Peace Corps, mission trips, etc., and foreign policy

Maybe this belongs in another category. I just spent a long time trying to decide.

I grew up in Dallas and lived there until 2009. I met a lot of people who would talk about going on “mission trips” and other similar activities, religious or otherwise, usually in Mexico or Central America, and sometimes elsewhere. Eventually, after doing a lot of research of my own, I wondered why I never heard anybody come back with a reaction like this:

“Wow, Guatemala is in many ways a disaster area. It says here in Lonely Planet [or other source, and/or local discovery/testimony] that the CIA overthrew the country’s democratic government in 1954, and then supported dictators for the next forty years. They turned the place into a killing field, and some of the same policies are still in place today! The US supports the corrupt, plutocratic regime. No wonder it’s so poor! What can I, an American citizen, do about it? Maybe we can start by not scapegoating illegal immigrants. They’re really refugees, and besides, they help both economies anyway. Now, about the support for repressive regimes…”

In 2009, I came to DC to get a Master’s degree in US Foreign Policy, with International Development as an added bonus. I got to meet some remarkable people who’ve done deeply admirable work around the world (many returned Peace Corps volunteers, for instance), and who plan to do a great deal more. I found that there was a varying degree of understanding of the connection between imperialism (no, not just US imperialism) and poverty, it was, perhaps understandably, viewed as the responsibility of someone else (me?) This makes some sense, as these people have a monumental task in front of them, however, it is so monumental because of the root causes I mention.

So why the lack of connection? I marvel at the possibilities for social change, if more people were ashamed/angry at what their governments do thanks to fear of competition and a desire for illusory gain.

I have no idea what you’re trying to get at, but give you an “A” (or possibly an “O”) for obfuscation of said notion.

Maybe they aren’t very well educated. My graduate program included a class on Third World revolutions that focused heavily on the continuing effects of decolonization.

However, even if one understands decolonization well, does not mean that one should think of undocumented immigrants as refugees. Of course people come here for better economic opportunities, but that isn’t the same as being a refugee. I don’t believe that economic conditions are considered a valid claim for refugee status.

I think he’s trying to say we have much to learn from him.

My understanding was “I’m tired of running into people who say ‘the world is broken, someone should fix it!’ - it should be, specially when it comes from someone in some branch of PoliSci, Int’lRel or suchlike, ‘the world is broken, let’s fix it!’”

But maybe I’ve worked in Maintenance for too long, I do have an “if it’s broken let’s fix it or find someone who can, and if it’s not keep your hands off it” attitude.

If you are saying that Peace Corps volunteers don’t see the negative impact of imperialism, then I’m going to have to disagree with you. I’m a foreign aid worker and in my experience Peace Corps volunteers won’t shut up about imperialism, except when their trying to score weed or sleep with the locals. Missionaries, I couldn’t say, as I try to stay as far away from them as possible. I will concede that I’m not sure what the hell your talking about though.