Peace Corps Members Do Not Blog (and other observations)
I just recently heard over email from one of my contacts who was in the PC in Nicaragua that the Peace Corps
"usually doesn't permit blogging while you are a volunteer, except under certain conditions which make it a lot less fun."
He went on to say,
"I don't know the details but in essence you can't write about or criticize the Peace Corps or your host country, make statements that may be construed as representing the gov't of the USA, or consistitute a security threat (personal security, not state security) for the volunteer community. In essence it is straightforward, and as PCVs you *do* represent the US gov't, something a lot of people forget when they're serving as volunteers. In most villages everything the locals know about a volunteer is what they know about the USA."
When I first moved to Nicaragua, I went to the Peace Corps office in Managua and tried to learn as much as I could from several different officers there about agriculture in Nicaragua. I tried to get in touch with peace corps volunteers (there are 100-200 in Nicaragua).
Several of the staff at the office did find a few minutes to talk to me, but they were very clear that their mission was very important and consuming - coordinating information for US citizen volunteers engaged in education and agriculture development in Nicaragua - and so they couldn't dedicate more than just a few moments to helping me in my US citizen project engaging in educational and agricultural project development in Nicaragua. Right. At least they did talk to me.
I was eventually able to get the names of a few peace corps volunteers, who took time away from their busy schedule of going to Peace Corps parties in San Juan del Sur to talk to me about their projects. It was helpful to me in learning about Nicaragua - the kinds of things that work and don't work there, the way that most PCV in Nicaragua burn out (half don't finish their 2-year commitment, and the rest are happy to leave at the conclusion).
Actually, it all makes sense: embassy and PCV both represent the government, and therefore cannot engage apart from their official capacities. A bit bizarre, but I am no longer enough of an idealist to say I could come up with a better solution.