Dear Friends and Family,
On Friday, August 16, 2002, I was supposed to be sworn in as a Peace Corps volunteer with 22 other GUY10 trainees. While my 22 colleagues were sworn in on Friday and have already left for their respective sites throughout the country, I was not given the invitation to swear in and currently remain a trainee.
Naturally, not getting sworn in (and all of the issues leading to the country director?s decision not to swear me in) has been very stressful, tiring, and frustrating.
The Peace Corps Guyana staff believes that I am not aware of, or have been sensitive to, the impact that my personal comments posted on my personal website at http://net.jasonpearce.com and personal Yahoo Groups listserve/community at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jasonpearce/ might have on myself, my co-workers, and the Peace Corps worldwide.
Although one of the Peace Corps’ three goals is “to help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of the American people,” and that the Volunteer Handbook encourages me “to share my understanding of the culture and traditions with countless family members, friends, co-workers, and community groups in the United States;” the Peace Corps Guyana staff believes that the content on my semi-private and personal website constitutes publishing and is thus a violation of their guidelines.
While I may be free to discuss my role in the Peace Corps with friends, family, or anyone else, I understand that an ill-considered statement could be used to embarrass me, the Peace Corps, the U.S., or the people of Guyana. But I also believe that the potential damage that the content on my personal website could cause must be weighed against my rights of free speech, political expression, and religious beliefs.
In an effort to reduce the possibility of my personal opinions from reaching people beyond my circle of friends and family, I made the following precautions in hopes of appeasing the country director:
- I password-protected the Monologue section of my site (http://net.jasonpearce.com/monologue/)
- I password-protected my Yahoo Groups listserve/community (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jasonpearce/)
- I password-protected my online photos at Ofoto.com
While these measures secure my content and restrict it from being viewed by people beyond my intended audience, it also makes it more difficult for you (my friends and family) to access that content. Unfortunately, it’s a necessary precaution that we will all have to live with.
In addition to heightening security, I have taken additional steps to block access to my site from nearly all computers located in Guyana; as well as promising additional censorship measures that I will be willing to take.
Unfortunately, my self-censorship and heighten-security changes were not enough to permit me to be sworn in on Friday. This upcoming week will likely be another week of me trying to appease the country director in hopes that he will eventually decide to swear me in.
I believe that I have the talent and interest to help the World Wildlife Fund (my assignment), the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana (a secondary-project that I’m hoping to work on), and potentially many more Guyanese organizations in their IT and web development needs. I just need to be given the chance.
If I cannot convince the country director soon that my online actions will not affect the Peace Corps or US offline, then I’ll likely be sent home much sooner than expected.
Wish me luck. I’ll do my best to keep you posted.