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11/3/09 Madam Secretary

(sorry the picture is blurry - I took it without a flash, so I wouldn't distract her, but there was so little light in our basement meeting room that the exposure took a while)

Today, about 60 PCVs had the opportunity to meet the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Thank you to all who jumped the dozens of security, logistical, and bureaucratic hurdles required to make the event happen.

She spoke for about 15 minutes, addressing both the Volunteers and the Foreign Service Officers stationed here in Morocco.

She highlighted the work of a staffer who has been bringing together people from different development organizations. Secretary Clinton said that when she was the First Lady, she had attended a workshop with a dozen development NGOs...and that no one at the meeting had met each other before. She pointed out the extreme inefficiency of such a hydra-style approach, and urged State Department officials to work together with various organizations to put together and implement a unified plan for development work.

I expected her to point out what an asset PCVs can be, with first-hand knowledge of development needs and assets in communities far from the reach of most FSOs and NGOs...but she actually never addressed anything like that. She took advantage of the photo opp of posing with the oldest serving PCV in the world, our Muriel, but other than that, seemed to focus both her remarks and attention on the Foreign Service personnel.

That, combined with the enormous amount of time we wasted for the visit - we adjourned morning sessions at 9:30 to "prepare" for our 11am meeting, but she was occupied till noon, and then her motorcade had blocked in our buses, so we couldn't leave till she finished all of her other meetings onsite - makes me almost wish she hadn't arranged to meet with us. I mean, I've been looking forward to meeting her ever since I heard she was coming, three months ago... And then none of us got to "meet" her or ask her anything; a few PCVs got a limp handshake, and that was that.

Our already-overscheduled IST lost about 5 hours to get a 15-minute talk addressed to other people. We didn't even get a group photo with her, for security reasons. So...a bit anticlimactic, to say the least.

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Think local. Act global. Learn more about the Peace Corps