Peace Corps & AACC Rollout New Initiative to Place Skilled Americans in Overseas Communities

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 10, 2004 – The Peace Corps and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) have embarked on a groundbreaking initiative that will increase opportunities for licensed nurses, trained Information Technology (IT) experts and other specially trained Americans to share their skills by touching the lives of men, women and children around the globe. Today, the two organizations formally rolled out a new recruitment campaign—the first major concentrated effort specifically targeting community colleges and their graduates to make them aware of the exciting opportunities for qualified, skilled Americans to serve internationally.

Today’s rollout is the first of four events across the country. Director Vasquez will help introduce the initiative in Denver with the Colorado Community College System at events on February 12-13, at Santa Ana College in California on February 23, and on March 3, at Rochester Community and Technical College in Minnesota.

“Community college graduates have the necessary experience and occupational and technical skills to respond to the critical needs of countries where Peace Corps volunteers serve,” said Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez. “We are thrilled that the AACC, as well as community colleges across the nation, have shown great interest in working with the Peace Corps to increase awareness about opportunities for their students and graduates to serve as volunteers.”

“Peace Corps service offers community college graduates the opportunity to learn a new language, live in another culture, develop leadership skills, and put degrees and experience to work in gratifying ways that improve the lives of others,” said George R. Boggs, AACC CEO and president. “This initiative is especially timely since community colleges nationwide are expanding their international programs. The experience that community college graduates will gain through Peace Corps service will enhance their professional opportunities throughout their careers,” said Boggs.

For years, the Peace Corps has received requests for specifically skilled Americans to serve in countries in the areas of IT, health, water sanitation, business development and agriculture. These technical areas are part of the Peace Corps’ scarce skills recruiting programs. Today, this new initiative will allow the Peace Corps and AACC to better fill the requests of countries in which the Peace Corps serves, and make known that community college graduates with their licenses, skills and training are needed and can have an experience of a lifetime.

Today, almost half of the students enrolled in institutions of higher education in the United States are studying in community colleges. Most of the licensing, certification and technical training to prepare Americans for the workplace is done at the community college level. For example, 50 percent of registered nurses are educated at community colleges.

Currently, 7,533 volunteers serve in 71 countries in projects related to agriculture, health, HIV/AIDS education and awareness, information technology, business development, the environment, and education. Since 1961, more than 170,000 volunteers have served in the 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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