Peace Corps Director Visits Peru, Participates in Swearing-in Ceremony
June 10, 2004WASHINGTON, D.C., June 10, 2004 Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez arrived to a warm reception in Peru this past week, where he met with President Alejandro Toledo and participated in the swearing-in ceremony of the first group of volunteers to serve in the new Youth Development program.
| Volunteer Amanda Alexander shows Director Vasquez the pottery her community has been creating as part of a small business development project.|
The 13 new volunteers will work with youth in Peru, where 60 percent of the population is under the age of 24, and only 34 percent of Peruvians complete high school, said Director Vasquez. One of the goals is to help them become productive workers, and perhaps achieve things their parents and grandparents never had the opportunity to try.
During the swearing-in ceremony at the Presidential Palace, President Toledo thanked the Peace Corps for returning to Peru. In expressing his deep appreciation for the volunteers, President Toledo said, I cant be objective about the Peace Corps because the Peace Corps changed my life when I was just a young man.
President Toledo, a strong advocate of the Peace Corps, first encountered volunteers as a youth. They lived with his family, taught him English and later helped him gain admission to a college in the United States. President Toledo later earned his graduate degree at Stanford University. After being elected president in 2001, he invited the Peace Corps to return to Peru after a 27-year absence.
Director Vasquez also spent time visiting volunteers and touring the communities in which they serve. He talked with volunteers involved in the CARE regional programming and community impact areas dealing with small business, health and youth.
Since 1961, more than 171,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health, HIV/AIDS education and prevention, 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.