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Letters to the Editor

Readers write about the Peace Corps and the US Embassy in Iraq.

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The Peace Corps's main need is dedication, not tech skills

In response to the April 25 article, "World to Peace Corps: Skilled volunteers needed": As a former wet-behind-the ears, right-out-of-college Peace Corps volunteer, I can personally attest to my technical shortcomings as a development professional while serving in Nicaragua from 2000 to 2002.

But then again, I shouldn't have been considered a development professional. I was a Peace Corps volunteer, working not only to help out Nicaraguan small businesses in simple ways, but to get to know the people and their culture so I could bridge the divide between their people and mine when I returned home.

I take exception to the thoughts of Kevin Quigley, that we need to retool the Peace Corps's mission to satisfy more technical aims. To meet such needs, we need to double the budget of USAID, our country's much more significant development body.

To meet a different need, the quest to understand each other as humans and to live together peacefully on this planet, we need to send abroad more 21-year-olds in flip-flops, so they can grow into globally minded citizens with a deep concern for the situation abroad.

Regarding the recent article on the Peace Corps: As a returned Peace Corps volunteer, I can vouch that the Peace Corps approaches recruitment in myriad ways. Not only does it reach out to older Americans who might bring with them a career's worth of skills to their posts abroad, it also has in place an expanding program that allows potential volunteers to receive graduate degrees at partner universities across the United States while incorporating a full 27 months of Peace Corps service. The program, Master's International (MI), offers students 117 degree options, most of which center on the very same skill areas that the article describes as being most needed. For instance, some universities offer public health degrees; others offer agricultural science degrees, and still others offer degrees centered on small-business development. MI students bring with them high levels of education and cutting-edge theory, which they practice in their field assignments.


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