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First Peace Corps Program to Launch in Vietnam

  • Wayne Lee

FILE - Sara Laskowski, left, gets a cooking lesson from her Peace Corps "host mother" in Dubreka, Guinea. (Photo courtesy of Sara Laskowski)

FILE - Sara Laskowski, left, gets a cooking lesson from her Peace Corps "host mother" in Dubreka, Guinea. (Photo courtesy of Sara Laskowski)

The Peace Corps will establish operations in Vietnam for the first time, thanks to an overture by President Barack Obama to the Southeast Asian nation.

During his visit to Vietnam, Obama extended an invitation to the Vietnamese government for the volunteer organization to launch a program there with an emphasis on teaching English.

The Vietnamese government accepted the invitation, culminating a years-long effort by the Peace Corps to gain entry into the country. In 2012, then-Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams visited Vietnam for three days to explore the possibility of establishing the program.

"I'm very pleased that for the first time the Peace Corps will come to Vietnam," Obama said at news conference Monday in the capital city of Hanoi. "Our Peace Corps volunteers will focus on teaching English, and the friendship that our people forged will bring us closer together for decades to come."

The Peace Corps told VOA it is already working with the Vietnamese government "to finalize and sign an agreement" to establish the program. It would "be an opportunity for our two countries to continue to develop a strong and enduring relationship and further deepen our people-to-people ties," the volunteer organization said.

In addition to education, Peace Corps volunteers devote 27 months of their time in host countries in areas of agriculture, community development, environment, health and youth.

The Peace Corps was established in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy to promote world peace and friendship. Since then, more than 220,000 American volunteers have served in 141 countries.

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