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A Decade of Firsts

For the Peace Corps, the 1990s is a decade of firsts.

On June 15, 1990, President George H. Bush praises the first Volunteers to serve in Eastern Europe during a Rose Garden ceremony before they depart for Hungary and Poland.

On July 22, 1992, the first group of Volunteers to serve in the former Soviet Union leaves to work in small-business enterprise projects in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

In October 1993, Carol Bellamy becomes the first returned Volunteer to be confirmed by the Senate as director of the Peace Corps.

On June 12, 1993, the first group of Volunteers to work in China leaves to serve as English teachers.

In August 1995, Mark D. Gearan is confirmed by the Senate as the 14th Director of the Peace Corps. He launches Crisis Corps, a new program that allows returned Volunteers to provide short-term assistance during natural disasters and humanitarian crises. By 1998, Crisis Corps Volunteers are serving in Guinea, Bolivia, Paraguay, Papua New Guinea, and other countries.

On April 30, 1996, the Peace Corps hosts the first Conference on International Volunteerism. Vice President Al Gore opens the conference with an address to the leaders of 36 volunteer organizations from 26 countries at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.

The decade also sees the return of the first "firsts": on June 19, 1996, President Clinton honors the first group of Volunteers ever to serve in the Peace Corps. In a reunion in the Rose Garden, the Peace Corps' trailblazers, who served in Ghana 35 years before, meet a new group about to leave for the same country.

In September 1996, the Loret Miller Ruppe Memorial Lecture Series is established. The series serves as a forum for distinguished individuals to speak about issues related to the Peace Corps' mission, such as volunteerism, international peace and development, and public service. Former Peace Corps Country Director and U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke delivers the first lecture. John Hume, a pivotal figure in the Northern Ireland peace process, delivers the second lecture on St. Patrick's Day 1998.

On February 13, 1997, 31 Peace Corps Volunteers leave the U.S. to become the first group to serve in South Africa.

On April 30, 1997, the first group of Volunteers to serve in Jordan begin in small-business development and ecotourism, primarily with women. By the end of 1998, the first Volunteers begin serving in new Peace Corps programs in Bangladesh and Mozambique.

On March 18, 1998, the six returned Peace Corps Volunteers who serve in Congress, Secretary of Health and Human Services and returned Volunteer Donna Shalala, and former Peace Corps Director Paul D. Coverdell testify before the House Committee on International Relations in support of President Clinton's initiative to expand the Peace Corps to 10,000 Volunteers by 2000.

With the new millennium approaching, the Peace Corps moves into its own headquarters building on 20th Street in Washington, D.C. First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, Queen Noor Al-Hussein of Jordan, members of the President's cabinet, members of Congress, dignitaries, returned Volunteers, and many friends of the Peace Corps join together on September 15, 1998, to dedicate the Peace Corps' home for the 21st century.

External Links

1990s Official US Peace Corps Website]