Peace Corps still improves lives of people worldwide

To the Daily:

I read with concern the Daily’s article Tuesday, in which some students expressed doubt about the impact of the Peace Corps (University ranks fifth in grads joining Peace Corps, 01/29/2008). My wife and I were Peace Corps Volunteers in India in the 1960s. Since becoming Peace Corps director, I have seen volunteers in action in more than 30 countries and extensively in sub-Saharan Africa. I disagree with the negative themes in the article and the notion that the Peace Corps is “patronizing the people of developing countries,” as LSA senior Claudia Williams said. Through strong relationships with countries specifically requesting our programs, Peace Corps volunteers continue to make a difference around the world and improve the lives of others.

The Peace Corps’ success is more than anecdotal. Ninety-one percent of volunteers feel integrated into their communities. We also have created evaluation plans to better quantify the volunteers’ impact.

The quality of the volunteer experience has not changed and neither has the quality of the volunteers who serve. The Peace Corps recruits the best and brightest. Only one out of every three applicants becomes a volunteer. These volunteers provide trained skills at the grassroots level and promote a better cultural understanding of America. Government officials throughout the world praise the work of volunteers and consistently request more volunteers.

I am so proud to have been a Peace Corps volunteer, and we can all be proud of the dedication and quality of the volunteers serving today. I encourage Americans of all ages and backgrounds to consider Peace Corps service. As John F. Kennedy said: “there can be no source of pride more real than to be a member of the Peace Corps.”

Ronald Tschetter

The letter writer is the director of the Peace Corps

The unemphasized benefits of intercultural dating

To the Daily:

As a woman in a happy interracial and interreligious marriage, I was excited to see Wednesday’s Statement cover story about dating between people of different religious, racial and ethnic backgrounds (Like my parents before me, 01/30/2008). I expected the article (foolishly, perhaps) to touch on inter-cultural relationships. I can’t begin to express how disappointed I was to see that the majority of the article was about reasons why people don’t want to date outside their own racial, ethnic and religious groups and the prejudice experienced by people in interracial relationships.

Why so little coverage of people in happy interracial relationships? What about how much being with someone from a different cultural background can enrich your life and widen your horizons? What about how much you learn from each other? What about the plain and simple fact that if the person who makes you happiest in the world comes from a different racial, ethnic or religious background, then none of the other barriers will matter?

Elizabeth Rausch-Phung

School of Public Health

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