Peace Corps Director Meets With Volunteers in Fiji

January 23, 2004

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 23, 2004 – Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez arrived to a warm reception in Fiji this week, where he met with volunteers and presented the Prime Minister with a plaque honoring the partnership between the Peace Corps and the people of Fiji.

photo of Director Vasquez with Volunteer Mary Ackley
During his Fiji visit, Director Vasquez met with almost all of the currently serving volunteers, including Mary Ackley.
Director Vasquez made it a priority to see firsthand the work volunteers have been accomplishing, following Peace Corps’ re-entry in Fiji last year. This first group of volunteers back to Fiji has been working in the areas of environmental education and youth and community development. Director Vasquez’s tour included visiting an environmental project in Vunisinu Village and the Centre for Applied Technology and Development in Nadave, where one volunteer is helping the youth of his community. Over the course of the week, the Director talked to most of the 25 volunteers currently serving in Fiji.

“Our partnership with Fiji is almost as long and storied as the history of the Peace Corps. When we were able to return to this great country, it meant a lot to our organization and all of the former volunteers to Fiji,” said Director Vasquez. “Our newest group of volunteers are participating in some amazing projects, and I can see why the people of Fiji speak so highly of the Peace Corps.”

As part of the visit, Director Vasquez presented Laisenia Qarase, the Prime Minister of Fiji, with a plaque and letter that thanked the people of Fiji for their support and commitment for more than 30 years of Peace Corps service. Later in the week, Director Vasquez also personally met with officials from the Ministry of Health, including Minister Solomoni Naivalu, the Director of CATD Joe Bola and several local chiefs, with whom he discussed the work that Peace Corps volunteers have done and thanked them for their support and cooperation.
photo of Director Vasquez with a local chief
Director Vasquez saw firsthand some of the traditions of Fiji, including those of one tribal warrior.


As the Peace Corps continues to expand the program in Fiji, they will focus on programs in coastal reserve management and coastal education, the youth sector, and community health education. Approximately 25 additional volunteers are set to arrive in June.

The Peace Corps first arrived to Fiji in 1967 and sent 57 volunteers in 1968. From 1968 to 1998, more than 2,000 volunteers served in the areas of education, health care, rural and community development, agriculture, environment, small entrepreneur development, fisheries, youth development, and finance and planning. The program closed briefly, but reopened in 2003 with the swearing in of 25 new volunteers. Fiji comprises a group of 322 volcanic islands in the South Pacific.

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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