I would like to publicly thank all of those who have taken the time to show their support via email, phone, letters, or in person. I was fortunate to arrive to Guyana with the enthusiasm of many lifelong friends, and even more privileged to gain the admiration of the 22 colleagues who were in training with me. Your combined words, thoughts, wisdom, and actions have helped make a difficult disappointment more bearable.
I thought that some of you might enjoy reading a few excerpts taken from emails or letters that I have received. I also wanted to archive them here for future reference. Naturally, I have removed the names of the authors for privacy purposes.
The first batch of excerpts is taken from letters or emails that I received from Guyana Peace Corps volunteers and trainees. While I may have known my colleagues only a short while, their impact on me was immense. They will be missed.
I am really flustered writing this. I can’t believe you won’t be here. I am astounded at the decision and think it’s wrong, just wrong.
Over the last ten weeks I have come to respect you a lot. While I am from California, you are maybe the third “dot com” person I have known and I am very impressed with your personality, experience in life, and vision. I honestly feel the people of Guyana are losing a great opportunity with your passing. While others may disagree, I see your heart is in the right place to be here and to help others.
I wish you luck in your future endeavors and hope to connect with you again sometime in the future. I can only hope to be as well off as you are in life by the time I am 30. Your travel experiences make for great stories and you are a wonderful storyteller. You self-assurance and self-awareness are marks of a mature and able man who guides himself in life, not just reacting to circumstances around. Your gadget addiction and embrace of technology inspire others and definitely make you a valuable resource.
Be well, keep hacking, and don’t forget how to gaff. While your stay was short, your impact was large. You will not be forgotten.
I can only imagine how emotionally and mentally wrenching your ordeal here in Guyana was. My head is still spinning about what “could have” been done given the CD’s rather unpredictable temperament. I think he has many volunteers now worried that he’s just going to randomly send someone home for no justifiable reason. I wish you were here because there definitely is more than enough web development work to be done. Regardless of what you decide, just know that I have nothing but admiration for the way you handled this whole situation. Most people would have gone completely ballistic.
I cannot get over this whole ridiculous ordeal. I’m really sorry you’ve been singled out. By far Guyana is going to lose out on a very talented person and we’re going to miss you terribly! Do keep in touch and I’ll never forget your smile and fabulous laugh.
I just wanted to tell you that I was shocked and confused at Earl’s decision to remove you from Peace Corps Guyana. I have never seen another volunteer show as much drive, ambition, and enthusiasm to work as you did. The program and the country has been slighted by the loss your talents. I hope that one poor decision by one short-sighted bureaucrat has not spoiled you to the Peace Corps experience.
You might like to know that VAC [Volunteer Advisory Committee] is conducting a survey among all the volunteers to put together some numbers and percentages on how many of us are dissatisfied with Earl’s decisions. I’ll let you know how it turns out, if you’re interested. Losing you was a huge mistake. I’m sorry it happened.
I will miss you tons! Whatever you do, you’ll be successful, no doubt. I will dearly miss getting to hang out with you playing X-Box the next two years. Good luck and please keep in touch.
I’ll miss my first Peace Corps Guyana contact! All things in life serve a purpose. I’m sure your talents are needed elsewhere. God bless you!
I’ll miss your laugh, your shoulder c.b. talent, and your deep dark savage body. Perhaps you can still rendezvous for a diving vacation with me. You are the king of travel. I remember hearing someone being introduced to you in Miami and you laughing and thinking; cool, that’s Jason. Don’t change.
I’m really sorry to hear about Earl’s decision. For what it’s worth, I think he’s making a big mistake. Take care and good luck.
I’m so sorry about what has transpired. I’m just sick about it. I tossed and turned all night. When things weigh heavy on my mind, well, you know me I analyze and analyze and analyze. I’m a passionate person and if a friend is under attack then it might as well be an attack on me.
I’m proud of the way you are handling this entire thing; it’s very honorable. Keep your chin up. We are all on your side; let us help you if we can.
I’m so sorry to hear the scoop and the run around you’ve been facing. It is pure ridiculous acts they are doing! I really hope they find you a site – you are a very talented person Jason and Guyana would benefit greatly from you. Keep us in the loop and let us know if we can do anything to help in this time of patient waiting.
I’m still trying to figure out how Earl can deny Guyana the most specialized, intelligent, enthusiastic volunteer of the bunch. It makes me sick. I want you to know I won’t forget you or this unfair experience. I hope it fires you up. Frankly, I’m going to kick some legal ass in your honor after law school. I’m serious. I’m going to miss you a lot: Frisbee, cards, minibus rides. Please keep in touch.
Just remember that you will always be a better person that that piece of s*** Earl Brown and I commend you on the way you handled the situation, very professional. Personally, I would have gone ape s*** on that chump!
Life is never fair, so don’t dwell. Move forward. Respect yourself and have fun. Now I’ll never learn how to do web pages.
