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Peace Corps Colombia Volunteers Hold Historic Reunion

180 Former Volunteers Visit Colombia

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 1, 2008 Next week, 180 Peace Corps Volunteers who served in Colombia between 1961 and 1981 will be returning there for a historic reunion. The Friends of Colombia, a group of returned Peace Corps Volunteers who served in the South American nation, have organized four days of events in Cartagena. Their goal is to reconnect with Colombia and old friends in an event examining Peace Corps contributions to Colombia and the Colombia of today.

The event attendees will include U.S. Congressman Sam Farr, a Peace Corps Volunteer in Colombia from 1964-1966, U.S. Ambassador William R. Brownfield, and Colombian Ambassador to the U.S. Carolina Barco. Additionally, President Alvaro Uribe will address the conference and present the Friends of Colombia with the Colombian Order of National Merit (Orden Nacional al Merito) for their continued community-based philanthropic work in Colombia.

Said Congressman Sam Farr of the events, Every time I return to Colombia, Im energized by the country. I truly grew up there in so many ways. And so much of the work I do in Congress, especially related to reducing poverty and improving quality of life, is being practiced in Colombia today. To have so many Peace Corps Volunteers return to the country on their own initiative speaks volumes about how much we care about this wonderful nation.

From 1961 to 1981, over 4,600 Peace Corps Volunteers served in Colombia and worked on projects targeting nutrition, health, agriculture, small business and education. These included projects such as: home economics and nutrition education aimed at improving general living conditions in rural areas; nursing; technical assistance to small business owners and cooperatives; and training teachers in special education.

Said Peace Corps Director Ron Tschetter, I have had the pleasure of meeting many members of the Friends of Colombia, and they all describe the warmth and hospitality of the Colombian people and the deep friendships they made while serving. We look forward to a day when the Peace Corps can return to Colombia, and future generations of Volunteers can build enduring friendships with the Colombian people.

Although the Peace Corps program was closed in 1981, the Friends of Colombia group maintains an active information exchange between Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and Colombians, and remains active in its support of community-based development projects in Colombia. Projects include social and micro-enterprise programs such as the Colombia Project, which provides micro-credit loans to displaced families in Popayan and Santa Marta, and Paso a Paso, an organization that provides books, uniforms and scholarships for primary and secondary school children.

U.S. Ambassador to Colombia William R. Brownfield stated, Peace Corps Volunteers represent the best America has to offeroptimism, energy, and community spirit. Their social and economic development efforts, then and now as Friends of Colombia represent a significant contribution in the long history of U.S.-Colombian relations.

The Peace Corps is celebrating a 46-year legacy of service at home and abroad. Currently there are more than 8,000 Volunteers abroad, a 37-year high for Volunteers in the field. Since 1961, more than 190,000n 8,000 Volunteers abroad, a 37-year high for Volunteers in the field. Since 1961, more than 190,000 Volunteers have helped promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of the 139 countries where Volunteers have served, including Colombia. Peace Corps Volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment.

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