Letter: Encourage lawmakers to support Peace Corps Reauthorization Act
As another Peace Corps volunteer who calls Steamboat Springs home, I celebrate Avalena Everard and thank you for your recent feature article about her becoming one of the first volunteers to return to Peace Corps service following the suspension of operations in March 2020 due to the pandemic.
I served with the Peace Corps in Bolivia from 1996-97. My service began with three months of intensive language, technical and cultural training in the outskirts of Cochabamba, a mid-size city in an undulating valley. After training I was assigned to a small village in the Andes mountains where I worked with Bolivian engineers on development projects primarily focused on clean drinking water systems.
The Peace Corps mission “to promote world peace and friendship” includes three goals. In training we were often reminded that our time in country was to focus on the first two goals: one, to help the people of Bolivia and two, to help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the Bolivian people we served. In other words, the Bolivians we encountered would come to understand American people and values by living and working alongside us. The third goal, we were told, would come later when we returned to our home country.
At a recent Peace Corps Bolivia reunion, I reconnected with many of the volunteers that trained with me 25 years ago. We are well underway in carrying out the third goal of the Peace Corps: to help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans. My fellow volunteers are now dedicated medical workers, teachers, business leaders, engineers, public sector and non-profit employees and environmentalists. We continue to live our values of peace, service and learning from those we hope to serve.
As Avalena joins the next generation of Peace Corps Volunteers who have now returned to more than 20 nations, it is vital to acknowledge the sacrifice and contributions they will make in service to our country. One significant way to support these volunteers is to urge Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, and other members of the Colorado congressional delegation, to co-sponsor and pass the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act (S. 4466; H.R. 1456), bipartisan legislation that will further support, protect, and honor the work volunteers who represent our nation with distinction.
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