Advocacy, Taking Positions, and PCIA’s Role

Advocacy, Taking Positions, and PCIA’s Role

 By Jackie Spurlock

In the January issue of From the Field, I shared my story of marching in the 2009 Inauguration Parade as President Obama took office, and touched briefly on some of my personal concerns about the incoming administration. Many of you responded to thank me and PCIA, while a few expressed their concern.

Here is a sampler of the positive comments:

  • Thank you so much for your efforts to keep us informed and aware.
  • Thanks for all you do. Let’s continue to tell our fellow citizens and our representatives that peace is possible.
  • Thanks to the PCIA board for its thoughtful, respectful letter to President Obama. I join you and others in anticipating the next administration with trepidation and resolve. Keep up the good work.
  • As an Iranian-American I cannot thank you enough for your thoughtfulness, perseverance and consideration for our corner of the world. I must say I am humbled and honored to know the wonderful Peace Corps volunteers that I’ve had the pleasure to meet in recent years. You were all ambassadors of goodwill and we are grateful for your past service and continued activism. I would like to share your note with others in the diaspora – they need to know they are not alone. Thank you for staying stateside and joining our chorus!

And here are some “opposing viewpoints”:

  • Clearly a bias toward Obama and against Trump with the words you use. I do not fault you for having a considered opinion even though it is different from mine, but your organization should be neutral in matters of presidential politics even if you do support the Iran agreement.
  • [The letter from PCIA to President Obama thanking him for the Nuclear Agreement] frankly troubled me. As individuals, the letter signers/drafters are entitled to voice whatever opinions they wish. However, I am somewhat troubled by what seems to me to be an endorsement of the Iran deal/non-treaty by the organization of which I am a member. I personally feel the “deal” was a terrible mistake…By failing to note the existence of any opposing views within the organization, the letter implies that all members of the PCIA share the sentiments of the signers. That is simply not the case.

In this current climate of turmoil and uncertainty, I dare say we all, no matter our opinion or leaning, have strong feelings. PCIA represents the voice of the Iran Peace Corps community. The board currently understands that to mean promoting the goals and ideals of Peace Corps itself, and pursuing our own mission and advocacy purpose statements. The Board is now moving to tighten and clarify what advocacy means for PCIA.

Here is a comment from member Alex Patico:

Process matters.  PCIA will benefit, long-term, from a well-thought-out and transparent procedure to ascertain what the membership really wishes to see happen. 

And here is a statement from PCIA President Carolyn Yale:

Under the new administration in Washington, events have taken turns that we could not have anticipated. Opportunities for constructive dialog between the people of Iran and America and peaceful relations between our countries may well be dwindling. The PCIA Mission calls for us to “promote peace and understanding between Americans and Iranians…” Further, we want to foster “appreciation of Iran in the U.S. through education, outreach, and advocacy…”