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Yahoo! News Story - Peace Corps Aims to Expand in Arab World

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    (mcnurty@yahoo.com) has sent you a news article. (Email address has not been verified.) Personal message: Peace Corps Aims to Expand in Arab World
    Message 1 of 2 , Nov 5, 2004
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      Peace Corps Aims to Expand in Arab World
      http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20041105/ap_on_re_mi_ea/peace_corps_muslim_world


      Yahoo! News - Peace Corps Aims to Expand in Arab World
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      Middle East - AP
      AP
      Peace Corps Aims to Expand in Arab World

      Thu Nov 4, 7:04 PM ET
      Add to My Yahoo! Middle East - AP

      By APARNA H. KUMAR, Associated Press Writer

      WASHINGTON - When Jennifer Peterson joined the Peace Corps in 2000, she wanted to go to the Middle East. That left her with just one option — Jordan, where she spent two years teaching English to girls.

       

      At a time when the United States is striving to fight growing anti-Americanism around the world, the Peace Corps is trying to expand its reach into other Muslim countries. Right now, Jordan remains its only outpost in the Middle East.

      The reasons: Many countries in the region are wealthy and don't need assistance. Most Middle Eastern countries have not asked for volunteers, whether through pride or for political reasons. And then there are security concerns.

      "If there ever was a time that we needed to advance the ideal of peace and friendship (and promote) an understanding of Americans, that time is now," Peace Corps director Gaddi Vasquez said recently.

      By tradition, the Peace Corps will only go where it is invited. So for now, its presence in the Muslim world is limited to North and West African countries and to Central Asian nations that were once part of the Soviet Union. In South Asia, Peace Corps volunteers serve in Bangladesh. In Eastern Europe they serve in Albania.

      All told, some 20 percent of Peace Corps volunteers are serving in 18 predominantly Muslim countries, which the organization defines as having a population that is at least 40 percent Muslim. Currently, 39 volunteers are serving in Jordan

      The Peace Corps has grown to its largest size in 28 years, with 7,533 volunteers working in 71 countries. Volunteers are given intensive language training and work in areas such as health, education, HIV (news - web sites)/AIDS (news - web sites) prevention, information technology, the environment, agriculture and youth development.

      Still, demand for Peace Corps volunteers is at an all-time high, according to Vasquez. Twelve other predominantly Muslim countries — though none in the Mideast — are on a waiting list to become Peace Corps hosts: Afghanistan (news - web sites), Pakistan, Algeria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Djibouti, Nigeria, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Tunisia, Tajikistan, Comoros and Sierra Leone. Indonesia has also recently expressed an interest to host volunteers.

      "These countries, I believe, want to better understand America, and volunteers want to better understand their host countries," Vasquez said.

      Mohammed Naser, a Jordanian who trained Peace Corps volunteers between 2001 and 2003, said the program helped Jordanians and Americans overcome not just cultural barriers, but political ones.

      He wonders why the Peace Corps hasn't gone knocking on more doors in the region, especially in areas where international non-governmental organizations and the U.S. Agency for International Development are already active.

      "As long as there is a service to be provided to the host country and the Peace Corps is providing it, I don't see why the average Syrian would say no," Naser said.

      Some of the reluctance may come from the American side. Despite its eagerness to expand, the Peace Corps' overriding concern must be the safety of its volunteers. Many of the countries where fundamentalism and anti-Americanism are most rampant are considered too dangerous.

      "The Peace Corps has done more than any single element of American foreign policy in changing the way the world looks at the United States," said Robert Pastor, a former Peace Corps volunteer in Malaysia and the current vice president of international relations at American University in Washington.

      But he cautioned that while expanding the Peace Corps "would help the United States tremendously, there are also dangers where terrorism confronts us."

      The Peace Corps has been forced to constantly evaluate security conditions in its host countries, and at times, pull back its volunteers.

      Volunteers returned to Morocco last May after the organization suspended its program there in April 2003 to wait out reverberations from the Iraq (news - web sites) war — avoiding the country's worst-ever terrorist attack a month later.

       

      Peterson, 26, could have hardly picked a more interesting time to serve in Jordan.

      "It's an important program," Peterson, 26, said. "Jordan's not the poorest country in the world, but the opportunity to build relationships and overcome some people's misperceptions of Americans is greater than in other countries."

      _

      On the Net:

      Peace Corps: http://www.peacecorps.gov


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    • Scott Geibel
      This is a great idea! It s just as good an idea as the RPCV s Op-Ed in the New York Times a couple of years ago--proposing that Peace Corps go to Iraq to help
      Message 2 of 2 , Nov 5, 2004
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        This is a great idea! It's just as good an idea as the RPCV's Op-Ed in the
        New York Times a couple of years ago--proposing that Peace Corps go to Iraq
        to help rebuild. Just think of the difference they would have made, and PC
        is needed now more than ever since CARE and MSF have pulled out.

        Privatizing Social Security is a great idea too. Especially for someone like
        me who will contribute the maximum amount, and wisely save and invest it;
        I'm sure all other Americans will too.

