The group Decolonizing Peace Corps has started a petiton on the website Change. org

 

The RPCVs Advocates who created this movement have named the petition, “Abolish the Peace Corps.”  But, in reading the petition, I note they offer many suggestions to “reform” the Peace Corps, not to abolish it.  In this regard, they may be surprised to realize they join other  RPCVs  from earlier eras, who also wanted to improve the Peace Corps. I think it would be worthwhile to read the petition and its proposed changes, because I think it would generate  discussion.  Here is the link to the petition.  Its content has been copied and follows.

Abolish Peace Corps: A Movement Toward Ending Neocolonialism in International Development

The Peace Corps prides itself on being fundamentally apolitical and consistently providing humanitarian efforts around the world. This is a facade in that the Peace Corps, like all U.S. government agencies, is subjected to change due to rotations in administration, which can greatly affect its ability to meet its goals. Development work is inherently political. It is an industry that grows each year due to the global legacies and systems of imperialism, exploitation, and colonization. The Peace Corps, as an extension of the U.S. government, continues to deny its role in these issues, only perpetuating further harm. It is deeply unethical for an organization that claims to promote “world peace and friendship” to exist on the coattails of the U.S’s imperialistic foreign policy. Therefore, in order to dismantle the unethical nature of Peace Corps and to move towards decolonizing international development work, Peace Corps must be phased out over the next 20 years.

The Peace Corps achieves neither of its stated goals of development nor cultural exchange. Peace Corps exacerbates dependency; the agency claims to prioritize “sustainability,” but does not follow best practices to achieve it. In order for the Peace Corps to achieve its development goals, it must have a community sovereignty-centered goal, and a clear end. It currently has neither. Its cultural exchange goals should be focused on sending volunteers who can accurately represent the realities and histories of the United States, particularly those who identify as Black, Indigenous, and/or a person of color, and making Peace Corps an accessible and safe space for them. Making these changes will make the presence of the Peace Corps as one that is more mutually and morally beneficial.

This petition is a living document. It is an edited list of our full list of demands of Peace Corps that cover the most pressing and overarching concerns. These demands have come from conversations with host country nationals, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer input via social media, survey results, and academic research. Host country national demands/testimonies should be prioritized. While our main goal is sovereignty for host country national communities, the majority of these reforms are volunteer-centered as they are a necessary transition to that end. They are meant to provide a framework for the Peace Corps itself to investigate and implement the concerns mentioned. Each demand, along with all the demands on the full petition, should be investigated externally and implemented with full transparency prior to resuming operations in 2021.

The End of Peace Corps

    1. Dissolve Peace Corps headquarters by 2040. Work with host country representatives to understand whether and how they want continued US involvement in developing sustainable host country national-directed alternative systems.

Volunteer Recruitment

    1. Require volunteers have at least one year of specific technical experience in the fields to which they have applied.
      2. Require volunteers to have an intermediate low level proficiency in any host country language prior to arrival in country. This process should include a language proficiency interview.
      3. Screen for an understanding of White and/or American privilege, colonization and imperialism, collectivism, and specifics on relevant technical experience in the Peace Corps application.
      4. Require that all volunteers either identify with (ethnically) and/or have worked with a group similar to the host country population in a substantial or meaningful way.
      5. Require a curriculum of books, podcasts, articles, and other media prior to Pre-Service Training that includes the topics of imperialism, colonization, neocolonialism, white saviorism, american exceptionalism, and race in the United States on Onboarding Tasks.
      6. Provide all volunteers with vouchers/allowance to cover pre-service costs of medical and legal clearance, as well as linguistic resources to reach necessary language proficiency.

In-Country American Staff Members

    1. Screen for an understanding of anti-racism best practices in the Peace Corps American staff application process. Require ongoing implicit bias and anti-racism training from BIPOC-led organizations.
      2. Require every in-country American executive staff member, including training directors and country directors, to have host country national counterparts of the same pay. If necessary, hire American staff to fill supporting positions rather than executive positions.
      3. Require that all American staff members either identify with (ethnically) and/or have worked with a group similar to the host country population in a substantial or meaningful way.

