Thousands of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers Take to Schools Across the Country to Promote Global Understanding

November 19, 1996

WASHINGTON, D.C. - November 19, 1996—On Wednesday, November 20, nearly 4,000 returned Peace Corps volunteers will go into schools in all 50 states to share their experiences and knowledge of other countries with students. They will be joined by notable guest lecturers including Senator Paul Coverdell (R-Georgia) and Deputy Secretary of the Interior John Garamendi.
Their venture into U.S. classrooms is part of "World Wise Schools Day," a national effort by the Peace Corps to broaden the geographic and cultural horizons of U.S. students by matching classrooms around the country with returned Peace Corps volunteers. By showing photographs, artifacts and clothing, and sharing stories and lessons learned from their two years abroad, volunteers will "put a face on a place" and encourage volunteerism. There will also be a broadcast of the World Wise Schools "Destination" series, an interactive video conference will be uplinked to classrooms in Mississippi through the electronic classroom at the Smithsonian Institution, and Peace Corps volunteers from around the world will call into U.S. classrooms.
"Today's students face a very different world in the next century. With new technology, students need to be prepared to become responsible global citizens with a deep understanding of the world around them," said Peace Corps Director Mark Gearan. "Peace Corps volunteers are uniquely qualified to help show students this world by serving as a window into another culture. They can truly bring the world back home."
Education Secretary Richard Riley, whose office is participating in World Wise Schools Day, endorsed the nationwide program.
"With their commitment to education and their unique perspective on cultures throughout the world, Peace Corps volunteers offer American students one of the most productive means of learning—through the use of individual experiences, " Riley said. "With this program, we can help our students enter the 21st century with a broader understanding of the world and our place in it."
World Wise Schools is the Peace Corps' ongoing effort to bring the experience of currently-serving and returned Peace Corps volunteers to the people of the United States. Today, there are 3,500 currently serving Peace Corps volunteers corresponding with classes all across the country, and an estimated 300,000 U.S. students have participated in the program since its inception in 1989.

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