Peace Corps, Miami Dade College, and the National Peace Corps Association Join Forces to Honor Volunteers

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 4, 2004—The largest postsecondary institution in the nation, Miami Dade College, and Peace Corps’ Atlanta Regional Office hosted a “Send-Off” reception Thursday evening in Miami to honor 54 Peace Corps trainees departing for youth development assignments in the Eastern Caribbean.
photo of Director Vasquez
Director Vasquez speaks to Peace Corps trainees heading to the Eastern Caribbean.

More than 20 former Peace Corps volunteers from the Miami area were in attendance to welcome these trainees to the corps, as well as show their support for the Peace Corps’ upcoming Community College Initiative.

“In 2004, Peace Corps is excited to enter into a new era of collaboration with the nation’s community colleges. Miami Dade College’s longstanding relationship with the Peace Corps is testament that the skill level and contributions of community college graduates to the Peace Corps family are immeasurable,” stated Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez.

In addition to the Director’s remarks at the reception, President of the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) Kevin Quigley and Miami Dade Dean of Academic Affairs Dr. Leslie Roberts addressed the departing trainees and former volunteers.

Dr. Roberts commented that, “Miami Dade College is proud to send off these dedicated and giving individuals. We hope their example of volunteerism will inspire our graduates to use their skills and education to help others in foreign countries, fulfilling the promise of the Peace Corps.”

The “Send-Off” reception, which was co-sponsored by the NPCA, coincided with the National Peace Corps Association Career Fair and featured recruiters from national and international organizations that focus on development and relief work, as well as government agencies and for-profit companies with varying interests. The event ended with a “Passing of the Torch” ceremony from former volunteers with the Miami Returned Peace Corps Volunteer group to these volunteers en route to the Eastern Caribbean.

The Peace Corps’ Eastern Caribbean program encompasses the countries of Antigua, Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Carriaccou, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Peace Corps volunteers are working on programs that aim to provide job skills training and health services to youth and increase awareness of HIV/AIDS. Over 3,200 volunteers have served in the Eastern Caribbean, and there are currently 153 Peace Corps volunteers in the region.

On February 10th, the Peace Corps will kick off the agency’s recruiting campaign specifically targeting community college graduates. The Peace Corps has enjoyed the support and interest of community college graduates throughout the years and is looking to further tap into this critical education resource, as over one half of the United States\' higher education is earned at the community college level.

Joel Fleischer, a former Peace Corps volunteer who served in Micronesia and a Miami Dade College (MDC) graduate, returned from his Peace Corps service in 1973 and became a professor at MDC. Fleischer comments, “So much of what I learned in the Peace Corps is directly applicable to what I do today. People come away from the Peace Corps changed individuals. My experience was wonderful.”

Miami Dade College is nationally recognized as one of the most respected and the largest institutions of higher education in the country, with an enrollment of more than 168,000 students. The college’s six campuses and numerous outreach centers offer more than 150 degrees. Miami Dade College enrolls thix campuses and numerous outreach centers offer more than 150 degrees. Miami Dade College enrolls the most Hispanic students and the second highest number of African American students of any college or university in the United States.

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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