Susanville resident Justin Downing 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 was motivated to join because I believe in the Peace Corps’ mission of promoting peace and friendship between the U.S. and other nations,” said Downing.
Downing is a graduate of UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He will serve as a volunteer in the Eastern Caribbean in the education sector.
“The world is at a critical juncture,” said Peace Corps CEO Carol Spahn. “The largest global vaccination effort in history is underway while other widespread health, social, political and environmental issues continue to erode the foundation of our global society. Actions taken in the next few years have the potential to fundamentally impact development trajectories for decades to come. Peace Corps volunteers returning to the Eastern Caribbean will work alongside community members to support urgent development efforts and build critical connections.”
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.
Downing will work in cooperation with local community and partner organizations on sustainable development projects.
About the Peace Corps
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. For more information, visit peacecorps.gov and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.