Months are slipping by without a Peace Corps Director.
Why is that?
When Trump was kicked out of office, Director Jody Olsen (Tunisia 1966-68) ran for the door tossing the office keys to Carol Spahn (Romania 1994-96) who has now been declared Chief Executive Office of the agency. Over the last months, two ‘famous’ names popped up as potential directors. Joe Kennedy (the Dominican Republic 2004-06) was, I’m told, offered the job and he turned it down. Recently the story is that President Biden asked Michelle Obama if she would be the next Peace Corps Director. She also said no.
What we also know is that the Republicans in the Senate are stalling all of Biden’s appointments to federal jobs. 150 government positions have no nominee.
What might the Peace Corps agency do next?
- Limp along with ‘acting’ CEO and make-do staff and no PCVs in the field.
- Close the Peace Corps down. Call it Quits. 60 Years Is Long Enough. Good Bye!
- Turn the ‘Peace Corps into a non-government organization. Create a Private Peace Corps.
- Let the United Nations be the new “Peace Corps”. Americans would apply to the UN.
- Let colleges and universities sponsor their ‘own’ peace corps in nations that they have associations. Give degrees only.
Back in February 2007, writing an op-ed in the StarTribune in the Twin Cities, former Peace Corps Director Carol Bellamy (Guatemala 1963-65) and Eric Utne, founder of Utne Reader magazine, called for the establishment of an independent, nongovernmental, all-volunteer Peace Corps for the whole earth, an Earth Corps that would work with existing service organizations all over the world to recruit and help address the U.N. Millennium Development Goals.
This would mean Earth Corps Volunteers working to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability and developing a global partnership for development.
Volunteers would also work to monitor and reverse global warming, clean up polluted rivers and toxic waste sites, teach basic computer skills and business practices to the recipients of micro-credit loans, provide information and medical care, and so forth.
You have to love Carol and Eric Utne (who I do not know) still fighting the good fight, and not going gently into that good night.
Here is a little-known Carol Bellamy story of how Carol first learned about the Peace Corps which, she always claims, changed her life.
As a student at Gettysburg College, Carol was studying in the library and fell asleep late one night high up in the stacks. The library closed down and locked up. Waking, Carol discovered she was locked in and all alone in the empty building. Now, this could have made a great scary novel. Instead, Carol wandered around the empty college library looking for something good to read and came across a story about a new government agency, the Peace Corps….the rest, as they say, is history. In the morning the library doors were opened and Carol walked out to join the Peace Corps and made history as the first RPCV Director.
A true story.