“June 30, 2021
Agency will resume inviting volunteers to serve in countries that have met rigorous health, security and safety standards
Today, the Peace Corps announced that it is a step closer to returning volunteers to overseas service. The agency will resume inviting volunteers to serve at posts that have met a comprehensive set of health, safety and security criteria.
“Following 15 months of global isolation, tireless work by our staff around the world and incredible patience from our applicants and host country partners, the Peace Corps is moving forward in the process of returning to our overseas posts,” said Acting Peace Corps Director Carol Spahn. “The Peace Corps is advancing with an abundance of caution, flexibility and pragmatism, but also with so much hope about all the important work that is ahead of us.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic remains a dynamic challenge, the agency has developed a comprehensive process to safely return volunteers to service abroad. These preparations include ensuring that every post meet a comprehensive list of internal and external factors including updating Emergency Action Plans, ensuring availability of reliable transportations routes in and out of the country, confirming the local medical care capacity, and identifying medical evacuation locations.
Consistent with this comprehensive return to service process, the Peace Corps is implementing plans to move forward with re-opening its program in Belize. At the request of the government of Belize, volunteers will engage in literacy work to help local schools recover following disruptions to the education system during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The agency is continuously reviewing and evaluating its reentry criteria to ensure that the timing of return is safe, respectful of culture and on-the-ground conditions, supportive of host country’s urgent needs, and compliant with local laws, regulations, and protocols. The agency anticipates additional country-specific invitations in the upcoming weeks and months.”
It is hoped that Peace Corps will be able to follow through with its plans for returning Volunteers to the Eastern Caribbean. Last year, then Director Jody Olsen announced:
“October 14, 2020
WASHINGTON – Peace Corps Director Jody K. Olsen announced volunteers will begin returning to service in January.
Speaking to staff today during a town hall meeting launching the agency’s yearlong 60th anniversary celebration, Director Olsen said public health conditions permit the return of volunteers to the Eastern Caribbean.
The agency suspended global operations in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
However, this redeployment did not happen. In response to a FOIA request, January 4, 2021, Peace Corps wrote:
” At this time, there is not an absolute established date for reopening this Post that is not subject to possible change.”
A very ambitious plan to establish a Peace Corps program in Vietnam has also not been implemented.
Earlier in 2016, Peace Corps published this announcement:
May 23, 2016
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 23, 2016 – Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet and the Government of Viet Nam announced today an historic partnership to establish a Peace Corps program for the first time in Viet Nam. The announcement coincides with President Barack Obama’s trip to Viet Nam and underscores the United States’ broader commitment to supporting the people of Viet Nam through English language learning.
“Peace Corps’ partnership with Viet Nam is an opportunity for our countries to continue to develop a strong and enduring relationship, and build friendships that will last a lifetime. I am excited to welcome Viet Nam as our 142nd Peace Corps country,” said Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet. “We’re grateful that the Government and the people of Viet Nam have invited Peace Corps volunteers to serve in their country. This new partnership will further strengthen and deepen our two countries’ people to people engagements, and the volunteers will learn the rich traditions, culture and history of this great nation.”
Peace Corps’ efforts in Viet Nam will focus on English language education. Once in-country, volunteers will undergo three months of comprehensive cultural, language and technical training before they are given their volunteer assignments where they will serve for two years. https://www.peacecorps.gov/news/library/viet-nam-welcome-peace-corps-first-time/?_ga=2.144504371.767958754.1625747576-1257310008.1625512378
Peace Corps has been unable to fulfill this plan. A FOIA request in April 2019 asking for the status of the proposal was closed in July of 2021. Peace Corps referred the request to the FOIA office in the State Department. Of course, the COVID-19 precluded any further plans, I would assume.