93/07/05 Remarks at the Conference of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA AT BERKELEY, CA)  Return to: Index of 1993 Secretary of State's Speeches/Testimonies || Electronic Research Collections Index || ERC Homepage

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U.S. Department of State
93/07/05 Remarks at the Conference of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers
Office of the Spokesman

ADDRESS BY SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER
TO THE
CONFERENCE OF RETURNED PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEERS
AT THE
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA AT BERKELEY
JULY 5, 1993


                A New Season of Service At Home and Abroad

Thank you, Senator Wofford.  All his life, Harris Wofford has been a 
builder and a healer.  Through his work in the civil rights movement, 
through his formative role in the Peace Corps, through his service in 
appointive and elective office, Harris Wofford has made us a more just 
society at home and a more effective force for democracy and development 
abroad.

I want to acknowledge Congressman Sam Farr, who is the son of my 
longtime friend, State Senator Fred Farr.  President Clinton's 
appointment of Leon Panetta not only gave America a first-rate Budget 
Director.  It also represented a not-too-subtle effort to send another 
outstanding returned Peace Corps volunteer to Congress.

I also want to commend Jack Hogan for his leadership as Acting Peace 
Corps Director.  I want to thank the leaders of the National Peace Corps 
Association--Chairman Doug Siglin, President Charles Dambach, and 
Conference Coordinator John Knapp for their fine work.

The nomination of Carol Bellamy as Peace Corps Director means that, for 
the first time, a former volunteer will lead the Peace Corps.  Carol 
Bellamy has built a very distinguished career in the public arena and 
the private sector.  I am sure she will be a highly effective Director 
of the Peace Corps.

I speak to you today as the product of a bipolar world.  I do not mean 
the Cold War world divided between democracy and communism.  I mean the 
Bay Area world divided between Berkeley and Stanford.

My long contact with these two universities has taught me an enduring 
lesson:  Keep the band off the field.

Having spent some of the happiest times of my life at Stanford, I have 
not only developed great affection for Stanford, but great respect for 
Berkeley as well.  Coming to this campus, I am reminded of the lasting 
contribution of one of the great figures of American politics, Governor 
Pat Brown.  I wrote speeches for Pat Brown in his early campaigns.  He 
gave me my start in public life.  And we have been close friends ever 
since.  Pat Brown will long be remembered for helping to build the 
University of California into the premier public university system in 
the world.

I've been told that among the glittering distinctions earned by this 
institution is the fact that the University of California at Berkeley 
has provided more Peace Corps volunteers than any other school in 
America.

When he established the Peace Corps, President Kennedy said:  "Our Peace 
Corps is not designed as an instrument of diplomacy or propaganda or 
ideological conflict.  It is designed to permit our people to exercise 
more fully their responsibilities in the great common cause of world 
development."

Thirty-two years later, the Peace Corps continues to fulfill this 
special role.  It is an expression of the values and the idealism of a 
free people.  It is an instrument to empower people--and to lift the 
lives of men and women and children in every part of the world.

Among the diverse contributions returned Peace Corps volunteers--RPCVs--
have made to public life, one theme stands out:  helping Americans 
understand the world.

Many Peace Corps volunteers have gone on to serve at the State 
Department.  A few have become ambassadors.  But every Peace Corps 
volunteer brings a piece of the world back home--and makes American 
foreign policy stronger and more sensitive. You have a unique 
perspective on international relations:  not just on the views of 
governments, but on the needs of their people.  Those insights take on 
greater importance at a time of increasing interdependence of nations 
and growing empowerment of people all over the world.

Today, Peace Corps volunteers remain engaged on the front lines of the 
struggle for sustainable development all around the world.  They are 
preserving forests and creating systems of purified water.  They are 
building roads and helping to establish small businesses.  They are 
fighting AIDS and teaching literacy.  They are assisting in disaster 
relief and delivering maternal and child health care.  They are 
combating hunger and poverty.
	The year after he started the Peace Corps, President Kennedy spoke 
at this university.  He said, "We can have a new confidence today in the 
direction in which history is moving."  Three decades later, history has 
moved in our direction--toward freedom and democracy.

In every part of the world, a common conviction is emerging that people 
must be empowered.  Democratic aspirations are rising from Central 
America to Central Asia.  The international debate now turns less on 
whether human rights are inalienable for every human being--and more on 
how to make their observance unavoidable for every government.  The 
debate turns less on whether democracy best serves the needs of people 
everywhere--and more on how soon their democratic aspirations will be 
met.

With the movement from despotism to democracy comes a newfound sense of 
economic empowerment as well.  One nation after another is concluding 
that free markets and a vigorous private sector are essential elements 
of economic growth.

Nowhere is the transition to freedom and free enterprise playing out on 
a more central stage than in the former Soviet Union.  Today, Peace 
Corps volunteers are serving not only in Russia--but also in Armenia, 
Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and 
Uzbekistan.  They are helping to create civic institutions and small 
businesses.  They are teaching the spirit and skills of 
entrepreneurship.  They are helping newly free people overcome decades 
of communist dogma that translated into despair and decline.

At the same time, I want to assure you that this Administration will not 
neglect Africa, Latin America, and Asia, where the overwhelming majority 
of Peace Corps volunteers serve.  As a native of North Dakota, I am not 
one to overlook the importance of places far from the headlines.  I 
recognize the vital contribution the Peace Corps is making today in 
Benin and Namibia, and Fiji and Costa Rica, and in so many other small 
and large countries all across the globe.

