2006.08.07: August 7, 2006: Headlines: Directors - Vasquez: Washington Times: Gaddi Vasquez moves on
Peace Corps Online:
Peace Corps News:
Directors of the Peace Corps:
Peace Corps Director Gaddi Vasquez:
Gaddi Vasquez: Newest Stories:
2006.08.07: August 7, 2006: Headlines: Directors - Vasquez: Washington Times: Gaddi Vasquez moves on
Gaddi Vasquez moves on
As Gaddi H. Vasquez packs his bags to take on a new assignment as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, he leaves behind a mixed record after four years as Director of the Peace Corps. Mr. Vasquez succeeded in negotiating an agreement with Mexico to accept volunteers, where predecessors failed. The agency improved security for volunteers during Mr. Vasquez's tenure, made a substantial upgrade of its information technology, started an executive training program and broadened volunteer programs to include technology, business and the environment. Although the number of volunteers has risen during Mr. Bush's term to a 30-year high of almost 8,000, it remains far short of meeting Bush's 2002 goal of 15,000 by 2007. Mr. Vasquez said congressional appropriations, although higher, have not gone up enough to support more volunteers. Critics say Mr. Vasquez and the president have not fought hard enough for higher Peace Corps appropriations at a time when their party controls Congress and when the agency can play a vital role in combating the nation's declining image abroad.
Gaddi Vasquez moves on
Peace Corps director moves on
By Kenneth B. Dalecki
SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES
August 7, 2006
As Gaddi H. Vasquez packs his bags to take on a new assignment for President Bush, he leaves behind a mixed record after four years as director of the Peace Corps.
Mr. Vasquez, the 16th Peace Corps director and the first Hispanic to hold that position, will be sworn in Sept. 7 as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome. Mr. Bush has nominated Ronald Tschetter, a Montana financial services executive and a 1960s Peace Corps volunteer, to succeed Mr. Vasquez.
Early in his administration, Mr. Vasquez convened a diversity task force to determine how to boost Peace Corps recruitment among minorities. The result has been information kits and public service announcements in Spanish, cooperative agreements with minority organizations and minority recruitment efforts. Still, the number of minority volunteers remains less than half their percentage in the U.S. population.
Today, minorities make up slightly less than 16 percent of the 8,000 volunteers, an increase of 1 percent since 2002 and a gain of less than 2 percent since 1996. The percentage of blacks and Hispanics has remained stable at 3 percent each, and the number of Asian-Americans has ranged from 4 percent to 5 percent. Last year, minority groups accounted for 33 percent of the nation's population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Minorities seek jobs
Economics is the most significant reason for the relatively low number of minority volunteers, Mr. Vasquez said during an interview at Peace Corps headquarters. He cited himself as an example. After his parents struggled to help him become the first in his family to graduate from college, Mr. Vasquez said his first priority was to "go out and get a job." He became a policeman in Orange County, Calif., where he rose to become county executive before resigning in 1994 when risky investments by the treasurer put the county in bankruptcy.
Mr. Vasquez frequently speaks to minority audiences and stresses the value of having the Peace Corps on one's resume when seeking employment at the State Department and government and private development agencies.
Besides a living allowance paid to volunteers while they are in the field, the Peace Corps gives them $6,000 on completion of their two-year service. Volunteers can earn credits toward graduate degrees at participating universities, their federal student loans can be deferred, and up to 30 percent of their Perkins loans may be forgiven after two years of service. The agency also offers job-placement services.
Another hindrance to minority recruitment is education. All but 4 percent of volunteers have a college degree. Mr. Vasquez said the agency has begun recruiting at community colleges because they have more student diversity, including older volunteers who return to school for special training. An associate degree and relevant work experience can qualify an applicant for admission to the Peace Corps. The agency can afford to be picky: It has room for only a third of applicants.
