April 5, 2002 - Santa Cruz Sentinel: Farr bill would bolster Peace Corps

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By Admin1 (admin) on Friday, April 05, 2002 - 8:48 am: Edit Post

Farr bill would bolster Peace Corps

Read and comment on the announcement of Congressman and RPCV Sam Farr on his bill which would protect and promote the Peace Corps at:

Farr bill would bolster Peace Corps*

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

Farr bill would bolster Peace Corps



When President Bush announced in his State of the Union address he wanted to double the number of Peace Corps volunteers, Congressman Sam Farr was ready to take him up on it.

Farr is sponsoring legislation that would authorize doubling the number of Peace Corps volunteers, he announced Thursday at a press conference at UC Santa Cruz.

The corps currently has about 7,300 volunteers.

"The Peace Corps has always helped people in developing nations meet basic needs, promoted an understanding of America's values and ideas abroad, and encouraged Americans to better understand their neighbors around the world," Farr said.

Farr's bill also would ensure the Peace Corps remain independent of Bush's proposed USA Freedom Corps, whose members would volunteer their time for police, medical and other homeland security efforts.

It would be detrimental to link overseas volunteers to a security organization like that, he said.

"Those of us who served in the Peace Corps feel very strongly we shouldn't put the Freedom Corps under the umbrella of the Peace Corps," said the Carmel Democrat, who was a volunteer in Columbia in the mid-60s. "We'regoing to build that firewall."

The bill also calls for increased outreach to Muslim countries, training volunteers in the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases, increased safety precautions and creation an advisory board of corps alumni.

Peace Corps volunteers work in 134 countries focusing on issues like health, the environment, agriculture and education. The program operated on a $265 million budget in 2001.

A group of former corps volunteers appeared with Farr on Thursday. They said their Peace Corps experiences helped them understand other countries'; attitudes toward the United States.

"It's extremely important for us to live in other cultures and see what they have to deal with and what they face," said former UCSC staffer Frank Royal, who served in the Philippines from 1962-64.

Farr picked an appropriate place to announce his bill. Fifty-three UCSC students have served in the corps, ranking it eighth in the nation among colleges with 5,000 or more undergraduates. The schools ahead of UCSC had a head start, though. The Peace Corps was established in 1961, while UCSC didn't open its doors until 1965.

Some students expressed interest Thursday.

"We need to recognize we're privileged and pass along that privilege," freshman Ryan Wadsworth said.

However, he said he was hesitant of joining because some of the U.S. government's policies.

If we're supposedly trying to do good, we should have a consistent approach," Wadsworth said.

Applications take at least four months to process, Peace Corps spokesman Dennis McMahon said. He said prospective volunteers should apply about nine months to a year before they are available to serve.

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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; US Peace Corps - Congress; Special Report - New Peace Corps Legislation



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