makethislast

a call to serve

Posted in Uncategorized by Diana on November 5, 2009

And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.

– John F. Kennedy – Inaugural Address, January 20th, 1961

This message was in my heart before I knew JFK uttered these words.

Oh, America…you are not perfect but you make me hopeful (and cue “God Bless America (Proud to be an American)” by Lee Greenwood :)).

I respect the military and admire the people who enlist. For whatever reason they decide to sign up for the military, these men and women protect the country and keep me safe. I am beyond grateful to them.

This past year,  I lived across the street from the Walter Reed Medical Army Medical Center. Two groups regularly plant themselves outside the main gate: one supports our troops, the other opposes the war(s). Knowing someone who was deployed during a 10-month tour in Iraq in 2008 also added another perspective. I had regular access to media covering the war and I followed reports on troop deployment levels, living conditions during war, Iraq’s geography, post-war recovery/readjustment and post-traumatic stress disorder, veterans and VA benefits – you name it, I probably read, talked and/or heard about it. 

Since I have no intention to join the military, I’m taking a different path to serve my country: I’m joining the Peace Corps!

Peace Corps mission:

  1. Helping the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
  2. Helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
  3. Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

My timing’s pretty opportunistic (even though I missed Secretary Hillary Clinton with Peace Corps Volunteers in Morocco! Luckily, I work at State so I’ve seen the Big Boss Lady before, ha!). Considering the current state of international affairs, and particularly the US’ role in global affairs, I think this will be an invaluable 2+ years of service. Morocco’s situated in between the US and Middle East so I’m looking forward to adventures in the middle ground.

I’m an idealistic person. I know I cannot prevent wars as one person, but I believe in the mission of the Peace Corps. The whole (thousands of volunteers) is greater than the sum of its parts (one volunteer). I believe we can bring about change through the work we perform and relationships we establish with others without going into policy discussions. People can teach and learn from one another. I think volunteers promote the goodness of Americans even if that’s not the primary reason for people who apply to Peace Corps. Volunteers are the soft(er)-side of diplomacy. 🙂

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