Secretary of State Colin Powell Visits With Peace Corps Volunteers in Bulgaria

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 22, 2003 - Last Thursday during ceremonies celebrating the 100th anniversary of U.S.-Bulgarian Diplomatic Relations, Secretary of State Colin Powell recognized the diplomatic efforts of the Peace Corps in Bulgaria. Secretary Powell was in Sophia, Bulgaria, to meet with Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov, Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg, and Foreign Minister Solomon Pasi as part of a week-long tour to the Middle East and Europe.

During his speech, Secretary Powell highlighted American and Bulgarian efforts toward building a free and democratic society in Bulgaria, “In years past, American Diplomats and journalists helped draw the world’s attention to the oppression Bulgarian’s suffered at the hands of foreign powers. . . Today, our Peace Corps volunteers are working hand-in-hand with you to strengthen your new democracy.”

photo of Peace Corps Volunteers with Secretary Colin Powell
Peace Corps Volunteers with Secretary of State Colin Powell
Peace Corps volunteers were invited to meet Secretary Powell at the residence of U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria, James Pardew. Secretary Powell took the opportunity to address embassy staff and Peace Corps volunteers, thanking them for their work in Bulgaria. Secretary Powell highlighted Bulgaria\'s support of the United States, especially in recent months… "It\'s a symbol of the closeness that exists between our two nations. It\'s a model of what we would like to be doing around the world."

"Ambassador and Mrs. Pardew are tremendously supportive of Peace Corps volunteers, and travel often to visit them, see their work, and meet with their counterparts. Inviting Peace Corps volunteers to be a part of this meeting with Secretary Powell meant a lot to the volunteers who were able to attend,” stated Carl Hammerdorfer, Peace Corps’ Country Director in Bulgaria.

Currently, there are 112 volunteers serving in Bulgaria. Peace Corps works with Bulgaria to address the difficult transition to a decentralized and market-oriented economic system. Environmental degradation is also prevalent, as concern for economic recovery and growth have outpaced efforts to protect and restore the environment. Volunteers work in community economic development, environmental education, and English language instruction, which Bulgarians believe will help them integrate into international business and commercial activities. Since 1991, over 478 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Bulgaria.

Since 1961, more than 168,000 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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