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Letters to the Editor

Readers write about the Peace Corps and the US Embassy in Iraq.

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The Peace Corps's main need is dedication, not tech skills

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In response to the April 25 article, "World to Peace Corps: Skilled volunteers needed": As a former wet-behind-the ears, right-out-of-college Peace Corps volunteer, I can personally attest to my technical shortcomings as a development professional while serving in Nicaragua from 2000 to 2002.

But then again, I shouldn't have been considered a development professional. I was a Peace Corps volunteer, working not only to help out Nicaraguan small businesses in simple ways, but to get to know the people and their culture so I could bridge the divide between their people and mine when I returned home.

I take exception to the thoughts of Kevin Quigley, that we need to retool the Peace Corps's mission to satisfy more technical aims. To meet such needs, we need to double the budget of USAID, our country's much more significant development body.

To meet a different need, the quest to understand each other as humans and to live together peacefully on this planet, we need to send abroad more 21-year-olds in flip-flops, so they can grow into globally minded citizens with a deep concern for the situation abroad.

Jacob Hall
Cypress, Calif.

Regarding the recent article on the Peace Corps: As a returned Peace Corps volunteer, I can vouch that the Peace Corps approaches recruitment in myriad ways. Not only does it reach out to older Americans who might bring with them a career's worth of skills to their posts abroad, it also has in place an expanding program that allows potential volunteers to receive graduate degrees at partner universities across the United States while incorporating a full 27 months of Peace Corps service. The program, Master's International (MI), offers students 117 degree options, most of which center on the very same skill areas that the article describes as being most needed. For instance, some universities offer public health degrees; others offer agricultural science degrees, and still others offer degrees centered on small-business development. MI students bring with them high levels of education and cutting-edge theory, which they practice in their field assignments.

There are many ways to approach international development work. Short-term assignments for highly skilled professionals are certainly one valid choice. A longer-term commitment to living among the people and becoming an integral part of a local community while working from the inside is another. It is in this venue that the Peace Corps excels.

Adrienne Benson Scherger
Washington

US embassy is an imposition

Regarding the April 24 article, "Iraqis see red as US opens world's largest embassy": Please have more articles like this, telling what the Iraqi people think. Our decisions shouldn't be based just on what we in the United States think. Even reports of the Maliki government's positions are not enough. We need to know the viewpoint of the Iraqi people themselves and of their representatives in parliament.

Thomas E. Wulling
St. Paul, Minn.

In response to the recent article on the US Embassy in Iraq: I was appalled at the enormousness in size and cost of this project. Is it any wonder that the United States is in trillions of dollars of debt? In my opinion, the money could have been better spent to help the veterans who risk their lives in this war and, returning home, are finding it difficult to make ends meet, cannot find jobs, or are even at risk of becoming homeless.

Rosemary Davis
Fort Wayne, Ind.

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