Colombia’s Foreign Minister met with the Director of the U.S. Peace Corps on Tuesday to sign an agreement that will officially bring Peace Corps volunteers back to Colombia, after a nearly thirty year absence, according to a Peace Corps press release.
Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez signed the agreement with Peace Corps director Aaron S. Williams at the Colombian Embassy in Washington DC.
According to the press release, “the first group of approximately 20 Peace Corps volunteers is scheduled to arrive in Colombia in the fall of 2010. The volunteers, trained in TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), will work as English teachers in primary schools, secondary schools, and teacher training institutions. Volunteers will also work together with communities on grassroots initiatives and community development along the Atlantic Coast.”
The Peace Corps was active in Colombia between 1961 and 1981. During this period, “over 4,600 Americans served as Peace Corps volunteers in Colombia, working on projects in the sectors of nutrition, health, agriculture, small business, and education,” the press release went on to explain
The initiative to bring American Peace Corps volunteers back to Colombia began in January of this year at the request of the Colombian government.
After the signing the agreement, Williams said that, “We are honored that the government of Colombia has invited Peace Corps to establish a program in Colombia… It has been nearly 50 years since President Kennedy established the Peace Corps, and although times have changed, our mission to promote world peace and friendship has not. This Peace Corps program will encourage Americans and Colombians to work side by side on Colombia’s education initiatives, with a focus on youth development in local communities.”
U.S. Ambassador to Colombia, William Brownfield, commented that, “The return of the Peace Corps to Colombia marks a sign of our deep, long-standing bonds and Colombia’s continued progress in delivering security to its people… From the time that Peace Corps volunteers stood beside Gabriel Garcia Marquez and the literary circle of The Cava in Barranquilla to today the presence of Americans teaching English to Colombians, promotes a better understanding of each other’s cultures and the democratic values we share. Improved English skills will, in turn, better Colombians’ economic and educational opportunities, allowing them to compete in a globalized world.”