AN Asian parable well known to philosophy students tells of a maharajah who wished to demonstrate the difficulty of approaching Truth. He led three blind men to an elephant and asked each to describe the animal. The first, touching the trunk, said 'An elephant is like a serpent.' 'No,' declared the second, feeling a leg, 'an elephant is like a tree.' 'You're both wrong,' exclaimed the third blind man, running his hand over the pachyderm's horny back. 'An elephant resembles a tortoise.'
Voluntary youth service, like the maharajah's elephant, has been and still is many things to many people. To the civilist of the 1920s workcamping was proof of the viability of an international and constructive alternative to military service. To the US Conservation Corpsman of the 1930s working for a subsistence wage was a way to 'get a start'. During the Second World War the chantiers de jeunesse volunteer felt he was helping France. Post-war Europeans and North Americans saw workcamping as a means of cheap travel and/or of contributing to reconstruction. Later, they hoped to extend the benefits of the welfare or socialist state, and achieve international and interracial understanding, or both.
The Iranian Education Corpsman, the Ethiopian University Service student and the Argentinian UN Youth Movement volunteer all seek to contribute to development while broadening their own education and --- the last more consciously than the others --- making the Rights of Man a living reality. Malian Civic Service and Kenyan National Youth Service youngsters hope to learn the rudiments of citizenship and a trade so as to break the vicious circle of underdevelopment while tackling concrete development projects. The US Peace Corpsman, the German Development Service technician, the Soviet agronomist, the French Progress Volunteer and National Union of Students teacher sent out under the British Volunteer Programme hope to help the Third World and see a bit of the world into the bargain.
Adaptability to different and changing conditions has facilitated the organized spread and spontaneous appearance of voluntary service throughout the world. Yet underlying the goals, concepts, motivations and approaches is a nearly universal consensus on two points. Voluntary service must, firstly, be voluntary. There are still many, many countries where the workcamper is generally considered 'a bit of a nut case'. Right out of the picture at the other extreme lies the log neatly felled across the African road by unwilling participants in a forced labour programme. Between is the grey area---where social pressure makes volunteering 'the thing to do'; where the French or Iranian conscripts (or conscientious objector of several nations) may 'choose' to do a useful job or kill time in a boring barracks (or prison cell); and where, as in the Ethiopian scheme for instance, the spirit of voluntary service is present even though its letter is not respected.
The other constant of voluntary service is service. The civilist who spent eighteen months in Togo with one set of clothes and a jack-knife, the Yugoslavs who harvested crops under enemy guns, and the occasional volunteer who dies on the job --- all are examples of extreme sacrifice. The demands are usually not so severe. In some cases, like those of the teacher who earned more than his headmaster, or the youngsters receiving a free education in Afro-Asian mass mobilization schemes, volunteers derive considerable material or intellectual benefits. Almost everywhere, however, as the Peace Corps motivation survey mentioned in Chapter 9 suggests, 'giving' balances or outweighs 'getting'.
Alongside these constants are the variable features of voluntary service, determined by time and place, project and tool, volunteer and organization. Since the period between the world wars, and in spite of changing situations and needs, two recognizable groups of these variables have evolved into what today is a sometimes uneasy and often unconscious co-existence. The idealistic stream of voluntary service tends to involve altruism and generosity (in societies of rampant apathy of self-centredness) and appeals to those thinking young people who yearn for long-term goals like national unity and brotherhood (in places where racial discord is powerful) and international understanding and co-operation (in a world where chauvinism predominates). The economic current generally stresses the short-term objective of production and skill-improvement (in materially and educationally needy countries) and offers God-sent jobs and training (to jobless and vocationally unqualified young people).
Over the years and no less in the present day, voluntary service has always been at its weakest in a purely idealistic or uniquely economic manifestation. The symbolic internationalism of civilist, Quaker and youth-hostel workcampers was powerless to halt the march towards the Second World War, and the Soviet, British and American Tripartite Work-and-Study Campers were hacking at a glacier with an ice-pick. On the other hand, the mass impact of national labour brigades in the 1930s contained no element of international education, and the absence of foreign participants (even from neighbouring countries) in Afro-Asian civic service corps today opens one more road to Balkanization tomorrow.
Conversely, voluntary service has been strongest and most effective where the two streams have intermingled. The Yugoslav volunteer brigades combine production with national 'Brotherhood and Unity' and the Peace Corps has mobilized for international service enough volunteers to fill a small city. But overlap is not the same as identity and nowhere, to date, have the two currents of voluntary service merged. By comparison with total numbers involved only a smattering of foreign volunteers have participated in the Yugoslav drives, and the Peace Corps is tainted --- in the eyes of many non-Americans at least --- with ulterior bilateral motives. Yet increasing examples of overlap lead one to believe and hope that the next major step in the evolution of voluntary service will be to achieve a synthesis of the two mainstreams.
