Archive - December 14, 2017

“The Non-Matrixed Wife” by Susan O’Neill (Venezuela)

“The Non-Matrixed Wife” by Susan O’Neill (Venezuela)

When Joseph Blatchford was appointed the director of the Peace Corps in May of 1969 he brought with him a set of “New Directions” to improve the agency. Whether these directives were new or not is endlessly argued, but what was clear was this: Blatchford wanted skilled Volunteers, i.e. “blue-collar workers, experienced teachers, businessman, and farmers.” While the Peace Corps has always found it difficult to recruit large numbers of such “skilled” Volunteers, Blatchford and his staff came up with the idea of recruiting married couples with children. One of the couples would be a Volunteer and the other (usually the wife) would be — in Peace Corps jargon — the “non-matrixed” spouse. The kids would just be kids. It would be in this way, Blatchford thought, that the Peace Corps could recruit older, more mature, experienced, and skilled PCVs. And the Peace Corps would stop being just “BA generalists” . . .

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