Peace Corps and VSO: A Partnership on Volunteerism to Promote Global Development

In May 2011, President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron announced a partnership between two of the world’s leading volunteer organizations, the Peace Corps and VSO.  The partnership leverages the resources of both organizations to improve the lives of poor and marginalized people, and to promote the value of volunteering in global development. 

Following the partnership announcement in May, I had the great privilege of signing the Peace Corps-VSO partnership agreement with VSO Chief Executive Marg Mayne at the United Nations headquarters in New York. This landmark event was organized by UN Volunteers as part of the Tenth Anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers and International Volunteer Day (Dec. 5). 

We are proud that President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron recognize the contributions our volunteers make around the world with local communities. For more than fifty years, Peace Corps and VSO have been the leading U.S. and U.K. organizations fighting global poverty through volunteering. Collectively, we have more than 10,000 international volunteers working in 95 countries and a network of more than 250,000 former volunteers. Each organization works in complementary ways, providing opportunities to work together to enhance our effectiveness in transforming lives across the world.

Because of this innovative partnership, the Peace Corps and VSO are expanding collaboration in areas where both organizations work. Peace Corps and VSO are addressing urgent development challenges in education, health, HIV/AIDS, youth development,gender, climate change and citizen participation by sharing knowledge, resources, and training capabilities to further enhance each organization’s current programming and training. In Tanzania, for example, Peace Corps and VSO collaborate closely to improve the English capability of Tanzanian teachers, and share materials and resources to improve in-country training for volunteers. This video below shows Peace Corps and VSO volunteers working side by side on the Project for Improving English in Pemba, Tanzania.

For me, as for so many other volunteers, my Peace Corps experience was nothing short of transformative—with an impact that has lasted far beyond those years abroad.   And after seeing the inspiring work of the Peace Corps and VSO volunteers of today, I’ve seen that my story and experience is not unique. Peace Corps and VSO volunteers represent the best the world has to offer, our generosity, compassion and hope. We anticipate this partnership will further enhance the effectiveness and impact of our volunteers serving around the world.

Visit Peacecorps.gov and vsointernational.org to learn more about volunteering and its contribution to international development.

Aaron S. Williams is the Director of the Peace Corps. He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic from 1967 to 1970.
Related Topics: Foreign Policy, Service, New York
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