3-minute interview: Erica Burman

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Politics,Local,Virginia,Steve Contorno

Burman is director of communications for the National Peace Corps Association, which recently embarked on a campaign to track down every former Peace Corps volunteer.

How many people are you hoping to find?

About 200,000 people have served. We've found approximately 100,000. People are transient. We may have a name and years of service, but some of those details on contacting them were lost. We're hoping in the next year we'll find 10,000 more and fully complete our database by 2016.

How are you going to find them?

We have a database where people can log on and see if their information is there already or update it for the first time. Many of our groups have their own campaigns trying to piece together their group, and we'll work with them. The Internet makes our job a lot easier, but many of the people who served in the early days don't have the Internet, so we'll try to find them with more traditional ways. People who served in Peace Corps have served their country. It's something to acknowledge and be proud of. I hope people want to go on the books and say, "I served."

How will the NCPA use the list?

We think that by working together and speaking together as one, we can have something to contribute to foreign policy and where America is in the world. We're also working on legislation to create a commemorative work that recognizes the significance of the founding of the Peace Corps on the National Mall. When you tour the Mall it's all wars and dead presidents, and no one talking about the Peace Corps and how it embodies the humanitarian commitment to building a better world that is part of the American narrative.

-- Steve Contorno

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