Peace Corps Director Speaks at New Orleans World Trade Center

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 12, 2002—Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez concluded a four-day trip to New Orleans with a speaking engagement at the World Trade Center. Addressing members of the local community, Director Vasquez discussed the goals of the Peace Corps in the 21st century.

The Louisiana Department of Economic Development, the World Trade Center of New Orleans and the Louisiana Peace Corps Association sponsored the World Trade Center event. Dating back to its origins more than 50 years ago, the World Trade Center of New Orleans was the first of what are today more than 300 World Trade Center organizations in nearly 100 countries.

Director Vasquez’s words focused on Peace Corps’ goal to double the number of volunteers in the next five years and on diversifying the ranks of volunteers to better represent the face of America. Illustrating the misconception of how Americans are viewed in other parts of the world, Director Vasquez gave an example of a young man he met in Morocco who was surprised to learn that Director Vasquez was an American.

“New Orleans is Peace Corps country," declared Vasquez as he asked for a show of hands of how many members of the audience had served as Peace Corps volunteers. Nearly a third of the room responded and at least nine people indicated they had recently been invited to serve as Peace Corps volunteers.

Since 1961, more than 165,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health and HIV/AIDS, 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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