July 31, 2002 - New California Media: Not Your Fatherís Corps: Diversifying the Peace Corps

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Directors of the Peace Corps: Peace Corps Director Gaddi Vasquez: The Gaddi Vasquez Nomination to Peace Corps Director: Gaddi Vasquez Begins Tenure as Peace Corps Director [2/15/02]: July 31, 2002 - New California Media: Not Your Fatherís Corps: Diversifying the Peace Corps

By Admin1 (admin) on Thursday, August 01, 2002 - 4:10 pm: Edit Post

Not Your Fatherís Corps: Diversifying the Peace Corps





Read and comment on this story from New California Media on Director Vasquez's recent meeting with members of Californiaís ethnic media in which he made a strong case for the need to diversify the Peace Corps. Vasquez addressed one of the main barriers for many immigrant families to join the Corps: economic need. Vasquez hopes that initiatives such as student loan forgiveness and other economic incentives will encourage more families from ethnic communities to let their children serve in the Corps. For those considering an advanced degree, the Corps allows you to serve and gain a Masterís degree simultaneously or provides grant opportunities for advanced degrees after completing the program.

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Not Your Fatherís Corps: Diversifying the Peace Corps*

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Not Your Fatherís Corps: Diversifying the Peace Corps

NCM Online, Pueng Vongs, Jul 31, 2002

Trying to create a Peace Corps "that looks more like America", Director Gaddi Vasquez spoke to members of Californiaís ethnic media recently to boost the number of volunteers from ethnic communities.

President Bush has recently issued a mandate to double the number of volunteers of the 41-year-old organization from 7,000 to 14,000 in the next five years. Currently, only 14 percent of the volunteers are ethnic minorities.

Dispelling notions of the Peace Corps as a white, do gooder group that went out with the 60ís, Vasquez met with members of New California Media, a collaboration of Californiaís ethnic news outlets, and said the need to diversify the Corps has never been more urgent than after Sept. 11th. Misconceptions and hatred towards the United States abound globally.

"People in other countries need to know Americans fall in all origins and faiths", said Vasquez. A Peace Corps volunteer in a village or community will probably be the only American those people will know, he continued. "We want to make that impression a good one." Vasquez noted that more than half of the new countries requesting Peace Corps volunteers are Muslim dominated nations.

Vasquez addressed one of the main barriers for many immigrant families to join the Corps: economic need. "Most people who come from India still come for economic reasons, and the thought of serving in the Peace Corps is not on their agenda", said Sandip Roy, an editor with India Currents magazine.

Vasquez spoke of his familyís own reluctance to send him, the first member of his family to graduate college. "You are staying here they said." Vasquez hopes that initiatives such as student loan forgiveness and other economic incentives will encourage more families from ethnic communities to let their children serve in the Corps. For those considering an advance degree, the Corps allows you to serve and gain a Masterís degree simultaneously or provides grant opportunities for advanced degrees after completing the program.

Volunteers like Vivian Colon, born in Puerto Rico, was interested in serving as a volunteer in Latin America. Because there were no English language programs available she was assigned to Turkmenistan and found great satisfaction learning the culture and teaching English. But she had wondered why she should go across the world to help others she doesnít even known when people need help within her own community? She came to the same conclusion as conference attendee Eva Martinez, executive director of Accion Latina, "Perhaps some could see the Corps as an opportunity to gain skills abroad and bring it back to their communities", Martinez said.

Many members of ethnic communities already send funds back to their embattled homelands and believe that is enough. For example, Mexican immigrant groups collect funds from their communities and have raised more than $10 million through a matching program sponsored by the Mexican government to help build new roads, schools and other civic buildings. Vasquez says the Peace Corps has been able to partner with some of these organizations and provide the "human capital" for many of these projects.



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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Special Reports - Minority Recruitment; Peace Corps - Directors; Peace Corps - Recruitment

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