I completed my staging and training, was delayed traveling to my site for over two weeks because of a health scare in the region, and finally arrived at site. There was a large celebration taking place and it seemed like an ideal opportunity to begin my immersion. I approached a small group and introduced myself. As I described what I was there to do - my early understanding of what I was there to do - I was met with blank stares. “Where are you from?” I was asked. “New York”. More silence.

Sounds a lot like Peace Corps right?


It was my first day on the job as the Sustainable Development Manager on a large petrochemical construction project in China. My thousand plus professional colleagues had never heard of such a position, and I was just starting to understand what it really meant myself. Not Peace Corps, but boy did it feel like Peace Corps. I drew upon my Peace Corps experience repeatedly as I entered into this new community, and a host of communities around it, to realize the project’s environmental and social commitments.

Corporations have tremendous expertise, capacity and motivation to harness for community good, and community harm. And Returned Peace Corps Volunteers have many of the skills and sensitivities needed to help corporations figure out how to do more of the former and less or none of the latter. That is the subject of this blog.

Did I really get blank stares my first day as a PCV? No. But after two weeks many people in the village were seriously concerned about my basic abilities to…do anything. They had watched me swim back and forth in the lagoon every morning - for at least 45 minutes - and always emerge from the water empty handed - no fish; the only reason an adult would spend that much time in the water.

Please come share your thoughts on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), or better yet send some fishing tips.