Largest Appropriation in the History of Peace Corps Approved

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 19, 2003 – Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate passed the Omnibus Appropriations Conference Report which will provide the Peace Corps with $295 million in funding for FY 2003. Pending the President’s signature, this will be the largest appropriation in the history of Peace Corps.

During his 2002 State of the Union address, President Bush called on all Americans to devote 4,000 hours or two years over a lifetime to volunteer service either domestically or abroad. Since that announcement, Peace Corps has seen an increase in applications of approximately 15 percent. Moreover, the demand for Peace Corps volunteers overseas continues to increase.

The Peace Corps provides practical assistance to developing countries by sharing America’s most precious resource, its people. Through the work and contributions of its volunteers over the past 42 years, the Peace Corps has emerged as a model of success for encouraging sustainable development at the grass-roots level. However, the Peace Corps is much more than a development agency. Its larger purpose is to empower people in developing countries to take charge of their own future and strengthen the bonds of friendship and understanding between Americans and the people of other cultures.

The men and women who serve as Peace Corps volunteers reflect the rich diversity of our country and represent some of the finest characteristics of the American people. Volunteers have a strong work ethic, a generosity of spirit, a commitment to service, and an approach to problems that is both optimistic and pragmatic. They speak the local language and adopt the cultures and customs of the people they serve. In the process, volunteers share and represent the culture and values of the American people, earning respect and admiration for our country among people who may never meet another American.

Since 1961, more than 168,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health, HIV/AIDS awareness and education, 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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