It is the incursion of governments into this domain, regarded until recently (except in time of crisis) as the preserve of nongovernmental or non-state agencies, that makes synthesis possible. Government intervention is at once an accelerator and a brake, a blessing and a curse. A blessing because only governmental generosity makes short-term mass impact possible; a curse because governmental prudence looks askance at long-term idealistic goals. It is, then, particularly to those in and close to governments, the civil servants and the M.P.s, that the following guidelines --- suggestions rather than predictions --- for future development of voluntary service are addressed. Some readers will doubtless judge them to be excessive, so imaginative as to be unrealistic, or even suspect. Others, however --- probably those with long experience in non-governmental voluntary service organizations --- will deem them so obvious as to be tepid, even timid.
What, then, are the guidelines towards a synthesis of the idealistic and economic streams of voluntary service?
In Afro-Asia, where every hand is needed for development, relatively large civic service or pioneer corps often exist side by side with comparably small workcamp or other elite service groups. In Madagascar, they are united in one governmental national service organization, about 10 per cent of whose members are educated and carry out elite tasks while the others participate in typical training-cum-production activities. This is perhaps a unique example, however, for sponsors are generally separate agencies between which there is seldom systematic exchange of information, let alone co-operation or co-ordination. Usually the mass schemes are governmental and the elite programmes non-governmental. In such cases the traditional penchant for mutual suspicion tends to subsist.
Though sometimes understandable, this state of affairs is regrettable and, more often than not, avoidable. Working at cross purposes only hinders development and some measure of cooperation would be beneficial on two counts. In material terms, firstly, non-governmental organizations would stand to gain by receiving grants and loans in cash and kind, while governments granting such aid would be justified in requesting recipient bodies to organize projects contributing more directly to the execution of development plans than is sometimes the case. From the point of view of spirit, secondly, volunteers in non-governmental schemes would profit by consciously taking part in enterprises of national significance. Governmental schemes, on the other hand. could benefit by observing and eventually absorbing some of the flexibility and sense of élan which characterize many a non-governmental programme.
The forms and structures of co-operation must vary from country to country. In some nations, already existing national youth councils could create voluntary service sub-committees. Elsewhere, national offices of voluntary service would be more appropriate. The political conventions of some countries will dictate that such offices shall be within the government --- perhaps interministerial committees --- while others may allow greater autonomy. It would, however, be essential to permit and encourage non-governmental organizations to help decide major as well as minor matters. In other words co-operation should be a partnership, not a sop.
An important task for joint private-public voluntary service offices --- and for governments alone in those Afro-Asian countries where there is no non-governmental sector --- would be to deal with foreign as well as domestic volunteers. Some structures do exist for requesting, receiving and administering long-term volunteers from the industrialized countries, and these will be discussed below. Oddly enough, nowhere in Afro-Asia has there been a substantial and sustained attempt to exchange volunteers among neighbouring countries. Some intra-regional workcamps have taken place. Ghana-Togo exchanges are a feature of cooperation between the Voluntary Workcamp Association of Ghana and Les Volontaires au Travail. Hirosatu Sato, the Asian secretary of Service Civil International, has succeeded in obtaining regional participation in medium-term projects in his area. Pierre Martin-Dumeste brought three experienced Togolese workcampers to toil with village volunteers in Senegal for several months. But these and similar successful experiments are merely symbolic proof that regional service is possible and their organizers feel rather like Pierre Ceresole when he asked Adolf Hitler to 'Europeanize' the Arbeitsdienst.
Some would argue that it is more urgent to create a sense of nationalism than to aspire to regionalism in such places as, for instance, India and Congo (Kinshasa). Yet the two aims are not mutually exclusive, and in the long run Balkanization may prove even more dangerous to Afro-Asia than civil war. It is disquieting, then, that while thousands of underprivileged Africans and Asians are learning patriotism in civic service brigades, few elite volunteers --- most of whom already have a sense of nationalism --- have the opportunity to learn about neighbour nations by working in them. Some leaders, at least, are worried by this omission and the Organization of African Unity's Economic and Social Commission called in 1963 for 'the organization of intra-African and international youth workcamps for voluntary work.'(1) Unfortunately, the OAU itself, though mandated to promote regional youth activities, has done nothing concrete to aid such projects.
Though ideal for short-term (e.g. vacation) exchange, workcamps are not the only kind of service that could be organized with regional participation. Longer-term (e.g. school year) posts putting exchange workers in contact with host country youngsters would also be appropriate. These include teaching, sports coaching and youth leadership posts, among others. The average volunteer might be required to sign on for a minimum of a full calendar year: nine months in the classroom and three on a workcamp. To avoid permanent uprooting the service could be limited to two years and all volunteers could be required to pledge to return home at the end of their stint.
For reasons of compatibility --- colonial history, language, teaching methods, etc. --- it would be least difficult to organize intra-African or intra-Asian exchanges among French-speaking and among English-speaking groups of nations. The value of such programmes would be undeniable, but an effort should also be made to tackle the much thornier task of sending English-speakers to French-speaking countries and vice versa. Precisely because the differences are greater exchanges would be more beneficial.
