Peace Corps Celebrates Anniversary

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 4, 2003 – The Peace Corps celebrated its 42nd anniversary on February 28, 2003. The Peace Corps Day celebration included over 100 events across the nation, as well as thousands in classrooms where former and current Peace Corps volunteers spoke to students about their experiences. This year’s celebration of Peace Corps Day proved to be the largest in history with more events and 1,000 more returned Peace Corps volunteers involved than in last year’s celebration.

Forty-four state governors, 21 mayors and nine county boards issued proclamations recognizing Peace Corps Day, many holding proclamation ceremonies. This outpouring of support by national and local leaders is unprecedented in the history of Peace Corps Day.

Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez celebrated the day by attending the Mid-Atlantic Region’s Open House and ribbon cutting for the opening of the new Career Center in Rosslyn. Director Vasquez lauded returned volunteers who participated in Peace Corps Day saying, “Speaking with others about your 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.”

Classrooms across America had the opportunity to speak with Peace Corps volunteers currently serving overseas by participating in international phone calls. Students were allowed to pose questions to volunteers, and learned about the differences in culture, climate and living conditions. At other schools and colleges, returned Peace Corps volunteers gave presentations and answered questions in person about their service in the Peace Corps. A total of 7,000 returned volunteers were involved, and they spoke to over 500,000 students.

Peace Corps Day was established in 1998 to commemorate the anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s executive order that established the Peace Corps in 1961. The order signed on March 1, 1961 is celebrated every year on or near this date. Peace Corps Day also help the Peace Corps accomplish its third goal: to help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

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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