Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Scholarship Programs Could Aid Volunteerism

Our generation, as many may scathingly note, is notorious for its apathy. And while it is true that, since Sept. 11, 2001, our generation’s rate of community service has surpassed that of our parents’ generation, we are always capable of doing more.

Unfortunately, the most mundane tasks prevent us from realizing this potential for greatness. I am certain that our generation is capable of changing our world for the better, but first our hearts must be stirred to rise up to the challenge. Mahatma Gandhi once said, ‘There are chords in every human heart. If we only knew how to strike the right chord, we would bring out the music.’/p>

The music waiting to ring in each student is muffled because these cords are pulled too tightly to make a sound ” we have work to do, and when there’s time to spare we have social commitments There’s extracurricular this, and full-time that ” such is the life of the average Georgetown student.

For all too many students, the desire for a great job after college becomes a necessity upon graduation, especially if the student has taken out massive loans to pay for school. Unfortunately, the federal government does not do everything that it can to lessen this burden. It should administer more loan forgiveness programs for students who commit to volunteer service upon graduation, such as those who join the Peace Corps.

It appears, though, that the big guys may be catching on. The Darfur Peace and Accountability Act passed by the U.S. House of Representatives this past April and signed by President Bush on Oct. 13 includes a proposal to establish a loan forgiveness program that absolves individuals from repaying their school loans if they commit five years to teaching professional skills needed for the reconstruction of southern Sudan.

These programs have immense potential. If the government used loan forgiveness as an incentive to commit to other causes around the world in dire need of help, college students who would otherwise have had to scramble to find employment after college to pay back their loans would then consider committing to volunteer work. The price of an education would be measured by one’s willingness to serve in regions of the world where that education could be put to greatest use. And America’s reputation would surely improve. It would be hard for battered countries to foster hatred for an America that sends young representatives to work alongside their own civilians.

These loan forgiveness programs need not become a financial burden for the government if they take the place of many current scholarships and ambassadorial salaries. The government could channel money that would otherwise pay for ruddy diplomats to go on safaris in East Africa, or fund the college careers of students who will only pursue self-advancement upon graduation, into paying for the education of those willing to leave their homes to restore the homes of others.

There is something inherently wrong with a world where even youth need a financial incentive to help others in need. The fabled ‘tender-hearted youth’are going extinct in our Darwinistic capitalist society. But it is not too late to pursue solutions which will enable students to at once work toward personal career goals and also make a difference in the world through volunteerism and service.

I am not extricating myself from blame, for I am down there too, in the middle of the madness, trying to keep afloat and striving for success. But I wonder if the tumult would subside a bit if there was a side door out of this rat race, one that removes the financial shackles of those who want to heal when they see pain. Perhaps volunteers will then be disseminated throughout the world in as steady a stream as those intent on doing harm or doing nothing.

If America can use scholarships to enlist future soldiers, shouldn’t we apply similar loan forgiveness programs to raise a generation of healers?

Dorothy Chou is a junior in the College.

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