Returning Volunteer Begins Service in Georgia
Tbilisi, Georgia – In February 2023 Peace Corps/Georgia welcomed back American Peace Corps volunteers to serve alongside community members across the country.
Volunteers have not served in Georgia since they were evacuated in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event marked the first time in the Peace Corps’ 60-year history that volunteers were evacuated from all posts worldwide. Since that time, Peace Corps/Georgia staff have continued to engage with our partners through Virtual Service engagements, providing professional development opportunities to partner schools and organizations, and through developing and sharing technical resources in the fields of education, youth development, organizational strengthening, and project management.
Among the group of newly arrived volunteers is one of the volunteers who evacuated from Georgia in March 2020. Susan was sworn in again as a Volunteer late last week at a small ceremony held at the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi. The ceremony was officiated by U.S. Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan. Multiple returned Peace Corps Volunteers from Georgia and around the world along with U.S. Embassy and Peace Corps Georgia staff attended the ceremony and celebrated Susan’s return to Georgia.
“It is so wonderful to return to Georgia to complete my service as a Peace Corps volunteer. When we were evacuated in March of 2020, it felt a little like being ripped away from home. Though I had always planned to return, encouraged by the thoughtful and sweet messages from people with whom I worked and served, I did not expect to have the opportunity to again serve with the Peace Corps. It’s an incredible opportunity and honor.
When things are challenging, it can be easy to forget what a privilege it is to volunteer. As an American, I am not only proud to represent my country and the spirit of service envisioned by President John F. Kennedy, but also very lucky to do so in the magical country of Georgia. During the weeks leading up to my return, I would smile each time I imagined reuniting with people in my community and with the Peace Corps staff I have come to love and appreciate so much during my previous 11 months in-country. I only hope I can contribute a fraction of what the people and the country of Georgia have freely given to me.” – said Susan.
“Susan’s return allows Peace Corps to say we have one, amazing, resilient and committed volunteer currently serving in Georgia,” said Peace Corps Georgia Country Director, Jeffrey Goveia. “Susan has remained committed to returning to Georgia and completing her service here since she left in March 2020. Similarly, Susan’s partners and friends in her host community have been equally eager to see her return. We look forward to the remaining 18 new volunteers completing their training and joining Susan in the field in May.”
In her remarks at Susan’s swearing-in ceremony, Ambassador Degnan remarked upon “the spirit of service volunteers such as Susan demonstrate.” She continued by noting, “everywhere [she’s] traveled—from Akhalkalaki to Khulo, Bolnisi to Tsalenjika, [she’s] met families and communities who hosted volunteers, and who cherish the positive impact that Peace Corps has had in Georgia.’
At the request of the government of Georgia, volunteers will engage in the English and Youth Engagement for the Future and Individual and Organizational Development projects. They will collaborate with local public schools and organizations to increase English language proficiency with youth, help enhance teaching practices with counterparts, foster youth development activities with host communities, contribute to organizational development with partner NGOs and municipal entities, and support employability and entrepreneurship skills development of individuals.
For decades, Peace Corps has engaged in last mile, critical global health work for decades and the COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. Regardless of the sector they work in, all Peace Corps volunteers engage in some form of COVID-19 response and recovery work, as either primary or secondary projects. Together, they will work alongside community members to strengthen systems to help respond to challenges exacerbated and exposed by COVID-19.
The agency has issued invitations for Volunteers to serve at 52 Peace Corps posts and remains flexible to the evolving conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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.
About Peace Corps Georgia: In 2021, the Government of Georgia invited Peace Corps to establish a program in Georgia. The first group of 21 volunteers arrived later that year to teach English alongside Georgian English teachers. In 2004, the program was expanded to support organizational development. More than 900 Americans have served in Georgia, exchanging skills with their Georgian counterparts, supervisors, and community members, sharing American culture, and bringing Georgian culture back home with them to the United States.