For over twenty years, Congress has been voting to double the size of the Peace Corps. They vote yes, then they don’t vote on the separate bill to fund the increase.
What is important is not that the Peace Corps is bigger, but that more Americans have the opportunity to serve, and that host countries learn what Americans are really like. President Obama has the opportunity to make change happen with the Peace Corps.
Peace Corps Volunteers are a different breed of Americans. They come into a village or community and live at the level of the people. They learn the language and they learn the host culture. They unpack their bags and they stay for two years. They become part of a village, a community, a host family. They learn more than they teach or give. Then they return home to America and teach Americans about the village where they lived, the people that they knew as neighbors and as students and family. They are ambassadors from America with a small ‘a’ and a big heart.
They are not missionaries selling a religion, or foreign service officers selling a political philosophy. They are young people and old people and women and men not trying to prove anything; they are just being themselves. Moreover, the more Americans we can send into the world, the more the world will know that ‘Americans’ are just like them. It is such a simple idea. Why is it so difficult to understand and put into practice?