9/11 Drives Americans to Answer Peace Corps Call to Service

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 11, 2006 In the wake of the September 11, 2001 tragedies came a glimmer of hope a rejuvenation of American patriotism and the overwhelming desire to serve. In the five years since the nations worst terrorist attack in history, the number of Americans who answered the call to service, and put a real face on America, has been at a 30 year high. Today, 7,810 Peace Corps volunteers are in the field. And USA Freedom Corps and other volunteer organizations have seen noteworthy growth, as well.

Following the tragedies and in an effort to rebuild the American spirit, President George W. Bush made a call to service in his 2002 State of the Union address. Afterward, Peace Corps saw a 131 percent increase in inquiries on the website for the three days following the address. And in the next calendar year, applications to become volunteers were up 16 percent.

Its clear to us that more and more Americans of all different age groups and ethnicities have the common desire of sharing their expertise with the world, said Dr. Jody Olsen, acting Peace Corps director. Dr. Olsen knows this first-hand, as she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Tunisia in the late 1960s.

Especially since September 11, Americans have felt a real need to build a positive image of our nation in other parts of the world. When Peace Corps volunteers educate young Malawis about HIV/AIDS prevention, teach English to Jordanians or help the local Peruvian community build a youth center, in many ways, they are sharing the very best of what America has to offer.

Peace Corps continues to expand into new countries, with redefined priorities. Currently 25 percent of volunteers serve in predominantly Muslim countries, and the Peace Corps has worked to increase its presence in Islamic countries since 9/11.

To honor the day and recognize how far the world has come since 9/11, Peace Corps held a remembrance in Washington, D.C. where Ambassador Karim Kawar from the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan spoke about the relationships with his people and Americans since 9/11. Peace Corps volunteers have served in Jordan since 1997, and Jordan is one of 17 Peace Corps partner countries that are predominantly Muslim.

It is my hope that out of our nations grief and sorrow, the resolution to engage in intercultural exchange will only grow stronger in the years to come, said Dr. Olsen.

The Peace Corps is celebrating a 45-year legacy of service at home and abroad, and a 30-year high for volunteers in the field. Since 1961, more than 182,000 volunteers have helped promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of the 138 countries where volunteers have served. 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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