An Open Letter to the Peace Corps Community

February 5, 2021

The following is an open letter to Returned Peace Corps Volunteers from Acting Director Carol Spahn

To the Peace Corps community,

It’s been just over two weeks since I stepped in as Acting Director of the Peace Corps in the middle of a tumultuous January. As the ground continues to shift under our feet here at home and overseas, I am reminded of the importance of our shared experiences as ambassadors of peace and friendship.

Our primary goal during this critical time is returning Peace Corps Volunteers back to the countries we know and love. We are also committed to taking on the work necessary to return to service in a way that promotes racial equity and justice. Peace Corps is in the process of reviewing our structures, programs and policies to identify how we can best recruit and support a diverse cohort of Volunteers and staff, representing the tapestry of American culture, and ensure a safe and inclusive environment for all. We are approaching this work with humility and in the spirit of promoting mutual understanding. I appreciate every person who is and will be engaged in this endeavor.

The values of the Peace Corps—respect, collaboration, and acceptance of others—are more important than ever, both at home and overseas. When Americans return to the United States after completing their service, they are no longer Peace Corps Volunteers, but it is our expectation and hope that they continue to demonstrate these values here at home.

With that in mind, it was stunning news that a former Peace Corps Volunteer was among the violent mob that assaulted the Capitol. Agency staff and I, as well as others in the Peace Corps community, were devastated by the images of people storming the center of American government while members of Congress performed their constitutional duties. Differences of background or opinion do not justify violence and direct threats to our democratic system. The Peace Corps strongly condemns the actions of anyone who participated in the assault on the Capitol, including the former Volunteer reported to have been present.

The Peace Corps mission is to promote world peace and friendship by working alongside the communities that welcome us. I thank you for your continued engagement and partnership with Peace Corps and with our mission.

About the Peace Corps: The Peace Corps sends Americans with a passion for service abroad on behalf of the United States to work with communities and create lasting change. Volunteers develop sustainable solutions to address challenges in education, health, community economic development, agriculture, the environment and youth development. Through their Peace Corps experience, volunteers gain a unique cultural understanding and a life-long commitment to service that positions them to succeed in today's global economy. Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, more than 240,000 Americans of all ages have served in 142 countries worldwide. For more information, visit peacecorps.gov and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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