Back in 1966 when the Peace Corps first went to Micronesia, the agency launched its recruitment strategy with a pamphlet showing a glorious sunny beach and palm trees waving with the wind under the headline, “Peace Corps Goes to Paradise.”
Needlessly to say, that Ad outraged current and former Volunteers who didn’t see their service as idling away a few years on a blissful island.
Now the Peace Corps is headed to Montenegro on the Adriatic Sea in Southeastern Europe, just across the water from Italy, and neighboring Albania, Bosnia and Croatia. In 2020, PCVs will be arriving to work in primary education programs in a nation famous for its gambling and nightlife. Some tourists call the country, “a poor man’s Monaco.”
But as Director Jody Olsen said in her announcement, “The Peace Corps is proud to partner with the Government and people of Montenegro. This is a truly unique opportunity to support the development priorities of the Montenegrin people. The volunteers in the initial cohort will have the great privilege and responsibility of establishing the foundation of the Peace Corps in Montenegro.”
This pioneer cohort will also have the opportunity to have a close up and personal look at bigtime gambling. Montenegro is famous for its amazing casinos.
The best ones are on the Montenegrin Coast. And the favorite for tourist is the Maestral Hotel & Casino. This hotel is situation on the Przno beach, known also for its vast park of old olive trees. This Montenegro Casino has been well known for years as it was featured in the James Bond movie, Casino Royale, where Bond plays a high stakes poker game.
There are also many newer and smaller casinos around Montenegro, as well as over 100 “slot halls” that cater to slot machine enthusiasts. (Bring your small change, Trainees!)
Montenegro is also the birthplace of Nero Wolfe, detective writer Rex Stout’s fictional character, staring in Stout’s novels. Another detective writer, Dick Lipez (Ethiopia 1962-64) recalls being briefly in Montenegro years ago.
“I spent three hours there. I was on an Adriatic cruise and I remember the place as being particularly gorgeous.”
The NPCA with their tours for RPCVs might start planning a holiday to Montenegro now with a week stay at the Maestral Hotel & Casino. (The PCVs by then will be able to show the RPCVs where to gamble.)
It is absolutely fitting that Donald Trump friend Jody Olsen would pick Montenegro to be her “first Peace Corps country” for we all know Trump is a great enthusiast for gambling sites.
Trump Entertainment Resorts is now out of business. The company operated the Trump Taj Mahal, the Trump Plaza, and the Trump World’s Fair, all in Atlantic City. Trump filed for bankruptcy in 2004, 2009 and 2014 with his gambling casinos.
Jody doesn’t have to worry about bankruptcy with the agency, but she might, nevertheless, experience mass ETs from PCVs to this agency’s 142nd country of service who ask the question, “What am I doing here?”
That said, Montenegro Volunteers need to remember, as all PCVs do, “What happens in Montenegro stays in Montenegro.”