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Letters: Readers Respond to the Special 60th Anniversary Edition of WorldView

Letters, emails, LinkedIn and Instagram comments, Facebook posts, tweets, and other missives. We’re happy to continue the conversation here and on all those nifty social media platforms. One way to write us: [email protected]

 


Thanks to NPCA as We Return to Service

As we prepare to return to Zambia in May 2022, we want to say thank you to each of you (and all of the NPCA staff/interns) for your continued support of us — first, as many of you are RPCVs yourself, and then advocates for Peace Corps even before our service, and throughout our first service, and then as evacuees, and through COVID, and then other important issues of the day these past two years, all really showing that this organization makes an effort to care about and hear the voices of (R)PCVs and country counterparts. We are going back to Zambia appreciative of all the people like you who’ve got our backs while we’re there — and for RPCVs everywhere. Thank you.

Adam Greenberg and Lianne Bronzo

Zambia 2018–20, returning to Zambia in May 2022

 


The Peace Corps at Sixty

Magnificent! Fabulous! Great! Superb! I hope to use the 60th anniversary edition of WorldView whenever I have a chance to let people know of our current situation as well as our historic and triumphant past.

Patt Behler

Peru 1962–64


 

Congratulations on a spectacular special 60th anniversary edition. Your coverage of the 2021 Peace Corps Connect Conference captured the core of key sessions. The article about the “I-We-I” trend tracked by Shaylyn Romney Garrett knocked my socks off. It was consoling to see our current social and political situation in an historical context. I’m still pondering — and talking about — her plausible explanation for what we experience now in the midst of deeply entrenched racism, impotent partisan politics, and staggering numbers of impoverished people. Can we push this insightful article out to a wider audience? Every service organization committed to social and economic justice would find its long view encouraging. The data is there, visible for all to see. I hope we don’t have to wait another half century to pull ourselves out of the trench.

Pat Wand

Colombia 1963–65

President, Museum of the Peace Corps Experience

 


We Can Do It! Again!

The special anniversary edition was a powerful invitation to discuss, debate, and create a better Peace Corps by those who know it best. I disagree, however, with Shaylyn Romney Garrett’s recommendation that our government sponsor millions of national service jobs which somehow would lessen economic inequality, cultural narcissism, and social fragmentation by creating a spirit of solidarity. There is no research suggesting national service would accomplish such goals. Our government does not have the authority to create programs to change citizens’ values and political orientations. Garrett is absolutely right, however, when she says there is much work to be done. Let us continue.

Joanne Roll

Colombia 1963–65

 

Highly pronounced trends in urban areas around the country — a commitment to green architecture, expand renewable energy, green public and private transportation, recover recyclable materials from the waste stream, expand parks and open space, democratize food security, make public education and healthcare more comprehensive, improve urban air quality, and more wisely manage water resources — demonstrate that the social justice and environmental movements have morphed into something institutionalized on a once-unimagined scale. Urban governments now have a “sustainability agenda.” That took collective action. Protests after the George Floyd case have been an immense show of citizen concern about systemic racism. The crisis of climate change will compel more collective action, as it already has. There remains within our citizenry a deep longing for community, fellowship, and common cause. Our challenge is not to be deceived by demagogues who wish to seize on what divides us to fuel their warped political ambitions. We need steady purpose and earnest, honest leadership now more than ever. I agree we can do it again. And I believe we will.

Jim Quigley 

Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia 1977–80

 

It seems that an obvious cause of social pathology is the breakdown of the family unit. There is no mention of this phenomenon in analysis of the “I-We-I” cycle in American cultural history. The sexual revolution, which took off in the 1960s, certainly highlighted personal gratification. It also deteriorated family unity. Yet sociologists of the Left seem unwilling to consider this perspective. For the sake of a more just and peaceful society, it is necessary to understand and act upon the abuses which the revolution engendered.

Carmen Mele, O.P.

Malaysia 1969–72

 


Fix Public Service Loan Forgiveness

I did Peace Corps in the ’90s. My loan was put into forbearance not only for the two years I was serving, but also the year after I returned when I was very sick. Interest accrued for three years. It didn’t matter how I filled out the forms, what I reported to them. Nothing. Proud to say I paid it off anyway, but really a punch in the back to those of us who served.

Mary Kay Diakite

Mali 1996–98

 

The [Public Service Loan Forgiveness] program was very misleading. Almost none of my fellow Volunteers were able to benefit. Neither was I.

Lauren L. Breland

Thailand 2014–17, via LinkedIn

 

 


Peace Corps Progenitors

Thank you for highlighting Operation Crossroads Africa. As an alum of both, I can attest to the fact that they are wonderfully aligned and are both powerful programs, both for volunteers and those with whom they collaborate. I often think that OCA does not get the recognition it deserves, specifically in regard to its being an inspiration for the Peace Corps — so I’m appreciative of WorldView for taking the time to do so!

Lori Halvorson

OCA Senegal, Summer 2006

RPCV Burkina Faso 2007–09

 


Safety and Security

The discussion on “Peace Corps Safety and Security” revealed that the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act gave rise to the Office of Victim Advocacy (OVA) — but, oddly enough, within the Peace Corps itself. Such a delegation with potentially opposing transparency objectives is somewhat akin to relegating the National Transportation Safety Board, which investigates aviation accidents, to a division within one of the most accident-prone air carriers. OVA should more appropriately be matrixed onto the Office of Inspector General (OIG), which has congressionally mandated independence, whistleblower protections, plus the authority to access all of the Peace Corps systems of records. The current alignment could hardly be termed best practice. Congressional records have shown that the Peace Corps and OIG have had in the past a very public and bitter spat over the independence of IGs, including their access to agency systems of records besides the detection of waste, fraud, and abuse.

Henry Mulzac

Belize 1975–77
NYPD Detective 
1981–2002
Peace Corps OIG 2002–07

 


CORRECTION: Gabon

In edited remarks from Hermence Matsotsa-Cross in our fall 2021 edition (p. 37 in the print edition), we misstated where her mother was from. We should have said: “My father was a Volunteer in Gabon in the early ’70s, where he met my mother, a Gabonese woman from one village he worked in.” We’re sorry for the error. 
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