Acting Director Carol Spahn’s Letter to the Peace Corps Community

“February 5, 2021

The following is an open letter to Returned Peace Corps Volunteers from Acting Director Carol Spahn (Romania 1994-96)


To the Peace Corps community,

It’s been just over two weeks since I stepped in as Acting Director of the Peace Corps in the middle of a tumultuous January. As the ground continues to shift under our feet here at home and overseas, I am reminded of the importance of our shared experiences as ambassadors of peace and friendship.

Our primary goal during this critical time is returning Peace Corps Volunteers back to the countries we know and love. We are also committed to taking on the work necessary to return to service in a way that promotes racial equity and justice. Peace Corps is in the process of reviewing our structures, programs and policies to identify how we can best recruit and support a diverse cohort of Volunteers and staff, representing the tapestry of American culture, and ensure a safe and inclusive environment for all. We are approaching this work with humility and in the spirit of promoting mutual understanding. I appreciate every person who is and will be engaged in this endeavor.

The values of the Peace Corps—respect, collaboration, and acceptance of others—are more important than ever, both at home and overseas. When Americans return to the United States after completing their service, they are no longer Peace Corps Volunteers, but it is our expectation and hope that they continue to demonstrate these values here at home.

With that in mind, it was stunning news that a former Peace Corps Volunteer was among the violent mob that assaulted the Capitol. Agency staff and I, as well as others in the Peace Corps community, were devastated by the images of people storming the center of American government while members of Congress performed their constitutional duties. Differences of background or opinion do not justify violence and direct threats to our democratic system. The Peace Corps strongly condemns the actions of anyone who participated in the assault on the Capitol, including the former Volunteer reported to have been present.

The Peace Corps mission is to promote world peace and friendship by working alongside the communities that welcome us. I thank you for your continued engagement and partnership with Peace Corps and with our mission.”





Leave a comment
  • Now more than ever our Peace Corps values should outshine such a bad apple!
    Sybil Groulx /Guatemala and Papua New Guinea

  • Dear Carol Spahn, like most–if not all, RPCVs I greatly appreciated your Open Letter and wish you success in carrying forth the Peace Corps concept in very tenuous times. Since we are unable to report on the activities of Volunteers in host countries, perhaps we should inform the public, and especially the Congress, on what RPCVs have done in fulfilment of its 3rd Goal. A good example of that is the Marina Orth Foundation. Its founder, Maureen Orth, when a Volunteer in Colombia in 1964, responded to a request from residents in a remote mountain village for help in building its first school. Some 37 years later, that seed produced a Foundation that now supports 585 teachers now being trained variously in Technology, Socio Emotional Abilities, English, STEM and Robitics.Its impact on students has been equally impressive, in 2020 alone with 1,3380 trained in English, 4,000 in in Technology, 1005 in STEM and Robotics, 482 in Vocational Training, and 20 that won scholarships to pursue a higher education degree. It has also introduced Laptops in Nuqui, Choco, a Department on the Colombian Pacific Coast, one of the country’s neglected areas of extreme poverty. In 2019, the Foundation’s students placed in the top 10 out of 55 countries that participated in the Robotics World Championship in Estonia. In 2018, its all girl team won a gold medal in RoboRAVE in New Mexico. Over 40% of its robotics students are girls. The Foundation’s IT program has connected children in rural communities and others who live in some of the more remote areas of Colombia so they and their families can see and use a computer for the first time in their lives. Through the educational advancement of its otherwise marginalized students, they have been catapulted into a highly competitive technological world of unlimited opportunities. This isn’t suggestive of a cookie cutter approach for future Volunteers. Rather, it calls for the recognition that the Peace Corps’ 3rd Goal has been returning a dividend to our government not seen the GI Bill or the Marshall Plan–but who knows this!


  • Jeremiah Norris,

    I think you should sent this to Acting Director Carol Spahn. Peace Corps emails are very easy to construct, which you may well know. They are the first letter of the first name and then the last name

  • I am still hopeful that the RPCV who witnessed those horrible events on Jan.6 was there to provide counsel to anyone that was not there for the mayhem. Reporters were also present, and camera people to record the events for the benefit of others. Maybe the RPCV will turn out to prove useful in bringing about justice.

  • Charges have already been brought against the RPCV who was inside the Capital, based on his actions and what he said on camera to a reporter.

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