His Mexican-American heritage helped Mr. Vasquez succeed in negotiating an agreement with Mexico to accept volunteers, where predecessors failed. His grandparents were from Mexico, and he is fluent in Spanish. The agreement, which involves a small contingent of volunteers who are science and technology specialists, is being expanded to include volunteers working on environmental issues, Mr. Vasquez said.
Volunteers will be arriving in Cambodia early next year, and a U.S. survey team is working with Vietnam to see whether that country's request for a program is viable. Despite surveys that show a declining popularity of the United States abroad, requests for volunteers exceed what the Peace Corps can fill.
Although the number of volunteers has risen during Mr. Bush's term to a 30-year high of 8,000 (it peaked at 15,000 in 1966), it remains far short of meeting his 2002 goal of 12,000 by 2007. Mr. Vasquez said congressional appropriations, although higher, have not gone up enough to support more volunteers. Mr. Bush has requested $337 million for the agency in fiscal 2007, but Congress is likely to hold spending close to the 2006 level of $319 million.
Critics say Mr. Vasquez and the president have not fought hard enough for higher Peace Corps appropriations at a time when their party controls Congress and when the agency can play a vital role in combating the nation's declining image abroad.
Several gains noted
Mr. Vasquez can cite improvements in security for volunteers during his tenure, substantial upgrade of its information technology, the start of an executive training program and the broadening of volunteer programs to include technology, business and the environment.
The Senate may take up Mr. Tschetter's nomination in September or October. His status as a former volunteer is likely to ease his confirmation. Mr. Vasquez was opposed by a hastily assembled group of Peace Corps veterans who wanted a former volunteer as director; only two previous directors had served in the Peace Corps.
The former Peace Corps volunteers who opposed him said Mr. Vasquez also lacked sufficient administrative and international experience. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee recommended his confirmation 14-4, and the full Senate approved it by voice vote.
Several early critics have come around. "Some have said, 'I wasn't for you, but now I'm sad to see you leave,'" Mr. Vasquez said.
John Coyne, a member of the Committee for the Future of the Peace Corps, which opposed Mr. Vasquez during his confirmation hearing and remains critical of the agency's funding, said Mr. Vasquez "represented the country well."
Agency beloved abroad
The Peace Corps is in its 45th year and has sent a total of 182,000 volunteers to about 140 countries. Mr. Vasquez has traveled to 61 countries as director and expressed admiration for volunteers serving in Third World conditions.
In remote villages, "the Peace Corps volunteer may be the only American those people ever meet," Mr. Vasquez said. "I meet prime ministers, presidents, leaders of government who have shared with me how, when growing up in their villages, they were taught by Peace Corps volunteers, and they have never forgotten that experience.
"I don't know that President Kennedy could have ever imagined the enormous success of this idea, and that 45 years later, Americans are not only interested but enthused about going overseas to doing international service."
Mr. Vasquez said he has no plans beyond his U.N. assignment, although he intends to return to Orange County, where he has kept a home, with his wife and son.
When this story was posted in August 2006, this was on the front page of PCOL:
Peace Corps Online The Independent News Forum serving Returned Peace Corps Volunteers
| The Peace Corps is "fashionable" again|
The LA Times says that "the Peace Corps is booming again and "It's hard to know exactly what's behind the resurgence." PCOL Comment: Since the founding of the Peace Corps 45 years ago, Americans have answered Kennedy's call: "Ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man." Over 182,000 have served. Another 200,000 have applied and been unable to serve because of lack of Congressional funding. The Peace Corps has never gone out of fashion. It's Congress that hasn't been keeping pace.
| Changing the Face of Hunger|
In his new book, Former Congressman Tony Hall (RPCV Thailand) says humanitarian aid is the most potent weapon the United States can deploy against terrorism. An evangelical Christian, he is a big believer in faith-based organizations in the fight against hunger. Members of Congress have recently recommended that Hall be appointed special envoy to Sudan to focus on ending the genocide in Darfur.
