A Year Like No Other: A Statement from Peace Corps Acting Director Carol Spahn

March 15, 2021

One year ago today, for the first time in our 60 year history, the Peace Corps made the difficult decision to evacuate all Peace Corps volunteers and temporarily suspend global operations due to the coronavirus pandemic. We, as individuals, as an agency, and as a global community, will never forget March 15, 2020.

That decision, made as borders were closing and flights were being cancelled, launched an unprecedented effort to return nearly 7,000 volunteers safely to the United States from remote corners of the world in just eight days. That week, communities in 61 countries said abrupt farewells to the volunteers with whom they had lived and worked side-by-side to address issues which still remain. And the nearly 7,000 volunteers returned home to unknown circumstances despite their commitment to serve for two years. None of us envisioned that we would be here, a year later, still preparing for the time when it is safe to return.

How do we measure a year? In many ways, time stood still and yet never stopped moving.

We pause today to remember the more than 2.5 million grandparents, parents, family, friends, and coworkers around the world who we have lost to this pandemic. We reflect on this journey of uncertainty, isolation, and constant adaptation. We offer our gratitude for the Peace Corps family: host communities, counterparts, and governments who welcome us; staff who anchor our work with open hearts; and volunteers whose passion for service never ends. We celebrate the bravery and ingenuity of individuals who have risen to the occasion in countless ways. And, we look forward to the time when we can be together once again.

The world has changed and we are called to be intentional about how we move forward. Peace Corps stands ready to meet this historic moment. Following a period of global isolation and divisiveness, our mission of world peace and friendship is more important than ever.

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 over 140 countries worldwide. For more information, visit peacecorps.gov and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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