After a two-year hiatus enforced by the COVID-19 pandemic, Bronxite David Paulino will be among the first Peace Corp volunteers to return to overseas service, when he heads to Colombia to work in the country’s education sector.
In March 2020, the Peace Corps did something unprecedented in its 60-year history by temporarily suspending its global operations and evacuating nearly 7,000 volunteers from 62 countries due to the pandemic.
The independent agency said it continued to further its mission of world peace and friendship through several virtual service engagements with overseas partners and a second-ever domestic deployment to assist the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) with its COVID-19 vaccine distribution efforts.
Paulino, a graduate of SUNY Cortland with a bachelor’s degree in International Studies, will work in cooperation with local community and partner organizations on sustainable development projects.
“What motivated me to join the Peace Corps was the people,” said Paulino. “To be able to understand a culture through real-life interactions with its people and their lived experience is what motivates me the most. There is a shared goal between the volunteers and the community. I am very excited about this new journey that I will be undertaking.”
Volunteer cohorts are made up of both first-time volunteers and volunteers who were evacuated in early 2020. Following a three-month training period, volunteers will collaborate with their host communities on locally prioritized projects in one of the 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, the agency says.
In an October 2021 testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Acting Director Carol Spahn said, “The Peace Corps is committed to playing a critical role in global COVID-19 response and recovery by returning volunteers to work in partnership with underserved communities around the world.”
“The world is at a critical juncture. 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,” said Spahn. “Peace Corps volunteers returning to Colombia will work alongside community members to support urgent development efforts and build critical connections.”
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 and officials said they will continue to monitor COVID-19 trends in all of its host countries and send volunteers to serve as conditions permit.
Reach Robbie Sequeira at email@example.com or (718) 260-4599. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes