Peace Corps Director Visits Volunteers in Burkina Faso

Director Ron Tschetter thanks Burkinabe Prime Minister Tertius Zongo for Friendship and Hospitality

OUAGADOUGOU, BURKINA FASO, Sept. 25, 2007 - Peace Corps Director Ron Tschetter departed Burkina Faso yesterday following a productive visit with Peace Corps Volunteers, staff and government officials, including Prime Minister Tertius Zongo.

There are currently 103 Peace Corps Volunteers serving in Burkina Faso in the areas of community health development, education, small business development and girls\' education and empowerment. The Peace Corps program in Burkina Faso began in 1966 and 1,500 Volunteers have served here.

In his meeting with Prime Minister Zongo, Director Tschetter expressed his appreciation for the friendship and hospitality of the people of Burkina Faso, saying, "The Peace Corps is delighted to be in Burkina Faso and to work in a country with such great opportunities and strong friendships."

Prime Minister Zongo thanked the Peace Corps and said, "Burkina Faso has challenges, but the Peace Corps Volunteers are a great source of inspiration for us. They want to help the people help themselves."

During the busy three day visit to this West African country, Tschetter traveled to visit Volunteers in their village sites including Jennifer Popham, of Alabama. Popham is an Education Volunteer with a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Washington. She is applying her education and experience working with a middle school in central Burkina Faso where she emphasizes the importance of girls\' education. Popham said, "It didn\'t take long before Burkina Faso became my home. I am a teacher but I am also a student. The community is my teacher."

Tschetter also met with the Peace Corps\' Burkina Faso staff, including several staff members who recounted personal stories of their first experiences with Peace Corps Volunteer teachers in their home villages. One staff member, Harouna Congo, displayed his 20-year-old primary school report card and pointed out his Peace Corps teacher\'s signature. Congo said, "He was a wonderful teacher and changed my lifehe taught me English and was the first American I had ever known."

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 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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