June 25, 2002 - Statement at the Senate Hearings: RPCV Barbara Ferris: "I speak in strong support of the Peace Corps Charter for the 21st Century Act."

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Peace Corps Library: Reference: Congressional Relations: June 25, 2002 - Statement at the Senate Hearings: RPCV Barbara Ferris: "I speak in strong support of the Peace Corps Charter for the 21st Century Act."

By Admin1 (admin) on Thursday, June 27, 2002 - 9:16 pm: Edit Post

RPCV Barbara Ferris: "I speak in strong support of the Peace Corps Charter for the 21st Century Act."


Six months ago PCOL began coverage of the new Peace Corps legislation that Senator Dodd and Congressmen Farr and Udall were preparing. On April 4, Congressman Sam Farr announced his proposal for legislation including Peace Corps independence from Freedom Corps, the Shriver Peace Fund, increased Peace Corps Support Staff, and a robust Peace Corps advisory board. On May 20, the first version of the legislation became available for comment and we reported on it and provided comment on the legislation and an exclusive interview with Congressman Farr on the legislation. On June 16, Senator Chris Dodd announced he would be introducing the new legislation in the Senate and provided another draft version which we analyzed and commented on.

Now the legislation has been introduced into both houses of Congress and on June 25, Senator Dodd held hearings in his Senate Subcommittee which has jurisdiction over the Peace Corps and we were there to provide coverage of the hearings. Please read this special report which includes a copy of the final bill as it was introduced in the Senate, our reporting on the hearings, a report on the hearings from the Orange County Register and from John Coyne and the statements of the following five individuals who were invited by Senator Dodd's office to testify on the bill.

Gaddi Vasquez, Director of the Peace Corps

RPCV Mark Schneider, Former Peace Corps Director and Senior Vice President of the International Crisis Group

RPCV Dane Smith, President of the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA)

RPCV John Coyne, founder and editor of the Peace Corps Writers and co-founder of the Peace Corps Fund

RPCV Barbara Ferris, President of the International Women's Democracy Center and co-founder of the Peace Corps Fund
Read and comment on the prepared statement by Barbara Ferris on the New Peace Corps legislation at:

Statement by Barbara Anne Ferris *

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.

Statement by Barbara Anne Ferris

Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Morocco

Co-Founder, the Peace Corps Fund

Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

In Support of Peace Corps Charter for the 21st Century Act

Mr. Chairman, Members of this Committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify today in support of the Section 10 of the Peace Corps Charter for the 21st Century Act which provides $10 million dollars to RPCVs to do the 3rd goal. I am a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer from Morocco where I taught English as a Second Language. I have served for five years as the Women in Development Coordinator for the Peace Corps, 6 years as a member of the Board of Directors for the National Peace Corps Association, I chaired the 40th Anniversary Celebration of the Peace Corps, co-chaired of the Committee for the Future of the Peace Corps and am the co-founder of the Peace Corps Fund. Also, I am the founder and president of the International Women's Democracy Center, which trains women outside the United States in the technical skills of how to run for elected office, how to engage in building their civil society, and how to lobby their legislatures.

I want to applaud you and this institution for finally designating resources to support Returned Peace Corps Volunteers who want to implement the 3rd goal of the Peace Corps as stated in the Peace Corps Act of 1961 – to educate Americans about the people, places and countries where we lived and worked as Peace Corps Volunteers. Bill Moyers said that Peace Corps Volunteers carry two passports – one stamped American and one stamped human being.

Last weekend, nearly 2,000 people from the Peace Corps family gathered in Washington to lead and attend workshops, celebrate the music and traditions of the countries where we lived and worked as Volunteers, honor those who died in service, and support the very organizations that continue to embrace the challenges of service.

The Peace Corps Fund was created at the urging of thousands of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and staff who formally and forcefully support the Third Goal of the Peace Corps Act of 1961, I am here today as co-founder of The Peace Corps Fund, a non-profit organization established in the District of Columbia to provide grants up to $100,000 to Returned Peace Corps Volunteers who want to carry out the 3rd goal in their communities in the shape of programs, projects and activities.

