President Visits Peace Corps Volunteers in the Philippines

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 30, 2003 –President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush greeted Peace Corps volunteers and the US Mission employees at the American Embassy in the Philippines on Saturday, October 18th. More than 50 Peace Corps volunteers and staff, including Country Director Bill Benjamin, were in attendance.

The President’s tour of the Philippines marked the first time in thirty years that an American President has visited the capital city of Manila. In his appearance at the embassy event, the President acknowledged the positive work of the Peace Corps in his remarks and shook hands with several of the volunteers.

In return, Peace Corps Country Director Bill Benjamin thanked the President and the First Lady for their continued and enthusiastic support of the Peace Corps. The President’s visit to the country also included laying a wreath at the Rizal Memorial, addressing a joint session of the Philippine Congress and a State Dinner in his honor. Filipino President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo visited the United States last May.

Earlier in the week, Country Director Benjamin was present at the signing of a Memorandum of Intent for Expanding Access to Quality Education, a $33 million, six-year education program funded by the U.S. government. This program is geared towards raising the quality of education throughout the country and addressing the special problems of out-of-school youths in conflict affected areas.

In 1961, the 171 Peace Corps volunteers who arrived in the Philippines were among the first Peace Corps volunteers to serve anywhere in the world. Since then, 7,929 total volunteers have worked in the country, located in the Pacific Ocean in Southeast Asia. The volunteers have worked primarily with Filipino teachers and officials to increase their fluency in the English language and to improve their teaching skills. Volunteers have also worked on environmental projects aimed at improving the quality of the water and sanitation.

Since 1961, more than 170,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health, HIV/AIDS education and awareness, 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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