Celebrating Diversity: Hispanic Heritage Month at the Peace Corps

September 13, 2002

WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 13, 2002—Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez announced the agency’s activities in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. From September 15th through October 15th, the Peace Corps will celebrate the influence of Hispanic culture on the nation's art, music, and food.

The U.S. Congress initiated Hispanic Heritage Week more than 20 years ago and later in 1989 expanded Hispanic Heritage Week to a month-long celebration. Hispanic Heritage Month offers an opportunity to recognize the innumerable contributions of Hispanic Americans in government, business, the arts, education, entertainment, and more. It is a month to celebrate and reflect on the richness and diversity of Hispanic American Achievement and Hispanic Americans' profound effect on American life today.

The Peace Corps’ Hispanic Heritage Month activities include the following:

September 14 - President Toledo of Peru Visits Peace Corps Headquarters

September 17 - Latin American Street Fair.

September 19 - Poetry "Slam"

September 24 - Movie, "El Norte"

September 26 - Latin American Photo Contest And Coffee Tasting

October 1 - Movie, "Calle 54"

October 3 - Afro-Latino Forum/Brown Bag

October 15 - "Carnival" and Closing Ceremony

Please join us in celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month at the Peace Corps.

The Peace Corps works tirelessly to ensure that the volunteer corps reflects the extraordinary diversity of the American people. Currently, ethnic minorities make up 15 percent of the nearly 7,000 currently serving Peace Corps volunteers. Each year, the Peace Corps sends thousands of trained men and women to live and work in interested countries around the world. The Peace Corps is committed to ensuring that even more people of color can experience the opportunities for professional and personal growth that come with serving as a Volunteer.

“For many people around the globe, Peace Corps volunteers will be the only real contact they will ever have with America. It is very important that our ranks are representative of the multicultural ideals of our nation. We want the world to know that we value and respect people’s characters and that skin color or age will not be barriers to those wishing to make the world a better place,” said Peace Corps Director Vasquez.

Since 1961, more than 165,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as agriculture, small business and community development, education, environmental conservation, healthcare and information technology. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age (there is no upper age limit). Most programs require a college degree and all majors are welcome. Non-degreed applicants must have three to five years of experience in business, farming, ranching or a skilled trade. Peace Corps service is a two-year commitment. Its benefits include language and cultural training, medical and dental coverage, housing, as well as a monthly stipend and 24 vacation days a year. Volunteers may defer repayment of various student loans while serving.

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