Peace Corps Director Delivers Keynote at University of Wisconsin Peace Corps & Africa Conference

March 28, 2011

UW-Madison is one of the Top Producers of Peace Corps Volunteers


Washington, D.C. March 28, 2011 Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams delivered the closing keynote speech on Peace Corps legacy of service in Africa at the University of Wisconsin (UW)-Madisons African Studies Program conference. The University of Wisconsin, which ranks as a top Peace Corps volunteer producing university, currently has 91 undergraduate and 13 graduate alumni serving as Peace Corps volunteers.

Magnifying glass iconPeace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams with Alhaji Umar Njai and Linda Vakunta at a UW-Madison event honoring Peace Corps legacy in Africa.The event titled, Talking Peace Corps: Celebrating 50 Years of the Peace Corps and the Wisconsin Idea Abroad, took place at the State Street's historic Orpheum Theater and was open to the public. UW-Madison alumni and returned Peace Corps volunteers from Wisconsin honored Peace Corps volunteers contributions in Africa through personal stories, film, poetry, and music.

Fifty years after the first Peace Corps volunteers left for Ghana and Tanzania in 1961, Africa remains at the heart of Peace Corps' work, said Director Williams, who received an MBA from UW-Madison in 1973. Today, more than one in three Peace Corps volunteers serve in Africa, helping people build better lives for themselves and their communities. Peace Corps volunteers teach in schools, help combat the spread of malaria, and lead camps to empower young girls to be leaders.

The Peace Corps has programs in 28 African host nations, and today nearly 3,200 volunteers work in partnership with host government ministries, nongovernmental organizations, and local communities. Peace Corps volunteers in Africa work in a range of sectors, including: agriculture, education, girls' education and empowerment, health, natural resource management, and small enterprise development. Peace Corps volunteers who serve in African countries impacted by HIV/AIDS, also work in HIV/AIDS health and education efforts.

Only six months after the federal agency was established by President John F. Kennedys executive order on March 1, 1961, the first Peace Corps volunteers left for Ghana and Tanzania. Since then, more than 200,000 Americans have served as Peace Corps volunteers and promoted peace and friendship around the world by: helping the people of interested countries meet their need for trained men and women; helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the people served; and helping promote a better understanding of others peoples, on the part of Americans.

UW-Madison is the # 2 all-time producer of Peace Corps volunteers. Over the past 50 years, UW-Madison has produced more than 2,900 volunteers, and more than 5,525 Wisconsinites have served with the Peace Corps. Today, more than 220 Wisconsinites are serving as Peace Corps volunteers, with approximately 60 from the Madison area alone.

Peace Corps 50th Anniversary events will take place across the country throughout 2011. To learn about upcoming commemoration events, visit www.peacecorps.gov/50.

About the Peace Corps: President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps on March 1, 1961, by executive order. Throughout 2011, Peace Corps is commemorating 50 years of promoting peace and friendship around the world. Historically, more than 200,000 Americans have served with the Peace Corps to promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of 139 host countries. Today, 8,655 volunteers are working with local communities in 77 host countries. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment. Visit www.peacecorps.gov for more information.

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