Peace Corps Completes Service in Russia

February 19, 2003

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 19, 2003—Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez was in Russia last week for the official closing of the Peace Corps program and to honor volunteers and staff for their service.

The closing of the program was marked by a reception hosted by U.S. Ambassador Alexander Vershbow. During the reception Director Vasquez stated, “The 700 volunteers who served in Russia over the past ten years have served honorably and helped their host country achieve measurable progress. Each volunteer realized many great accomplishments and contributed to the betterment of the country and its people and can be proud of their contribution to the promotion of peace and friendship in Russia. The Peace Corps is grateful to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education for their support of our programs over the past decade.”

The reception was attended by the Peace Corps volunteers currently serving in Russia, returned volunteers who had served in previous years, Peace Corps staff, U.S. Embassy staff and representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education. During his remarks Ambassador Vershbow told the volunteers, “I want to impress upon you that you have served with dignity, that your work has made a difference in Russia and that you should depart with a sense of pride in what you have accomplished.”

The Russian government made the decision in December to withdraw from the 1992 agreement between Russia and the U.S. establishing Peace Corps programs. The government believes that many changes have occurred in Russia since 1992 and that the country is at a point in its development that the need for Peace Corps assistance is no longer necessary. They expressed gratitude for the assistance Peace Corps volunteers provided and said their work in Russia's regions throughout the decade has been positive and useful.

Since the program began in 1992, more than 700 Peace Corps volunteers have worked in more than 50 communities throughout Russia teaching more than 26,000 students. The Peace Corps has contributed to Russia through business education and development as well as English language education.

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