Though logical and appealing on paper, central volunteer clearing houses with responsibility extending over continents would almost certainly prove too unwieldy. At the outset at least, regional exchange could be the fruit of bilateral agreements negotiated by the voluntary service offices or committees of the countries concerned. Though bilateral, however, exchanges should be organized so as to achieve a multilateral effect. All regional volunteers could undergo joint orientation on arrival in a given host country, and they would be deployed in such a way as to obtain a reasonable mixture of nationalities on the staff of any school, community development project or workcamp.
Financially, regional exchanges would not need to be as onerous as a hasty first glance at the idea might suggest. The myth that white-collar people must travel by air has already been exploded by regional workcampers. Deck passages are cheap along African coasts and between Asian ports, and buses and 'mammy wagons' are an inexpensive and dependable enough means of internal travel for year-long (if not three-month) exchanges. Applicants unwilling to rough it would automatically select themselves out. To avoid currency problems, country A could agree to cover board, lodging and pocket-money for volunteers from country B on the agreement that country B would extend similar facilities to country A's volunteers on a man for man (or woman for woman) basis.
Among the many arguments presented to counter the regional service idea, two warrant particular attention. The first maintains that it would be paradoxical and absurd for nations importing European and North American middle-level personnel to export medium-skilled nationals. In answer, it should first be stressed that massive regional exchanges are not being suggested here. If countries of two or three million inhabitants were willing to give annual groups of fifty to a hundred of their bright young men and women some experience in another part of the region a significant impact could result on elite thinking. Furthermore, exchanges would only delay a volunteer's entry into production for a year or two and they could be begun gradually enough to avoid a real gap. When the returning volunteer did begin work he would bring to his job skills (e.g. ability to speak the other major European language), knowledge (of a country in a similar economic situation) and, one hopes, enthusiasm that he otherwise might never have acquired.
Finally, and although individual governments called on to finance programmes might not give much weight to this point, there would be no brain drain from the continent as a whole. An Indian volunteer teaching English in Laos would be helping Asia develop. Indeed, despite adjustment difficulties individual nations would not suffer unduly. The Lao volunteer sent to India in exchange for the Indian would after all be teaching French as well as interesting pupils in his native Kingdom.
The second main argument against regional volunteer exchange is that political and chauvinistic susceptibilities are too influential in countries fond of flexing ideological and national muscles to allow systematic youth exchange. Could Pakistani volunteers work in India? Guineans in Ghana? Algerians in Morocco? South Koreans in North Korea? At the outset, exchanges need not go beyond circles of friendly states. But they should not become the apanage of a given orientation. A Guinea-Mali Anti-Imperialist Workcamp would be as out of keeping with the spirit of international voluntary service as the Freedom Corps recently proposed by the China (Taiwan) Youth Corps as 'principally a political force ... committed to the defeat of Communism'.(2) However, no matter how mercurial relations among Third World nations may be, regional exchanges should aim to encompass bilateral programmes between all countries. In any event, meetings of citizens of antagonist nations on third country soil would be fairly common from the outset. Algerians and Moroccans have co-operated on workcamps in France; why not in Tunisian classrooms? Such encounters would raise problems at times, but it will be impossible to know how these will resolve themselves --- and indeed how regional exchange will work --- until systematic programmes are attempted.
Much of what has been suggested for Afro-Asia also applies to Latin America, although the ways of implementing the ideas would be different. At the national level, in multiparty states where volunteers are active --- Cuba being the exception---synthesis means expansion of elite programmes. And such expansion requires the urgent constitution of national voluntary service focal points, which could take a variety of forms. In prethreshold nations, co-ordinating or co-operating bodies should be created that are neither militantly secular nor Church dominated, subject neither to governmental pressure to toe a given political line nor to the private penchant for fragmentation.
Yet they will have to be effective enough to provide services to sponsors of all horizons, and offer advantages to governments (co-ordination of projects with public service and development schemes) as well as to private bodies. Drafting a constitution --- let alone finding a director --- for national voluntary services offices or committees would be a major headache. Operating them would be worse, for Latin America is a continent where compromise is short-lived and neutrality considered synonymous with apathy.
In some countries, autonomous universities offer a possible solution to the problem. Though government-financed, they retain a real measure of independence and could constitute a sufficiently flexible elite-orientated framework for government-private co-operation. Elsewhere, the task is more formidable. Everywhere in pre-threshold Latin America, however, the choice for voluntary service sponsors is simple: co-operate and expand or retain noble solitude and remain insignificant.
In post-threshold countries, the task is essentially the same, but presents itself in different terms. Where development has quickened its pace and improved its quality, it is usually thanks to a political party and its leaders. But for the sake of lasting development, and as long as the Cuban formula is not adopted by others, national co-ordination must be achieved outside political structures. This sounds paradoxical, indeed downright self-defeating. Without government support, voluntary service cannot even begin to be more than symbolic. With government support --- as the cutback in Peru's Cooperación Popular Universitaria shows --- the survival of voluntary service is jeopardized. Perhaps the greatest task for interested individuals and organizations in multi-party post-threshold countries in the near future will be to convince both private and public agencies that governmental support need not --- indeed must not --- imply partisan political control.
