Changing Response/Crisis Corps

The following paragraph is from the Peace Corps Agency Assessment Report published in June 2010. It is Recommendation #4 in the Vision Summary on page 12, and reads:

Breaking from the current mission of Peace Corps Response, assignments would be open to those who could meet qualification criteria, whether or not they had been Peace Corps Volunteers in the past.  The program would place experienced and qualified individuals into assignments that draw on their specific skills and experience, with flexible time commitments.

Questions RPCVs might raise are:

Does this negate the language and cross cultural training that Volunteers receive?
Does this negate the experience that serving Volunteers gain by service that would be helpful in a crisis response?
Does this allows those who do not have the Peace Corps experience to use the “brand name” to their advantage?
How do you keep the CIA from ‘volunteering’ and using the Peace Corps as cover?

There are, of course, advantages to the relaxing of requirements. The change might bring into the Response (Crisis Corps) experienced individuals who, while they never served in the Peace Corps, did work once as missionaries (Sudan Interior Mission?) overseas, in the army’s Special Forces, teach or do research as Fulbright Scholars, or been employed by international companies such as Bechtel. These volunteers might now want to enhance their international CVs by volunteering to a county where they previously lived or want to see.

It is my understanding that later this month the Response/Crisis Corps will enact these changes in the program to allow for 3, 6, and 12 month assignments to anyone with international experience so they, too, will be able to work under the Peace Corps banner, just like us!

The only RPCV organization (at the moment) that might object to this fundamental shift in the program would be the NPCA, and they won’t, I’m sure, raise a hand to object fearing they’d put themselves on the outs with the agency, fearful, too, that they might lose future funding from the Peace Corps, and generating money to support itself has  always been a problem for the NPCA.

For example, the NPCA recently announced that they had moved their offices again, this time into even smaller space, and to a higher floor, in their downtown D.C. building. It is another sure sign they are strapped for cash.

What I suggest is that the NPCA try being a virtual office with their skeleton staff  working from their apartments via computers, saving the organization on rent, lights, heat, and freeing up limited funds so the NPCA would have money enough to host another fancy affair (tuxedos only please) for the card-carrying 1% alumni of the Peace Corps Family. Just a thought.

One of these days the Peace Corps is going to get the Crisis Corps/Response Corps right. Word has it that this month the agency will announce short term assignments of 3,6, 12 months and that you don’t even have to be an RPCV to serve.

6 Comments

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  • I think that this is awful idea. My understanding is that there is no
    shortage of NGOs working overseas. Indeed, one of the real problems in Haiti was coordinating all the aid efforts. There is no reason for Peace Corps to open up to non-RPCVs the opportunity to serve in a crisis.

    Those who have worked overseas with other organizations bring with them the “culture” of those organizations and not the “Peace Corps” experience. If Peace Corps can not staff Response Teams with qualified RPCV personnel, then it should not accept such assignments.

    I will reiterate that Peace Corps should provide tuition, fees, etc for specialized training, in conjunction with Universities and Public
    Health, and in exchange graduates could spend two years in the Peace Corps. I know so many of my cohorts came home and became registered nurses, on their own dime. If Peace Corps could have subsidized their training, AFTER Peace Corps service, they would have been, hands down, the very best people to send into a crisis situation, under the banner of RPCV – Response Corps.

    Of course, in the spirit of SOPA, maybe the RPCV community should incorporate, copyright the “RPCV,” and sell the naming rights.

  • There are numerous good reasons not to do this!
    Aside from the conceptual – including the question of “need” outside of the traditional model, there are the extra, unnecessary expenses… Particularly relevant for an Agency that is gradually starving.
    – What justifies the additional expenses of fielding someone for less than two years who has not gone through Peace Corps training before (this is one of the savings used to justify the Crisis Corps (now Response Corps) volunteer model – making double use of the experience.
    – This puts an extra workload on overseas staff – one year for the cost of two years in terms of workload.

  • After checking out the website of Peace Corps Response, it looks like this has already been implemented. The positions are now listed as “RPCVs Only” and “Open to All.” Eligibility requirements state: “To be eligible for service you must be…a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) *or* have at least 10 years of professional experience.”

  • Here is a copy of the qualifications for a position “open to all.”

    Title Open to all: HIV Prevention (PMTCT) Support Specialist
    Country Guyana
    Projected Start Date 03-Mar-2012
    Duration (months) 6
    Program Area HIV/AIDS

    Bachelor’s Degree
    Mandatory Qualifications oBachelors degree from a health- or development-related field e.g. nursing, public health, social sciences
    oMinimum of two years experience working with HIV/AIDS programs
    oFive years professional experience in public or NGO sector

    NOTHING about cross-cultural experience or language ability.
    This requires technical skills, but no experience in another country/culture.

  • In a general description of what Peace Corps will be looking for in the Response Volunteer, on the web pages devoted to the Peace Corps Respnse team, there is this:

    “Strong applicants will have the necessary language, technical, and cross-cultural skills needed for the position.”

    I see nothing still in reference to background working with intelligence agencies.

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