Peace Corps 42nd Anniversary

February 28, 2003

Returned Peace Corps Volunteers Build Bridges Across Cultures

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 28, 2003—Today, Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez announced the 42nd anniversary of the agency. In celebration of this event, more than 7,000 former Peace Corps volunteers will share the experiences and insights they gained from their overseas service with communities across the country, up from 6,000 participants last year.

One of the goals of the Peace Corps’ mission is to educate Americans back home about the people with whom they lived and worked. These efforts are highlighted on Peace Corps Day and extend throughout the year. The agency’s Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools (CWWS) program offers a variety of educational opportunities to promote cross-cultural understanding and public service.

“Our mission to promote world peace and friendship is as vital today as it was in 1961 when the Peace Corps was created. By living and working among different cultures around the world, Peace Corps staff, Peace Corps Volunteers, and returned Volunteers possess a unique perspective on cross-cultural understanding. Speaking with others about their experiences not only enriches the lives of students, neighbors, and colleagues, but also helps to build bridges across cultures - bridges to friendship, cross-cultural understanding, tolerance, and, ultimately, peace,” said Director Vasquez.

More than half a million students in the United States will welcome returned Peace Corps volunteers (RPCVs) into their classrooms nationwide and learn about cultures from Armenia to Zambia and Belize to Uganda. This annual event commemorates the March 1, 1961, signing of the Executive Order that established the Peace Corps.

Various Peace Corps Day celebrations will be held in the Washington, D.C., metro area. At Peace Corps headquarters, agency staff will link to currently serving volunteers via phone to communicate with their Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools classes here in the U.S. Calls will be made to the following countries: Vanuatu, the Philippines, Zambia, Cameroon, Kenya, Malawi, Turkmenistan, Burkino Faso, China, Samoa, and Panama.

Additionally in the evening, there will be an open house to commemorate the opening of the new RPCV Career Center and the relocation of the Washington, D.C., area recruiting office. RPCVs in the Washington, D.C., metro area can now access career services at Peace Corps' Regional Recruiting Office in Rosslyn.

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