Peace Corps Director Tschetter Visits Central America

Director Travels to Guatemala and Nicaragua

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 18, 2008 - Peace Corps Director Ronald A. Tschetter finished a week-long visit to Peace Corps programs in Central America today. Director Tschetter started his trip in Guatemala meeting with Peace Corps Volunteers and staff, and continued to Nicaragua where he met with President Ortega and visited Volunteer sites.

Director Tschetter had a meeting with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega in Managua on January 17. During their historic meeting Tschetter said, As I traveled around the country, I\'m not only impressed by the work our Volunteers are doing, but also by the strong relationships they are building with your citizens. I thank you and the people of Nicaragua and look forward to continuing our relationship in the future. Tschetter met other Nicaraguan government officials including Foreign Affairs Minister Samuel Santos Lopez, Health Minister Guillermo Gonzalez, and Education Minister Miguel De Castilla Urbina.

Nearly 1,800 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in the Central American nation of Nicaragua since the program opened in 1968. The program closed in 1979 but reopened in 1991 with a special focus on agriculture, business development, education, environmental protection, and health and HIV/AIDS initiatives. Tschetter visited Agriculture/ Food Security Volunteers David Grist, of Atlanta, Ga., and James Hollins, of Waxhaw, N.C. and Small Business Development Volunteer Melanie Bittle of Carrollton, Texas.

Guatemala currently has 201 Volunteers and Trainees. During his visit, Director Tschetter toured indigenous communities and met with Healthy Schools Volunteers Betty Baez Melo, of Brooklyn, N.Y. and Nathan Castillo, of San Antonio, Texas, and Technology Volunteer Michael Breslin, of Long Island, N.Y.. Tschetter also visited Volunteer Rebecca Kuemel of Wauwatosa, Wisc. who is working in Environmental Education in rural Guatemala.

The Peace Corps has had a continuous presence in Guatemala since 1963. Volunteers there work in the areas of agriculture, environmental development, health and HIV/AIDS, small businesses and youth development. Since the program began, almost 4,500 Volunteers have served in Guatemala. Volunteer projects have ranged from the creation of the Healthy School Project, which focuses on improving the health status of rural Guatemalan students to Environmental Conservation projects where Volunteers work with communities to promote sustainable ecotourism to generate income.

The Peace Corps is celebrating a 46-year legacy of service at home and abroad. Currently there are more than 8,000 Volunteers serving, a 37-year high for Volunteers in the field. Since 1961, more than 190,000 Volunteers have helped promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of the 139 countries where Volunteers have served. Peace Corps Volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment.

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