Twenty years ago, I returned from my Peace Corps service in rural Costa Rica with more than just a line for my resume. Like thousands of RPCV's around the world, I brought back meaningful relationships, powerful lessons learned, and a vigorous sense of purpose. As a result of my experience in the Peace Corps, I committed myself to a life and career of service.
I don't need to convince my fellow RPCV's of the value of service—we continue to live with the Peace Corps spirit well beyond our terms of service. We understand President John F. Kennedy's vision of an “army” for peace, so that people around the world may “live in dignity, liberated from the bonds of hunger, ignorance, and poverty.” And like an army, we must be prepared to fight for what we believe. If there's one thing I've learned throughout my career as an activist, Senate adviser, and aide to Secretary John Kerry, it's how to fight for what I believe.
That's why I'm calling on RPCV's everywhere to join me on March 3rd for the National Peace Corps Association's 12th annual National Day of Action for a Bigger, Better Peace Corps. We cannot take for granted the Peace Corps' promise to enrich the lives of people around the globe. In recent years, the budget for the Peace Corps has been roughly the same as the budget for the U.S. Army Band. We must fight to ensure that the Peace Corps is well funded, so that we can expand its programs, not cut them. We also must fight to ensure that all Peace Corps Volunteers have access to quality healthcare, so they may continue their service without fear of falling ill or injured.
We are in the midst of many national debates during this election season, but perhaps none more fundamental than the question of how we want the rest of the world to see us. Will we project the face of war and mistrust, or of peace and friendship? I know how my fellow RPCV's will answer this question. Now, how will we make it happen?
I hope you will join me on March 3rd for the National Day of Action. Even if you can't make it to Washington, there are many ways to take action wherever you are:
- Schedule a district office meeting with your lawmaker.
- Register to host or join a Day of Action Party on or around March 3rd.
- Donate to NPCA's crowd-funding initiative to ensure our advocates on Capitol Hill have all the resources they need.
The tide is turning in our national discourse. Americans of all ages and backgrounds are increasingly calling for a foreign policy of peace and diplomacy. The Peace Corps has a vital role to play in this transformation. As RPCV's, we have a special responsibility to take our service home with us and fight to ensure that the spirit of peace carries on for generations.
Joel Rubin, RPCV Costa Rica (1994-96)
Learn more about Joel