July 12, 2002 - Riverside Press-Enterprise: Director Vasquez tells of the challenges ahead for Peace Corps

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Director Vasquez tells of the challenges ahead for Peace Corps

Read and comment on this story from the Riverside Press-Enterprise on Director Vasquez's recent speech to the World Affairs Council of Inland Southern California on steps he is taking to double the number of volunteers to 14,000 in five years at:

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EVENT; Director Gaddi Vasquez, who worked for Riverside ...

Jul 12, 2002 - Press-Enterprise Riverside CA

Author(s): Tina Bennett


The Peace Corps will increase in size, visibility and diversity, its director, Gaddi Vasquez, told the World Affairs Council of Inland Southern California on Thursday.

Before an audience of about 100 people at the Mission Inn, including many former Peace Corps volunteers, Vasquez spoke about how the Peace Corps is growing to meet the needs of the 21st century.

"People say, 'You know, I remember the Peace Corps from the Kennedy years' and say they remember the commercials," Vasquez said in an interview before his speech. "Then it went off the public's radar screen. Our job is to reacquaint the American public with the Peace Corps."

Vasquez, the agency's first Hispanic director, served as Riverside's community relations director in 1979-80. He was nominated by President Bush for the Peace Corps post and sworn in Feb. 15.

Vasquez said in his speech that the Peace Corps' goal is to double its numbers of volunteers to 14,000 in five years. He said he is looking into alternatives to the corps' traditional recruiting efforts, investigating possibilities of waiving student loans for corps service and the possibilities of having recruitment materials available in Spanish. Vasquez also said more efforts may be aimed at recruiting community college students.

Vasquez said these efforts would also help increase the corps' 15 percent of minority volunteers, which he called unacceptable.

"If we are to be the face of America, we have to look like America. It's a whole new world," Vasquez said.

Before becoming director, Vasquez was a police officer and county supervisor in Orange County, and served in the administrations of the previous three California governors. He graduated from the University of Redlands.

Gary Orso, Riverside County's tax assessor watched Vasquez's speech as a former volunteer. He met his wife, Julia, after three years in the Dominican Republic, from 1968-71. He said the experience has left a lasting impression on his life, from his family to the way he said he approaches new experiences here.

"I realize I received a lot more from it than I gave," Orso said.

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