America needs the Peace Corps more than ever.
Byline: GUEST VIEWPOINT By Maggie Keenan For The Register-Guard
On March 1, 1961, President John Kennedy signed an executive order establishing the Peace Corps to promote world peace and friendship. Today, at age 45, the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. needs the Peace Corps more than ever.
The Peace Corps has three goals:
1) Helping the people of interested countries in meeting their needs for trained men and women.
2) Helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
3) Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of all Americans.
As the world grows smaller - and as economic, ethnic, cultural and religious divisions become more visible and more violent - the Peace Corps stands out as a government program with the promise of building real peace.
Peace Corps volunteers spend two years in a developing country. They work in such diverse fields as education, health, HIV/AIDS HIV/AIDS Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome education and prevention, information technology, business development, the environment and agriculture. They get to know citizens of their host countries as colleagues and friends. And they get known as Americans, representing to others our country and our culture.
At the time of its founding, the Peace Corps offered one of the few ways that Americans could work in a developing country. It remains one of the best. Peace Corps volunteers gain the knowledge, the skills and often the languages necessary to work with people from different cultures. They learn to solve problems in new ways, and most times with few resources. And, as many returned volunteers say, they usually gain more skills than they can offer.
That exchange has made the Peace Corps experience an important source of the compassion and knowledge necessary to make contributions to our own society as well as to work towards world peace.
In 45 years, more than 182,000 U.S. citizens have served as Peace Corps volunteers in 138 countries. They have brought that experience home and can be found in large numbers in many communities.
Lane County is home to hundreds of returned volunteers who are teaching at our local schools, building local businesses and running nonprofit organizations Nonprofit Organization
An association that is given tax-free status. Donations to a non-profit organization are often tax deductible as well.
Examples of non-profit organizations are charities, hospitals and schools. . Eugene's own mayor, Kitty Piercy "Kitty" Piercy is the current mayor of Eugene, Oregon, sworn in January of 2005.
The press dubbed Piercy's election part of a "shift to the left" for the Eugene City Council. , was a Peace Corps volunteer teaching elementary school elementary school: see school. in Asmara, Ethiopia (the present-day Eritrea).
Lane County citizens continue to join the Peace Corps. Among large universities, the University of Oregon The University of Oregon is a public university located in Eugene, Oregon. The university was founded in 1876, graduating its first class two years later. The University of Oregon is one of 60 members of the Association of American Universities. ranks sixth in the nation for numbers of volunteers. Seventy-five UO alumni are currently serving overseas.
The local West Cascade Peace Corps Association was founded by returned Peace Corps volunteers in 1980 to `bring the world back home.' West Cascade has raised support for many international development projects and in 1990 hosted the largest ever National Peace Corps Association Conference.
West Cascade appreciates Mayor Piercy for proclaiming Feb. 27 through March 5 Peace Corps Week. In her proclamation An act that formally declares to the general public that the government has acted in a particular way. A written or printed document issued by a superior government executive, such as the president or governor, which sets out such a declaration by the government. , Piercy encourages us to celebrate the 45th anniversary of Peace Corps and `reaffirm re·af·firm
tr.v. re·af·firmed, re·af·firm·ing, re·af·firms
To affirm or assert again.
re our country's commitment to helping people help themselves throughout the world.'
Poverty is at the root of many world problems. As the United States struggles to address the pressing need for immigration reform Immigration reform is the common term used in political discussions regarding changes to immigration policy. In a certain sense, reform can be general enough to include promoted, expanded, or open immigration, but in reality discussions of reform often deal with the aspect of at home and respond to the global challenges of religious fundamentalism fundamentalism.
1 In Protestantism, religious movement that arose among conservative members of various Protestant denominations early in the 20th cent. , the HIV/AIDS epidemic and environmental degradation Environmental degradation is the deterioration of the environment through depletion of resources such as air, water and soil; the destruction of ecosystems and the extinction of wildlife. , it draws on a growing pool of returned Peace Corps volunteers who offer our nation important lessons on how it is to live, as half of the world lives, on $2 a day.
Maggie Keenan serves on the board of directors of the West Cascade Peace Corps Association. She was a Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines, from 1987 to 1990. To find out more about Peace Corps, contact email@example.com or join West Cascade's monthly potluck by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.