Other measures which organizers could take throughout Latin America to achieve more complete mobilization of available young elite energies and talents concern the army and institutions of post-secondary education. Many Latin American nations have systems of military conscription, but few need large numbers of men to maintain domestic order and --- Cuba excepted --- virtually none need fear foreign invasion. But few have decided to reconcile guns with butter.
Venezuelan soldiers, as we have seen, teach people to read and write, and the Brazilian and Colombian armed forces have also contributed to development projects. In most cases, however, conscripts --- many of them educated --- sit about playing cards for months while crying development needs just outside their camp gates go unmet. Word is spreading about PUMF --- Peaceful Uses of Military Forces --- and it would not be surprising if in the years to come more Latin American nations followed suit.(3)
But in Latin America --- perhaps more than on the industrialized continents --- soldiers are still soldiers, whether they carry guns or shovels. Their spirit of unquestioning obedience makes it difficult for them to grasp, let alone embrace or transmit, the ideals and techniques of democracy so necessary to jobs like community development. Their uniforms render contact with local populations difficult or even impossible. Their generals have a weakness for using their men in power struggles that have nothing to do with development. And the natural chauvinism of armies is hardly an environment conducive to regional co-operation.
One hopes then that PUMF in Latin America will exempt educated soldiers from military attitudes, dress and politics, while enabling them to participate in development. By requiring a longer term of service from young men opting for development work, draft dodgers could be discouraged and an element of sacrifice and of the voluntary introduced. In any event, Latin American PUMF will be more successful if it is a truly civilian alternative service rather than a refurbished form of military conscription.
With respect to universities, it would hardly be realistic to expect traditionally independent Latin American students to accept the imposition of a system like the Ethiopian University Service making a year of work in the national interest a prerequisite to receiving a degree. On the other hand, in most countries elite mobilization has a long way to go before reaching even a significant minority of students. There must be more projects and to have them there must also be better publicity. University students are hardly ever systematically informed about the opportunities for voluntary service.
Another way of generalizing student volunteer development work would be to obtain recognition of long-term domestic service in place of certain forms of professional apprenticeship. Given appropriate supervision, students of agriculture, engineering, law, teaching and so on could profitably do part of the practical work required in most of these professions on development projects. But it is essential that the ethos of voluntary service should permeate such schemes. Mexico, among other nations. requires its medical graduates to serve their first (paid) year in needy rural areas. Unfortunately, the programme lacks élan, and the young doctors seek shortcuts back to more comfortable urban practices.
Inter-regional exchanges are at once easier and more necessary for Latin America than for Afro-Asia: the common hispanic heritage of the continent reduces language difficulties and culture shock, but a century of Independence has left national susceptibilities firmly entrenched. The non-specialist North American or European has to read his newspaper assiduously to discover that Bolivia doesn't get along with Chile while Paraguay squabbles with Argentina. Seen in context, however, Latin America's several chauvinisms make regional exchange essential.
At first, stress should be laid on placing more regional volunteers in existing schemes. The participation of many resident foreign students in Chile's social service programmes indicates that more can be done to attract foreigners studying at the universities into workcamps and other projects. One concrete step would be to include publicity on service opportunities in the documentation packets handed to foreign students on arrival in their country of study.
Transporting young people from one end of the continent to the other for summer service projects tends to be self-defeating. The high cost of air travel only renders such exchange symbolic --- and hence largely superfluous. Work must not be an excuse for travel, but true exchange can be grafted into serious work. At the sub-regional level, cheap summer projects are feasible. If they are willing to rough it Bolivian students can travel by long-distance truck and bus to workcamps in Argentina and Uruguayans can hitch-hike well into Brazil.
To justify the expense of flying or the delay of travelling by ship, intra-regional medium- to long-term exchanges could be considerably increased. Argentina's plan to send teachers and social workers abroad has shown that governments are willing to entertain the idea of providing financial support for such exchanges. The plan has so far come to nothing partly because the regime that originated it has been overthrown. (In the Dominican Republic, however, a government-sponsored regional project has attracted thirty-one volunteers from five Latin American countries.)
Another retarding factor has doubtless been the reticence of prospective host countries, which worry about the sudden influx of volunteers of one foreign nationality and generally find the idea of being 'beneficiaries' degrading. Medium- and long-term exchanges ought then to be multilateral and reciprocal. Multilateral in that volunteers from a variety of countries would work in any given nation or province, school or hospital. Reciprocal in that on a continent where each nation likes to think of itself as a bit more equal than the rest and nearly all have something to offer, exporters of exchange workers can and should also be importers. 'Latin America's republics have an empty hand outstretched to receive volunteers,' said one Peruvian service organizer. 'But they also extend a full hand to offer volunteers.'(4)
'I am looking forward to the time,' said U Thant to the UN Economic and Social Council in 1965, 'when the average youngster --- and parent or employer --- will consider that one or two years of work for the cause of development, either in a far away country or in a depressed area of his own community, is a normal part of one's education.'(5) In her 1965 Christmas message, Queen Elizabeth said: 'Perhaps the most practical demonstration of goodwill towards men is to be found in the growing practice among young people to give some form of voluntary service to others. In Britain and throughout the world they are coming forward to ... serve in every kind of capacity, where they may be needed, at home and overseas.'(6)
In 1966 the 'Bessey Committee' of Britain's Youth Service Development Council noted in a report on Service By Youth 'that there is a rising tide of demand by young people to offer their services.(7) President Johnson recently promised 'to search for the ways [through which] every young American will have the opportunity --- and feel the obligation --- to give at least a few years of his or her life to the service of others in this nation and in the world'.(8) Mr Wirtz, the American Secretary of Labour, has put forward a plan for registering all eighteen-year-old boys and girls for two years of education, employment, community service or defence as a replacement for the present exclusively military draft legislation.
