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We Think the Peace Corps Needs to be Fixed

Kevin Quigley was the President of the National Peace Corps Association in 2003 when I started a policy research project at the Brookings Institution on international volunteer service. Kevin had served as a volunteer in Thailand in the 1970s and I had served in India in the 1960s. In the decade following our collaboration in 2003 (that led to the creation of the Building Bridges Coalition in 2006), Kevin and I published several pieces aimed at making the Peace Corps bigger and better.

Following the Covid-19 evacuation in 2020, as the Peace Corps started sending volunteers back to countries of service in 2022, Kevin and I compared notes and quickly agreed that the Peace Corps is not worth funding in its current form. Over months of conversations between ourselves and with knowledgeable friends (including more than one former Peace Corps Director) we produced a 3,000-word essay proposing three ways of reinventing the Peace Corps to meet the challenges of the 21st century: merging it into AmeriCorps, moving it to the State Department, or transforming it from a Federal Agency to an NGO like Save The Children.

Sadly, our essay was rejected by several foreign policy-oriented publications. Last week we decided to submit a short op-ed version to The Hill, a newspaper that circulates widely in the Congress and the Washington DC-based policy community. Today they posted our opinion piece on their website.

Here is a link to it:

We are now searching for the best way to make the long version available. We may eventually resort to posting it on this website.

PS. Some readers saw the long version appearing here last week. I had to remove it in order to meet the policy of The Hill to only post original content.



Congratulations. "The Hill" was wise to include your essay in their current edition, but there's quite a distance to go before we declare victory. Perhaps the reason Teresa Kerry's quotation is appropriate is that so few others have endorsed it. I mean people like John Garamendi and other RPCVs. The objective now has to be gathering support for a major shift in the organization of the the Peace Corps, not its focus. That is why folding it into Americorps could never succeed: the Agenda is too far afield. Likewise, the State Department would crush any attempt to promote independent thinking in any allied nation, which is essential to build peace.

So let's put all our weight behind the NGO alternative.…

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