Peace Corps Volunteers Will Return to China

March 4, 2004

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 4, 2004 - In July, approximately 50 Peace Corps volunteers will arrive in the People’s Republic of China, marking the Peace Corps’ return to the country. Peace Corps’ program in China was temporarily suspended on April 5, 2003, due to concerns surrounding the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

"This is a momentous day for the Peace Corps as we are pleased to be returning volunteers to China in the next few months," stated Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez. We look forward to renewing the friendships and continuing the successful partnerships Peace Corps volunteers have developed in China over the past 10 years."

In today’s announcement that the Peace Corps will reopen the China program, the Director stated that the reentry is a direct result of the partnership between the Peace Corps and China that allowed for a thorough assessment of the situation in the areas where volunteers will be serving and traveling. The assessment team concluded that the overall environment allows for the immediate return of Peace Corps volunteers.

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 170,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health and HIV/AIDS education, 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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