The flurry of imaginative thinking that accompanied the reconversion of voluntary service in the wealthy nations and the great expansion of long-term service from them to the Third World has grown into a blizzard of brainstorming. Thanks largely to the Peace Corps, voluntary service passed into a stage of 'industrialization'. Although it will probably be a smaller leap forward, the next major step in the development of voluntary service will be passage into a phase of 'mass consumption'. Already, one Peace Corps luminary has proposed 'universal voluntary service',(9) explaining that given an appropriate public attitude towards voluntary service, the concept need not be a contradiction in terms. Although the idea of universal service is still premature, we can point to four lines of development which could lead to the improvement and great expansion of voluntary service in the industrialized countries.
Firstly, moderate to radical changes are being made in military service systems. Having long held out against conscientious objection, Belgium, Italy and Switzerland have recognized or are on the verge of recognizing the right of pacifists to alternative service. In these and other nations, only handfuls of young men are involved, however., and a much more far-reaching development is the current examination of different possibilities for overhauling conscription. As missile-age armies mature into computerized enterprises run by career technocrats, the need for conscripts declines. Deferments and exemptions can be provided to those bright and rich enough to continue studying.
Simultaneously, this very technology widens the gap between 'haves' and 'have-nots' in every industrialized community in the world. The need for service is consequently great and growing. In this situation, out-of-date conscription legislation in a country like the United States contains two implicit messages for the young: that 'only the very stupid and poor are drafted', and that 'there is no way to serve one's country except through the armed forces'.(10)
A Presidential Commission is currently looking into ways to remedy failings of American national service. Some of the questions it is asking national leaders are: 'Should we have a compulsory system of service for the armed forces alone, or a National Service Corps to work in the slums, the hospitals and the underdeveloped countries? . . . Should the service include women as well as men, should it be voluntary or compulsory, and should service in non-military activities such as the Peace Corps and Teacher Corps defer young people from compulsory military service?'(11)
Posed in new terms by the reconversion of military service (even in countries without conscription) is the old problem of the relationship of individual and private volunteer efforts to the role of the state. Clearly, and this is the second line of development, public funds will have to be the backbone of any mass voluntary service schemes. But just as clearly the cancer of state bureaucracy could destroy voluntary service. The Peace Corps has already become a part of the American scene and the flow of applications has slowed. The death of its founder has reduced the appeal of the Corps, but even had President Kennedy lived it is likely that a plateau would have been reached. The vision and excitement are not as vivid for the second generation. Somehow, each generation must be given its chance to experiment and create. To instil a pioneering spirit into voluntary service, ever greater sources of energy and skill must be made available. An organizer consulted by the Bessey Committee affirmed this process to be 'the transition from the Welfare State --- structurally dependent on a relatively small cadre of professional experts --- to the concept of a participant society, involving the maximum number in the care of the community'.(12)
To interest and mobilize 'the maximum number' diversity must characterize governments' approach to voluntary service. In the West, at least, every effort should be made to involve nongovernmental organizations, not in their traditional posture of beggars given scraps from the table, but as guests at the feast, fully-fledged partners in a joint effort. To do this, non-governmental bodies would have to accept professional standards of volunteer training and operation. Most countries will have to improve their structures for public-private co-operation or evolve new ones. Many could take their cue from the successful partnership achieved in the British Volunteer Programme.
A third line of development is in the field of education. A few American universities grant five-year B.A. degrees that include a stint of domestic or foreign voluntary service, and Danish medical students may serve their internships as volunteers. Some authorities in the US and elsewhere recognize classroom service abroad as meeting experience requirements for apprentice teachers. And the recently founded Friends (Quaker) World College has integrated service in Mexico and Africa into its curriculum. Unfortunately, these are rare examples of broadmindedness. Most educational leaders of the industrialized nations have yet to appreciate, let alone utilize, the potential of voluntarism.
In France, as we have seen, Army recruits may fulfil their service by teaching overseas for a subsistence wage. But they only receive skimpy training and in any case their service corresponds to no educational concern on the part of the organizers. Meanwhile, French universities are casting about for ways to modernize antiquated functions and rigid structures. Could they not benefit from extensions into the field? Why should students of Third World subjects be limited to platonic research? Partnership, a logical step, would require mutual efforts. The Army and Co-operation Ministries would have to assign the student become a soldier-teacher to tasks corresponding to his academic ability and speciality. And the universities would have to be flexible enough to grant the soldier-teacher student status, to guide his field work, and to integrate that work in a course leading to a diploma. Would not variations of such service-and-study arrangements be both desirable and feasible elsewhere too?
