FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Monday, May 12, 2003
Ambassador Swears-In 25 New Peace Corps Volunteers
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 12, 2003 - Last Thursday, US Ambassador to Haiti, B. Dean Curran, swore-in 25 new Peace Corps volunteers during a ceremony at the Ambassador’s Residence in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
The ceremony marked the official completion of the volunteers’ three-month training program, where they have been immersed in Créole language training and cross-cultural study. Sixteen of the 25 new volunteers will be serving in small business development, and nine will be working in rural health education.
The 16 business volunteers will spend their next two years of service working with micro-credit institutions and community organizations to strengthen their financial management systems. They will also help women’s groups develop income generating projects, and create market linkages for agricultural cooperatives and artisan groups. The business volunteers will also incorporate information technology training into their work.
The rural health volunteers will work in health education in an effort to raise health standards. These volunteers will stress the importance of sanitation, immunization and maternal health. They will teach communities how to fight chronic malnutrition and provide options for preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Among these new volunteers, various ages and ethnicities are represented, providing a wealth of diversity and experience to the Peace Corps program in Haiti. Jae Hwang is a Korean-American from Long Island, New York, and a 1998 chemistry major from Yale University. For the past four years, Jae has worked as an investment banker in Manhattan.
In a northeast Haitian village, Jae will test his New York City banking skills in a rural agricultural environment. He will be working with local peanut farmers providing training in elementary principles of bookkeeping, election of bank officers, and secure record-keeping. Later, Jae plans to help these farmers establish micro-lending procedures to earn additional interest on their deposits. “Haitians think about money a lot, perhaps because they do not have much of it,” Jae says. He plans to build on this basic financial interest to make the community bank profitable during his tour of service.
Cristina Bailey is a 52-year old volunteer who was born in Argentina and immigrated to the U.S. in the 1970s. She is a 1996 anthropology graduate from the University of Utah. Cristina, a rural health educator in a village in western Haiti, has already begun her assignment as part of her pre-service training practicum. Working in a rural dispensary four days a week, she provides nutritional information to pregnant women and new mothers. In her spare time, Cristina will organize English language classes and clubs in six surrounding schools. Her goal is to build an HIV/AIDS education and training curriculum into the language classes, leveraging her role as a rural health educator.
Since 1961, more than 168,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health, HIV/AIDS education and awd in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health, HIV/AIDS education and awareness, information technology, business development, the environment, and agriculture. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a two-year commitment.
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