Defending Young and Inexperienced PCV’s

In Uncategorized on April 1, 2009 at 4:32 pm

I just read an interesting article on DevEx about a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zambia. The author is a volunteer with VSO in Zambia who is professionally blogging in DevEx about volunteering, and he has some good counter-arguments for those who disparage the Peace Corps for sending young and inexperienced PCV’s to developing countries.

For anyone who has worked in development – you know that behavioral change takes a long, long time. Crockett – the author of the article – highlights that many development experts who disparage inexperienced PCV’s wouldn’t be able to hack it in the village for 2 days, let alone 2 years. And it takes a lot more than an afternoon presentation with free food to convince subsistence farmers to change their farming styles for the better.

In Niger – it was common to have a demonstration field. You get the village chief to cede some land to you for a couple of years so you can experiment with the new methods you are sent to teach. The novelty of a foreigner working in the fields already attracts attention; if you carefully practice what you were taught in training, you can really help people see, over time, that you can increase your millet yields and use compost effectively, for example.

The other thing is that it is more than just the work – it’s the intangibles that count. Each PCV is an American Ambassador. They leave two years of stories behind and the villagers never forget “their American” or their Americans…

So as long as there is the money and the political will – we should remember that sending intelligent, articulate, and motivated young people (possibly without too much professional experience) to serve as PCV’s in remote countries is not a waste of time.

  1. Hello So I am from Niger , and I live in New york city i randomly got to your blog because you mentioned Niger in it Manage a website called http://www.niger1.com and I hear about Gaston , he works with peace corpsemail me niger1.com@gmail.com and check out my website http://www.niger1.com


  2. Thank you for these remarks about Peace Corps volunteers. Couldn't agree more.


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