The Peace Corps expects to have volunteers in the newly independent Baltic countries and possibly some Soviet republics by next summer, the agency's new director says.
Elaine Chao - who met last week with the presidents of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia at a seminar in Indianapolis - said plans to send an advance Peace Corps team to the three countries to set up volunteer programs have been delayed because U.S. diplomatic facilities are not yet in place. She said the team should leave before the end of the month.Chao spoke after returning from a trip to Bulgaria, where she represented the United States at the opening of an American university in Blagoevgrad. The university is housed in the former Communist Party headquarters.
The Peace Corps began a five-day training conference Wednesday for about 70 senior Polish bankers in Krakow. Five American bankers from the American Institute of Banking volunteered to conduct the training, said Chao, a former vice president of BankAmerica in San Francisco.
"One of the most urgent needs of the people of Eastern Europe is the development of true market economies - economies which are dependent on sound banking practices," she said.
The Peace Corps has nearly 6,000 volunteers in 90 countries worldwide, including 26 English teachers in Bulgaria and well over 500 volunteers in other Central and Eastern European countries.
President Bush announced in September that the 30-year-old volunteer organization would move quickly to help the Baltic countries.
Chao said the Peace Corps team would visit towns throughout Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to determine where volunteers are needed.
She said an English-teaching program, a project to develop small businesses and an environmental protection program are likely in the newly democratic countries.
"So many nations, in their haste to industrialize very quickly, sometimes neglect the byproducts of rapid industrialization," she said.