The op-ed page of today's New York Times features a piece by former Peace Corps volunteer, recruiter and country director Robert L. Strauss entitled "Too Many Innocents Abroad."
Strauss praises recent initiatives by the Peace Corps to expand its outreach to volunteers who are 50 and older and but in the process marginalizes the valuable contributions made by younger volunteers. He also argues that the Peace Corps model is no longer relevant--and indeed is detrimental--to the development aspirations of today's host countries.
As you can imagine, the National Peace Corps Association feels quite differently. It's the NPCA's position that if anything there is an unmet demand for More Peace Corps.
Following is a statement by NPCA President Kevin Quigley:
Robert Strauss's January 9th "Too Many Innocents Abroad" op-ed is misguided in at least two ways: 1) there are not too many Peace Corps volunteers, and 2) they are not innocent.
Resulting from insufficient resources, there is unmet demand for the Peace Corps from more than 20 countries requesting programs and two out of three applicants who wish to serve.
Strauss myopically considers the Peace Corps's impact simply in development terms. However, the Peace Corps is not just a development program. Cross-cultural exchange constitutes two of its three goals. In addition to enhanced understanding of our country, his analysis misses the life-changing skills and attitudes volunteers bring back home.
Like any program, the Peace Corps could make improvements in training, placement, and more flexible programming, along with better use of technology. These improvements will enable Peace Corps to better tap into a broader and deeper recruitment pool. However, the answer is not fewer volunteers but More Peace Corps.
Kevin F. F. Quigley
National Peace Corps Association
What do you think? Comments are open!