Gift of the USAby Ruth Moss
This is a non-fiction book set in the former Soviet Union six years after its collapse. The United States has for years sent sacks of flour to impoverished countries stamped Gift of the USA. But the people in those countries can t read that. They don t know that the food they are receiving is a gift from the people of the United States. The US also sends Peace Corps volunteers to needy countries to spread the good will of our people.
The American taxpayer tends to consider the Peace Corps to be the equivalent of motherhood and apple pie not knowing that the inexperienced and often self serving volunteers cause many hardships for the people they are sent to serve, mainly by taking the jobs of wage earners in areas of vast unemployment. This and other imprudent actions of these well educated but inexperienced volunteers give rise to resentment and animosity towards the US instead of imbuing the good will the American taxpayer thinks he is getting for his tax dollars.
This is the story of the suffering caused by Peace Corps volunteers in the former Soviet Union and the resultant anger felt by the local people towards America.
- iUniverse, Incorporated
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- Product dimensions:
- 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.97(d)
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i didnt read
I served with Ruth and respected her genuine affection for Kazakhs and Kazakhstan but, simply put, she's an out of touch older woman who acted more as an ignorant, self-congratulating philanthropist than as someone engaging a culture as equals. Her lavish expenditures taking Kazakhs out to dinner and investing in educational infrastructure should not be compared to the efforts of volunteers worldwide. Two thirds of Peace Corps's goals are about sharing cultures, only one third is providing a specific service. That last third is certainly important, but Ruth regularly makes the absurd accusation that because volunteers are living their lives and not just their jobs in Kazakhstan, they are bad at their jobs. Take a look at the description of this book and see how it uses a broad, clearly distanced brush to stereotype thousands of volunteers worldwide from the perspective of a woman who bailed halfway through her service. Isn't it a little difficult to believe that this person really went into her experience with an open mind? If you waste your time reading the book, you'll see what I mean. As you might expect, she went with do-gooder intentions that served a limited, condescending agenda. THAT is the problem with much aid today, that it is conceived by well-meaning people thousands of miles away who show up in a new culture with the introductory words of, 'Here's what you're doing wrong,' followed by 'What country is this by the way?' When it comes to promoting international understanding and soft foreign policy tactics, I'll support a twenty-something, mediocre US English teacher talking about life over a glass of vodka with a Soviet railway worker any day of the week over a wealthy American throwing money at the locals and snapping 'Kazakhs good, American volunteers bad.'
Though many readers may not be happy to hear this, Ms. Moss did give a true reflection of what Peace Corps volunteers were really accomplishing in Kazakhstan. All of these characters are real characters. As one of them, I could easily identify the true names of the PCVs. First of all, the story of the Taraz PCVs Taraz stealing the English Resource Center did occur. It split the entire Peace Corps volunteers of Taraz into two groups, those supporting Sherman and Tim and those supporting Ann. In the long run, Ann gained more respect by the local school teachers and students for opening up the Rose Kaplan School. The other volunteers were well known for their parties and "rigged" English competitions. To show you what the Peace Corps thinks of Ms. Moss, the current Peace Corps staff in Kazakhstan considers the Rose Kaplan School as one of the most successful projects initiated by PCVs. The book is not complete. Readers do not know about how PCVs continued Ann's work after she left. They also do not know about Ann's return trips to Taraz to help run the Rose Kaplan School. It will be easy to criticize Ann for making some cultural mistakes in her book. Let the reader be forewarned, she may have intended to do that to protect some of her close Kazakh and PCV friends. Expect this to be a popular book in the future. Ruth Moss should be praised for openly questioning the work of the Peace Corps around the globe. Unfortunately you do not hear these stories since many RPCVs do not have the same resources or influences such as Ms. Moss to get the word out.