Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng is a education specialist at the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawai’i. She holds a masters degree in secondary education from New York University and a PhD in educational foundations from University of Hawai’i Manoa. She has been a lifelong advocate of peace education.
May 9, 2010
As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps, I would like to extend my support to the 200,000 former Peace Corps volunteers who are endeavoring to double participation and broadly expand the reach of the Peace Corps and its philosophy of meaningful collaboration, exchange, and service. Congratulations on increasing the agency’s budget by $60 million last year. I stand behind your push for another $65 million increase this year. I want you to know that I strongly believe in the importance of what you are doing, and I encourage you to keep supporting this grassroots campaign to realize my brother’s call for 16,000 volunteers.
Today, the need to connect and engage more deeply with people of the globalizing world has never been more vital. Only by appreciating the long arc of history, by mastering languages such as Bahasa, Mandarin, and Arabic and by building true working partnerships between people of this country and leaders and grassroots stakeholders of communities across the world, can we build peaceful coexistence. Peace Corps volunteers, who live alongside the people and work in their institutions, are building the linkages that connect our world.
Today, the Peace Corps is half the size it was in 1966, and yet demand has never been greater. With an additional $300 million over the next two years, we can add 8,000 more volunteers around the world. The ministries of twenty new nations have requested new programs and many existing programs such as the one in Indonesia, a country close to my own heart, where just 22 volunteers will serve in a nation of 238 million people, merit expansion.
As the Peace Corps grows, to reflect the fact that America itself was built on waves of immigration, we must ensure that more people of color, more members of the Diaspora, and more Americans from low-income backgrounds have the opportunity to volunteer.
In conclusion, I thank you for your bold efforts to support the current administration to create a bright new Peace Corps with 16,000 volunteers. I am honored to be a part of this movement.
Mahalo Nui Loa,