Peace Corps Director Outlines Diversity Strategy for 21st Century

Minorities Seen As Important Source of New Peace Corps Volunteers

Washington, DC, July 8, 2002—Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez and other senior agency officials will seek the help of minority organizations nationwide as part of an aggressive recruitment policy for the Peace Corps of the 21st century, which seeks to double the number of Volunteers serving worldwide to 14,000 by the end of 2007. All ethnic groups including Hispanics, African-Americans, Asians, Native-Americans and seniors are seen as important sources of potential Volunteers as the agency seeks to boost the overall number of minorities in its ranks from the current level of 15 percent. In addition to the ongoing recruitment efforts, Peace Corps officials will attend more than a dozen conferences this summer focusing on minority outreach. The Bush Administration is fully committed to supporting and strengthening the Peace Corps’ independence and its 41-year mission of providing trained men and women to developing nations, promoting a better understanding of Americans worldwide and fostering a greater understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez says “Peace Corps Volunteers, through their quiet and dignified efforts, are some of America’s best goodwill ambassadors. America in the 21st century is more vibrant and more diverse than ever before and we are actively working to promote that same level of diversity within the ranks of our Volunteers.” Currently, 7,000 Volunteers are serving in 70 countries, including the newest nation of the 21st century, East Timor. More and more developing countries are also requesting Peace Corps Volunteers. “From remote classrooms in Africa to mountain villages in Asia, to rainforests in Latin America and small hamlets in Eastern Europe, our Volunteers are working and living side-by-side with peoples from all over the world in order to address the social and economic issues affecting the human condition.”

Since 1961, more than 165,000 Volunteers have served in the Peace Corps working in such diverse fields as agriculture, small business and community development, education, environmental conservation, health and information technology. Peace Corps Minority Recruitment Director Wilfredo Sauri says, “I believe minority Peace Corps Volunteers can bring an added dimension and richness to the people they are serving because of their multi-cultural background. The presence of Peace Corps Volunteers of color or seniors, underscores the proposition that in America we value the content of people’s character more than the color of their skin or their age.”

Peace Corps Volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age (there is no upper age limit). Most programs require a college degree and all majors are welcome. Non-degreed applicants must have three to five years of experience in business, farming, ranching or a skilled trade. Peace Corps service is a two-year commitment. Its benefits include language and cultural training, medical and dental coverage, housing, as well as a monthly stipend and 24 vacation days a year. Volunteers may defer repayment of various student loans while serving.

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