The U.S. Peace Corps is trying to diversify its work force by actively recruiting minorities, older people and couples, but the director of the agency said Monday in San Francisco that only legally married people are classified as a couple.
Director Gaddi Vasquez spoke at the San Francisco Commonwealth Club about the Peace Corps’ recruitment plan, which includes doubling the current volunteer force of 7,000 people to 14,000 within the next five years.
He said a major part of expanding the work force, which is composed of volunteers who spend two years working for free in developing countries, will include bringing in more minorities, older people and couples.
The Peace Corps work force currently consists of 60 percent women, a fact Vasquez said he is proud of, but only 7 percent can be classified as "mature Americans'' and just 14 percent are minorities.
Vasquez, a Latino man who spent part of his childhood in Watsonville while his parents worked on farms, recounted a recent trip to Morocco where a young man exiting a mosque said he did not look like an American because his skin and hair is dark. This experience, he said, showed how crucial it is to further integrate the work force so the world has a better understanding of who lives in the United States.
"Fourteen percent is not representative of ethnicity in America,'' he said, referring to percentage of minorities serving in the Peace Corps.