Thursday, December 4, 2008

History of the Peace Corps in Guyana

Happy Thursday. The weekend is tapping me on the shoulder.

This isn't the most glamorous way of doing things. To save some time, however, I've copied and pasted this bit from my volunteer portfolio. It gives a good gloss over about Peace Corps involvement in Guyana as well as a basic introduction into the kind of volunteer work I will be
doing. It's lengthy, so feel free to skim.

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The P
eace Corps first received a formal invitation from
Guyana in 1966, the year of the country’s independence. From
1966 until 1971, more than 160 Volunteers served in Guyana
with the Peace Corps. At that time, education Volunteers
broadened the school curricula to include technical and
vocational subjects, including home economics, crafts, and
manual arts. Technicians, architects, and engineers also
assisted in developing and carrying out plans of Guyana’s
Ministry of Works and Hydraulics. The Guyana program
was discontinued in 1971, after the government of Guyana
requested all overseas voluntary agencies to leave.

In 1993, the Guyanese government, led by President Cheddi
Jagan, approached the Peace Corps about the prospects for
the Peace Corps to reopen its program in Guyana. In March
1995, the Peace Corps officially reopened a joint Peace Corps
office for Suriname and Guyana. The first Volunteers arrived
in 1995, serving in the areas of community health and youth
development. In 1997, Peace Corps/Guyana and Peace Corps/
Suriname split to form two separate programs. Approximately
30 Volunteers arrive each year to work in the community
health project and the education and community development
project (which includes information technology). In total,
more than 380 Volunteers have served in Guyana with the
Peace Corps.

Volunteers serve at sites ranging from the capital city of
Georgetown, with a population of 300,000, to small, remote
villages with populations fewer than 300. They are affiliated
with a variety of schools, nongovernmental agencies, and
government health facilities. The work of Peace Corps
Volunteers in Guyana is well-received by the people of the
communities in which they serve.

History and Future of Peace Corps Programming in Guyana

Volunteers address educational, health, and technical
concerns by providing community health education, literacy,
life skills and academic training, and information technology
in collaboration with relevant ministries and nongovernmental
organizations (NGOs). They assist existing efforts to facilitate
community involvement, train service providers, and
introduce new training and teaching methodologies. Today,
there are nearly 50 Peace Corps Volunteers serving in Guyana
in nine of the country’s 10 regions.

Education and Community Development Project

Guyana’s process of nation-building is causing vast political,
social, and economic changes. These changes are placing
the nation’s youth, which constitute nearly 60 percent of the
population, at great risk.

Guyana’s Ministry of Education has recognized an urgent
need to refocus the country’s education system by improving
the literacy and numeracy of the country’s youth and by
enhancing teachers’ skills in providing literacy education. In
addition to ongoing projects focusing on training youth in
life-skills development, Peace Corps/Guyana’s community
education project taps Volunteers to work directly with young
students to improve their literacy skills and with teachers to
promote literacy education.

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