Peace Corps Director Visits Bulgaria

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 7, 2003 – Today, Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez met with Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov just one day after arriving in Sofia, Bulgaria, to meet with staff, volunteers, and Bulgarian officials throughout the country.

President Parvanov welcomed Director Vasquez and expressed his appreciation for all the great work Peace Corps volunteers have accomplished in his country, especially programs targeted towards underprivileged children.

Director Vasquez thanked the President for his continued support of the Peace Corps programs in Bulgaria, as well as his sincere appreciation for welcoming all 500 Peace Corps volunteers that have served the communities of Bulgaria.

Post-communist Bulgaria has encountered significant challenges in its transition to a decentralized and market-oriented economic system. Inflation and unemployment are high, and shortages of food and fuel have been common. Environmental degradation is prevalent, as concern for economic recovery and growth have outpaced efforts to protect and restore the environment.

The Peace Corps is helping to address these issues with projects in community economic development, environmental education, and English language instruction, which Bulgarians believe will help them integrate into international business and commercial activities.

Since 1991, nearly 500 Peace Corps volunteers have worked in the areas of Business & Regional Development, English Education, and Environmental Education. The Director visited the Faith, Hope, and Love Center for Street Children, where he had the opportunity to see the benefits of the Peace Corps volunteers’ work at the orphanage, which underscores Peace Corps’ commitment to the betterment of Bulgarian communities.

Since 1961, more than 168,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health and 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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