Afganistan and the Peace Corps
By Kevin Quigley on Tuesday, June 7th, 2011
There are many links that bind the Peace Corps to Afghanistan.
In the 1960s and 1970s, before the Soviet invasion that ended the program, Afghanistan was a major Peace Corps country. More than 1,800 volunteers served there in ways that still reverberate.
To this day, Afghans still talk about the work of volunteers in teaching and helping eradicate polio as having been profoundly important.
In the last week in May, I traveled to Kabul for the first graduation of the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) and found many ongoing links between the Peace Corps and that country.
The current team leader at USAID, which provided the initial funding for AUAF is Chris McDermott a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) from Korea who is married to a Thai national. The University’s new communication director is Matthew Trevithick, an RPCV from Guatemala. Following the graduation festivities, I traveled to Herat with fellow AUAF board member, former Borneo RPCV and Shriver Award Winner, Bob Pastor.
Although it is extremely unlikely given the ongoing security challenges, the Peace Corps could make a difference in Afghanistan, especially if it found ways to encourage former volunteers with relevant professional, cultural and language skills to return there.
To see more photos from the historic occasion, visit the USAID Flickr set: American University of Afghanistan First Commencement. To read the USAID press release, click here.