Peace Corps Reopens Program in Liberia

October 22, 2008

Peace Corps Response Volunteers Will Serve in Education and Health

Washington, D.C., October 22, 2008 - Peace Corps is pleased to officially announce its return to Liberia. On Monday, October 27th, in a ceremony attended by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Peace Corps Director Ronald A. Tschetter will swear in 12 new Volunteers to work on education and health projects.

The ceremony will be held in Monrovia at the Liberian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and will also be attended by United States Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Peace Corps Liberia Country Director Lucianne Phillips, Liberian Education Minster Joseph Korto, Liberian Health Minister Walter Gweningale, and World Food Program Representative Louis Imbleau.

After an absence of nearly two decades, experienced Volunteers will be serving in the country through a program called Peace Corps Response, a unique Peace Corps program that mobilizes Returned Peace Corps Volunteers for short-term humanitarian service assignments worldwide.

The Volunteers, ranging in age from 24 to 68, bring a variety of professional expertise and experience to their service in Liberia. Some Volunteers will be assigned to rural teacher training institutes where they will mentor administrators charged with revitalizing Liberia's teacher training infrastructure, while others will work with local libraries, parent teacher associations, local high schools, and health training programs.

Peace Corps Director Ron Tschetter said, "Liberia has faced great challenges and shown the world its strong spirit. I want to thank President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for welcoming the Peace Corps back to work with the Liberian people. We're proud to continue the American legacy of providing education Volunteers to Liberia, and to be able to contribute to the country's development efforts."

Over 3,832 Peace Corps Volunteers served in Liberia from 1962 to 1990, until the program was suspended due to the Liberian civil war. With the country enjoying a new period of stability and at the request of President Sirleaf, the Peace Corps has re-established a program in Liberia. President Sirleaf said in her request, "Such short-term projects aimed at raising the capacities and capabilities of Liberian teachers would have a profound impact upon civil society as a whole."

The first group of Volunteers will serve for eight months and will close out their service in June, 2009. By the end of 2009, a total of 22 Volunteers are expected to join the program, bringing the total number of Volunteers up to approximately 34 by the end of 2009. Peace Corps will follow the evolution of the program over the next few years to see if it can be transformed from a Peace Corps Response program into a regular two-year program for Peace Corps Volunteers.

Peace Corps Volunteers who have completed their Peace Corps service are eligible to apply for Peace Corps Response and serve short-term assignments at any time following their regular Peace Corps service. Since 1996, Peace Corps Response Volunteers have served in more than 40 countries, including 74 Volunteers who helped communities rebuild in Sri Lanka and Thailand after the tsunami in 2004, and 272 Volunteers who served along the Gulf coast following Hurricane Katrina.

As the Peace Corps approaches its 50th anniversary, its service legacy continues to promote peace and friendship around the world. Historically, over 195,000 Volunteers have helped promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of the 139 countries in which they have served. Applications to serve in the Peace Corps have increased 16 percent this past year, the largest boost in the last five years. Currently, 7,876 Peace Corps Volunteers are serving in 75 countries, including Liberia. 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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