US Peace Corps return to Sri Lanka

Wednesday 28th February 2018 05:51 EST

Colombo: In a new initiative, United States and Colombo signed an agreement to re-establish a Peace Corps programme in Sri Lanka. Acting Peace Corps Director Sheila Crowley and Foreign Affairs Minister Tilak Marapana signed the agreement to re-establish the programme in Sri Lanka. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and US Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives Atul Keshap witnessed the signing.

The announcement coincides with the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the United States and Sri Lanka. The United States has decided to re-establish the programme, after a request by the Sri Lanka government to re-implement the Peace Corps Programme in the island nation to teach English. Peace Corps said its efforts in Sri Lanka would focus on English language education. This programme will support the development of capacity of the English language teachers in Sri Lanka.

Peace Corps volunteers will undergo three months of comprehensive cultural, language and technical training before they are given their assignments to serve for two years. The first 25 Peace Corps Volunteers are scheduled to arrive in Sri Lanka in late 2019. The United States Peace Corps programme has been in operation from time to time in Sri Lanka since 1962 and provided significant support to the relief and reconstruction efforts, especially in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami disaster.

From 1962 to 1998, more than 370 Peace Corps volunteers served in Sri Lanka, working in education, health and youth development. The programme was closed in 1998 due to political instability. Peace Corps' Crisis Corps, now Peace Corps Response, returned to Sri Lanka to support relief efforts in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. In 2016, the Government of Sri Lanka invited Peace Corps to return to work and assist in furthering the country's development goals.

"The return of Peace Corps to Sri Lanka is an opportunity to deepen the enduring friendship that has grown between our two countries over the past 70 years," said Acting Peace Corps Director Sheila Crowley.

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