Peace Corps and National Geographic Society Announce Partnership

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 27, 2003—Today, the Peace Corps and the National Geographic Society Education Foundation announced a partnership that has created Peace Corps’ newest curriculum resource, a booklet entitled Building Bridges: A Peace Corps Classroom Guide to Cross-Cultural Understanding. The announcement was made at a reception on Capitol Hill.

Building Bridges takes the Peace Corps’ expertise in preparing volunteers to live and work effectively in other cultures and applies it to the cultural challenges posed by the increased diversity of America’s classrooms. Peace Corps developed lesson plans for students in grades 6 through 12 based on real-life experiences of Peace Corps volunteers throughout the world to teach cultural awareness from Armenia to Zambia, Belize to Uganda. The goal is to help students better understand their own culture as well as understanding and respecting the cultures of others.

The booklet has been distributed to more than 40,000 educators through the National Geographic Society’s state-based geography alliances. Additionally, the DC public school system has distributed the Building Bridges guides, at no cost, to elementary, junior/middle, and senior high school teachers across the city.

"It is a great honor for us at the Peace Corps to partner with such an esteemed organization as the National Geographic Society. Our partnership will ensure that millions of students will benefit from the lessons of cultural understanding and tolerance that Peace Corps has developed throughout its 41-year history,” said Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez.

“Building Bridges is the kind of program that extends the Society’s mission—- to understand the complex diversity of the world and its people,” added Terry Garcia, Executive Vice President of Mission Programs at the National Geographic Society. “Building Bridges gives students the opportunity to understand important global issues in the context of their daily lives.”

Building Bridges is available in print as a 48-page soft-cover volume and on the Web at

Founded in 1888, the National Geographic Society is one of the largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations in the world. It reaches more than 260 million people worldwide each month through its five magazines, the National Geographic Channel, television documentaries, books, videos and DVDs, maps and interactive media. National Geographic has funded more than 7,000 scientific research projects and supports an education program combating geographic illiteracy.

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