Kazakhstan… My Original Country of Service

When I was first accepted as a Peace Corps Volunteer I was assigned as a Youth Development Facilitator in the country of Kazakhstan. Since getting that nomination my placement has changed to Youth Development in Morocco. Today I received news that Peace Corps is disbanding in Kazakhstan and all volunteers are being evacuated due to safety concerns. This is all information that I have gathered from volunteers that are in Kazakhstan currently and from those that were about to go. Peace Corps has not yet released any information officially and there may very well be details that I am not yet aware of.  What is known is that there have been some recent terrorist attacks in country. Peace Corps has worked hard to provide volunteers with information about these attacks as they have occurred and none were directed at volunteers. It has also become increasingly difficult for volunteers to work within their sites because of political influence and the idea that these volunteers might be possible spies/terrorists. Many volunteers have had to change sites or weren’t able to work at their organizations for months at a time because of these issues. Peace Corps Kazakhstan also currently has the highest rate of sexual assault and rape out of any country in Peace Corps. The choice to evacuate volunteers from their placement sites was made solely with the safety of the volunteers in mind.

My Thoughts:

Although hearing that the Peace Corps will no longer be serving Kazakhstan is discouraging for me I think that it is for the best. The Peace Corps isn’t about going to another country and telling the people there how to live their lives. Peace Corps volunteers are not sent out on a mission to put influences on a country’s native language, culture, religion, etc. And volunteers are also not expected to lose any of their individual culture while they are in country.

The Peace Corps is about partnership.

It is about two countries coming together in order to solve problems. Volunteers are placed in communities where they can collaborate with people to work through any issues that may be going on. As a volunteer starting my service in March, I look forward to the opportunity to express my personal views from the perspective of someone who has grown up in America while also learning about the perspective of Moroccans and see how the two can work together.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps to promote world peace and friendship.

The mission of the Peace Corps is as follows:

  1. Helping the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
  2. Helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
  3. Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

It is impossible for the mission of the Peace Corps to work if a county does not present an interest, and this happens to be the current situation with Kazakhstan. Although there may have been some successes in the past with the Peace Corps-Kazakhstan partnership that is no longer what the country wants. The blame of the disbandment of the Peace Corps in Kazakhstan cannot be placed on the Kazakh Government, the American Government, the Peace Corps, or the volunteers. Having Peace Corps volunteers just isn’t what Kazakhstan needs right now and the Peace Corps needs to think about that betterment of the volunteers serving there.



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2 responses to “Kazakhstan… My Original Country of Service

  1. Angela

    I was sad to hear the news that Peace Corps is pulling out of Kazakhstan. I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Kazakhstan (Kaz 6) 1998-2000. I have such wonderful memories of my time there and still keep in touch with my Russian and Kazakh friends. I found the Kazakh people to be the friendliest and most hospitable people of all the countries I have visited. I do agree with your comments that it may be time to leave if we can no longer uphold the Peace Corps mission. I hope that people who read about Kazakhstan, watch the news or watch movies, such as, Borat, realize that there is so much more to Kazakhstan and its culture. The people are nomadic poets, survivors, strong women who are the backbone of the country, and passionate patriots. I thank all of those who welcomed me, taught me so much, and made me part of your family for 2 years. I will toast you with a shot of vodka. Poka! RPCV

    • Thank you Angela! Kazakhstan sounded like a beautiful country and I was excited about being part of one of PC’s smaller programs. That is still a part of the world that I would love to visit. However, Morocco has been great and, like Kazakhstan, very hospitable. Glad to hear from a RPCV!!!

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