April 8, 2002
Farr pushes for more Peace Corps funding
By Louise Donahue
During a visit to campus Thursday, U.S. Rep. Sam Farr lauded UCSC for its large
number of graduates serving in the Peace Corps and announced plans for legislation
designed to allow the Peace Corps to maintain its independence.
Farr, a Peace Corps volunteer himself in Colombia during the 1960s, was joined by
several former Peace Corps volunteers in a talk at Quarry Plaza.
|Farr spoke to students and members of the news media during his Quarry Plaza visit.
Photo: Louise Donahue
The former volunteers spoke about their experiences, and a Peace Corps recruiting
table was set up following Farr's presentation. UCSC ranks eighth in the nation in
the number of its graduates serving in the Peace Corps.
The congressman noted that while he welcomes President Bush's proposal to double
the number of Peace Corps volunteers over the next five years, he believes it is
important that the Peace Corps retain its independence.
The president's newly established Freedom Corps "serves as a conduit for
which Americans can locate an organization such as the Peace Corps, Americorps, Senior
Corps, etc. to serve with," said Catherine Clobucker of the Peace Corps' San
Bush created the wide-ranging Freedom Corps by executive order, with "opportunities
for participation in homeland security preparedness and response," one of many
service opportunities cited.
Noting that Peace Corps volunteers are already sometimes suspected of being spies,
Farr said there should be a clear separation between the Freedom Corps and the Peace
Corps. Any perception of a Peace Corps link to intelligence-gathering would be "the
worst thing that could happen to our volunteers."
Farr is also calling for strengthening the Peace Corps through increased outreach
to the Muslim world; educating volunteers in prevention and treatment of infectious
diseases, including AIDS; and increased support staff for the Peace Corps at home
and abroad. In addition, Farr proposes establishment of the "Shriver Fund,"
named for the Peace Corps' first director, Sargent Shriver. The fund would allow
returned Peace Corps volunteers to develop activities in underserved areas.
UCSC graduates' disproportionately large role in the Peace Corps--it is the smallest
campus among the top 10 schools contributing graduates--also drew praise from Lynda
Goff, vice provost and dean of undergraduate education. "There is a real spirit
of altruism on this campus," she said, leading to the campus's "wonderful
success" in providing Peace Corps volunteers.
Students had plenty of questions for Peace Corps recruiters Thursday. Dennis McMahon,
a spokesman for the Peace Corps in San Francisco, was on hand to answer questions
and clear up any misconceptions. "A lot of people forget we're still around,"
he said. Appearances such as Farr's generate interest and offer the Peace Corps more
visibility. McMahon said many people also don't realize that Peace Corps workers
are paid, and that their expenses are covered.
Three informational events are designed for those interested in learning more about
joining the Peace Corps. Peace Corps staff will be on hand from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
at the Bay Tree Building, Room B, on April 4, and at 6:30 p.m. April 11 and 6:30
p.m. May 21 at the Louden Nelson Community Center, 301 Center St., Santa Cruz. Information
is also available on the web.
After his presentation, Farr reflected on how his Peace Corps days brought him to
a career of public service. Working in community development in the barrios of Colombia,
Farr said he taught people how to petition their government to get things done. He
said he discovered he liked finding out what the community needed, then working to
get it. "I thought I could do this even better in my own culture," Farr
said, noting the parallels to his job as congressman.
Farr said that his wife, Shary, tells him " 'You're still a Peace Corps volunteer--you've
just changed barrios."
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