Peace Corps HQ in Washington today announced an immediate withdrawal of all resources (they call us volunteers, “resources,”) from Kenya. In a move that shocked that Peace Corps community, as well as development efforts in Kenya, Peace Corps has stated that all volunteers, US national staff, and even the Host Country national staff will be immediately withdrawn, us volunteers having been notified over night. I was a bit confused at first by withdrawing the Host Country staff, considering they are Kenyans and their families are here, but when I asked the Country Director about this, he just said, “They are Peace Corps too! Where we go, they go!”
Other volunteers and I were talking about this amongst ourselves and were just befuddled. Most of us had expected either getting pulled out sometime in early 2009 as tensions from the previous year’s violence possibly escalated, but once all of that fizzled we figured we would easily be here until the end of our service in December 2010/January 2011. The program as a whole probably would not face another hurdle until the election of 2012, so we just didn’t know what was going on.
Gathering up the courage, we finally asked the office the question we were all wondering: “Why?” “We’re done,” our Country Director said. How could we be done? We just got here. Look all around, there are still things that need developing! To these comments, the CD simply replied:
“For the last time guys, we are not a development agency. We are a ‘soft diplomacy,’ group. We aren’t here to make things work, that’s impossible. We are in it for the friendships. It’s our goal to cultivate international friendships, good feelings, drinking buddies. You have all done that, and miraculously well. Kenya, in the past year alone, has shot up from position 62 on the official Peace Corps Friend-o-meter to #2, right behind Fiji. Now in Fiji, there are still some chances of accomplishing goal number 1, ‘to offer profession assistance,’ but because we wrote that goal off as impossible in Kenya years ago, our mission is done here.”
Astounded, myself and the other volunteers just looked at one another. Had we really done it? Had we really made all the friends we could make? And what the heck was this Friend-o-meter? We had heard about some of the metrics used to report Peace Corps activity to Congress, but this one certainly took the cake.
Of course, then the real doosie hit. The CD pulled me aside alone and told me some startling news. I would not be Completing my Service (COS) officially, instead I am being Administratively Separated (Ad Sepped). The reason? Even though Kenya as a whole successfully achieved its arbitrary friendship level, I did not. In fact, the CD informed me that people at my site considered me, “too serious,” “…didn’t socialize well,” “He didn’t laugh enough,” and I think one or two of them may have actually used expletives I taught them. As a result, I would not be COSing and instead I would be Ad Sepped based on some arbitrary metric that I had no control over nor did I ever know existed in the first place. Gah. Typical Peace Corps end to a typical Peace Corps service. Well, guess I will be seeing all of you on April 2nd.
EDIT: This story was posted as an April Fools Joke. No part of this story is true, nor should it be considered true in any way. This doesn’t mean you can’t get a laugh out of it though. I hope you have enjoyed reading it. Cheers! -Jonathan
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