February 15, 2002 - MSNBC: Peace Corps serve as front line ambassadors

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Peace Corps Library: Special Reports: Congress and the Peace Corps [2/15/02]: February 15, 2002 - MSNBC: Peace Corps serve as front line ambassadors

By Admin1 (admin) on Friday, February 15, 2002 - 6:36 pm: Edit Post

Peace Corps serve as front line ambassadors

Read and comment on this story from MSNBC on what members of Congress who have served as volunteers like Senator Chris Dodd, Rep. Tom Petri, and Rep. Mike Honda say about the Peace Corps at:

Peace Corps serve as front line ambassadors*

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

Peace Corps serve as front line ambassadors

Undated photo of Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., during his days as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic.

By Brooke Donald, Associated Press WASHINGTON - With stethoscopes, shovels, hammers and briefcases, the Peace Corps takes the message of America to common people around the world.

IN SOME CASES, Peace Corps workers are the only exposure to ordinary Americans that people in poorer nations have - making them informal ambassadors of American culture. Now, in the wake of Sept. 11, President George W. Bush wants to double their numbers.

"We're expanding the Peace Corps to take our values and compassion into the Islamic world," Bush said Friday. In Congress, where several Peace Corps veterans now serve their country in a different way, the idea is gaining support.

"There is a real disconnect about what America stands for" in Muslim countries, said Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., who worked in the Dominican Republic.

Today, the Peace Corps works in hospitals, helps to start small businesses, teaches people to manage their natural resources, helps obtain fresh water, teaches English and does other good works just by doing what they do best.

"We wouldn't ask them to take on a political role," said Ellen Field, a spokeswoman for the agency.

"We didn't have private cars and we didn't live in compounds," said Nancy Cunningham, who served in Afghanistan in 1966. "Volunteers were viewed differently." "We were representatives of the American people, not of the American government," said Rep. Tom Petri, R-Wis., who worked in Somalia. In some cases, the sight of Peace Corps volunteers sends a message.

"I was walking into town and heard children shouting, 'The gringo is coming!'" recalled Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif., a Japanese-American who worked in El Salvador. "Well, they ran past me looking for a blond-haired, blue-eyed guy.

"One of my jobs was to let people know America's full of lots of different folks."

In the four decades since the corps was created, more than 160,000 people have served in 135 countries.

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