February 9, 2003 - CORVA: Rediscovering the Third Goal

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By Admin1 (admin) on Sunday, February 09, 2003 - 2:31 pm: Edit Post

Rediscovering the Third Goal

Rediscovering the Third Goal

Rediscovering the Third Goal

Some RPCVs see the events of Sept. 11 as a call to duty

Text Box: On September 22, 1961, Congress approves legislation formally authorizing Peace Corps, giving it the mandate to promote world peace and friendship through three goals: (1) To help the people of interested countries and areas in meeting their needs for trained workers; (2) To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served; and (3) To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.Somewhere beyond the shock and anger we feel about the events of Sept. 11 billows a thick cloud of unanswered questions and the attendant frustrations they bear. We are not satisfied with the answers we have been given about why this has happened, nor even how. Rather, we stare in mute astonishment at the gulf that separates us from those who undertook this attack.

There are almost 150 Returned Peace Corps Volunteers living in Central Ohio. In each of our two plus years of service overseas, we daily undertook the massive task of bridging chasms of understanding by working side by side with our hosts, by sharing our experiences of American culture and learning those of our host nations. In this way, significant, meaningful relationships, mutual respect and lasting good will were established. Though it was no easy task, each returned volunteer will tell you its results were tremendously rewarding.

As we, as a nation, plan and enact our response to the events of Sept. 11, it falls on Returned Peace Corps Volunteers to remind us that true peace can only be borne of mutual respect and in the unceasing quest for understanding. This was the lesson of our Peace Corps service, and it looms with more consequence now than ever before.

Each Peace Corps Volunteer undertakes his or her service with three goals - to learn about the culture and customs of our host people, to teach our hosts about American life and culture, and the third goals, to bring back the cultural understanding and experiences of our service and share them with other Americans. In light of this third goal, the events of Sept. 11 were a call to duty for many Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, and it was in the spirit of the third goal that the Sept. 11 Committee was formed at the September CORVA meeting.

Born of a desire to formulate some sort of response and plan a series of outreach activities, the sentiment expressed at the meeting was that the weight of the third goal has become increasingly significant since Sept. 11.

Currently, Peter Brown, Ben Bloom, Ravi Goud, Mary Gregg and Brad Gregg serve on the Sept. 11 committee. Though plans are in their infancy, the committee is hoping to coordinate a monthly series of International Forums held around Columbus, each highlighting the culture and history of a different nation, with the Arabic and Muslim worlds atop or agenda. The committee hopes to draw together local resources with RPCVs to provide an atmosphere that allows community members to learn about these cultures and ask questions in a safe environment. In short, it is the hope of the committee to provide a crucial, needed forum for the Columbus community to begin to deepen their understanding of the social, political and cultural contexts that are affecting our current international situation.

These plans will be further discussed and detailed at the October 31 CORVA regular meeting. Providing the quality, meaningful forum we desire will require a tremendous effort on the part of the CORVA membership. Please attend this meeting and contribute to our renewed commitment to the third goal. It is now, more than ever, that our service as Returned Peace Corps Volunteers continues.

· Peter Brown

CORVA’s next regular meeting is Wednesday, Oct. 31 at 7 p.m. at the King Avenue United Methodist Church.

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