That stinks about the trouble you are running into. I had heard stories from several people that it was pretty hard to get beyond some of the red tape, and some people didn’t feel that they made any difference after a lot of hard work. It stinks that it sometimes has to be that way, but I’m sure you will persevere. I hope you are able to enjoy at least most things with the PC stuff. Good luck!
We were so saddened to learn how things turned out for you in G’town. Not a day goes past that we don’t wonder about how you are doing–and where you are doing it. Having been in similar situations several times in my life, I can really empathize with you. I really don’t like being the focus of large institutions trying to work out policies on things they don’t really understand. We take heart knowing that you are a resourceful and highly motivated person, so we know that you will come out on top.
Who the heck am I going to play hacky with, learn X-Box games, and fricken watch DVD’s? I was looking forward to that! And even cook for ya once or twice. We’ll miss you.
You are an amazing person and I am so completely disappointed that you have to leave us. I hope that you will keep in touch and I wish you all the luck in the world. You will be able to offer so much to those who have the privilege of knowing you. Thank you for the many laughs, the good conversation, and for your friendship. Peace Corps Guyana is missing out! Please know that we are all behind you on this and if you need anything, do not hesitate to ask! I will miss you!
As you can see, I was fortunate to have a great deal of support from the many new friends that I made while in Guyana. I am looking forward to keeping in touch with all of them and sharing their adventures with you.
Which leads me to my “support group” back home. During my ordeal with the country director, I was trying to come up with a solution that would permit me to communicate with my friends and family while ensuring that my letters home would only reach my intended audience (i.e. not fall into the hands of the Guyanese). One of my proposals was to have me stop posting content on my website and instead send emails directly to my personal listserve ([email protected]), which would then distribute my emails to the rest of you.
While I thought this was a good solution, the Peace Corps Guyana staff remained apprehensive. Their first concern was regarding the number of people who would receive my emails. When I told them that I have about 100 friends and family members who are subscribed to my personal listserve, they balked; claiming that number to be far to high and that they would consider any email that I distributed to this many people to be publishing.
Their second concern was regarding the character and profession of my 100 friends and family. Knowing that I served as an editor of a magazine for five years, the Peace Corps Guyana staff asked if I still had any friends in the publishing/communications business and, if so, were they subscribed to my listserve. They were concerned that my publishing friends would be influenced by my experiences and opinions, and would thus publish my thoughts and opinions as having come from a credible U.S. government or Peace Corps source.
Needless to say, I never expected my wealth of friends and support to lead to my demise. But leave it to the Peace Corps to find a way.
I cherish the interaction and support that I received from each of you. My email box was flooded with letters of dismay, humor, wisdom, advice, and best wishes ? all of which were greatly appreciated, so thank you. Here are a few excerpts from those emails:
I am SO sorry about what is happening to you. I am beyond words! I just cannot believe that they want to censor your site – I can’t believe that anything you have posted would jeopardize any kind of national security – which would be the only reason they could do such a thing! I can’t even think of anything that has been in any way negative. I just don’t understand!! And I can’t believe how they have treated you! Can they send you to another country – one that allows freedom of speech!?
I am sorry to hear about the closed-mindedness of the group in Guyana. One would have thought after some of the less positive press the WWF had taken during it’s recent litigations with the wrestling folks, they would be elated to have any volunteer workers they could get, but even more so to have someone of your caliber.
I can’t believe it!!! Because you wanted to take a modern approach to sharing your experiences, you are being sent home. I’m very disappointed in the Peace Corps. I’m sure things will work out for you, let me know if I can do anything. Have a safe trip home.
I feel how humbled you must feel over all this unfortunate circumstance, and reach out to you. Keep the faith, obey their dicta up to and at the point where you feel you can compromise any longer. I can see how the very conservative elements have to be so guarded, and note that it has been my experience in my travels, and in my foreign missionary efforts within the church. Weigh all things and try to see them from the point of view of the others, and such sensitivity will be rewarded so that your mission can continue.
I find it outrageous and ridiculous that your service was cut short because you were utilizing the skills you were recruited to share in the first place. I’m sure you’re in the process of getting back in the States and getting settled. I was thinking about you, rooting for you and with you all the way.
I for one am glad you are coming home. I have read in the “independent press” that the Peace Corps is not all it’s cracked up to be. Or rather, it’s more than it’s supposed to be and in the wrong direction. The standard thing: a good idea gone awry, controlled by big bucks and big politics. I believe it was an article in Mother Jones: one of the very few national magazines that is not owned by the five media giants that own about 99% of all American media. Maybe Jason needs to start another one! Seriously / it might make a good article for one of the independent publications. Newsweek or Time wouldn’t touch it.
I have known you since our early teenage years and have always known you to be of sound judgment and impeccable character. I also know you to make sound decisions based on integrity and high morals. I personally think in today’s world your web page is the most outstanding way to spread the positive impact of your journeys and experiences in life to include your assignments with the Peace Corps. I personally enjoy reading about your adventures.
I hope they send you home. They don’t deserve someone of your caliber. Small minded people disgust me.
