Peace Corps Director Visits Volunteers in Tanzania

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 17, 2005 Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez traveled to Tanzania this week, where he met with volunteers and government officials to discuss Peace Corps progress in the African nation. Director Vasquez also attended the annual conference for Peace Corps country directors in the Africa region.

Meeting with the seven Peace Corps volunteers that comprise the volunteer advisory council for Peace Corps/Tanzania, Director Vasquez discussed their ideas for the future of the Tanzania program. The advisory council members represent their peers and present the interests of the volunteers to the Peace Corps administration. The volunteers on the council work in a variety of Peace Corps assignments, from health and HIV/AIDS education to environmental conservation and education.

Its important to engage the volunteers and staff in a dialogue about the challenges and successes of the program, Director Vasquez said.

Director Vasquez also traveled to Zanzibar, where he had meetings with government officials and visited volunteers serving at the National Teacher Resource Center.

Director Vasquez met with Zanzibar President Amani Abeid Karume who expressed tremendous support for the Peace Corps and complimented the work of the volunteers, stating that the people of Tanzania and the volunteers learn from each other and both benefit through the exchange of ideas and cultures.

In Zanzibar, Peace Corps volunteers Meredith Brooks and Charles Bellah hold workshops for local biology teachers and health counselors throughout the region on ways to incorporate HIV/AIDS and sexual health education in their classrooms and discussions. Both Bellah and Brooks are advocates of health education. Brooks, who plans to pursue a career in international development, served as a peer health counselor during her time at Dartmouth College. Bellah, a graduate of Michigan State University, plans to continue a career in the health field as a nurse practitioner.

Director Vasquez also met with Zanzibar\'s Minister of Education, Culture and Sports Haroun Ali Suleiman, who stated, "The Peace Corps volunteers in Zanzibar are very supportive of our education programs. Kiswahili is the national language of Tanzania, but English is the Kiswahili of the world. Therefore, we are ready to welcome even more Peace Corps volunteers into the English teaching program in Tanzania."

Earlier in his visit, Director Vasquez hosted the annual country directors conference, with the objective of helping staff open a dialogue on ways they can share information and better understand the unique challenges of the Africa region, including success stories in addressing the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

More than 1,800 volunteers have served in Tanzania since the Peace Corps opened its program there in 1962. Volunteers teach in secondary schools, educate local villages on environmental education, and promote HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention through community health programs. All volunteers are encouraged to include HIV/AIDS education into their projects. Currently, more than 180 Peace Corps volunteers serve in Tanzania. To learn more about Tanzania, please visit the Where Do Volunteers Go? section.

Since 1961, more than 178,000 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 27-month commitment.

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