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How will the COVID-19 pandemic change Peace Corps service?

A group of Volunteers poses for a photo upon arrival in the Dominican Republic.

There are some things to think about if you're considering becoming a Volunteer in the COVID-19 era.

The Peace Corps mission is more important than ever. Promoting world peace and friendship by working alongside local leaders will always be a pillar of our work. That mission now comes with the new and evolving challenges related to serving abroad during a global pandemic. Peace Corps Volunteers entering service at this historic time will have new and important responsibilities, both to themselves and to their host communities.

As stated on our COVID-19 webpage, Peace Corps service will be different than in the past, and will include specific COVID-19 protocols that may evolve based on the conditions in each country. While Volunteers will continue to serve in our traditional sectors, there will be a new emphasis and focus on supporting our partner communities address the impacts of the pandemic.

Just as COVID-19 has changed our lives across the United States, it has hit communities around the world in similar and unique ways. Communities everywhere are adjusting to life with the risk of COVID-19 and people are learning new ways to live, work, and learn. No matter which sector a Peace Corps Volunteer serves in, COVID-19 response and recovery will be an important part of meeting the moment. Teaching resiliency and modeling public-health practices will be an essential part of the work of all Peace Corps Volunteers.

The changes to service should be considered when deciding on whether or not the opportunity is the right choice for you at this time. It will require even more creativity, agility, and commitment. Some COVID-19 protocols, such as masking and social distancing, will be determined on a country-by-country basis. Other new Peace Corps protocols have been adopted for all countries and programs. They include:

  • COVID-19 vaccines: In order to serve in the Peace Corps, all Trainees must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • Restricted travel: In the interest of the health and safety of our Volunteers, staff, and the countries we serve, international travel for nonemergency purposes, including to the United States, will not be permitted until conditions warrant a change in this global policy.

The Peace Corps takes the health and safety of Trainees and Volunteers seriously, and has been working since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to evaluate conditions and prepare for the safe return of Volunteers to the field.

"The Peace Corps is advancing with an abundance of caution, flexibility and pragmatism, but also with so much hope about all the important work that is ahead of us.""

Is the time right for you?

Recognizing that COVID-19 has changed Peace Corps service, it is important for applicants to evaluate their readiness to serve. Peace Corps Volunteers will be faced with evolving conditions that will require a high degree of flexibility, agility and commitment. If it becomes clear that service is not the right choice for them at this time, we understand. Applicants and invitees may choose to decline a Peace Corps invitation, which will not negatively affect future applications. Reapplying is encouraged when the time is right for the individual.

This is a pivotal moment to serve in the Peace Corps. Accepting an invitation to serve at this time means you will have the opportunity to help Peace Corps resume programming around the world to address complex global challenges. We are seeking Volunteers who are ready to meet this historic moment with a sense of responsibility, empathy, and commitment. Volunteers will work alongside partners to make progress on the biggest development challenges the world has faced in more than a century.

If you want to learn more about how COVID-19 has changed the Peace Corps application process, visit our blog.