With American society apparently becoming increasingly polarized and pessimistic, highlighting our common denominators may be more crucial than ever these days.
The acting director of the Peace Corps, Carrie Hessler-Radelet, joined HuffPost Live at the Aspen Ideas Festival to suggest how volunteer service can be the most effective and valuable method of unification.
“People around the world are very similar at the very core," she told Ahmed Shihab-Eldin of HuffPost Live. "Our world is becoming so interconnected, so global –- and I think social media is really helping us to become that way –- and so Peace Corps and global service is really providing opportunities for Americans and other people to connect together."
Radelet mentioned that service, whether national or global, fosters empathy - helping even the most divided individuals transgress the barriers that separate them.
“In service you can get to know someone who is very different from you and therefore begin to empathize not only with them but with what they represent."
In addition to cultivating unity, volunteer opportunities such as the Peace Corps also help individuals develop valuable employment skills, Radelet mentioned in a recent blog post.
"Peace Corps Volunteers receive rigorous technical training that enables them to develop skills needed in today's -- and tomorrow's -- global economy," she wrote. "Their service provides the kind of life-defining leadership skills that are in high demand by today's employers."