As voluntary service expands in the industrialized countries, governments will certainly be tempted to concentrate exclusively on domestic service. And this would be as tragic as the missed opportunity for synthesis between mass national projects and symbolic international programmes in the early fifties. The need for international understanding is so obvious that such blindness would be unforgivable. U Thant, on declining a second term as UN Secretary-General and referring to the Organization's insolvency said glumly: 'A lack of new ideas and fresh initiatives and a weakening of the will to find means of strengthening and expanding genuine international co-operation would have even more serious consequences.'(13) In UN parlance 'genuine international co-operation' does not signify Anglo-Canadian or even Franco-German Co-operation. It means East-West co-operation --- the fourth line of development.
It will, of course. be important to effect considerable increases in the number of volunteers crossing the Atlantic to and from Western Europe. Here, medium- and long-term exchange programmes would prove as useful as summer projects and when the question of travel costs is raised one need merely point to the thousands of empty seats on American and other military transport planes flying the ocean each year. The fact that in 1965 alone the Franco-German Youth Office enabled 250,000 young people to take part in bilateral exchanges --- including workcamps --- indicates that ways can be found when there is a will to find them. But the most urgent objective of increased international exchange among industrialized countries would not be to place Quebec volunteers in Italian workcamps or French conversation leaders in Mississippi Freedom Schools. It would be to put teachers from Manchester in Kraców classrooms, tractor drivers from Bohemia in Saskatchewan co-operative farms and social workers from Minneapolis and Novosibirsk in each other's welfare agencies.
Because of the delicacy of relations between East and West, language and culture training would be indispensible prerequisites. While workcamping could be greatly expanded, medium- and long-term programmes should also be introduced to deepen impact and justify costs. Hospitality might be provided on a man-for-man basis and since travel costs could be paid in local money there would be no drain of hard currency reserves --- an ever-present worry to Easterners wishing to travel westward. Because of its East-West membership, non-partisan approach, educational vocation and long experience with international exchanges, Unesco would be uniquely suited to sponsor a programme designed to increase and diversify volunteer exchanges between its Member States party to the Warsaw Pact and those party to the North Atlantic Treaty.
Westerners may wonder whether Eastern officials would accept an offer for massive exchanges. 'They don't mind letting a chosen few out for workcamps, but they'd balk at large-scale long-term exchange,' is a common comment of Western youth leaders on hearing this proposal. Such suspicion simply doesn't take into account the new atmosphere prevalent in Eastern youth organizations. Put the proposal to a Polish, Hungarian or Czechoslovak leader and he jumps at it.
And no Western country has yet followed the example of Yugoslavia which --- at the height of the Vietnam war---recently decided to suspend all entry visas for visitors (including those from countries with which she has no diplomatic relations) as a contribution to International Tourist Year. Announcing this decision, the Yugoslav Government declared it would extend the arrangement beyond 1967 with any country willing to conclude a reciprocal agreement. So far, this invitation has been greeted by silence.
Some problems have already been raised and suggestions made regarding long-term service of young people from industrialized countries working in the Third World. Three more series of issues merit discussion.
The first concerns the technical problems of sending and receiving long-term volunteers. On the supply side many countries --- and particularly those with government-run or financed schemes --- will sooner or later face the same dilemma as the Peace Corps is facing now: to take or not to take a quantitative jump. Says one P C Associate Director: 'It is the turning point at which one course leads towards the big vision; the other leads out to pasture. One leads towards consolidation and a Little Peace Corps. The other seeks growth in size, scope, and effectiveness and leads to a Greater Peace Corps'.(14) Considering host country requests, President Johnson recently asked that the number of volunteers be doubled (to about 22,000) by 1970 and a Greater Peace Corps may not be far behind. The growth crisis will not be solved merely by obtaining larger appropriations from responsible ministries and legislatures. It also demands that volunteer programmes define their orbit in the international constellation of sending-country institutions and traditions, in politics., education and even philosophy as well as government.(15) Yet while seeking, finding and settling into their niche volunteer schemes must remain flexible and willing to experiment. And institutionalizing is no small order.
In the final. analysis, and although some sponsors tend to forget it, the scope, character and duration of long-term international volunteer programmes must be determined by the needs of the countries helped and on their terms. At present, some host nations are attempting to systematize a very confused situation and to make rational plans for volunteer deployment. When they include volunteers into development schemes, governments should not forget that one day they will have to do without them. It is probably too early to hope that each volunteer will work himself out of a job. But those sponsoring and using volunteers can and should think now in terms of phasing out programmes, in certain countries and sectors at least, in a decade or two. Such considerations influence the choice of specific volunteer jobs as well as the drafting of national manpower projections.
