Sunday, August 29, 2010

Explore Detroit with Johnny Knoxville

I sometimes feel like the stories of Detroit's "empty canvas" are just as ubiquitous as Detroit's blight. Looks like it might be a fun movie though. I'm excited to see Knoxville drive through the Heidelberg Project. Out tomorrow.

Technology and the Peace Corps

NPR's All Things Considered recently aired this short segment on how technology, specifically internet and cellphones, is changing the Peace Corps. No doubt that technology has changed the experience, but I'd be interested in learning what percentage of volunteers have internet/cellphone service in their sites. The availability of both varied greatly throughout Nicaraguan Peace Corps posts, and I imagine this to be the case in other countries.

The piece doesn't contend that the improved availability of internet and cellphones is good or bad, but it does assert that this technology keeps volunteers from integrating into the community, an important goal drilled into the heads of all Peace Corps volunteers. I disagree. For the volunteers that are lucky enough to have easier access to internet, I'm confident that it does not keep them from integrating into the community as much as a volunteer living in a rural village hours away from a phone or computer. If you aren't integrating into the community because you can have a 20 minute call with Mom every morning and an hour or two of internet time at night, you likely wouldn't be putting too much effort into integrating into the community without those crutches. In fact, I wonder if countries or posts with easier access to technology have a lower volunteer attrition rate, improved project results and more successful community integration/learning because volunteers in these sites have just enough contact with support systems at home to stay motivated and confident. Maybe that 20 minute call with Mom and Dad every morning keeps the loneliness, that would otherwise cause a volunteer to quit, just far enough away to keep the volunteer trudging through the two years and onto the successful completion of a project that forges deeper and more meaningful community relationships.