March 26, 2003 - Orange County Register: Director Vasquez speaks in Orange County, says Peace Corps applications are up 17%

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2003: March 2003 Peace Corps Headlines: March 26, 2003 - Orange County Register: Director Vasquez speaks in Orange County, says Peace Corps applications are up 17%

By Admin1 (admin) on Wednesday, March 26, 2003 - 8:20 am: Edit Post

Director Vasquez speaks in Orange County, says Peace Corps applications are up 17%





Read and comment on this story from the Orange County Register that Director Vasquez, in a speech in Orange County, said that Peace Corps applications are up 17%. "Americans are not retreating," Vasquez told the Orange County Forum gathering of about 120 at the Irvine Hilton. "It's inspiring when you see Americans, even with all that's going on, eager to go abroad and help others." Read the story at:

Peace Corp applications rise 17%, official says*

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.



Peace Corp applications rise 17%, official says
Former O.C. supervisor says volunteers are 'putting a face on Americans.'

By MARTIN WISCKOL
The Orange County

IRVINE Former Orange County Supervisor Gaddi Vasquez, appointed by President George W. Bush to head the Peace Corps, told a luncheon crowd Tuesday that applications from prospective volunteers are up 17 percent over the past year despite Sept. 11 and the Iraqi invasion.

"Americans are not retreating," Vasquez told the Orange County Forum gathering of about 120 at the Irvine Hilton. "It's inspiring when you see Americans, even with all that's going on, eager to go abroad and help others."

While 20 percent of the volunteers are in Muslim countries, there have been no significant attacks on Peace Corps workers since 9-11, he said. Bush wants to double the size of the 7,000-volunteer corps by 2007. And while the corps has pulled out of Jordan in the wake of Sept. 11, they have returned to Peru, Swaziland, Chad and Botswana, and are planning a return to Afghanistan.

Post-war Iraq is not on the itinerary, said Vasquez, who stepped down as supervisor after the 1994 bankruptcy and was appointed to the Peace Corp post 14 months ago.

Vasquez frankly described his appearance as being part recruitment speech, and said helping developing countries is only part of the agenda.

"The Peace Corps is putting a face on Americans," he said. "The Peace Corps is the only federal agency that exists to bridge gaps and increase understanding."

He told a story about a recent incident in the Ivory Coast, where rebels offered to supply corps volunteers with water and fuel. "Many of (the rebels) knew the volunteers," he said. "In these rural settings, everybody knows who you are and what you're doing."

Vasquez, 48, oversees a budget of $295 million, with 7,000 volunteers in 70 countries. He has visited 14 countries himself since his appointment. In Morocco, one man's surprise that a Latino like Vasquez was American indicated the need to better show Americans' faces around the world, the corps director said.

It also underlines the need to increase ethnic representation among volunteers, only 15 percent of whom are minorities, he said.

For his closing anecdote, Vasquez talked about a poor, young Peruvian, Alejandro Toledo, who rented a room to two Peace Corps volunteers, who in turn helped teach him English and train him. After the volunteers returned to the United States, they helped Toledo win a partial scholarship to the University of San Francisco, and he finished Stanford University with a graduate degree in economics.

In 2001, Toledo was elected president of Peru and soon invited the Peace Corps to return to the country - 28 years after the corps had been kicked out by the military government of the era. Toledo and the two volunteers who helped him in the early 1960s were among those on hand for Vasquez's swearing in last year.

"The Peace Corps goes a long way toward putting a face on America and representing the best of what America's about," Vasquez said.


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