Peace Corps Returns to China

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 21, 2004 – Forty-eight Peace Corps volunteers will arrive in China later this week as the Peace Corps resumes partnership with the world’s most populous country.

After completing a two day orientation in Chicago, the volunteers will take off for China, where they will serve in the fields of education and environment.
photo of Xu Cuiying, Consul for Education for The People\'s Republic of China in Chicago, addressing volunteers.
Xu Cuiying, Consul for Education for The People\'s Republic of China in Chicago, addresses volunteers, telling them what to expect from their assignments.

“As China undergoes dramatic economic changes, we are delighted that Peace Corps volunteers can be there to provide technical and educational opportunities to its citizens,” said Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez. “We look forward to continuing the successful projects Peace Corps volunteers have created in China over the past 10 years."

The relatively rapid re-entry into China is a testimony to the strong support the Chinese government has for the work of volunteers, Director Vasquez said. In April 2003, the Peace Corps suspended the China program as a precautionary measure due to the outbreak of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). With SARS contained, an assessment team concluded that the overall environment allows for the immediate return of Peace Corps volunteers. Volunteers serve in the more rural regions of China, and thus, are not in the areas that were most heavily affected by SARS.

To assist in addressing these challenges, Peace Corps volunteers (known as US-China Friendship volunteers in China) are assigned to teach English and environmental education, areas in which the Chinese government has identified a need for increased technical skills. Peace Corps volunteers will serve in the Sichuan, Guizhou, and Gansu provinces and the Chongqing municipality. By this time next year, the Peace Corps plans to have over 80 volunteers working in China.

Prior to the suspension of the program in 2003, 82 Peace Corps volunteers were working in China with a focus on English and environmental education. The program began in 1993, when volunteers were sent to assist with a teacher-training project. Over the past ten years, nearly 300 Americans have served in China.

Since 1961, more than 171,000 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 two-year commitment.

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