Mark D. Gearan '78, national director of the Peace Corps--a government-sponsored public service organization that sends volunteers to foreign countries--will speak about the corps future in the Freshman Union at noon today.
The remarks are part of the ongoing celebration of the organization's 35th anniversary, which will occur next year, according to a press release.
"I think our main challenge is to respond to the countries in need of our help," Gearan said in an interview yesterday.
"It's also to attract the best and brightest Americans into the Peace Corps and for us to stay on the cutting edge and to ensure that jobs and the assignments we do make a real difference in the lives of real people," he said.
Gearan, who said he had "the best job in Washington," was appointed to direct the Peace Corps by President Clinton in August. Gearan has also held positions in the communications and strategic planning departments in the White House and served as deputy chief of staff in 1993.
Cathy A. McLaughlin, deputy director of the Institute of Politics (IOP), said the institute is proud to sponsor Gearan's address. "The mission of the IOP is to encourage students to be involved in politics and public service, and the Peace Corps falls right into that," she said.
On average, about 35 Harvard students apply each year to become Peace Corps volunteers. Currently, about 15 graduates are enrolled in the corps, Michael Wood, public affairs specialist for the Boston Peace Corps, said.
"I think this event would be a great way for Harvard students to find out what will happen with the Peace Corps in the next five to 10 years," Wood said.
The Peace Corps is supported by over 140,000 volunteers and takes on projects around the world. Students who volunteer gain an extraordinary experience living overseas, Gearan said.
Gearan said he is excited about returning to his alma mater to promote his organization.
"I'm very excited to come back," Gearan said. "To get a chance to come back to Harvard and talk about the Peace Corps is wonderful."