Monday, November 11, 2013

Remembering Peace Corps Service on Veterans Day

Service to country.  It's what the Peace Corps is all about.  It's a commitment to representing America abroad, building grassroots friendships and cross-cultural understanding. So on this Veteran's Day 2013, I hope Americans will recognize Peace Corps along with our brave soldiers, veterans, and all those who serve abroad.
English Club, Starobelsk Public Library, 2009-11.
"We are the World!"
My Ukrainian friend Olga emailed me that she walked to the Starobelsk Public Library the other day and went into the grand reading room where we had held our English Club.  It is now the computer room, she said, thanks to the Bill Gates Foundation's Bibliomist project. That project's goal, to computerize 1,000 libraries in Ukraine, addressed a real need in Starobelsk.  We jumped on it.  After going through many hoops and many tries, "the little library that could" in far-eastern Ukraine got a grant. 

So Olga watched the people at the computers and talked with the librarians.  It was nice news.
Добрый день, дорогая Френ! Я заходила в библиотеку. В большом зале стоят компьютеры. Зал полон людей- студентов и школьников за компьютерами. Все сотрудники передают вам огромный привет. Только при упоминании о вашем имени все улыбались. Вы сделали большое дело. Оставили яркий и незабываемый след  Спасибо вам за ваш труд. Здоровья вам и удачи! Мы вас любим!

 Loosely translated Olga said: Good day, dear Fran! I came to the library and went into the great hall with the computers. The room was full of people, students and school children at the computers. All employees send you a huge hello. Just the mention of your name brought smiles to all!  You left an indelible mark. We all thank you for your hard work. We wish you health and good luck. We love you!

It’s the best news a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) can get, to know that their work with their community made a difference, created friendships, and opened up a window of hope.   Over 200,000 American citizens who  have volunteered with the Peace Corps in over 200 countries around the globe can say the same thing. 

Today, America needs to remember the 8,073 volunteers who are now serving in 76 countries.   They are grassroots ambassadors empowering local people to take charge of their futures.  They lay the foundations for peace from the bottom up. 

"The Peace Corps' unique people-to-people approach is needed now more than ever," PC acting director Carrie Hessler-Radelet (Samoa,1981-83) testified recently before Congress.       
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