not as proud of me as I am of it, as I am denied the PFD because I am a Peace Corps Volunteer. I am not considered a resident of Alaska despite the fact that I have all my belongings, furniture, etc. in storage in Alaska, my car and truck are there, my bank account is there, my permanent address is there, and I have a post office box there. I am registered to vote in Alaska. My driver's license (still valid) is Alaskan. After I finish my service in the Peace Corps, I will return to live in Alaska. If I'm not a resident of Alaska, then just exactly where do you consider me to be a resident? Thailand? The Thais would disagree with you wholeheartedly. I cannot vote here, nor can I acquire a driver's license here. I need a separate visa every time I enter the country, even if I've just stepped across the border to visit a market for the day. I do not qualify for any of the public health plans, I do not pay income tax to the Thai government. The Peace Corps itself considers me an Alaskan resident. "...Peace Corps volunteers are considered residents of their Home-of-Record state," (Peace Corps Administrative Guide, March 2001). Now, I will be perfectly honest. I joined the Peace Corps knowing full well that I would be denied the Permanent Fund Dividend, but I joined anyway because principles are more important to me than money. If you don't believe that, consider this: I make $170 a month here (that works out to $2040 per year), and I will quote the Peace Corps Administrative Guide regarding our leave policy: "Volunteers are deemed to be on duty seven days a week...volunteers accrue annual leave at the rate of two days for each month of service." That leave policy is the same as standard military personnel, who, I might add, are eligible to receive the PFD. I am obviously not in this job for the money, but to be completely honest, it bothers me that if I volunteer to carry a gun for my country, I get the PFD, but if I volunteer to help others and promote understanding of Americans, I am denied that money. In addition to the work that I do locally here, I also participate in the Peace Corps World Wise School program, in which volunteers "adopt" a class back in the States in order exchange cultural information. I send Marilyn Siedschlag's 2 nd grade class at Hunter Elementary (in Fairbanks) letters, post cards, photos, and other miscellaneous things from Thailand, while she arranges for her students to then ask me questions about my life here. This is all done at my own expense. It is almost inconceivable to me that I do not qualify for the permanent fund, despite the fact that I consider myself an Alaskan resident AND the Peace Corps considers me an Alaskan resident. I just wish that Alaska considered me a resident. It gets a little lonely out here when no one's willing to claim me. Sincerely, Lisa Wells, PCV ONPEC Sangkha Amphur Sangkha Surin, 32150 ­ Thailand

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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Thailand



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