Who am I?Where am I?

27 February 2009

Letter to President Obama concerning Peace Corps

You may have already heard that the Continuing Resolution for 2009 budgets just $340 million for the Peace Corps- just a $9 million increase over the 2008 budget. This increase will result in hundreds of fewer spots in the Peace Corps due to costly new security procedures worldwide. I am emailing you to contact President Obama today to increase this number to $425 million to fulfill his campaign pledge. You have until March 6, 2009 to act or we will have to wait one year.

Our government is not supporting the Peace Corps. Over 13,000 people applied in 2008 alone for fewer than 4,000 spots, and nearly 20 countries are asking for new programs, but we are about to make a decision that will slash the number of spots in 2009. It is unacceptable. The Continuing Resolution number is not logical, and a number which MorePeaceCorps flatly rejects. We need thousands of messages to President Obama from you, your families, and from serving volunteers all over the world. You don’t have to be a volunteer or even a US Citizen to write.

If we can galvanize the 195,000 former volunteers in this country and get the 7,876 volunteers presently in the field near a computer or cell phone, we can influence this process. We must collectively demand at least $425 million in 2009. The resolution could get passed on March 6, 2009. If you would rather call the White House and leave a message, the comment number is 202-456-1111. If you take action, please send a quick email to Rajeev Goyal (rgoyal@mrss.com) so that he can keep track.

I served in South Africa from 2002-2004, and it was a watershed time in my life. I learned about myself, connected with many other people from other cultures, learned about the oneness of humanity. My time as a teacher trainer was simply amazing. The 27-month Peace Corps model is like no other, and we need to redouble our efforts and fight hard for the President to keep his promise which is plainly stated on Whitehouse.gov to double Peace Corps by 2011. Peace Corps volunteers do more for the image of this country (and therefore its national security) and the wellbeing of millions of poor people around the world than all of the diplomats and state department officials combined, and yet the Peace Corps is being neglected. Think about that and please take action, or we will see hundreds of opportunities lost. You can go to http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/ to send your message.

This is sample text for your email which you can adjust.

Dear President Obama,

I am writing to you from_____________

I recently learned that the Continuing Resolution for 2009 requests just $340 million for Peace Corps, a very disappointing $9 million increase over 2008. At a time when you have pledged to double the Peace Corps, this budget figure will result in hundreds of volunteer positions being cut. I urge you to support at least $425 million for Peace Corps in FY 2009 to build the foundation for expanding the Corps into the 20 countries that are asking for it today. I cannot overstate my disappointment at the Continuing Resolution figure but trust that you will increase it before March 6, 2009.

We need Peace Corps now more than ever, but it is shrinking in size due to neglect. This is a program that profoundly affected my life. I served in South Africa from 2002-2004. This was a watershed event in my life and affected many of my subsequent choices and my desire to work to support the oneness of humanity. I hope you keep the promise stated on your website. I don’t see how Peace Corps can double if it is dwindling in 2009:

Expand the Peace Corps: Double the Peace Corps to 16,000 by 2011. Build an international network of overseas volunteers so that Americans work side-by-side with volunteers from other countries.



News said...

Thanks for the powerful post in support of PC. I just twittered it...

Anonymous said...

How much does NPCA and morepeacecorps cost?

The 'extra' ten million in the previous budget came from where?

Clinton(10,000 by 2000), Bush and Obama have all called to double the Peace Corps. What doubles and what doesn't?

What percentage of Peace Corps is male and what percentage is female? Does this reflect the population?

The continuing resolution doesn't reflect the five year programs budget. How many PCs are hired this way and what is the goal?

What usually happens when PC gets doubled money?

A PC costs $45,000 a year. Why aren't these paid what they are worth? Why would the US government pay their employees poverty wages in poor countries?

What are the new costly security measures? Could this be because the countries PC stays in are more dangerous? How much more is an FSO paid to stay in these dangerous countries?

leandra said...

I have conflicted feelings about the Peace Corps. It provides a wonderful opportunity for an individual to live in a different country with adequate support -- financial, health, government-- but it's also a part of the US' foreign policy, which quite frankly, isn't the best.

While you were in the Peace Corps, did you feel like it was a bottom-up model of change, as though the needs and priorities came from the people and not the government?

Richard the Nomad said...

1. News...thanks for the comment.

2. Anonymous: Let me address your questions.
A. Research that on the websites for morepeacecorps, etc. I do not know what their operating budgets are. To be honest, probably less than the cost of a seat on a new F-35 Lightning II, which would be the preferred choice of many to implement foreign policy.

B. Doubles was what Barack said. I would assume that to mean doubling the size of the Peace Corps in terms of Peace Corps Volunteers serving as of 20 January 2009.

C. The demographics are out there. Peace Corps takes who applies. You know this as well as I do. The demographics do not always accurately reflect the population, which is problematic and something I have long advocated Peace Corps address, especially when it comes to minority recruitment.

D. Peace Corps Volunteers are not hired. Hence the term Volunteer.

E. Assuming the programme gets double the money, they will be able to send more Volunteers.

F. Peace Corps employees are not paid poverty wages. Peace Corps employees hired locally are paid well above the average wage in the host-country. US citizens are paid essentially as though they are diplomats. Volunteers...they are Volunteers...it's enough to live on!

F. Peace Corps is not putting people in "dangerous" countries. Look on the website. They are extremely security conscious to the point of annoying the Volunteers at times. Check out www.peacecorps.gov for a map of the countries Volunteers are currently serving in.

I do respect your opinion and right to disagree and think that is what makes forums like this interesting.


The thing about PC is it's about capacity building. The host-countries invite the Peace Corps in...not vice-versa. Is it a tool of implementing US Foreign Policy? That's debatable. It is only as much as Peace Corps is good Public Relations for the US Gov't. In South Africa, I was a teacher trainer, training teachers in rural areas in post-apartheid South Africa (translation: Black teachers) on how to implement their own government's curriculum and to teach utilizing outcomes based methodology as opposed to rote memorization and a textbook driven methodology. It was completely driven by the needs of the local government and for the benefit of the local community. The basketball team I coached was already there. I just helped make them better. The schools I was in were already there too. I helped train people on how to write grants, where to look for money, etc., but it was mostly sustainable. I hope that addresses your question.

Please feel free to write and comment more! I love the dialogue.

Nomadic Richard