I generally enjoy Amy Calder’s perspective on many diverse subjects in her column, “Reporting Aside.” Her Oct. 15 column about Elizabeth Ferry’s experience with the Peace Corps in Africa brought back memories of the early ’60s, when the Peace Corps was first formed by President John F. Kennedy (“In East Africa service, Winslow woman finds insight into teaching”).

A fellow graduate of mine from Madison was also in Africa with the Peace Corps. As did Elizabeth, she went on tours to high schools in Maine to relate her experiences. To this day, her life has been influenced by her association with peoples of a culture not our own. Her experience made her more tolerable of those who are different from us, but every bit as equal. I’ve since met many others who were with the Peace Corps. They all related the same insights as those of Elizabeth Ferry.

Though I did not join the Peace Corps myself, I did sign up with the Scandinavian Merchant Marine for well over a year. While working with nationalities from all over the world and visiting dozens of foreign countries, I learned pretty much many of the same things those in the Peace Corps learned.

I learned that all people are of value, that all traditions are valid and important to those who have them, and that people of diverse cultures have much to teach us.

This country would do well to send more young people forth with the Peace Corps than send so many young people abroad with military agendas. If we want people to be our friends, then we have to be friends to them — not potential enemies.

Peter P. Sirois


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