In 1961, President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps to promote world peace and friendship. 50 years later it is still going strong. Peace Corps has three simple goals:
1. Helping the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
2. Helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
3. Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.
We spend 27 months focusing on the first two goals. Once we leave and come back to The United States of America, our focus is on goal three. Peace Corps is a lifetime opportunity of work, really.
Recently, I was invited to speak about my experience in Uganda at a book club in my home community. The group is reading a book by the president of World Vision. The author is calling Americans to care more about the global world and to take action. He addresses many of the issues that contribute to world poverty: malaria, HIV/AIDS, food security, etc. It was fun to go and share what I know about Uganda, development and how we as Americans should respond to suffering around the world. I was also really encouraged by this group. They genuinely care about other people and want to do their part as global citizens. The questions they posed were at times insightful and very heartfelt. One thing I love about America is that spirit of wanting to help other people. No matter how misguided we can be, at least we have the desire and heart. If more groups like this one would educate themselves through reading, bringing in speakers and practicing what they learn, maybe development would be more effective and gains would be made to a greater extent.
I will continue to do Goal 3 and tell others about a very different culture and people I used to know. And together, with these Americans who have big hearts, we will work on friendship and world peace.