eight days in iraq...,
| Main |
george w. bonaparte...,
peace corps ghana:
a few final excerpts from Making Them Like Us. Finished it a long time ago but never got around to posting these parting thoughts:
The guilt caused by having servants eclipsed that of the volunteers who simply had nice houses. ... Some leaders in the host countries
... [insisted] that volunteers get servants. In Ghana, Arnold Zeitlin faced the firm orders of his counterpart that he hire a uniformed
houseboy and fretted that he could not explain the "political dangers of a volunteer with a uniformed servant."
Others found racial tensions that they did not expect. A teacher in Ghana sheepishly admitted to a roving Peace Corps evaluator
that she had joined an all-white club. She insisted that she had to, because all the white teachers at her school also belonged,
and when she didn't join in her first year, these colleagues ostracized her.
[Ed] Smith joined the Corps believing he could combine his strong beliefs with the goals
of the Peace Corps. Even before he volunteered, he felt himself "chained to an active program of aggressively asserting his and his people's right to be."
he described himself as a Pan-Africanist and thought the Peace Corps woudl give him a chance to get to know his fellow Africans and help
them "be" at the same time.
After his arrival in Ghana, Smith immediately became frustrated. He applied to work at a school with a European principal but was rejected
because the principal believed the Europeans there woudl not a appreciate a black teacher. He felt "bitter and disillusioned" when he
saw Ghanaians "begging the forgiveness of a white volunteer because the lorry had no room for him" and felt "hostility when
I heard Ghanaian girls begging white male volunteers to give them white babies." Not only did he believe Ghana suffered from a racist
system, he became disillusioned with the Peace Corps. He wrote that he was called a racist by the white volunteers: "I'm so reserved
and make no effort to be friendly with our white element.... Were I white and aloof, I'd just be another odd ball."
One United States Information Service official in Ghana reportedly complained, "The poor people here are like animals.
They should never be allowed to come to the city." His answer: create a strategic halmet system,
as in Vietnam, and herd them into it. Paul Cowan reported an AID official in the same country saying that giving
Ghanaians brith control without sex education would be like "giving the niggers the right to vote and not teaching
them how to use it." The Peace Corps came from a cultural milieu that made true equality of minorities virtually
impossible. Shriver and other leaders thought they had created the first color-blind government agency, but the culture and
their own image making prevented them from succeeding in this effort.
:: posted by buermann @ 2007-08-23 16:19:10 CST |