Peace Corps Volunteers to Serve in Cambodia for First Time

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 29, 2006 Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez and Cambodian officials announced a historic new partnership today between the Peace Corps and the Kingdom of Cambodia that will bring volunteers to this Southeast Asian country for the first time in the agency\'s history.

"The Peace Corps is seeking new horizons for the 21st century. Cambodia, with its growing economy and nascent democracy, is an ideal partner as the Peace Corps looks to expand into new countries where volunteers have never had the opportunity to serve before," said Director Vasquez.

The Peace Corps will be working with local community leaders to evaluate possible areas where volunteers can apply their skills. Over the next few months, the Peace Corps will establish an office in Cambodia and begin to train staff for the post. When volunteers begin serving early next year, they will be available to teach English and work in health education. As the program is established, the Peace Corps will look to expand into additional sectors and areas of the country.

Volunteers who serve in Cambodia will enter a country that has experienced record growth throughout the decade in their economy and in tourism. Under His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni and Prime Minister Hun Sen, Cambodia has welcomed new partnerships with the U.S. government and other U.S. organizations.

Members of Congress have also been supportive of Peace Corps\' entry into Cambodia.

"Establishment of a Peace Corps program in Cambodia is another example of the American people working with Cambodians toward the rebuilding of their country," said Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"The Peace Corps will take that which is best about America the boundless energy and optimism of our young people and share it with the citizens of Cambodia, to our mutual benefit," said Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The Peace Corps is celebrating a 45-year legacy of service at home and abroad, and a 30-year high for volunteers in the field. Since 1961, more than 182,000 volunteers have helped promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of the 138 countries where volunteers have served. 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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