Peace Corps Celebrates 43 Years

Returned Volunteers Promote Community Service

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 1, 2004—This week, in celebration of the 43rd anniversary of the Peace Corps, thousands of former Peace Corps volunteers will share the experiences and insights they gained from their overseas service with their local communities across the country. More than half a million students in the United States will welcome returned Peace Corps volunteers into their classrooms. This annual event commemorates the March 1, 1961, signing of the Executive Order by President John F. Kennedy that established the Peace Corps.

“One of the goals of the Peace Corps is to educate Americans back home about the people with whom volunteers live and work. Although former volunteers’ efforts are highlighted during Peace Corps Week, their commitment to community service extends throughout the year,” stated Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez.

Various Peace Corps Week celebrations will be held in the Washington, D.C., and metro area:

· March 2, in Staunton, Va., the Staunton Public Library, located at 1 Churchville Avenue, will host “Peace Corps Couples,” a panel discussion with three returned volunteer couples who will talk about their Peace Corps experiences and personal relationships as couples. The library will also host “Serving Solo,” a panel discussion of returned volunteers will relate their experiences as singles in a foreign country.

· March 4, at the Peace Corps headquarters, located on 20th and L Streets, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Washington, D.C., and the Peace Corps Regional Office will sponsor “Around the World in 90 Minutes.” The fair will feature volunteers from different regions of the world sharing their Peace Corps experiences, photos, souvenirs, and artifacts.

· March 4, at the Marie Reed Community Learning Center, located at 2200 Champlain Street, NW, Washington, D.C., returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) will report on their Peace Corps years to students during an all-school assembly.

· February 28, at the Columbia Heights Youth Center in Washington, D.C., RPCVs held a “Passport to the Caribbean” bazaar for families and youth. The event featured tables representing embassies and UN agencies working in the Caribbean region, educational and exciting activities, food, and entertainment.

In addition, a number of events across the country are planned.

· March 1, in Annapolis, Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich Jr. will present a Peace Corps Week Proclamation to Peace Corps Director Vasquez and returned volunteers residing in Maryland.

· March 3, in Rochester, Minn., at the Rochester Community Technical College, Deputy Director Jody Olsen will celebrate the Agency’s anniversary. The college will mark Peace Corps Week by hosting the rollout of the Peace Corps Community College initiative with Peace Corps Deputy Director Olsen and Chancellor of Colleges and Universities Dr. James McCormick.

· March 3 and March 6–7, City University of New York Television (CUNY-TV), Cable 75, will feature Director Vasquez in honor of the Agency’s anniversary. To view this interview in RealVideo format, click here to visit the CUNY-TV website.

Since 1961, more than 170,000 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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