Peace Corps Director Attends Annual Country Director Conference in Kyrgyz Republic, Visits with Volunteers

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 29, 2004 - This week, Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez met with President Asker Akaev of the Kyrgyz Republic and attended the Peace Corps\' annual Europe, Mediterranean, and Asia (EMA) Region Country Director Conference held in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic.

Director Vasquez expressed to President Akaev his sincere appreciation for the support he and the Kyrgyz Republic have given to the Peace Corps volunteers. President Akaev is a strong advocate of the Peace Corps and has twice spoken to the incoming volunteers at their swearing-in ceremonies.

In a meeting with Director Vasquez, President Akaev described how he was deeply touched by a Peace Corps volunteer during his visit to a local village that had just been devastated by an earthquake. In the midst of chaos, a Peace Corps volunteer was still holding classes, teaching English and biology to Kyrgyz children in their native language. The President was impressed by the volunteer\'s knowledge of the Kyrgyz language and was moved that the volunteer had taken the time to learn and master Kyrgyz in order to teach the children in their native tongue.

Director Vasquez attended the EMA Region Country Directors\' annual conference to meet with Peace Corps staff to discuss volunteer programs in each country where volunteers are serving, and focus on future goals and priorities of the programs. In addition, Director Vasquez had the opportunity to visit with volunteers who are currently serving in the Kyrgyz Republic, U.S. Ambassador Stephen Young, and other ministry officials.

Currently, 108 volunteers serve in the Kyrgyz Republic. Since the Peace Corps program opened in 1993, over 400 volunteers have served in education and sustainable economic development in the Kyrgyz Republic.

Peace Corps currently has over 2,300 volunteers and trainees in the 21 countries found in the EMA region. Volunteers in the EMA region work on a vast array of projects, from supporting transitions from centrally planned economies to market-driven systems, to improvements in agriculture, to health and education geared projects. Over 30,000 Peace Corps volunteers have served in the EMA region since Peace Corps\' inception. Click here for more information about the EMA region.

Since 1961, more than 170,000 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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