American foreign policy must shape a new world committed to democracy, 
prosperity, and environmental responsibility.  In each of these areas, 
the United States must lead--and we will.

The Clinton Administration is committed to promoting and sustaining 
democracy and human rights around the world.  We stand today with every 
prisoner of conscience, every victim of torture, every person denied 
freedom.  We support their struggle to overcome the forces of tyranny.  
We are helping emerging democracies to develop civil institutions and 
the rule of law.  And we are helping new democracies make the transition 
to civilian control of the military.

Like the promotion of democracy, building American prosperity is a vital 
pillar of the Clinton Administration's foreign policy.  We will advance 
that goal in Tokyo this week as we work with our G-7 partners to 
stimulate global growth.

President Clinton's responsible and courageous leadership has already 
begun to turn our economy in the right direction.  For years, our G-7 
partners have urged America to get our economic house in order.  Now, 
President Clinton's policies have brought long-term interest rates to 
their lowest level in two decades--and I might add have reduced 
significantly the debt burden of developing nations.

America is back as a responsible manager of its own economy and as a 
leader on global economic issues.  The credibility we earn by deficit 
reduction gives us a basis to promote global growth and to energize the 
world economy.

Another area where you will see a sharp departure from the past is in 
our environmental policy.  The Clinton Administration has made clear 
that America will be a global leader in environmental protection.

Instead of refusing to sign the biodiversity treaty, we have not only 
signed the treaty, but we have begun planning a National Biological 
Survey of every species of plant and animal in the United States.

Instead of refusing to set targets for reducing greenhouse gas 
emissions, President Clinton has committed the United States to cutting 
those emissions to their 1990 levels by the year 2000.

Instead of trying to wish away or walk away from the population 
explosion, we are working to stabilize world population growth.  The 
Clinton Administration understands that failure to address the 
population issue will undermine the efforts we make to support 
sustainable development.

A vital part of these efforts consists of recognizing and respecting the 
rights of women.  One of President Clinton's first acts in the White 
House was changing the so-called "Mexico City" policy so that we could 
assist women in receiving the reproductive health care they deserve.

Unless we effectively combat global environmental problems, we are 
likely to see an ever-increasing number of environmental refugees.  
Rather than witness the human suffering and political instability 
associated with these refugee flows, we need to take timely action--in 
our own policies, at the UN, and in other forums--to seek and secure the 
conditions for sustainable development.

This conference is an important signal of the Peace Corps' commitment to 
environmental protection.  The Peace Corps' growing involvement in 
environmental education, forestry, and wildlife management can make a 
profound difference in the quality of life for people in host countries.  
Peace Corps volunteers are helping to propel a citizens' movement that 
has captured the attention and changed the policies of governments 
around the world.  

The Peace Corps not only serves the needs of people in 96 countries.  It 
also serves as a model for a program of national service right here at 
home.

This new program will bring together Americans from different places and 
different backgrounds to address unmet needs.  It will help to finance 
the education of those who complete a term of service.  It will 
reinforce the sense of civic responsibility that must lie at the heart 
of any democracy.  It will broaden the experience and sharpen the skills 
of young men and women who will be leaders of our country in the 21st 
century.

This is not a generation of slackers.  This is not a lost generation.  
This is a generation that aches to prove itself, to demonstrate its 
idealism, to get its hands dirty in the hard work of rebuilding our 
communities.  It is a generation that knows it will face immense 
challenges as it comes of age, and is preparing itself right now.  It is 
a generation that finds holes in the social fabric and patches them.  
From the City Year program in Boston to the California Conservation 
Corps, America's young people burn with the same spirit that drew you to 
the Peace Corps.

It is incumbent upon all of us to give them a helping hand.

I am pleased to see that the Bay Area is taking on a special role in 
national service, just as it has made a singular contribution to the 
Peace Corps.  A few weeks ago, a precursor to the national service 
initiative was launched half way across the Bay on Treasure Island.  
Nearly 1,500 young people from around the country took part in 
leadership training before embarking on a summer of service-- eight 
weeks of community service at locations from Los Angeles to Boston.

Like the Peace Corps, the national service initiative will benefit not 
only those who receive assistance, but also those who provide it.  
Participants will gain insights and experiences that will make them more 
productive and better informed citizens throughout their lives.

The success of national service will rest on leadership at the local 
level.  Locally driven initiatives will be started and sustained by 
schools and universities; by civic, youth, and religious organizations; 
by corporations and by state and local governments.

As Senator Wofford has suggested, who is better prepared to create and 
direct these locally based national service initiatives than returned 
Peace Corps volunteers?

Let me issue a challenge and an invitation to all of you:  Help us pass 
the national service program into law--and then help us make national 
service an irresistible force for building stronger, safer, healthier, 
better-educated communities across the nation.

As I conclude, let me say I am pleased to return again to a part of our 
country that fired the spirit of Ansel Adams and Wallace Stegner, of 
John Steinbeck and Cesar Chavez; that has produced so many volunteers 
for the Peace Corps; that will, I believe, help us usher in a new era of 
national service that will renew our sense of national purpose.  I am 
reminded that we Americans have so much to live up to.

We are more than a collection of freeway billboards and video games.  We 
are a blessed and powerful nation.

I salute you for your service.  On behalf of President Clinton, I pledge 
to you a new season of service at home and a new foreign policy of 
strength and sensitivity in pursuit of American ideals and interests 
abroad.

Thank you very much. 

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