Funny how words pronounced the same but with a slightly different spelling can be such a contrast in meaning.  I speak here of “whither” and “wither.”   These two words sum up the condition of  the Peace Corps today.  The main queston facing the Corps is not “whither” it may be going but will it “wither” away?

The Corps is reeling after revelations of poor handling of sexual abuse and attacks over the last 50 years.  It is facing a hard time recruiting new Volunteers.  There is a controversy over aligning itself with other US Government agencies and private businesses to implement projects.  There is a fundamental question of how to stay relevant in an increasingly introspective America.

Without sounding overly dramatic the Corps is probably facing a watershed in its history. “Whither” the Peace Corps is not so much the question, rather it is will the Peace Corps “wither” away?  The time is long overdue for a thorough reevaluation of the Peace Corps - what should be its mission in today’s world and how it should complete that mission.

I for one focus on the Corps being a shining icon of America at its best.  I do not subscribe to it being a “skills based” organization in the world of economic development, with no funds and few people resources it is simply not equipped to do this job.  But as an example of Americans trying hard to help others and in the process gaining better mutual respect and understanding it is unmatched.

I am sure others have different ideas and suggestions.  I ask that we engage in a wide spread, intense exploration of these ideas and proposals.  And we must do it soon or “wither” may replace “whither” as the main issue for the Peace Corps to address.