The Peace Corps Fund brings together an extraordinary team of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers with demonstrated skills in non-profit management, fundraising, grants management, budget and finance, foundation relationships, communications, public relations, technology and vision combined with an extensive network that reaches to every corner of our country and the farthest corners of the world.

Individuals representing three generations of the Peace Corps Family – including one of the early architects of the Agency and a recently returned Peace Corps Volunteer incorporated the Peace Corps Fund. Many of the early architects of the Peace Corps, Members of Congress, members of the National Peace Corps Association, and numerous individuals support the Peace Corps Fund and organizations committed to sustainable peace and development throughout our global community. . In order to enhance efficiency and keep costs down, the Peace Corps Fund will take advantage of the latest technology and facilitate grant making on line through its web site – www.AskNotpcf.org The online grant making process includes application, awards of grants. project reporting and evaluations.

The Peace Corps Fund does not have dues paying members, does not publish a quarterly magazine, does not have programs, and does not engage in peace making activities around the world. The Fund will be open to support all Returned Peace Corps Volunteers who have an interest in carrying out the 3rd goal in their community. The fund will act as a fiscal agent to provide grants to RPCVs and RPCV groups for 3rd goal activities. My colleague John Coyne will provide a more detailed example as to the specific project the Fund could support.

For the past 41 years, RPCVs have been bringing the world back home in small ways with limited resources. Creating speaker bureaus for their local schools, hosting forums to discuss culture and tradition of countries where they served, teaching English to immigrant parents with children in local schools and a multitude of other activities that continue to share what we have learned and to carry on a tradition of service here at home. While many RPCVs carry their unique experiences gained around the world into class rooms and board rooms, thousands of RPCVs have become leaders in corporations, educational institutions, journalism, international organizations and our nation’s political leadership both at the state and national levels. Increasing the resources available to RPCVs will have a significant impact on increasing the understanding among Americans about people, places, cultures, religions and traditions of the nations where we lived and worked as Volunteers.

While I could spend days speaking about the depth and range of transforming projects initiated by RPCVs in their communities, I want to share with this committee the 13 year old calendar project created by the RPCVs of Wisconsin –as their collective effort to “bring the world back home.” As a former teacher, the annual calendar is one of the most powerful development education tools I have ever seen. It not only lists all the holidays from all the Peace Corps countries every month, it provides spectacular photos taken by RPCVs of one nation a month with a description of a tradition or event that highlights the culture of the country. At the moment, they produce nearly 35,000 of these calendars. Imagine the power of this teaching tool if all of our nation’s school children were given one for their very own. It is a very cost effective and efficient, simple way for kids to not only learn every day about different holidays and cultures, but every month, about a different country and tradition. More importantly, it would give students a chance to aspire and dream about exploring places other than where they live.

September 11 changed us forever and we all continue to wrestle with the injustices of terrorism. One way to fight terrorism is to learn about and engage in the rest of the world. In 1961, when Sarge Shriver went to Ghana to lay the foundation for the first Volunteers to serve there, the President of Ghana agreed to host Americans on the condition that he send the best and the brightest. The 165,000 Returned Peace Corps Volunteers who have served in over 130 nations speaking 300+ languages for the past 4 decades giving 300,000 years of service are in my opinion, the best and the brightest.

Among the many outstanding moments at the conference this past weekend, Sarge Shriver said that Peace Corps stands for everything we believe in in America – that we care about the people of the world - that Peace Corps is dedicated to the goal of permanent peace.

Mr. Chairman, I speak in strong support of the Peace Corps Charter for the 21st Century Act and Section 10 which provides $10 million dollars for RPCVs to facilitate 3rd goal activities.

Thank you.

Click on a link below for more stories on PCOL

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Why the Peace Corps needs a Fourth GoalRPCVs start the Peace Corps Fund
The Case for Peace Corps IndependenceInterview with Sam Farr on new Peace Corps legislation
The Peace Corps and Homeland SecurityDirector Vasquez meets with RPCVs
RPCV Congressmen support Peace Corps' autonomyPeace Corps Expansion:  The Numbers Game?
When should the Peace Corps return to Afghanistan?Peace Corps Cartoons
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