        Health Care savings accounts are a great idea for the same reasons. For
        Americans like me who maximize my pre-tax retirement savings, this will be
        another great vehicle to avoid taxes and accrue wealth for a rainy medical
        day.

        Not that I need to avoid taxes... I don't pay them. Bush stood up for me on
        that issue a couple of years ago when the Senate tried to revoke the
        Overseas exemption. Tax dollars are even indirectly paying me now with all
        the Bush AIDS money.

        Bush policies seem to benefit me now that I've started to finally accumulate
        savings and wealth. This is great.

        Thanks Red states!


        -----Original Message-----
        From: Yahoo! News [mailto:mcnurty@...]
        Sent: Friday, November 05, 2004 6:23 PM
        To: ujeni@yahoogroups.com; chidyamakanda@onelist.com
        Subject: [ujeni] Yahoo! News Story - Peace Corps Aims to Expand in Arab
        World

        Middle East - AP


        Peace Corps Aims to Expand in Arab World

        Thu Nov 4, 7:04 PM ET Middle East - AP


        By APARNA H. KUMAR, Associated Press Writer
        WASHINGTON - When Jennifer Peterson joined the Peace Corps in 2000, she
        wanted to go to the Middle East. That left her with just one option -
        Jordan, where she spent two years teaching English to girls.

        At a time when the United States is striving to fight growing
        anti-Americanism around the world, the Peace Corps is trying to expand its
        reach into other Muslim countries. Right now, Jordan remains its only
        outpost in the Middle East.
        The reasons: Many countries in the region are wealthy and don't need
        assistance. Most Middle Eastern countries have not asked for volunteers,
        whether through pride or for political reasons. And then there are security
        concerns.
        "If there ever was a time that we needed to advance the ideal of peace and
        friendship (and promote) an understanding of Americans, that time is now,"
        Peace Corps director Gaddi Vasquez said recently.
        By tradition, the Peace Corps will only go where it is invited. So for now,
        its presence in the Muslim world is limited to North and West African
        countries and to Central Asian nations that were once part of the Soviet
        Union. In South Asia, Peace Corps volunteers serve in Bangladesh. In Eastern
        Europe they serve in Albania.
        All told, some 20 percent of Peace Corps volunteers are serving in 18
        predominantly Muslim countries, which the organization defines as having a
        population that is at least 40 percent Muslim. Currently, 39 volunteers are
        serving in Jordan
        The Peace Corps has grown to its largest size in 28 years, with 7,533
        volunteers working in 71 countries. Volunteers are given intensive language
        training and work in areas such as health, education, HIV (news - web
        sites)/AIDS (news - web sites) prevention, information technology, the
        environment, agriculture and youth development.
        Still, demand for Peace Corps volunteers is at an all-time high, according
        to Vasquez. Twelve other predominantly Muslim countries - though none in the
        Mideast - are on a waiting list to become Peace Corps hosts: Afghanistan
        (news - web sites), Pakistan, Algeria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Djibouti,
        Nigeria, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Tunisia, Tajikistan, Comoros and Sierra Leone.
        Indonesia has also recently expressed an interest to host volunteers.
        "These countries, I believe, want to better understand America, and
        volunteers want to better understand their host countries," Vasquez said.
        Mohammed Naser, a Jordanian who trained Peace Corps volunteers between 2001
        and 2003, said the program helped Jordanians and Americans overcome not just
        cultural barriers, but political ones.
        He wonders why the Peace Corps hasn't gone knocking on more doors in the
        region, especially in areas where international non-governmental
        organizations and the U.S. Agency for International Development are already
        active.
        "As long as there is a service to be provided to the host country and the
        Peace Corps is providing it, I don't see why the average Syrian would say
        no," Naser said.
        Some of the reluctance may come from the American side. Despite its
        eagerness to expand, the Peace Corps' overriding concern must be the safety
        of its volunteers. Many of the countries where fundamentalism and
        anti-Americanism are most rampant are considered too dangerous.
        "The Peace Corps has done more than any single element of American foreign
        policy in changing the way the world looks at the United States," said
        Robert Pastor, a former Peace Corps volunteer in Malaysia and the current
        vice president of international relations at American University in
        Washington.
        But he cautioned that while expanding the Peace Corps "would help the United
        States tremendously, there are also dangers where terrorism confronts us."
        The Peace Corps has been forced to constantly evaluate security conditions
        in its host countries, and at times, pull back its volunteers.
        Volunteers returned to Morocco last May after the organization suspended its
        program there in April 2003 to wait out reverberations from the Iraq (news -
        web sites) war - avoiding the country's worst-ever terrorist attack a month
        later.

        Peterson, 26, could have hardly picked a more interesting time to serve in
        Jordan.
        "It's an important program," Peterson, 26, said. "Jordan's not the poorest
        country in the world, but the opportunity to build relationships and
        overcome some people's misperceptions of Americans is greater than in other
        countries."
        _
        On the Net:
        Peace Corps: http://www.peacecorps.gov
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