I hope you can stomach the games being played concerning your appointment. I am disappointed with WWF, an organization I support with gifts for dropping you. Keep your chin up and be a brother of courage.
I just read through your site, and I’m amazed. I really enjoyed reading about your times in Guyana, and you definitely have web-dev talent. I’m also shocked that they dismissed you so easily given that you seemed willing to comply with their rules. If your sites are password protected and given out only to friends and family and if names/addresses aren’t mentioned, I don’t see the harm.
I will admit that if I was the host family, I might object to someone posting my daily family activities. You seem like a totally open person, but many people may object to your “reality tv” approach to life. I suspect it was the comment about the naked overweight child that tipped the scales. There is likely a hidden political agenda as well. It’s too bad they didn’t put you in front of a panel of “judges” so that you could explain yourself, make changes, and come to an agreement before they terminated your service. It definitely doesn’t seem just.
I’d say you’d have a chance with the O’Reilly Factor on FoxNews ([email protected]) –that exposure could lead to top pro-bono legal counsel. Your situation is quite interesting and will no doubt occur with others as more and more people learn how to communicate via the web. Might be worth the fight if you’re in for a long haul.
I know this is a big disappointment to you, as I know how much you wanted to help your country and the Guyanese people. I pray that the Peace Corps will reconsider. I do not think you have said anything that will embarrass them or the government of Guyana. In fact it has made me mindful of the sacrifices that Peace Corps volunteers make. It has also made me think that maybe I should consider Peace Corps service when I retire.
I thought I would save my note until the conclusion of this mess. From an observer’s standpoint, I can’t tell you how baffled/amazed/disappointed I am in the outcome. In the global environment we are faced with, I would think that the PC would take advantage of talent when they had it and meet in the middle with you on the issues they had with the monologue. My thoughts go out to you bro. Long live the 1st amendment.
I’ve been following along, quietly, throughout this entire ride you’ve had. I’ve enjoyed looking at the pictures, reading your stories, and learning about the entire experience. All I can say is that I am in disbelief that all this could come from your Web site. If there ever was a motivated and talented individual, that is you, and it is quite upsetting to know you’re down in a foreign country needing to deal with this when all you want to do is help. Needless to say, I hope this is resolved quickly and you can get on with your work. I am with you, brother, and best of luck.
I’ve been thinking about you and hope that he swears you in. He’s nuts if he doesn’t! I admire that you are standing up for what you believe in.
Just wanted you to know I was thinking of you in these difficult times. I am sure you are finding a way to deal with this as you always have with tough situations.
My view is that you probably haven’t done anything wrong in terms of the content you’ve placed on your web site. I think the Peace Corps has totally overreacted to something that could be a significant benefit to recruitment and the spread of information about the Peace Corps, as well as something that could further your and your fellow volunteers’ experience in Guyana. I have really enjoyed reading your monologue and hope that it will be back up and running soon!
Perhaps the answer to your dilemma is to comply with all the Peace Corps requests and to assure them that you will work within their guidelines and do all you can to maintain open communication with them throughout your service. Then, as you get to know them and have a chance to build up trust over a period of months, you can endeavor to deal with the question of freedom of speech, etc. Remember that the Peace Corps is not representative of “corporate America”, but a volunteer agency. Greatly simplified………”where do you want to end up?” and “what is the shortest distance between 2 points?” Other facets of the situation can be dealt with later.
Some people make it really hard to want to help them, eh? Good luck Jason. I think the folks over there could use a person with your talents and personality. Keep fighting the good fight.
Sorry to hear that you are running into logistical/political problems regarding your website. I find your site to be a very useful tool in helping me understand what you are doing. I also have learned much about what the Peace Corps does, and its mission and vision. Anyhow, I hope you stick to your principles, and I hope the Peace Corps can see your commitment to their goals, and the good your “free-speech” can do for their mission.
Sounds like a load of crap to me. You try to volunteer two years of your life to something and this is what you get, amazing.
Thanks for continuing to share your story. I am sad that the country director has been so difficult in relation to your website, etc. Please know that I will keep you in my thoughts and hope that he will grant you the ability to continue. How unfortunate to find someone that is willing to volunteer time and energy and to turn this down due to such trivial issues. Thanks for representing the USA so proudly.
We are thoroughly pissed off on your behalf. We can’t believe it. They are clearly colossal idiots!!!! Have a safe flight and we hope to hear from you soon.
We are very sorry about how everything turned out and the disappointment and frustration that you have experienced. But we are very proud of you for standing up for your freedom of speech. There are times in life when you have to pull together everything you have been taught and what you believe in. We feel that this was one of those times for you and we are proud of the way you responded. We love you and know that you will learn from this difficult experience and are a better person for it.
Wow, totally did not expect to get this e-mail. We have a bet going on how short your country director is. What 5’2″? 5’4″? 3’8″? It has to be a Napoleon complex … he’s jealous of your height … that’s the only possible explanation.