Peace Corps Director Tschetter Celebrates 40th Anniversary of Peace Corps Paraguay

ASUNCION, PARAGUAY, August 20, 2007 - Peace Corps Director Ronald A. Tschetter today joined over 300 people at the Paraguayan-American Cultural Center to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Peace Corps program in Paraguay. The event included attendees from the government of Paraguay, such as Foreign Minister Ruben Ramirez Lezcano, Peace Corps Paraguay staff, and current and former Peace Corps Paraguay Volunteers and Paraguayan counterparts.

The Peace Corps has been working since 1967 in Paraguay, one of the oldest continuously operating Peace Corps posts in the world. Since the program\'s inception, 3,000 Peace Corps Volunteers have served here. The first Volunteers worked in agriculture extension in rural areas, and new programs were soon established to work in the health and education sectors. Today, Paraguay is Peace Corps third largest program with more than 150 Volunteers working in the six major sectors of agriculture, education, environment, health, small business development, and urban youth development.

At the anniversary celebration, U.S. Ambassador James Cason remarked that since 1967, "American citizens have lived in communities throughout Paraguay working side by side with Paraguayans providing an interchange of ideas and techniques to improve the standard of living throughout the country. One cannot travel around Paraguay without seeing the positive and lasting impact of a Peace Corps Volunteer."

In his remarks, Director Tschetter, a former Peace Corps Volunteer in India (1966-1968), reflected on President John F. Kennedys speech that led to the founding of the Peace Corps. Tschetter said, "As we commemorate President Kennedys dream and vision that became a reality 40 years ago here in Paraguay, we look to the future with renewed vigor, enthusiasm and commitment. We thank the government and the people of Paraguay for 40 years of working together and we look forward to continuing the legacy of peace, understanding and freedom."

In addition to speeches by dignitaries, the anniversary celebration included Volunteer art displays, skits depicting Volunteer life in Paraguay, a Volunteer job sector fair, and an exhibit of the Paraguayan stamp commemorating the Peace Corps program\'s 40th anniversary, designed by Volunteer Walid Shoaid of Columbia, Mo.

The anniversary events mark the conclusion of Tschetters four day visit to Paraguay that included visits with many Volunteers serving here, including Alyson Platzer, of York, Pa. Platzer is serving in the youth development sector in a city in south central Paraguay, providing leadership skills and training to youth who lead volunteer organizations. Platzers counterpart, Gloria Acosta de Zarata, a youth center coordinator, said, "Alyson has been vital to our success - she has provided training that has been an incredible help in moving our program forward."

Tschetter also met with Nicholas Bayard of Wilmington, Del., an environmental education Volunteer who is training teachers and administrators as well as developing nutritious school gardens, modern latrines and a community health center.

After three days of visits to Volunteers, Tschetter remarked, "Peace Corps Volunteers in Paraguay are making a sustainable difference in the lives of the people they serve here while gaining life-long friendships. Ive experienced the warmth and hospitality of the Paraguayan people and hope our program here continues for many years to come."

The Peace Corps is celebrating a 46-year legacy of service at home and abroad. Since 1961, more than 187,000 Volunteers have helped promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of the 139 countries whehave helped promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of the 139 countries where Volunteers have served. Peace Corps Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment.

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