U.S. Peace Corps to return next year – 2023

Peace Corps in Samoa a few years ago.

The U.S. Peace Corps Country Director Gini Wilderson has announced that their volunteers will return to Samoa in February next year after being away for close to two years.

The COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 forced the volunteers to leave the country when there was a worldwide evacuation of U.S. Peace Corps volunteers in March 2020.

Ms. Wilderson said in a statement issued on Friday that the volunteers have been away for close to two years and have been missed, but their program is now back to full strength hence their re-deployment to Samoa next year.

Peace Corps Volunteer Group 88 with Peace Corps Samoa staff. Photo credit: U.S. Department of State.
Peace Corps Volunteer Group 88 from 2016 with Peace Corps Samoa staff in Samoa. Photo credit: U.S. Department of State.

“We are beyond excited to have the Volunteers returning and the program back up to full strength,” she said.

“We can’t wait to get back out into villages and into schools to continue our important work together with our Samoan partners.”

The commitment of the U.S. Peace Corps to Samoa is steadfast with the organisation now having 17 staff on the ground.

The US Peace Corps’ commitment to Samoa remained steadfast—there are 17 total Peace Corps staff in Samoa. The U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, Tom Udall and his wife Jill met with the staff a few weeks ago.

Staff with the organisation were also praised by Ms. Wilderson for assisting the local health authorities during the pandemic.

“Huge kudos to the team. During the pandemic they sought to do whatever they could to help while diligently following all local health guidance,” she said in a statement.

“The Samoan Ministry of Health requested assistance from Peace Corps Samoa’s medical team and Dr. Sarah Brown, Dr. Sheila Pierce and nurse Joyce Collins were all pleased to play a role in vaccinating 5 -11 year olds.

“The Peace Corps also loaned the use of a car and driver to transport the teams to the school vaccination sites.

“The staff continued its support of Samoan government ministries and schools and they even participated in community volunteer activities. They didn’t stop.

“It took some creative and careful coordination but they were determined to help in any way possible.”

And now with the volunteers returning, Ms. Wilderson says renewed effort is also going into supporting schools to provide Samoan students with the opportunity to learn English.

“Peace Corps Samoa’s current volunteer focus is on promoting English literacy in Samoan primary schools,” she said.

“The Primary School English Literacy Project was developed in close partnership with the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture (M.E.S.C.) and was officially launched about a decade ago.

“Volunteers have always recognized the privilege that it is to help Samoans develop skills they need to succeed and thrive. We are very keen to return Volunteers to Samoa.”