With this, and the idea of synthesis, in mind, more attention might be paid to linking international volunteers to national service schemes. Both workcamp organizations and civic service corps are important channels for increasing the number of trained and dedicated young adults, and providing them with personnel on a 'volunteer-to-volunteer' basis could contribute to the voluntary spirit. The only long-term body mandating nearly all its volunteers to set up or strengthen service organizations in host countries is Service Civil International. In Mauritius, an island plagued by chronic unemployment and racial tension, civilists were instrumental in creating Service volontaire international, now an authentically Mauritian and interracial voluntary service body. British United Nations Association Volunteers have helped workcamp groups in Africa and Latin America; Swedes, Dutchmen and Russians have aided national service schemes in Ethiopia, Zambia and Algeria respectively; and Peace Corpsmen in Ceylon are encouraged to spend their vacations in workcamps. This trend could be accentuated, particularly by providing trainee long-term volunteers with information on existing service organizations in their host countries.
Another fundamental technical problem faced by host nations is the proliferation of sending organizations. In many Third World countries there are volunteers from three, four or more organizations, each with different objectives, standards and conditions. By 1965, Tanzania had 525 volunteers sponsored by eight organizations in five industrialized countries, and the situation was beginning to get out of hand. A group of volunteers, meeting with government, UN and sponsoring organization officials. urged the creation of a system for exchanging information among interested parties if nothing else. Thus the International Volunteer Committee of Tanzania came into being, including representatives of the Government Treasury and inter-ministerial staffing department., and the U N Development Programme. as well as the eight volunteer agencies.
In one year of work, and staffed part-time by a UNA volunteer lent by the Dar-es-Salaam UNDP office, the Committee compiled and distributed a directory of all volunteers in the country; helped simplify. administrative procedures; issued a standard volunteer identity card; and held two joint orientation courses for incoming volunteers from the United States, Canada, Britain and Denmark. Similar attempts to rationalize volunteer absorption have been made in Algeria and the South Pacific, and it is to be hoped that all sending agencies and host countries will move in a similar direction.
Even if they do, however, their efforts can do little more than clarify the situation, treating the symptoms but not the malady. Referring to its prospects for development, the Tanzanian Committee pointed out that 'if volunteer agencies continue to be a part of national policy [of sending countries]. then its future activities will be limited and of local relevance only.'(16) The root problem --- and this is the second series of issues --- is political rather than technical.
Few service sponsors would even consider the China Youth Corps' proposal for an anti-Communist service scheme or the suggestion of the British Council for Peace in Vietnam to send reconstruction brigades to Hanoi in order, among other aims. to embarrass the United States.(17) The very essence of voluntary service has been to reconcile rather than exacerbate ideological antagonisms. On the other hand, hardly any service projects are devoid of political implications. Recent revelations of CIA activities in American and international youth movements bring the inclusion of a few intelligence operatives in the Peace Corps within the realm of possibility. But the few possible spies are a tiny facet of the real problem.
As a 1966 New Society article put it. 'Intentionally or not ... teams of volunteers or individuals sent out under bilateral agreements naturally tend to represent the interests of their homelands: Soviet partinost, la Grandeur française and the American Way of Life are as much a part of a volunteer's kit as quinine pills and an extra vest.'(18) Many Third World observers find the export of sending-country politics irrelevant, even harmful to the main aim of long-term service: filling manpower gaps. This is why the Peace Corps was expelled from Guinea, and why in October 1966 Chilean university students staged a sit-in against Peace Corps teachers' influence.
The New Society author points to another result in an imaginary --- but not unimaginable --- host nation where four hermetic groups of volunteers are located, each working under a separate flag.
When teamleader from country A hears that country B has placed three volunteers in a new school, he pressures the headmaster and local government to accept four of his boys. Then teamleader from country C gets into the act with five volunteers, which the head --- gorged with manpower he can't possibly administer or even house --- may have to refuse, while the man from country D is cabling frantically home for six. The game is idiotic because the new school can probably only absorb three or four expatriate teachers, and dangerous because one never knows what a powerful sending-country will do when it deems its prestige slighted.... In more human terms, for a rich country to manipulate for political reasons manpower desperately needed by a poor country is rather like kicking a man when he is down.(19)
The obvious alternative --- internationalization of all programmes under the United Nations --- has been suggested and debated on many occasions both in and out of the U N. Clearly, the only airtight way to ensure that a given team is neither anti-East or anti-West is to include in it both Easterners and Westerners. It is, however, unrealistic to expect the world organization to take such drastic action in the near future. The UN and specialized agency bureaucracies have been unable or unwilling, for reasons of administration, to entertain the idea of using large numbers of volunteers in international teams. Soviet and American mistrust --- and Third World confusion --- have killed every proposed measure tending towards true internationalization. No radical change will take place on this question until Asian, African and Latin American delegations organize a coherent majority voting en bloc on the question. And that will take time.
In the interim, some practical experimentation could take place. It has already been demonstrated that groups from East and West can work together. Polish volunteers took part in an SCI project in Algeria that one named a 'laboratory of coexistence',(20) and a group of American volunteers in West Africa once found themselves recalled from Christmas holiday to teach English to newly arrived experts who were ... Russian. The next step would be to try a few 'genuinely international' teams in significant UN projects, such as FAO's Freedom from Hunger Campaign or Unesco's World Literacy Programme.
