Floresville resident Grayson Middleton is among the first Peace Corps volunteers to return to overseas service since the agency’s unprecedented global evacuation in March 2020. The Peace Corps suspended global operations and evacuated nearly 7,000 volunteers from more than 60 countries at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’ve wanted to be a Peace Corps volunteer for as long as I can remember. I’m excited to serve both my home country as well as the people in the community I’ll be living in for two years. I hope to make lasting connections with my host family, coworkers and community members by immersing myself in Colombian culture and perfecting my Spanish language skills,” said Middleton.
Middleton will serve as a volunteer in Colombia in the community economic development sector.
“This is a historic moment at a pivotal time in the world. We are witnessing the largest vaccination effort in history, ongoing concerns about COVID-19 and a war that is expected to broadly impact food security,” said Peace Corps CEO Carol Spahn. “The return of Peace Corps volunteers to Colombia is just one step in returning volunteers to countries around the world to partner with host communities and support urgent response and recovery efforts.”
The volunteer cohorts are made up of both first-time volunteers and volunteers who were evacuated in early 2020. Upon finishing a three-month training, volunteers will collaborate with their host communities on locally prioritized projects in one of Peace Corps’ six sectors – agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health or youth in development – and all will engage in COVID-19 response and recovery work.
On March 15, the Peace Corps welcomed the first volunteers to service in Zambia. The agency is recruiting volunteers to serve at 24 of the agency’s 60 posts, though all posts have enthusiastically requested the return of volunteers. The Peace Corps will continue to monitor COVID-19 trends in all of its host countries and send volunteers to serve as conditions permit.
Middleton will work in cooperation with local community and partner organizations on sustainable development projects. The Peace Corps is an international service network of volunteers, community members, host country partners and staff who are driven by the agency’s mission of world peace and friendship. At the invitation of governments around the world, Peace Corps volunteers work alongside community members on locally prioritized projects in the areas of education, health, environment, agriculture, community economic development and youth development. Through service, members of the Peace Corps network develop transferable skills and hone intercultural competencies that position them to be the next generation of global leaders. Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, more than 240,000 Americans have served in 142 countries worldwide.