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| 7/22/2009 12:00:00 AM

Road to Capitol rooted in Peace Corps

Jul 22--Before launching their careers on Capitol Hill, some congressional lawmakers got their first taste of mudslinging in a productive way — as volunteers in the U.S. Peace Corps. The program has served as an unlikely farm system for future members of Congress. Sen. Chris Dodd and Reps. Sam Farr, Tom Petri, Mike Honda and Steve Driehaus have all been among its ranks.

Road to Capitol rooted in Peace Corps Road to Capitol rooted in Peace Corps
And it’s not just elected officials who have served in the Peace Corps before making their way to Washington. Journalist Chris Matthews was in Swaziland from 1968 to 1970, writer Maureen Orth was in Colombia from 1964 to 1966 — the same time as Farr — and current Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill served in Cameroon from 1974 to 1976. (And he thought Africa was tough.)

The Peace Corps, which is hosting an event at the Capitol Visitor Center for staff and interns on Wednesday, gave us a peek at several politicos in their earthy Peace Corps days.

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.)

Volunteered in the Dominican Republic (1966-68)

“Over 40 years ago, when I arrived in the Dominican Republic as an English major who spoke almost no Spanish, I was asked a question I’ve been asked a thousand times since: ‘Why did you join the Peace Corps?’ The answer was simple: because an American president asked me to. My experience in the Peace Corps was perhaps the most formidable and richest of my life, and it is why I have spent my life in public service and continue to urge others to serve our great nation.”

Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.)

Volunteered in Colombia (1964-66)

“For two years, I lived amid severe poverty in Medellin, Colombia, helping the poorest of the poor figure out what they wanted from their government and then working with them to get it. I learned firsthand what contributes to poverty, and I’ve worked four decades to defeat it. As my wife said, I’m still a Peace Corps volunteer at heart; I’ve just changed my barrio.”
 
Read more here.
 
Semana International delivers news about Colombia in English. Find more in our home.

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