Host Country Nationals

    1. Make community counterparts paid on the basis of 2-5 year fellowships. Allow them (or other established local organizations) to be responsible for completing community assessments, identifying projects, applying for and managing grants, and any other processes up until project completion or sustainability is achieved.
      2. Create an open channel of communication (ex. hotline) as well as official protocols to address harm perpetuated against host country nationals by Peace Corps volunteers and American staff members.

In-Country Programming

    1. Train host country national staff and host families on the diversity of the United States and how to address/approach discussing identity with non-white volunteers. Create spaces, particularly during Pre-Service Training, where non-white Peace Corps volunteers can discuss their identities with host country national staff and host families and vice versa.
      2. Ensure that there is an entity (committee of volunteers i.e. The Diversity Committee, unbiased third party individual) at every post that is well-trained and well-resourced to discuss and manage anti-racism training and incidents of racism.
      3. Transition Education Sector programming into focusing on teacher training and co-teaching.
      4. Provide a more robust, Peace Corps-wide diversity and inclusion training that highlights LGBTQIA+ individuals, with a specific emphasis on queer BIPOC perspectives and perspectives of queer folks in country, to both Peace Corps volunteers and trainees and all in-country-staff.
      5. Update gender and sexual assault trainings for Peace Corps volunteers and trainees, in-country staff, and headquarters staff to reflect current best practices as well as basic workplace norms: follow existing Peace Corps policies, believe survivors, and don’t victim-blame.

This petition can be signed by anyone. If you are a returned Peace Corps volunteer, please put “RPCV” by your name. If you are a Peace Corps staff member, please put “PC Staff” by your name. ______________________________________________

The RPCVs Advocates who created this movement are not showing how to abolish the Peace Corps, but rather reform it.  They join many of their RPCVs from earlier eras, who also wanted to improve the Peace Corps.

4 Comments

Leave a comment
  • I read the goal of abolishing the Peace Corps Headquarters by 2040 and did not realize the group meant abolishing the entire Peace Corps. I do not immediately associate Peace Corps Headquarters with Peace Corps! In my mind, Peace Corps/DC was far away and uninvolved. I identified as Cuerpo de Paz and Colombia Eleven.

  • I think, if a lot of these petition requirements were met, esp as regards who could become a volunteer, it would seem to make volunteers a cadre of highly professional, people, and hardly representative of Americans as they really are. What they really are is part of what understanding (Third Goal) is all about. A slick NGO operation is something completely different.

    John Turnbull Ghana-3 Geology and Nyasaland/Malawi-2 Geology Assignment 1963, -64, -65.

  • DOCUMENTING LIFE NOW

    Dancing to the music of life now — partaking, enjoying, wondering.

    As life rises, what clouds out there over sharp rocks is dancing to the music of the time that remains.

    Our story that goes on from there for me swivets.

    The routines a nation’s decline promises comes as you partake it enjoy it

    watching it rise into clouds above distant sharp rocks even as hopes surmount whatever we dance

    to the music of your our dear life now
    Copyright Edward Mycue

  • Wow, this is a very bigoted “Demand” list. I love how people demand things without talking to others to find a middle ground.
    Isn’t the point of the organization to help others and open the eyes of the volunteers to see how other parts of the world live.
    This would hopefully help people see how grateful they are at home and continue the spirit of volunteerism at home.
    These demands are just as bad as the so-called colonialism.
    The job of the corps is not educate the world on America or to impose American liberal values in the communities that you are helping. It is too learn about each other and to hopefully exchange ideas.
    This is a manifesto to destroy local culture and make everyone an American liberal which is what people in the rest of the world hate.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Copyright © 2019. Peace Corps Worldwide.