Peace Corps Celebrates 44 Years of Global Service

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 28, 2005 – The Peace Corps will commemorate its 44th anniversary throughout Peace Corps Week February 28 - March 6, with national and international events that celebrate the mission of promoting better understanding between the U.S. and other nations.

More than half a million students in the United States will welcome returned Peace Corps volunteers into their classrooms throughout the week. Peace Corps Week commemorates the March 1, 1961, signing of the Executive Order by President John F. Kennedy that established the Peace Corps.

"At a 29-year high in the number of Americans serving as volunteers, the Peace Corps is alive and well and has much to celebrate," said Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez. "Peace Corps Week 2005 is a chance for thousands of volunteers to discuss how they helped citizens across the globe. It is also an opportunity for students and others to open their imaginations to the many cultures Peace Corps volunteers have experienced."

Director Vasquez will participate in events in the Washington, D.C. area – including a discussion with elementary school students and a forum with U.S. Agency for International Development employees – before heading to the West Coast. In California, Director Vasquez will hold a roundtable discussion with returned volunteers and address students at Chapman University in Orange, Calif.

This week, thousands of returned Peace Corps volunteers will share the experiences and insights they gained from their overseas service with their local communities across the country. Numerous classrooms across America will speak with Peace Corps volunteers currently serving overseas by participating in international phone calls. Others will give talks at elementary schools in the U.S., universities and community centers. For more information about an event in your area, please click here.

Students, potential applicants and others can also find out what life is like serving as a volunteer around the world by participating in daily online chat sessions through the Peace Corps\' Web site. For more information, please click here.

Other events across the nation include:

  • Forty-three governors, plus numerous mayors and county boards of supervisors issued or will issue proclamations recognizing Peace Corps Week, many holding proclamation ceremonies.

  • In Baltimore, more than 35 returned volunteers will participate in Johns Hopkins School of Nursing Honoring Diversity Week event held in conjunction with Peace Corps Week. The festivities include information booths, an art exhibit, dance performances, and presentations and panel discussions highlighting the overseas experiences of volunteers.

  • On March 5, in Washington, D.C., the National Peace Corps Association will present "Global Challenge: A Day in the Life of a Peace Corps Volunteer" at Peace Corps headquarters. More than 100 Girl Scouts will learn first-hand from more than 20 returned volunteers what it is like to serve overseas.

  • On March 7, in Augusta, Maine, Governor John E. Baldacci will participate in a conference call to Peace Corps Senegal with returned Peace Corps volunteer Joel King and his daughter, who is currently serving.

  • Since 1961, more than 178,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health, HIV/AIDS education and prevention, 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 27-month commitment.

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