| PC will not return to East Timor in 2006|
Volunteers serving in East Timor have safely left the country as a result of the recent civil unrest and government instability. Latest: The Peace Corps has informed us that at this time, the Peace Corps has no plans to re-enter the country in 2006. The Peace Corps recently sent a letter offering eligible volunteers the opportunity to reinstate their service in another country.
| Chris Dodd considers run for the White House|
Senator Chris Dodd plans to spend the next six to eight months raising money and reaching out to Democrats around the country to gauge his viability as a candidate. Just how far Dodd can go depends largely on his ability to reach Democrats looking for an alternative to Hillary Clinton. PCOL Comment: Dodd served as a Volunteer in the Dominican Republic and has been one of the strongest supporters of the Peace Corps in Congress.
| Vasquez testifies before Senate Committee|
Director Vasquez testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on his nomination as the new Representative to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture replacing Tony Hall. He has been the third longest serving Peace Corps Director after Loret Ruppe Miller and Sargent Shriver. PCOL Comment: Read our thanks to Director Vasquez for his service to the Peace Corps.
| Interview with a Hit Man|
RPCV John Perkins says that for many years he was an "economic hit man" in the world of international finance whose primary job was to convince less developed countries to accept multibillion dollar loans for infrastructure projects that left the recipient countries wallowing in debt and highly vulnerable to outside political and commercial interests. In this exclusive interview for "Peace Corps Online," Colombia RPCV Joanne Roll, author of Remember with Honor, talks to Perkins about his Peace Corps service, his relation with the NSA, "colonization" in Ecuador, the consequences of his work, why he decided to speak out, and what his hopes are for change.
| Peace Corps stonewalls on FOIA request|
The Ashland Daily Tidings reports that Peace Corps has blocked their request for information on the Volkart case. "After the Tidings requested information pertaining to why Volkart was denied the position — on March 2 — the newspaper received a letter from the Peace Corps FOIA officer stating the requested information was protected under an exemption of the act." The Dayton Daily News had similar problems with FOIA requests for their award winning series on Volunteer Safety and Security.
| PCOL readership increases 100%|
Monthly readership on "Peace Corps Online" has increased in the past twelve months to 350,000 visitors - over eleven thousand every day - a 100% increase since this time last year. Thanks again, RPCVs and Friends of the Peace Corps, for making PCOL your source of information for the Peace Corps community. And thanks for supporting the Peace Corps Library and History of the Peace Corps. Stay tuned, the best is yet to come.
| History of the Peace Corps|
PCOL is proud to announce that Phase One of the "History of the Peace Corps" is now available online. This installment includes over 5,000 pages of primary source documents from the archives of the Peace Corps including every issue of "Peace Corps News," "Peace Corps Times," "Peace Corps Volunteer," "Action Update," and every annual report of the Peace Corps to Congress since 1961. "Ask Not" is an ongoing project. Read how you can help.
| RPCV admits to abuse while in Peace Corps|
Timothy Ronald Obert has pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a minor in Costa Rica while serving there as a Peace Corps volunteer. "The Peace Corps has a zero tolerance policy for misconduct that violates the law or standards of conduct established by the Peace Corps," said Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez. Could inadequate screening have been partly to blame? Mr. Obert's resume, which he had submitted to the Peace Corps in support of his application to become a Peace Corps Volunteer, showed that he had repeatedly sought and obtained positions working with underprivileged children. Read what RPCVs have to say about this case.
| Why blurring the lines puts PCVs in danger|
When the National Call to Service legislation was amended to include Peace Corps in December of 2002, this country had not yet invaded Iraq and was not in prolonged military engagement in the Middle East, as it is now. Read the story of how one volunteer spent three years in captivity from 1976 to 1980 as the hostage of a insurrection group in Colombia in Joanne Marie Roll's op-ed on why this legislation may put soldier/PCVs in the same kind of danger. Latest: Read the ongoing dialog on the subject.
Read the stories and leave your comments.
Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.
Story Source: Washington Times
This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Directors - Vasquez