Peace Corps Director Visits Macedonia

SKOPJE, MACEDONIA, February 26, 2008 - Peace Corps Director Ron Tschetter wrapped up a tour in Macedonia yesterday where he visited Peace Corps Volunteers and government officials, including the U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia, Gillian Milovanovic.

Director Tschetter visited dozens of Peace Corps Volunteers around Macedonia, and witnessed the bonds they are forming with the people of Macedonia and the success they are having with their projects. Tschetter met Jessica Mangskau, of Decorah, Iowa, who works in a youth center in an urban Roma neighborhood. According to the center, most Roma youth do not finish the fifth grade. Fatma Bajram, the president of the center and Jessicas counterpart said, When Jessica needs help, we help her. When we Roma need help, she helps us. We are like a family here.

Director Tschetter met with Minister of Education and Science, Sulejman Rushiti, who thanked the Director , saying the Peace Corps is making a difference in Macedonia. Director Tschetter thanked Minister Rushiti for the partnership between the Peace Corps and Macedonia, saying, On behalf of the Volunteers, I want to thank the people of Macedonia for their warm hospitality. Over 200 Volunteers have served in Macedonia and built strong friendships and partnerships.

Peace Corps Volunteer Dao Tran, of New York, also was visited by Director Tschetter. Dao works with an non-governmental association called Open the Windows, developing programs that raise awareness about the accessibility of technology and ICT for persons with disabilities. The Director was given a tour by Lidija Dojcinovska, the president of Open the Windows, and observed students working with computers adapted for special needs children. Dojcinovska explained, You dont adapt the user to the computer. You adapt the computer to the user.

There are 88 Peace Corps Volunteers currently serving in Macedonia in the areas of English Language Education and Community Development. The Peace Corps began operating in Macedonia in 1996, and over 200 Volunteers have served in all regions of the country.

The Peace Corps is celebrating a 47-year legacy of service at home and abroad, and 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, including Kenya. 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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