Washington, D.C. Educator Receives Peace Corps Coverdell Award for Excellence

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 30, 2003 – Today, Gaddi H. Vasquez, Director of the Peace Corps, awarded educator Mary O. Nasibi with the third annual Paul D. Coverdell Award for Excellence.

Nasibi currently teaches English as a second language at the Marie H. Reed Community Learning Center, a public elementary school of 490 students, in the Adams-Morgan neighborhood of Washington, D.C. She is a former Peace Corps volunteer in Liberia, where she taught elementary school at Lott Carey Baptist Mission School from 1965 to 1967.

“Since serving as a volunteer in Liberia, Ms. Nasibi has been dedicated to sharing her valuable experiences as a volunteer with school students in the U.S. She has worked hard to teach her students about the value of serving as a volunteer, not only overseas, but also in our communities,” remarked Director Vasquez. “We are extremely grateful for Ms. Nasibi’s continued commitment to the Peace Corps community.”

Since 1993, she and her classes have participated in the World Wise Schools match program, which allows students to communicate with actively serving Peace Corps volunteers overseas. Her classes are currently matched with a female volunteer serving in Nepal. At today’s ceremony, eight students from Ms. Nasibi’s classes presented what they have learned from the Peace Corps classroom education program.

In addition to her participation in World Wise Schools, Ms. Nasibi has been a Peace Corps Day participant since 1998, inviting at least 20 returned volunteers to participate each year.

The Paul D. Coverdell Award for Excellence pays tribute to educators who exhibit outstanding participation in the Peace Corps’ Coverdell World Wise Schools global education program. The global education program was established by the late Senator Paul D. Coverdell, a former Peace Corps director in 1989, and it was named in his honor by the United States Senate in 2001.

Coverdell believed that “through the exchange of letters, artwork, artifacts, and other educational materials, the [Peace Corps] volunteer will serve as a window for U.S. students to experience new countries and cultures.” Since its inception, the Coverdell World Wise Schools program has helped more than 2 million U.S. students communicate directly with Peace Corps volunteers all over the world.

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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