Oliver McCoy ’95
Sowing seeds of peace
Much like the rest of the world, each day is a cyclical routine for Oliver McCoy ’95. He wakes up early, goes for a run, and patters around the house before going to work. But his work in Kosovo is by no means routine.
Since May 2001, McCoy has been living in Kosovo working for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). According to McCoy, the OSCE mission in Kosovo, as mandated by the United Nations, is to support the capacities and development of Kosovo’s nascent political system, to direct elections operations, support media development, to build a domestic sense of human rights and rule of law values, and to train Kosovo’s police forces. For the past five and a half years, McCoy has been closely involved in the development and implementation of this democratization process.
McCoy recently became the head of project coordination and directs and manages the donor relations and activities supported under OSCE and the United Nations. “Each day is different and each challenge requires a different solution depending on the political situation or the capacities of the local institution with which I am working,” said McCoy. He currently is working with the U.S. government to establish a moot courtroom and practical legal clinic facility at the University of Pristina. In addition, he advises the mission’s senior management on procedures for improving project management standards and practices.
McCoy did not initially set out to work in Kosovo, but said he got his position by chance. After spending two and half years with the Peace Corps in Turkmenistan, he was traveling in Spain when he was invited by a Pacific graduate to join Pueblos Fraternos, a Spanish non-governmental organization traveling to Kosovo. The trip was intended to be a four-month emergency food distribution program on behalf of the Spanish government that ended up being much more for McCoy. “There was so much that needed to be done in Kosovo in 1999-2000 in that post-conflict or emergency stage, I found the experience to be all-encompassing,” he said.
Soon after, McCoy started working for the OSCE as a democratization officer in Orahovac and Malishevo, two war-torn municipalities in south central Kosovo. In this capacity he recalled being a “jack-of-all-trades” as he would respond to various situational requirements from helping youth groups organize or speaking with village representatives about local concerns.
McCoy said he does what he does because he enjoys people. “I enjoy seeing and helping people achieve their goals and following their aspirations. I enjoy diversity and witnessing the interaction or re-amalgamation of a fractured society. And with this setting as the backdrop, I guess what I really enjoy is finding non-linear solutions to real-life issues.”
For McCoy his time spent at Pacific University opened him up to the world around him. “As life is but an inter-woven patchwork of experience, I would have to say that my Pacific experience opened the door to this life and more than anything broadened my horizons. (It) imbued me with courage in order to believe in the chance of possibility and to address challenges and aspirations with open eyes.”
Now married and with a son, Mateo, McCoy said he’s ready for a change. “It is definitely time to bid adieu to Kosovo and to re-create myself professionally in another challenging, strife-ridden area of the world.”