December 5, 2003: Headlines: Peace Corps Directors - Vasquez: Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Hawai`i: Transcript of Statement by Peace Corps Director Gaddi Vasquez provided by Peace Corps Public Relations - posted April 19, 2004

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2003: December 2003 Peace Corps Headlines: December 5, 2003: Headlines: Peace Corps Directors - Vasquez: Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Hawai`i: Transcript of Statement by Peace Corps Director Gaddi Vasquez provided by Peace Corps Public Relations - posted April 19, 2004

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Transcript of Statement by Peace Corps Director Gaddi Vasquez provided by Peace Corps Public Relations - posted April 19, 2004

Transcript of Statement by Peace Corps Director Gaddi Vasquez provided by Peace Corps Public Relations - posted April 19, 2004

Transcript of Statement by Peace Corps Director Gaddi Vasquez provided by Peace Corps Public Relations - posted April 19, 2004

Transcript of Statement by Peace Corps Director Gaddi Vasquez - 12/5/03

1. How has the mission of PC evolved from the time of inception to today?

While times have changed since the Peace Corps’ founding in 1961, the agency’s mission has not. The three core goals of the Peace Corps are as relevant today as they were 42 years ago:

· To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.

· To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.

· To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

The work of Peace Corps volunteers has emerged as a successful model for encouraging sustainable development at the grass-roots level. Yet, the Peace Corps’ larger purpose is to empower people in developing counties to take charge of their future and to strengthen the bonds of friendship and understanding between Americans and the people of other countries.

There is no doubt that Kennedy's vision of the Peace Corps still is alive in today's corps. President Kennedy's idea spawned great hope and opportunities for Americans to share their skills and knowledge with communities and people in need across the globe.

But the Peace Corps is also moving forward, a change President Kennedy would have wanted. The corps has more married couples serving, older Americans volunteering and people from a wider variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds sharing their customs and skills. Today, there are 7,533 volunteers serving in 74 countries - a 28 year high. And many of the Peace Corps volunteers also are working in information technology, business development and HIV-AIDS awareness and education. Several of these specialties would have been unfathomable to people in 1961.

2. What's PC's role in the war against terrorism?

Volunteers integrate themselves into their community and live within that community for two years. This helps put a face on America by promoting friendship, understanding and communication between cultures. By building relationships for two years, volunteers become part of their community and in turn, advance an enlightened view of who Americans are.

3. With all the turmoil going on in the world, do we need PCVs more than ever? and why?

After September 11th, 2001, President George W. Bush in his 2002 State of the Union address called on Americans to extend the compassion of our country to every part of the world. He renewed the promise of the Peace Corps to turn caring into action around the globe. Whether teaching children, educating people about HIV/AIDS, creating economic opportunities, or connecting communities to the Internet, Peace Corps volunteers are doing work that is valued by people of other nations.

“America needs citizens to extend the compassion of our country to every part of the world. So we will renew the promise of the Peace Corps, double its Volunteers over the next five years, and ask it to join a new effort to encourage development and education and opportunity,” – President George W. Bush, at the State of the Union Address, January 29, 2002.

The close interaction between volunteers and local communities has allowed the Peace Corps to establish an admirable record of service that is recognized around the world. For 42 years, more than 170,000 volunteers serving in 136 countries have helped build the path to progress for people who want to build a better life for themselves, their children, and their communities. Around the world, Peace Corps volunteers continue to bring a spirit of hope and optimism to struggle for progress and human dignity.

Through people-to-people interactions, volunteers forge relationships with host country colleagues and communities that can help to serve as a crucial foundation for international peace and understanding.

There are many stereotypical images of Americans throughout the world, and Peace Corps volunteers are in the unique position to put a face on America and to demonstrate that Americans are of all colors, all faiths, and all backgrounds. They can begin to break down some of the barriers and stereotypes, and promote world peace and global friendship.

4. A NY Times Opinion piece written by a Morocco RPCV suggested sending PCVs to military hot spots as humanitarian aid workers. Comment?

When President John F. Kennedy solidified the establishment of the Peace Corps in 1961, he laid a foundation that is still embodied in the Peace Corps goals.

