October 15, 2002 - University of Washington: Peace Corps Director visits University of Washington

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Peace Corps Director visits University of Washington

Caption: Peace Corps Director Gaddi Vasquez speaks to Bryana Britts last night at a Peace Corps reception at the Henry Art Gallery. Vasquez was at the UW to speak about the new Peace Corps Master’s International program.

Read and comment on this story from the University of Washington on Director Vasquez and his visit to the campus to talk about the Peace Corps and the new Peace Corps Master's International program starting there. Read the story at:

Peace Corps director visits UW, promotes new program*

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Peace Corps director visits UW, promotes new program

Chris Jordan / The Daily

by Kyle Arnold

Last night’s call home was not a typical call for Kim Hall, a Peace Corps Master’s International (PCMI) student serving in Morocco. Instead of Mom, Dad and friends on the other side of the line, a host of future PCMI students, former Peace Corps members and Gaddi Vasquez, the director of Peace Corps International, were in attendance at the Henry Art Gallery Cafe to listen to Hall tell about her experiences during her first few months in Morocco.

“I had worries about Kim serving in that area of the world,” said Dan Hall, Kim’s father. “But the Moroccan people have really accepted her and treat her as one of their own.”

Hall has spent the past three months in Rabat, Morocco. She received Arabic-language training and will soon leave for Tuznik, a small town on the southern coast of Morocco.

According to Hall, she will be working with a cooperative of nongovernmental organizations, trying to create jobs and decrease unemployment.

Hall is one of nine students who are the first serving overseas in the new PCMI program. The program enables students to earn a graduate degree while serving in the Peace Corps. Students are helping struggling communities in the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, South America and Africa with nongovernmental organizations. A second group of nine was chosen last year. They are now starting their training for their own Peace Corps assignments.

“It’s an exciting opportunity,” said Valerie Wonder, a first-year PCMI student. “I get to travel the world, learn a new language and earn my degree all at once.”

The PCMI program is now in operation at 54 universities across the United States, and it is growing.

The program includes one year of intensive training here at the UW, 27 months serving in the Peace Corps and one quarter of post-Peace Corps study here at the UW, according to Elaine Chang, assistant dean of the Evans School of Public Affairs.

Since the inception of the program, applications for the program have increased from 29 last year to 39 this year, concurrent with increasing interest in Peace Corps nationwide.

“This program has helped us increase our number of Peace Corps students at the UW from 58 last year to 77 this year,” said Chang.

To make a push for the new PCMI program, Vasquez also spoke at Kane Hall yesterday, sharing his vision of Peace Corps in the 21st century. Part of Vasquez’s vision for the 21st century includes the new PCMI program at the UW, and a diversity of members entering Peace Corps.

“The program is a win-win situation for everyone,” said Vasquez. “The country the students are serving benefits, the students themselves benefit and the Peace Corps benefits.”

“We are putting a new face to America,” said Vasquez. “America is more diverse than what is pictured in international media.”

Vasquez, a Mexican-American himself, included a push for more participation from ethnic minorities in Peace Corps programs.

According to Vasquez, it is especially important for Muslim students to consider the Peace Corps because of recent tensions between Muslim countries and the United States.

The second group of nine PCMI students has just started its training, and should receive Peace Corps assignments this spring. Applications for next year’s PCMI program are available through the Evans School of Public Affairs and are due Feb. 1, 2003.

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