Not only is the Peace Corps still thriving no, it didn't die out in the '60s but it has launched a new one-year program that seeks to attract those who don't have two years to volunteer.
The one-year program, called the Leadership for Peace program, is opened to all types of volunteers, but is particularly aimed at teachers.The Corps' new program may have special appeal to some Utah teachers looking for a brief respite from the routine. The program was created with the hopes it would hike the number of Peace Corps volunteers from 5,000 to 10,000.
Nine teachers from Virginia will teach in Ghana for a year, launching the new program. Virginia plans to use the program to bring an international flavor to its own education programs. Former Peace Corps volunteers will be invited into Virginia classrooms to make students more aware of other peoples and cultures.
Utah graduates thousands of well-prepared teachers from its colleges and universities each year. Many wish for broader experiences before settling in at a Utah school. Hundreds of experienced teachers struggle with burn-out, wearied by lessons and problems that seem to repeat themselves year after year.
Those who serve in under-privileged countries acquire a wealth of insight and experience. For a teacher, that could enhance students' education.
The Peace Corps has its problems, but it is a foreign policy success story without compare, partly because it doesn't try to do too much. It combines compassion and service on an individual basis with people and places that need it the most. Few things have brought more good will to America over the years.
If the program can double the number of volunteers, it would not only benefit developing nations who need the help, but would enrich the lives of many Americans as well.