Lately, I’ve been reading articles and policy briefs arguing the need to increase the number of American volunteers abroad. The argument is basically that volunteers serve a more important role in establishing peace and stability, as well as promoting a positive image of Americans, than the military does with weapons. Additional benefits to volunteering include increased volunteer connections and participation in the community, knowledge of local community challenges and personal growth through strengthened habits of citizenship and service. I am in complete agreement with the authors of these documents because, from my experience, the Peace Corps was a great tool to allow Armenians to understand the altruistic side of Americans, and for me to understand the humanitarian and hospitable side of the Armenians. I am more aware of the community I live in and, when graduate school allows, offer my services to community causes.
Today, we continue with human suffering based on intolerance and misunderstandings. We see images on television or internet displaying the worst acts of human aggression because we choose to remain ignorant, and steadfast in our irrational ideologies rather than listening and trying to understand the differences that make each of us unique. Volunteering your time abroad, even if for a short period, can make a difference in your life and the lives of the host nationals in which you encounter. I would encourage you to read the following articles that offer policy recommendations for Congress to support funding that will expand the number of Peace Corps volunteers, and develop a Global Service Fellowships Program that supports a wide array of non-government organizations, faith-based entities, corporations, and universities seeking to put more American volunteers abroad in the name of global peace and stability.
- The Best Diplomats: American Volunteers
- Global Service Fellowships: Building Bridges Through American Volunteers
- International Volunteering: Smart Power
- Reconsidering the Peace Corps
- The Peace Corps in a Turbulent World
Young and old, we all have something to contribute to a more stable and peaceful world! Contact your congressman today and ask them to support increased funding for international volunteer programs.
Great power and great wealth do not necessarily produce greater respect or greater security… [An] effective foreign policy in the age of global politics must combine power and cooperation.
–Daalder and Lindsay in Agenda for the Nation
Putnam privileges primary interpersonal ties above all other forms of social and political activity, because he believes such interactions uniquely foster trust and cooperation. The more face-to-face group interaction a nation has, the healthier its people and the more efficient its government and economy will be.
–Skocpol in Diminished Democracy