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KOICA, Peace Corps to team up for overseas volunteer projects

The Korea International Cooperation Agency and the Peace Corps of the United States will join forces to boost their overseas volunteer projects.

According to the Korean governmental agency for overseas aid and grants on Tuesday, KOICA president Kim Young-mok is scheduled to sign an agreement with the Peace Corps during an annual dinner reception to be hosted by the Korea Society in New York on Wednesday.

Under the agreement, volunteers of both agencies will cooperate on international development cooperation projects.

“For example, World Friends Korea volunteers may be dispatched to hospitals or schools built by the Peace Corps, and vice versa,” a KOICA official said.

World Friends Korea is a service corps launched by the agency in 2009 after integrating governmental overseas volunteer programs. It corresponds to the Peace Corps.

Under the agreement, the Korean agency will seek to hold overseas volunteer conferences and campaigns jointly with Peace Corps as well as push the exchanges of human resources in personnel training and education.

The Peace Corps is a volunteer program run by the U.S. government, established by an executive order issued by then President John F. Kenney in 1961.

Between 1961 and 2013, more than 210,000 Americans joined the Peace Corps and served in 139 countries. Currently, about 8,000 members are working in 64 countries.

The Peace Corps sent volunteers to South Korea in the 1960s and 1970s. Former U.S. Ambassador to Korea Kathleen Stephens taught English in Yesan, South Chungcheong Province, as a member of the Peace Corps for two years from 1975.

With the launch of World Friends Korea, Korea has become the second-largest country after the U.S in terms of the scale of volunteer dispatch. It sends about 4,000 volunteers to 47 countries each year.

“Cooperation between the top two agencies in sending volunteers overseas is expected to raise the effectiveness of the Official Development Assistance as well as humanitarian activities,” he said.

By Chun Sung-woo (swchun@heraldcorp.com)
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