Historic First Group of Peace Corps Volunteers Depart for Mexico

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 1, 2004 – The first group of Americans will depart the U.S. on Saturday to begin their two-year service in the Peace Corps’ newest host country and the U.S.’ closest neighbor: Mexico.

To mark the occasion, Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez visited the newest group of future volunteers on Friday morning in Dallas, Texas, and thanked them for their commitment to service. The Peace Corps’ newest volunteers hail from all over the nation: Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, and Washington, D.C.
photo of the first group of Peace Corps trainees to Mexico
The first group of Peace Corps trainees to Mexico.

“A tremendous opportunity to forge new relationships with our closest neighbor has arrived. Today, we begin a new level of partnership with the government and the people of Mexico,” said Director Vasquez. “Mexico has unlimited potential in the field of information technology, and our volunteers are excited to begin sharing their skills. Just as important, they are ready to learn and to bring back to the U.S. the personal stories and unique customs of the people of Mexico.”
photo of Director Vasquez speaking to trainees
Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez speaks to trainees before they leave for Mexico.

After two years of negotiations on ways to better exchange technology between the U.S. and Mexico, a partnership agreement was signed last November by the National Council on Science and Technology (CONACYT) of Mexico and the Peace Corps, allowing Americans to share their skills in information technology, small business development, science, and water and environmental technology with Mexican citizens. In addition, it will allow Mexican citizens to share their business skills, ideas, and culture with the volunteers.

Business Services
Volunteers will offer small and medium-sized businesses training and consultation in business practices. These volunteers are seasoned professionals with the expertise and experience to provide consulting in management and strategic planning, management information systems, and knowledge management.

Technical Research and Development
Volunteers will work with research and development staffs in basic and applied research related to technological challenges facing Mexico\'s manufacturing and agro-industrial sectors. These activities will promote the technological development of small and medium-sized Mexican companies seeking to improve production processes and product quality, and to create jobs at the local level.

Volunteers will utilize their advanced technical expertise in basic and applied research efforts related to water management and treatment technology. They will work with CONACYT to propose and design more efficient and environmentally responsible systems and assist in the reparation and rehabilitation of existing systems. They will also help provide environmental and water technology services to Mexican organizations, local municipalities, and small and medium sized businesses. Primary duties will include analyzing existing water technology in the field and conducting outreach training in water and sanitation technology and services.

Once in country, the Peace Corps volunteers in Mexicter and sanitation technology and services.

Once in country, the Peace Corps volunteers in Mexico Group One will train for 12 weeks in Queretaro. They will receive instruction on culture, local customs, and technical skills needed for their two-year assignments. After completion of their training, they will be sworn in as volunteers and assigned to various central Mexican communities.

“I have always had an interest in the Peace Corps and their many projects,” said Adam Beers, a 30-year-old polymer engineer with eight years of research and development experience from South Park, Pa., who is part of the inaugural group. “I noticed the new Peace Corps Mexico project and pursued this great opportunity.”

The Peace Corps first began exploring the possibility of entering Mexico after U.S. President George W. Bush and Mexican President Vicente Fox announced the "Partnership for Prosperity" initiative during their summit in September 2001.

“The opening of the first-ever Peace Corps program in Mexico is truly a landmark event. It marks the first time that American citizens working with the Peace Corps have been invited to work side by side with Mexican citizens over a two-year period on projects of mutual benefit,” said Byron Battle, Peace Corps’ Mexico Country Director who will oversee the program.

Since 1961, more than 171,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health, HIV/AIDS education and prevention, 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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