Monday, November 15, 2004

Peace Corps in the Middle East?

I recently read a story about having the PC in the Middle East. Having suffered through 2 years of the PC myself (most of the real suffering came from asinine PC exclusionism [of local staff], in-country and Washington bureaucracy, and American staff protecting other American staff [that should have been jailed]) I am sceptical at best. The main mission of course is to help teach English, business, environment etc but they told us all the time that another large component was helping people know “Americans”.

Not sure how much it actually helps though. Here, in Italy, the perception of many Americans is a bit skewed, and I think the Italians are pretty nice about it. A case in point happened to me the other day; I was having problems with a database search so I went to the librarian/it department in fisheries to see if I could get some help. They had no idea why I was having all the trouble, even after watching me do it. I grumbled “its some sort of divine conspiracy” and on of them said “well, your American” my weak retort was “and I didn’t even vote for Bush”, his reply was “It doesn’t matter”. That was a bit sobering; he was joking but as a Moldovan once told me, “there is a bit of truth to every joke”. Most people in the world will see me as “American – one of those that support Bush” when in truth I voted and put the word out to purge Washington of the Bush dynasty (a lesson in manic frustration).