A formal announcement about the return of the Peace Corps to Nepal was made in Washington, DC on Tuesday.
“It gives me great pleasure to be here this morning to celebrate the return of the Peace Corps to Nepal. The Peace Corps has played such a special role in creating lifelong bridges of understanding and affection between the U.S. and Nepal,” said Robert O. Blake, Jr., Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs in a statement released today.
He said Peace Corps volunteers everywhere retain fond memories of their experiences overseas.
“But those who had the good fortune to serve in Nepal — including a senior member of my team here in Washington — seem to be a particularly loyal and enthusiastic group, reflecting the deep impact their experience as volunteers, working so closely with people in often very remote parts of Nepal, has had throughout their lives. And I’d suspect that the villages and towns that have hosted volunteers feel just the same way,” Blake said.
He said the Peace Corps’ reluctant departure from Nepal in 2004 due to security concerns was a sad point and marked a difficult period for Nepal – “a time when Nepal was torn apart by violence, a conflict which is now, thankfully, a thing of the past.”
“Just as the Peace Corps’ departure was emblematic of a dark period in Nepal’s history, its return is equally symbolic of the positive trends that now prevail,” Blake said, adding that Nepal achieved real progress last year toward completion of the peace process launched in 2006.
“There is a renewed sense of optimism in Nepal that, at last, its citizens can move beyond the conflict and its aftermath to seize the opportunity to address many serious challenges and conclude the peace process.”
According to him, the new Peace Corps Volunteers, when they return this summer, will focus on agriculture and nutrition.
“This fits perfectly with Nepal’s own shift in focus. Nepal has not yet been able to participate fully in the remarkable development and growth that its neighbors have enjoyed. The Peace Corps Volunteers will be well placed to join USAID’s essential, ongoing efforts to assist Nepal to address the fundamental and, unfortunately, growing issue of food insecurity,” said the US Assistant Secretary.
“I think we can anticipate that this will be a productive partnership and that these combined efforts will have a real and measurable impact in Nepal. But Peace Corps volunteers will have a broader, indelible impact in Nepal, just as Nepal will have a lasting impact on all of them,” he said, adding that the State Department has long been the beneficiary of Peace Corps alumni who bring the skills and the understanding that they acquired to their subsequent work for the Department of State.
Meanwhile, US ambassador to Nepal Scott H. DeLisi Wednesday morning has written in his Facebook status about the announcement of the return of Peace Corps.
“We are so very pleased that the Government of Nepal so eagerly worked with us to make this happen. We will have a program with PM Bhattarai and others next week to re-launch the Peace Corps program in Nepal,”
Ambassador DeLisi said.
The Peace Corps is an American volunteer program run by the United States government, as well as government agency of the same name. The stated mission of the Peace Corps includes three goals: providing technical assistance; helping people outside the United States to understand US culture; and helping Americans to understand the cultures of other countries.