Some volunteers from the USA. Britain, Denmark and other countries have been used by FAO, UNRWA, the High Commission for Refugees, the UN Development Programme and Unesco.(21) But to date such volunteers, points out the New Society article, 'have worked in national groups only, contrary --- one would think --- to the international criteria used in recruiting regular personnel' for the UN. A group of American Peace Corpsmen working under the technical supervision of an FAO expert can hardly be considered to be 'genuinely international'. Host country authorities don't think so, and neither does the local Soviet Embassy.
The experimental use of international volunteer teams by the UN will probably require joint East-West initiative at the governmental level. It could, for instance, begin if the Polish and British Governments declared their willingness to second volunteers to teams of one or more UN agencies. Were such experimentation to start soon, the first general use of internationalized volunteers under the UN flag might take place when the time comes for an intensive effort to rebuild North and South Vietnam.
Alongside experimental use of international teams, the UN and its agencies could help to inject a 'genuinely international' spirit into service by furthering the co-ordination of volunteer efforts. Through its extensive network of Resident Representatives, the UN Development Programme could provide neutral and competent leadership in the creation of bodies like the Tanzanian Committee, linked to or inside national voluntary service offices. At the international level, and regarding short-term as well as long-term domestic and international programmes, Unesco's Co-ordinating Committee for International Voluntary Service needs greater support from Unesco (it receives each year roughly the equivalent of one expert's salary). Other specialized agencies concerned with voluntary service should begin to aid it.
Priority attention should also be given to modifying the Committee --- perhaps through a merger with the International Secretariat for Volunteer Service, if this body's effective membership ever includes the Eastern countries --- so as to provide a platform for co-operation between governmental and non-governmental programmes on an equal footing. There are precedents for international structures in the framework of which men of governmental and, non-governmental backgrounds meet ex officio to forward a shared idea. In this way the International Institute of Educational Planning --operating autonomously of (though financed by) Unesco --- has brought public and private expertise to bear in its field of endeavour.
The final issue is the 'reverse Peace Corps' idea. In Europe technical assistance is increasingly known by the euphemism of 'co-operation'. But since all aid flows in one direction there is no real co-operation. Until recently, this has also been true of voluntary service programmes between industrialized and developing countries. Organizers have liked to talk of 'exchanges' but the traffic has generally been one-way. To be sure, students from the Third World have been active in workcamps in their countries of study --- Algerians led Jeunesse et Reconstruction projects in France at the darkest period of the Algerian war.
But programmes for bringing volunteers from Africa, Asia and Latin America to industrialized countries have been limited to the odd volunteer. Conscious of the tremendous potential contribution of Third World volunteers, organizers have cast about for ways of making co-operation and exchange two-way realities. By 1965 the Voluntary Service Overseas Association of the U K had managed to bring six young people from developing countries to do social work in Britain.
A year before, a Unesco-aided Seminar of African Youth Leaders defined other jobs which Third World volunteers could do. Noting the usefulness of receiving middle-level technical volunteers in Africa, the meeting called for a reverse programme of
middle-level cultural manpower. Such volunteers --- singers, dancers musicians, storytellers, sculptors, painters --- could be assigned to certain youth movements in the industrialized countries in order to make better known in these countries the different aspects of African culture .(22)
Spontaneously, and a few months later, the idea reappeared in America. In February 1966 the Administration asked for the creation of a reverse Peace Corps to be known as 'Volunteers to America'. President Johnson told Congress he wanted to bring an initial 5,000 volunteers --- many from developing countries --- to help with the War on Poverty,
to add a world dimension to this task.... We would be short-sighted to confine our vision to this nation's shorelines, he continued. Ours is the great opportunity to challenge all nations. . . to join this battle.(23)
In fact, pilot Volunteers to America had already been brought to the United States for a year's service some ten months earlier. The first were five Indians from Bharat Sevak Samaj. All taught Hindi to Peace Corpsmen heading for India, worked in various Volunteers in Service to America projects, lived on subsistence allowances and pledged themselves to return to India when their period of service was up.
Questioned on his experience one homeward-bound volunteer laughed until the tears rolled down his cheeks when telling about the work in New York slums of a fellow volunteer, the sole woman in the team. 'She had to deal with Puerto Rican ladies and, in spite of training, didn't speak Spanish nearly as well as the other VISTA girls. But there was one topic our compatriot could have got across without knowing a word of the language. Her previous experience in India made her succeed where the others --- all too bashful --- had failed. That topic was birth control! '(24)
'Wasteful', 'unnecessary', 'weak-mindedly internationalist' --- these are just a few of the epithets that have been applied to Volunteers to America. Yet the idea has the same combination of far-reaching idealism and down-to-earth practicality that has characterized voluntary service over the nearly five decades since the first SCI camp at Verdun.
Schemes for bringing volunteers from the Third World to Europe and North America will not become widespread until developing countries' urgent manpower needs have been met. But some organizers are already wondering how, tomorrow, Mainland China can be included in the mutual exchange of volunteers. Others are pondering on how, the day after tomorrow, such schemes can be made effectively multilateral. Still others, thinking even further ahead, are imagining what voluntary service will be like in fifty or a hundred years. But that will be another story.
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