I received a wonderful email today from one of the current volunteers. This individual is a member of the Volunteer Action Committee. VAC acts on behalf of the 50 or so volunteers by providing feedback, suggestions, requests, and complaints to the Guyana Peace Corps staff. While VAC’s powers are rather limited (suggestions only), its influence seems to have grown. Here is the email:
Date: Wed, 2 Oct 2002 11:55:55 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Condolences
To: [email protected]
Here’s what VAC’s been up to. We recently had a visit from an admin guy from the IAP region, and the opportunity was not missed to dump on Earl. Your departure has caused some serious waves that have resounded all the way to Washington; you may have heard that one volunteer wrote a letter to the U.S. Ambassador to Guyana that detailed Earl’s attitude and behavior, and sent copies to IAP and Washington.
Earl was on the point of sending another volunteer (GUY-9) home for a reason even more ridiculous than yours, and it was only because he was slow enough in his paperwork that the rest of us were able to find out about it and threatened a petition in the form of a survey of volunteer confidence in the staff being sent to the powers that be. The volunteer is still here. If we’d had more warning, maybe the same tactic would’ve worked in your case.
Let me ask you a question to get your side of it: Earl is saying he sent you home for the sole reason that there wasn’t a site available (which is pretty ridiculous, considering it was less than a week after training), or was it that Earl had a bone to pick with you, personally?
So, what are your plans now? Try Peace Corps again? Re-enter the corporate world? How have you found the reaction from friends and family who didn’t expect to see you for two years?
I’m pleased that VAC was able to a) voice complaints about staff management and b) successfully petition to keep a volunteer in Guyana that was about to be sent home. These are great accomplishments in unfair conditions.
To answer your questions, yes, I was officially sent home because the Guyana Peace Corps staff couldn’t find a site that could use my web development skills. Earl’s August 21 memo reads, “Jason is being given an Early Termination/Interrupted Service per MS 284, 5.0. ‘The host country (or other cooperating agency to which the volunteer is assigned) requests that the volunteer be removed from service for reasons that would not consist grounds for administrative separation.’ The best and only site available, which requires web site knowledge and skills, was the WWF-Guiana’s placement. The decision by the cooperating agency not to accept Jason Pearce, therefore, removes this site from consideration, has resulted in this action.
You are correct to observe that I was sent home less than five days after loosing my assignment with the WWF. According to Earl and a WWF email, the WWF decided that they no longer wanted to have me serve as a volunteer on August 19. Two days later, Earl had already made plans to send me home. I was back in the states on August 23.
Earl’s hasty action to send me home shows that he had little interest in finding me a replacement site. When I proposed a backup site that I had already found (the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana), Earl was not willing to take my proposal seriously. While he did call THAG’s director of August 21 to learn more about their needs, I was prohibited from talking or meeting with THAG until after I had signed and completed all of Earl’s Close of Service paperwork. So what was the point?
Obviously, Earl felt threatened by me and was eager to find a way to send me home. On Thursday, August 22, Earl confirmed his distaste for me by saying that I was cocky and that I should be pleased to receive a non-disciplinary early termination (i.e. Interruption of Service), for it was the best he could do in light of the circumstances. He said that he really should have administratively separated me due to my personal website and audio files.
Since returning to the states, I have requested reassignment or re-enrollment per my rights as an Early Termination/Interruption of Service RPCV. So far, I have not received a response from DC regarding this request. Thankfully, I’ve had a lot of support from US friends and folks like you back in Guyana.