The Peace Corps had an unprecedented global evacuation in March 2020. Now, people all over the U.S. are preparing to head back out across the world. At the end of September, Moira and Joshua Eafanti will travel to Paraguay.
For three months, they'll train to learn the local languages and some technical skills. Then they'll spend two years as agricultural volunteers working on sustainable farming practices.
"Peace Corps is one of the few jobs where you can wake up every day, and your entire working time is devoted to trying to be of help in any way to anyone," Joshua Eafanti said.
Since the start of the pandemic, they're some of the first volunteers to go abroad with the Peace Corps. Peace Corps Public Affairs Specialist Diana Callaway says they had to evacuate 7,000 volunteers from more than 60 countries.
"And we did it in about eight days," Callaway said.
It was a very sudden disruption, but Callaway says they were able to continue the program's mission of promoting peace and friendship in other ways.
"Domestic employment involved a partnership with FEMA, and we were helping with vaccination efforts," Callaway said. "But we also started virtual service projects where returned Peace Corps volunteers could work with our country partners and continue offering advice and creating projects just virtually through meetings and such."
Now, 48 countries are ready again to take in volunteers like the Eafantis.
"The positive side of the pandemic is when they had to pull everyone back is they got to really sit down and rethink kind of how they really want it to serve in the future," Joshua Eafanti said. "We will be agriculture volunteers, but also potentially also helping out with COVID efforts and COVID recovery as well. So it's kind of an exciting time to be back to be a part of kind of this new phase of the Peace Corps and to be a part of that first wave back to really reestablish ourselves in the community again."
Whether you're interested in agriculture, education, health, or economic development, there's a place for anyone who feels passionate about serving in the Peace Corps.
"A lot of people who have served pretty much say it's like a once-in-a-lifetime experience," Moira Eafanti said. "So I think, yeah, people should go for it."
Anyone who wants to apply to become a Peace Corps volunteer can visit peacecorps.gov/apply. The deadline to serve in early 2023 is Oct. 1.