Latino Leaders Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month at Peace Corps Career Forum
October 11, 2000WASHINGTON, D.C., October 11, 2000—To commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month, the Peace Corps today hosted a forum on public service and international affairs careers for Latino college students and young professionals. Peace Corps Director Mark Schneider has established the recruitment of more Hispanic Americans as an agency-wide priority.
"It is crucial that our volunteers accurately reflect the vibrant and varied cultures of the United States as they work with people in the 76 countries we serve," said Schneider. "It is equally important that people from every heritage participate in the Third Goal of the Peace Corps, to return home and share their experiences abroad with communities throughout our country."
Assistant Secretary of State, Peter F. Romero, spoke in support of the Peace Corps' efforts to recruit more Latino volunteers. Romero, a former U.S. ambassador to Ecuador and currently the highest ranking Latino in the Department of State, gave a keynote address encouraging Hispanic Americans and others to consider Peace Corps service and careers in public service and international affairs. Hector Rivera, the Peace Corps' director for Policy, Planning & Analysis, Jos Ralls, assistant inspector general for the Department of Labor, and James Rodriguez, a former Peace Corps Volunteer in Ukraine, each shared their professional experiences. Ralls also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras in the late 1970s, and as a Peace Corps country director for Romania and Uruguay in the 1990s. The forum was moderated by Wilfredo Sauri, the Peace Corps' new director of Minority Recruitment. Raul Yzaguirre, president of the National Council of La Raza, also has lent his voice to the Peace Corps' efforts to recruit Latinos recently by recording a public service announcement for the agency.
Currently, more than 200 Hispanic Americans serve as Peace Corps volunteers in over 60 nations in every region of the globe. They hail from the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and 35 states, including Maryland and Virginia. Since 1961, more than 161,000 Americans have joined the Peace Corps and have served in 134 countries worldwide.