Peace Corps volunteers were flying to Cambodia Friday to teach English at rural schools, marking the 45-year-old organization's first mission in the Southeast Asian country, officials said.

The group of 30 volunteers was set to arrive Friday evening in the capital, Phnom Penh.

They will spend their first few months studying Cambodia's Khmer language and the country's culture before spreading out to provincial villages in April, the U.S. Embassy said in a statement issued Thursday.

"We are enthusiastic about this opportunity to build lasting friendships and a mutual understanding with the people of Cambodia," Peace Corps Director Ron Tschetter said in a statement.

Cambodia is the 139th country to receive a mission from the Peace Corps, which has about 7,500 volunteers in 73 nations. Before Cambodia, the last to be added to the list was Mexico in 2004.