“We will only send abroad Americans who are wanted by the host country – who have a real job to do – and who are qualified to do that job. Programs will be developed with care, and after full negotiation, in order to make sure that the Peace Corps is wanted and will contribute to the welfare of other people. Our Peace Corps is not designed as an instrument of diplomacy or propaganda or ideological conflict. It is designed to permit our people to exercise more fully their responsibilities in the great common cause of world development,” Kennedy said on the day he signed the executive order to establish the Peace Corps.

Like any solid foundation, the goals and integrity of the Peace Corps have remained unyielding since its inception. The Peace Corps has become one of the most recognized humanitarian endeavors because the people who comprise the Peace Corps have never strayed from the ideology laid out at its inception.

The Peace Corps continues to reach new areas of the world every year, and with renewed government backing, will continue the work on a person-to-person level that its dedicated volunteers perform every day. Volunteers, and thus Peace Corps, thrive because host countries welcome volunteers and truly want them in their countries. Volunteers thrive because they are not used as instruments for diplomacy or propaganda, but rather are asked to remain as apolitical as possible. In almost all instances the relationship between the Peace Corps and the host country can be described as a partnership. Only when a stable and willing government is in place can a true partnership really be formed.

5. Is PC going back to Afghanistan?

There is no plan to re-establish a program in Afghanistan at this time.

The Peace Corps only enters countries where we are invited and a demonstrated need exists for volunteers.

6. Any plans to reopen Hawaii as a PC training center?

The Peace Corps does not have plans to reopen a training center in Hawaii at this time.

Currently, the Peace Corps is conducting volunteer training in limited U.S. sites before volunteers receive the majority of their training in their assigned country. Peace Corps volunteers spend three months in training and 24 months on the job. Training begins with a two-day orientation to the Peace Corps in the United States, which includes a discussion of volunteers’ role in maintaining their safety and security. The Peace Corps then provides three months of training in the country in which volunteers are assigned to serve. Volunteers receive intensive instruction in the local language, usually from native speakers. They also learn technical skills related to their job and become familiar with the country’s cultural traditions, which is important for living and working safely in the country. At the completion of training, volunteers have the language, technical, and cross-cultural skills they need to begin their work.

7. Any comments on the Newsday report that says PC is putting PCVs in dangerous places. search for article on google.

The safety and security of the Peace Corps Volunteers is the highest priority of the Peace Corps. Over 170,000 Americans have served over 42 years and the overwhelming majority has had a safe and rewarding experience.

The Newsday assertion you have referenced has grave errors. First, the report’s calculation of assaults on volunteers is based on a misinterpretation of the database. In fact, since 1997 Peace Corps has had a 30 percent decrease in the rate of major sexual assault events and a 35 percent decrease in the rate of rape events. For an accurate and global look at the Peace Corps’ safety and security record over the past two years, visit the Peace Corps Web site at

Notwithstanding the statistical data, the most effective tool for gauging success is to ask the volunteer. Every two years, the Peace Corps conducts a global survey to measure the levels of volunteer satisfaction with programming, safety, medical, and other key indicators. In the most recent global volunteer survey which had a 68 percent response rate:

97 percent of the respondents replied that they considered their housing “Very Safe” to “Adequately Safe.”

Volunteers were asked how safe they felt at their work site, and 99 percent of the respondents described their work site as “Very Safe” to “Adequately Safe.”

Volunteers were asked how safe they felt when they traveled, and 84 percent of the volunteers who responded rated their travel conditions as “Very Safe” to “Adequately Safe.”

Volunteers were also asked if they would make the same decision to join the Peace Corps. An overwhelming number, 89 percent, responded in the affirmative.

Second, the Newsday report did not reflect any of the enhancements that the Peace Corps has implemented since 2002. Over the last year alone, the Peace Corps has reorganized and created a new Office of Safety and Security, increased by 80 the number of full-time safety and security staff, established new training procedures, expanded staff resources and insured compliance with safety policies and procedures. The Peace Corps will not rest on our achievements and accomplishments. We will build on the successes and learn from events as they occur. That is why we continue to look at ways to enhance our safety and security structure, practices, resource materials and training for volunteers.

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Story Source: Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Hawai`i

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Peace Corps Directors - Vasquez



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