Peace Corps Director Addresses Latin American Economic Forum

Also Greets Peace Corps Recruits and Returned Volunteers

NEW YORK, April 20, 2006 Addressing the theme of the Second Annual Latin American Economic Forum (LAEF), A New Vision for Latin America, Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez highlighted the progress that over 70,000 Peace Corps volunteers have madeand continue to makein Latin America and the Caribbean since the agencys inception 45 years ago.

The mission that John F. Kennedy defined for us in 1961 has not wavered and, in fact, is as relevant today as it was then. President Kennedy challenged the American people to serve our country in the cause of peace by living and working in developing countries. From that inspiration grew an agency of the federal government devoted to world peace and friendship, Director Vasquez said in his keynote address at the LAEF luncheon held today at the United Nations.

Working at the grassroots level to achieve sustainable development, Peace Corps volunteers are striving to reach the Millennium Development Goals set forth by the United Nations in 2000. I am proud to report that 1,700 Peace Corps volunteers in 22 nations of Latin America and the Caribbean are working with thousands of dedicated professionals and community leaders who struggle on a daily basis to improve the quality of life throughout the region, he said.

Today\'s Peace Corps is more vital than ever, entering new countries like Mexico, working in emerging and essential areas such as information technology, business development, and HIV/AIDS prevention and education. Peace Corps continues to make significant contributions to our traditional program areas such as education, environment and health, but we are excited about requests from our partners throughout the region for new and unique types of volunteers, Director Vasquez said.

While in New York, Director Vasquez will also welcome more than 200 future and returned Peace Corps volunteers at the National Peace Corps Associations open house event at New York University, marking the agencys 45th anniversary.

The Peace Corps is celebrating a 45-year legacy of service at home and abroad, and a 30-year high for volunteers in the field. Since 1961, more than 182,000 volunteers have helped promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of the 138 countries where volunteers have served. 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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