Peace Corps honors the service of Hispanic volunteers
Washington, D.C., Sept. 15, 2011 -The Peace Corps is proud to join Americans across the country in commemorating Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 to Oct. 15).
“During Hispanic Heritage Month, we honor the service of Hispanic American Peace Corps volunteers and returned volunteers,” said Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams, (Dominican Republic, 1967-1970). “Today more than 500 Hispanic Americans are serving as Peace Corps volunteers around the world. They work with communities to provide sustainable solutions and reflect the extraordinary diversity of America.”
In addition to local events in Atlanta, Boston and New York, the Peace Corps will host an online panel, “Impacting the Latino Community: At Home and Abroad,” on Sept. 28, in conjunction with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, the Hispanic College Fund, and the Hispanic Scholarship Fund.
About the Peace Corps: President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps on March 1, 1961, by executive order. Throughout 2011, Peace Corps is commemorating 50 years of promoting peace and friendship around the world. Historically, more than 200,000 Americans have served with the Peace Corps to promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of 139 host countries. Today, 8,655 volunteers are working with local communities in 76 host countries. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment. Visit www.peacecorps.gov for more information.
Hispanic Heritage Month takes place every year between September 15 and October 15. Although it is set aside for the nation to recognize the contributions of Hispanic Americans, the nationwide festivities are really about celebrating who we are as a country.
With its diverse food, music and language, the Hispanic culture is an integral part of the social and cultural fabric of the United States.
Below you’ll find some interesting facts about the Hispanic community, which continues to grow in both numbers and contributions to the social, economic and cultural life in the United States.
Promoting religious freedom is a core objective of U.S. foreign policy.
The Office of International Religious Freedom
The Office of International Religious Freedom has the mission of promoting religious freedom as a core objective of U.S. foreign policy. The office is headed by Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Suzan Johnson Cook. We monitor religious persecution and discrimination worldwide, recommend and implement policies in respective regions or countries, and develop programs to promote religious freedom.
Given the U.S. commitment to religious freedom, and to the international covenants that guarantee it as the inalienable right of every human being, the United States seeks to:
- Promote freedom of religion and conscience throughout the world as a fundamental human right and as a source of stability for all countries;
- Assist emerging democracies in implementing freedom of religion and conscience;
- Assist religious and human rights NGOs in promoting religious freedom;
- Identify and denounce regimes that are severe persecutors on the basis of religious belief.
The office carries out its mission through:
- The Annual Report on International Religious Freedom. The report contains an introduction, executive summary, and a chapter describing the status of religious freedom in each of 195 countries throughout the world. Mandated by, and presented to, the U.S. Congress, the report is a public document available online and in book form from the U.S. Government Printing Office.
- The designation by the Secretary of State (under authority delegated by the President) of nations guilty of particularly severe violations of religious freedom as “Countries of Particular Concern” under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (H.R. 2431) and its amendment of 1999 (Public Law 106-55). Nations so designated are subject to further actions, including economic sanctions, by the United States.
- Meetings with foreign government officials at all levels, as well as religious and human rights groups in the United States and abroad, to address problems of religious freedom.
- Testimony before the United States Congress on issues of international religious freedom.
- Close cooperation with the independent United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.
- Sponsorship of reconciliation programs in disputes which divide groups along lines of religious identity. The office seeks to support NGOs that are promoting reconciliation in such disputes.
- Programs of outreach to American religious communities.
For information on religious freedom in the United States please check the website of the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, which publishes a newsletter, Religious Freedom in Focus, covering cases involving religious freedom around the United States. In addition a number of NGOs who monitor human rights issues around the world also report on conditions in the United States.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton released the 2010 mid-year Report on International Religious Freedom on September 13. Following her remarks, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Michael Posner and Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Suzan Johnson Cook took questions.
The Annual Report on International Religious Freedom covers the legal status of religious freedom in more than 190 countries and territories around the world. The International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 also mandates the designation of Countries of Particular Concern. Countries of Particular Concern are governments that have engaged in, or tolerated, systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom.
In her remarks, Secretary Clinton said:
“…The protection of religious freedom is a fundamental concern of the United States going back to the earliest days of our republic, and it remains so today.
“As we look around the world, in fact, we see many countries where governments deny their people the most fundamental human rights: the right to believe according to their own conscience — including the freedom to not believe or not follow the religion favored by their government; the right to practice their religion freely, without risking discrimination, arrest, or violence; and the right to educate their children in their own religious traditions; and the freedom to express their beliefs.
“In Iran, authorities continue to repress Sufi Muslims, evangelical Christians, Jews, Bahais, Sunnis, Ahmadis, and others who do not share the government’s religious views. In China, Tibetan Buddhists, Uighur Muslims, ‘house church’ Christians all suffer from government attempts to restrict their religious practice. In Eritrea last year, a 43-year-old evangelical Christian died in prison; he was reportedly tortured for 18 months and denied treatment for malaria because he refused to renounce his faith.
The official 9/11 Memorial application has been created by the National September 11 Memorial & Museum as a guide to understanding 9/11 through the eyes of who witnessed the events. Given the sensitivity surrounding the events of 9/11, viewer discretion is advised.
The app has three features:
A seven-stop walking tour of the area around the World Trade Center, accompanied by audio and photo narration. The events of the day and its aftermath are told by first responders, rescue workers, volunteers, and those who lived and worked in Lower Manhattan on 9/11. While the walking tour takes place in Lower Manhattan, the tour content is accessible to users anywhere.
View images related to the events of 9/11 and their aftermath taken nearby wherever you are. Photos may be viewed in Augmented Reality-technology mode which overlays images on the camera view. All photos were contributed to the museum by survivors and witnesses through 911history.org.
An interactive timeline of the day’s events and aftermath. Includes links to witness photos taken during these time blocks.
The app can operate in an offline mode for non-U.S. visitors who have disabled data roaming. In this mode, all tour content is still accessible. The app includes a map of free WiFi hotspots near the tour route for downloading “Explore” photos from the vicinity.
The app is rated 9+ due to infrequent/mild realistic violence or infrequent/mild mature/suggestive themes.
For more information on the 9/11 Memorial, please visit http://www.911memorial.org/
The White House will soon be launching a new program called “We the People” to give you the chance to share your ideas directly with the administration.
On Whitehouse.gov, you will be able to create or sign a petition seeking action by the federal government. Then you can encourage your friends and family to sign the petition as well.
If a petition receives enough signatures, it will be reviewed by the administration’s policy experts and an official response will be issued. The President will also answer some of the petitions himself.