Number of Peace Corps Applicants from California Increases by 11 Percent

“California’s Diversity is Crucial For the Peace Corps of 21st Century,” says Director Vasquez

Washington, DC, July 26, 2002—Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez considers California as a crucial component in an aggressive recruitment policy for the Peace Corps of the 21st century, which seeks to double the number of Volunteers serving worldwide to 14,000 by the end of 2007. Since President Bush’s January call on all Americans to find a way to volunteer their services to the nation, Californians have responded in record numbers with an 11 percentage increase in the number of applications received since the State of the Union Address. Director Vasquez will visit the Bay Area on July 30 to speak with local residents about new directions for Peace Corps and how the agency is responding to the President’s challenge. Presentations will be held at both the Commonwealth Club and the World Affairs Council in downtown San Francisco.

During the past 41 years, more than 10,000 Volunteers have come from the San Francisco Bay Area, and currently there are more than 350 Bay Area residents serving around the world. Of those serving today about 25 percent are people of color. California’s ethnic groups including Hispanics, African-Americans, Asians, Native-Americans and seniors will be important sources of potential Volunteers as the agency seeks to boost the overall number of minorities in its ranks from the current level of 15 percent. The Bush Administration is fully committed to supporting and strengthening the Peace Corps’ 41-year mission of providing trained men and women to developing nations that request this assistance, promoting a better understanding of Americans worldwide and fostering a greater understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez says, “Peace Corps Volunteers, through their quiet and dignified efforts, are some of America’s best goodwill ambassadors. America, California and Los Angeles in the 21st century are more vibrant and more diverse than ever before and we are actively working to promote that same level of diversity within the ranks of our Volunteers.” Currently, 7,000 Volunteers are serving in 70 countries, including the newest nation of the 21st century, East Timor. More and more developing countries are also requesting Peace Corps Volunteers. “From remote classrooms in Africa to mountain villages in Asia, to rainforests in Latin America and small hamlets in Eastern Europe, our Volunteers are working and living side-by-side with peoples from all over the world in order to address the social and economic issues affecting the human condition.”

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, health and information technology. Director Vasquez says, “I believe Peace Corps Volunteers from California can bring an added dimension and richness to the people they are serving because of their multi-cultural background. The presence abroad of Peace Corps Volunteers of color or seniors, underscores the proposition that in America we value the content of people’s character more than the color of their skin or their age.”

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