Does Peace Corps use the work being done by RPCVs in the field of international development and intercultural studies? This question is not rhetorical. My answer would be “No”. In the Performance and Accountability Report FY 2014 (PAR-FY 2014), Peace Corps stated the following, page 25:
“Outdate Intercultural training materials and practices:
The academic field of intercultural studies has made great strides in recent years; however, the agency’ training materials and practices do not yet reflect the latest research and findings around creating, assessing, placing, training, and supporting Volunteers and staff to ensure they have the intercultural competence to successfully live and work in local communities. The agency is in the process of incorporating best practices from the intercultural field, but significant work remains for the agency to be a leader in the field.”
If Peace Corps indicated in this report that the tremendous work being done by RPCVs would be utilized, I couldn’t find it. I couldn’t even find an acknowledgement in PAR -FY2014 that Peace Corps was aware of this wealth of academic and literary RPCV work.
Just scanning, briefly, the list of books published in 2014 by RPCV scholars and reported on Peace Corps Worldwide, I found the following: (Please note, I just skimmed the list. These books are only examples and representative, not a conclusive list, by any means)
–Hunger and Hope: Escaping Poverty and Achieving Food Security in Developing Countries by George Norton
– Manchuria: A Village called Wasteland and the Transformation of Rural China- Mike Meyer
-Lost Girl Found – Leah Bassoon and Laura DeLuca
-Searching for Normal in the Wake of the Liberian War-Sharon Alane Abramonwitz
-Rapid Qualitative Inquiry: A Field Guide to Team -Bases Assessment-James Beebe
A Peace Corps Library should include all these books. Those Peace Corps staff members “tasked” with”the process of incorporating best practices from the intercultural field”, should begin in such a library. But until or unless such a library exists, then Peace Corps should secure all the books published by RPCVs that focus on intercultural studies as resources to begin the long overdue “significant work” remaining to “incorporate best practices” into the agency’s work.