American Indian Peace Corps Volunteers are Making a Positive Impact Around the World

November 1, 2007

Peace Corps Celebrates Diversity during American Indian Heritage Month

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 1, 2007 - Peace Corps Director Ronald A. Tschetter is pleased to announce the agency's celebration of American Indian Heritage Month. For the entire month of November the Peace Corps will celebrate the culture and traditions of the more than four million U.S. residents who trace their roots to the American Indian.

Director Tschetter said, "Peace Corps Volunteers represent the face of America and we are proud to have American Indians among those Volunteers. American Indians serving as Volunteers have a unique opportunity to share their rich culture and traditions with other people around the world."

Twenty-seven self-identified American Indians are currently serving in the Peace Corps. They hail from 16 states and Puerto Rico, 17 percent are from California and 14 percent from Oklahoma. Nearly a third of all American Indian Volunteers are serving as educators, and another 24 percent work as environmental extensionists. Other American Indian Volunteers focus on health, business, and agricultural and urban development projects.

A notable Returned Peace Corps Volunteer shared her experiences in service, which exemplified the benefits and advantages of being an American Indian in the Peace Corps. Before joining the Peace Corps in Romania, Lorna Babby, an Oglala Sioux Tribe member, practiced American Indian affairs law to aid causes in her home community. Babby encourages other minorities to volunteer with the Peace Corps for the opportunity to gain relevant work experience and skills, and the chance to go through a life-changing experience.

"I think it is extremely important for the Peace Corps to reflect our multicultural society," said Babby. "The experience, knowledge, confidence, and perspective I have gained as a Peace Corps Volunteer has made me a more effective Indian advocate."

The Peace Corps actively recruits people with a variety of backgrounds and experiences to ensure that the Volunteers reflect the extraordinary diversity of the American people. Ethnic minorities make up 17 percent of the 8,079 Americans serving in the Peace Corps.

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 190,000 Volunteers have helped promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of the 139 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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