Peace Corps Director Visits Volunteers in the Philippines

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 16, 2003 – Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez spent the week in the Philippines meeting with volunteers and visiting volunteer project sites to see first-hand the work they are doing.

Director Vasquez visited a business and youth development volunteer who is helping youth learn entrepreneurial skills and an environmental volunteer who is working in her community on conservation issues. In addition, the Director hosted over 60 volunteers at a breakfast. Later in the week, the Director also met with U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Joseph Mussomeli and the Embassy’s regional security officer.

During his visit, Director Vasquez reemphasized his commitment to the safety of the volunteers in the Philippines and all Peace Corps countries. He also stated that the Peace Corps will continue to explore reaching out to more and more communities in the Philippines.

“Our emphasis in the Philippines has always been, and will continue to be, on ensuring our volunteers can complete the wonderful work they are carrying out in the safest environment possible,” said Director Vasquez. “We are delighted to be partnering with the people of the Philippines, and we will continue to expand our program to make a difference in the lives of the local people.”

The Director’s visit follows an announcement a few months ago that Peace Corps will expand its partnership with the Philippines as a result of a new agreement with the Department of Education and with the Department of Social Welfare and Development. As part of that agreement, the Peace Corps will be adding new opportunities in math, science and special education teaching, as well as new community service projects.

Currently, 134 volunteers serve in 27 provinces and nine regions in the Philippines in the areas of business development, education and environment. In 1961, the 171 Peace Corps volunteers who arrived in the Philippines were among the first Peace Corps volunteers to serve anywhere in the world. Since then, more than 7,900 volunteers have worked in the country, located in the Pacific Ocean in Southeast Asia. The volunteers have worked primarily with Filipino teachers and officials to increase their fluency in the English language and to improve their teaching skills. Volunteers have also worked on environmental projects aimed at improving the quality of the water and sanitation.

Since 1961, more than 170,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health, 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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