Volunteers Are Working to Inspire the World's Youth

May 2, 2005

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 2, 2005 – Although teachers do not always know the full impact of their efforts and dedication, for Peace Corps volunteers, their creativity and resourcefulness may just help inspire the next world leader.

This Teacher Appreciation Week, Director Gaddi H. Vasquez and the Peace Corps staff recognize the more than 2,600 education volunteers who often work with limited resources and in a language other than their own to make the world a better place. For example, in South Africa, volunteer Paul Kim and his students rebuilt six computers from donated parts so the students in his school could acquire the skills they will need in the Information Age. Or, look at volunteers Heather Petersen and Joe Williams, who have initiated a club for secondary school students to learn more about HIV/AIDS. Working with creative resources, their students recently produced a short HIV/AIDS drama highlighting some of the HIV/AIDS-related challenges within their community.

"Teachers have the ability to change the world making educational initiatives one of the most important focuses for Peace Corps volunteers," said Director Vasquez. "We want to thank them on National Teacher Day and everyday for the amazing work they are doing to help provide students, young and old, with a brighter future."

Worldwide, education volunteers focus on teaching host country teachers in primary and secondary schools, developing curriculum and teaching materials, promoting community resource centers, as well as serving as educators for English, math or science in classrooms and small business development.

To learn more about the background of education volunteers, please visit the What Do Volunteers Do? section.

In addition to the work of education volunteers in the field, part of the Peace Corps' mission is for returned volunteers to educate Americans back home about the people with whom they lived and worked during their two-year volunteer service. Several programs at the Peace Corps support this focus.

World Wise Schools
Coverdell World Wise Schools creates award-winning curriculum resources based on the volunteer experience. Teachers can use these materials to engage U.S. students. In addition, students can exchange letters, artifacts and other educational materials with a Peace Corps volunteer serving as a window for U.S. students to experience the people, culture, and customs of Ukraine, Ghana, Belize, or other countries around the world. All materials are free, are tied to national standards, and use primary source materials provided by volunteers. To learn more, please visit the World Wise Schools page.

Peace Corps Week
Every year during the week surrounding March 1st—the anniversary of the inception of the Peace Corps in 1961—thousands of returned volunteers enter classrooms to share their stories and experiences overseas with U.S. students. This past March, thousands of returned Peace Corps volunteers participated in classrooms and Peace Corps week education celebrations across the country.

Beyond Peace Corps week, every day throughout the year, returned volunteers give talks, speak in classrooms and at colleges, and participate in community events that highlight learning about other cultures. To learn more, please visit the Peace Corps Week page.

Partnership Program
Originally known as the School to School Program that facilitated funding by U.S. schools to build schools in communities where Peace Corps volunteers served, the Partnership Program still helps connect classrooms in the U.S. with communities across the world. Today, through tgram still helps connect classrooms in the U.S. with communities across the world. Today, through the Office of Private Sector Initiatives (OPSI), the Partnership Program provides private donation funding to Peace Corps volunteers' community-based projects.

Donations come from all over, including elementary, secondary and high schools, universities, and other individuals and organizations. Through a Partnership Program donation, students can choose a Peace Corps volunteers project and learn about needs assessment, project planning, and goal setting as they help an overseas community develop a project, such as building a well or beginning a library. To find out how a classroom can develop a project through OPSI, please visit OPSI's page.

Fellows/USA
The Peace Corps Fellows/USA program establishes partnerships with universities that offer returned Peace Corps volunteers financial benefits for their graduate studies and places them in degree-related service internships in high-need U.S. communities. All across the U.S., former volunteers will be teaching on Native American reservations and in urban classrooms; helping to revitalize ailing communities; providing health care to immigrant and low-income populations; and addressing environmental issues. For more information about Peace Corps Fellows and how they are learning while serving communities, please visit the Fellows/USA page.

Master's International
The Master's International program continues to further the links between the Peace Corps and universities nationwide. The program provides students, who are pursuing their master's degree at participating universities and colleges, with the prospect of completing course requirements while volunteering with the Peace Corps. This valuable opportunity gives students the chance to complete their degree, while simultaneously helping developing communities in areas ranging from education to health. For more information, please visit the Master's International page.

Since 1961, more than 178,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health, HIV/AIDS education and prevention, 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 27-month commitment.

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