When President Kennedy launched the Peace Corps in 1961, his revolutionary call for Americans to build bridges to other peoples through service inspired Americans of all stripes. More than 220,000 Americans have since served in the Peace Corps, positively impacting millions around the world. This is why I joined the Peace Corps more than two decades ago as an Environmental Education volunteer in Costa Rica -- I was stirred by a deep commitment to serve our country overseas while helping those who asked for our help. This is also why I firmly believe that Hillary Clinton, who has for years promoted peace and development through diplomacy, will be an outstanding champion for the Peace Corps and what it stands for as our next president.
As nearly every Returned Peace Corps Volunteer will attest, what we learn while serving is invariably much richer than what we are able to share. Service overseas is a humbling experience, where we see with our own eyes how much we have to learn about the world around us and where we struggle to create lasting positive change. We then bring this awareness back home with us, striving to achieve the Peace Corps' Third Goal -- to strengthen our communities by sharing what we learned overseas. And our country is much richer because of this.
Yet we are at a crossroads in our public debate about how Americans think about the world around us and about service, peace, and development. Our two presidential candidates provide stark contrasts on this point. On one side, Hillary Clinton, who has spent years in public service and been a leader for international development, education, and women's empowerment, promotes a vision of the United States that leads by building partnerships with the rest of the world. On the other side, Donald Trump has derided the notion of service and selflessness, with nary a day of public service on his resume. He has a platform that seeks to build walls and reject whole communities because of their ethnicity or religion. Trump seeks to divide where Clinton seeks to unite.
The American people are optimists and have a decades-long bipartisan tradition of promoting international peace through service. Doing so strengthens both our security and reflects our values. We need to accelerate this work, as Hillary Clinton will do, not walk away from it, as Donald Trump will do.
In Costa Rica, the village I lived in and the teachers I worked with made me feel like one of their own. While I taught my Costa Rican colleagues educational techniques to help strengthen their skills in the classroom, they taught me about our common humanity, the value of diversity, and community.
This type of partnership, commitment to community, and love of education are lessons that I try to share with my three daughters every day. I saw it work in Costa Rica, and I know that it works here at home, too. And as my girls return to school this fall, I am reminded of how important these lessons are -- and how crucial it is for every child to have an opportunity to acquire the skills they need to succeed. Teachers around the world are living the true definition of service by providing our kids with these tools, and we need to ensure that dedication to service is recognized.
This is why we need to expand our engagement with the rest of the world, just as the vision of the Peace Corps demands. We must deepen our commitment to diversity and service; we must strengthen our commitment to education; and we must elect leaders who demand that we aim to meet these goals, not ones who deride them.
We must therefore do everything we can with a sense of urgency -- from talking to friends to knocking on doors to pressing the case through social media -- to ensure that Hillary Clinton, the candidate of optimism and service, is our next president. Children around the world are smiling in anticipation of her election. I know that mine are -- and I am, too.