Peruvian President Visits Peace Corps

President Toledo Shared Details of How Peace Corps Volunteers Impacted His Life As A Young Man

WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 14, 2002—Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez welcomed Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo to the agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. today. After a moving presentation to Returned Peace Corps volunteers and staff, Toledo and Vasquez discussed the role that Peace Corps volunteers can play in Peru now and in coming years.

President Toledo had first expressed his desire to reopen Peru’s doors to the Peace Corps during his Inaugural Address in 2001. After a 27-year hiatus, Peace Corps volunteers recently returned to the Andean nation. By the end of 2002 at least two dozen volunteers will work in the Peruvian regions of Ancash, Cajamarca and Piura in small business development projects and rural health education.

During President Toledo’s historic visit to the Peace Corps’ headquarters, he shared with agency staffers personal details of the crucial role that Peace Corps volunteers played in his life. President Toledo stated, “I want to pay tribute to the men and women who left and are about to leave the U.S. to donate their time to countries around the world in education, health care and business development projects. The Peace Corps opens a window to the world for many people, I went through that window and became President of my country.”

photo of Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo speaking at a podium
Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo speaks to returned Peace Corps volunteers and staff at Peace Corps Headquarters.
In 1963, President Toledo, then an adolescent shoe shine boy, developed a lasting friendship with Peace Corps volunteers Joel Meister and Nancy Deeds. After Toledo graduated from high school, Meister and Deeds helped him gain admission to San Francisco City College and later, San Francisco State University. Subsequently, the future Peruvian President would earn a scholarship for graduate studies at Stanford University.

In 1962, 130 Peace Corps volunteers began their work in Peru. They launched grassroots development projects targeting health, agriculture, education and business development. Over the 13-year duration of the program in Peru, hundreds more volunteers worked in agriculture, education, fisheries, forestry and reconstruction programs following the earthquake in 1970.

Since 1961, more than 165,000 Volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as agriculture, small business and community development, education, environmental conservation, healthcare and information technology. 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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