Peace Corps will return to Solomon Islands

 

(AP) The US says it will open an embassy in the Solomon Islands, laying out in unusually blunt terms a plan to increase its influence in the South Pacific nation before China becomes strongly embedded.

The reasoning was explained in a State Department notification to Congress that was obtained by The Associated Press.

The plan was confirmed by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a visit to Fiji Saturday on a Pacific tour that began in Australia.

The State Department said the Peace Corps was planning to reopen an office in the Solomon Islands and have its volunteers serve there, and that several US agencies were establishing government positions with portfolios in the Solomons. The Peace Corps first went to the Solomon Islands in 1971.

The Department needs to be part of this increased US presence, rather than remaining a remote player, it wrote.

The State Department said it didn’t expect to build a new embassy immediately but would at first lease space at an initial set-up cost of 12.4 million. The embassy would be located in the capital, Honiara, and would start small, with two US employees and about five local staff.

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  • Peace Corps announced the plan to return to the Solomon Islands in October of 2019. This was weeks away from the realization that COIVD-19 could become a pandemic. COVID 19 had a devastating impact on Peace Corps Volunteers and future planning. It would appear that there is much support from this administration to reestablish an American presence in the Solomon islands. Here is the announcement more than years ago:

    “October 18, 2019

    WASHINGTON – Almost 20 years after departing Solomon Islands, the Peace Corps announced it will re-establish operations in the South Pacific nation. Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen and the Honorable Harry Kuma, minister of Finance and Treasury of Solomon Islands, celebrated the announcement during a reception today at Peace Corps headquarters.

    “Based on the results of a thorough assessment earlier this year, we are pleased to support the return of Peace Corps volunteers,” said Director Olsen. “We are grateful to the Government and people of Solomon Islands for their invitation to have Peace Corps volunteers serve side-by-side with Solomon Islanders in their beautiful country.”

    Peace Corps’ efforts in Solomon Islands will initially focus on education and will recruit short-term volunteers with experience in Peace Corps’ education sector to help re-establish the program. This first group of volunteers is scheduled to arrive mid-2021.

    In late 2021, the second group of volunteers is slated to arrive. They will undergo three months of comprehensive cultural, language and technical training before they are given their two-year assignments.”

    • As education will be a focus for the Peace Corps in SI, I am curious what, particularly, will be taught.

      As I understand, most education in the islands has to be paid for by parents/guardians.

      I hope volunteers will eventually be more hands-on with infrastructure projects.

      I’m know any help would be appreciated.

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