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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Congress should preserve Peace Corps

When Rajeev Goyal was just 22 years old, he did more for humanity than many Americans can claim to have done in a lifetime. Having just recently graduated college, Goyal joined the Peace Corps and was assigned to Nepal to teach English. When he arrived, however, he soon learned that the nearest water supply was a two-hour hike away, with some villagers taking three trips a day just to obtain a sufficient amount of water. So Goyal put what he had learned in his undergraduate physics courses to use and spent the next few years working on an advanced water pumping system.  

Goyal, whose story is told in the Dec. 20 issue of the New Yorker, has since become a hero in his village in eastern Nepal, with many villagers referring to him as Shiva, one of the most important Hindu deities. Rajeev’s story illustrates how one concerned individual, backed by the support of the Peace Corps, can have a profound impact on the daily life of multiple people’s lives.

However, the 2011 budget passed by Congress earlier this month cut funding for the Peace Corps by 6 percent, and it’s unclear as to how much will be cut from it in the near future. Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget, released a few weeks ago, has yet to go into the specifics of individual programs, but proposes a 44 percent cut to the international affairs and foreign aid budget by 2016. With this massive cut, it’s more than likely that the Peace Corps will continue to see its funding lowered over the next few years.

Additional cuts to the Peace Corps would be unacceptable. Not only does the Peace Corps allow millions of Americans the opportunity to get experience living abroad, but it gives the people of some of the world’s most underdeveloped areas an opportunity to obtain a higher standard of living.

Peace Corps funding is no government handout; it allows Americans to go abroad and help those who can’t help themselves. To put it in biblical terms, Peace Corps volunteers do not give people fish; they teach them how to fish. The organization is literally an army of goodwill ambassadors.

To be fair, Republicans and conservatives don’t usually cite the Peace Corps when giving out examples of government waste, as it’s something that’s always had a great deal of support from both sides of the aisle. In fact, both presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama have supported expanding the program. It’s something that costs the federal government very little, yet has a huge impact on not just the daily lives of the world’s most impoverished people, but also on the image those people have of the United States. Although as Republicans continue to propose indiscriminate, across-the-board budget cuts, programs like the Peace Corps will be greatly affected.

While the country must come to terms with its fiscal reality, the Peace Corps should be spared from the inevitable next round of budget cuts. If anything, its budget should be expanded. The Peace Corps and programs like it are not the reason for our current financial mess and should not be forced to pay the price for the previous administration’s economic irresponsibility.  

For students who have no plans after graduation, I highly recommend looking into volunteering, as it will have a positive impact on the rest of your life. Ryan and other House Republicans should resist the temptation to cut from this extremely worthy program. Furthermore, all Americans who have an interest in curbing global poverty and improving the image of the United States abroad should do everything they can to oppose any additional cuts.  

 

— Andrew Shepherd is a political science senior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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