32 Americans to be Sworn-In as Peace Corps/Rwanda Volunteers
WASHINGTON, D.C., April 14, 2009 - Thirty-two Peace Corps Volunteer trainees will be sworn-in as Peace Corps/Rwanda Volunteers on Wednesday, April 15, at a ceremony at the U.S. Ambassador W. Stuart Symington's residence in Kigali. Following the ceremony, the Volunteers will depart for their postings across Rwanda to begin two years of Peace Corps service.
The Peace Corps officially reopened the Peace Corps/Rwanda program after a 15-year absence on January 28, 2009. This first group of Volunteers represents a diverse cross-section of America and hail from every region of the United States.
"Since the return of Peace Corps staff in 2008, we have been collaborating with Rwandan government officials to get the agency's newest program up and running. It's an honor for us to be able to return to Rwanda and to renew our relationship with the Rwandan people," said Peace Corps Acting Director Jody Olsen. "We couldn't be more proud of this first group of Volunteers and believe this is just the beginning of another strong Peace Corps program."
The Peace Corps left Rwanda 15 years ago at the beginning of the civil unrest that resulted in the genocide. This new group of Volunteers will work in the areas of health and community development, and will collaborate with other United States government partners to support the Government of Rwanda's strategy to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Many of the Volunteers who will work on HIV/AIDS prevention and care will receive support from the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program.
Since arriving in Rwanda in January, the Volunteers have been completing an intensive pre-service training to learn about the people and culture of Rwanda, and to acquire the necessary skills, including the Kinyarwanda language, for their integration into the communities where they will serve. As part of the annual Genocide Memorial Week in April, this year marks the 15th anniversary, the Volunteers attended conferences on the genocide so they could more fully understand the communities they will be working in for the next two years.
Over 100 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in Rwanda since the program was established in 1975. Although the program was closed in 1993, Peace Corps staff returned in 2008.
As the Peace Corps approaches its 50th anniversary, its service legacy continues to promote peace and friendship around the world. Historically, over 195,000 Volunteers have helped promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of the 139 countries in which they have served, including Rwanda. Applications to serve in the Peace Corps have increased 16 percent this past year, the largest boost in the last five years. Currently, 7,876 Peace Corps Volunteers are serving in 76 countries. 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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