Peace Corps volunteers to return to Jamaica in September
Peace Corps Jamaica volunteer Alexandra Teesdale speaks with a group of students, who are about to enter the field to conduct tests on mangroves (Photo: Don Waysome)

Come September, the services of Peace Corps Jamaica will continue after being affected by the novel coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

As the volunteers gear up for a “special” return to the island, the organisation celebrated its 60th anniversary of service in Jamaica at St Margaret’s Church in Liguanea, St Andrew, on June 12 under the theme ‘Celebrating 60 years of friendship and partnership’.

Since 1962, Peace Corps Jamaica, with an aim to promote world peace and friendship through community-based development and cross-cultural understanding, partnered with Jamaicans in all 14 parishes on locally prioritised projects in agriculture, education, environment, health, urban development, and small business development.

These projects, the organisation said, are in keeping with its aims, which were achieved through pursuing three goals: to help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women, to help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served, and to help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

“This year is a special year for Peace Corps Jamaica. Sixty years ago, on February 22, 1962, the US Government and the Government of Jamaica signed a country agreement, officially establishing the Peace Corps in Jamaica and the first set of volunteers arrived in country on June 12, less than two months before Jamaica became an independent nation,” said Glenda Green, country director for Peace Corps Jamaica.

Since then, more than 3,880 people have served as volunteers on the island, most of whom were placed in small rural communities. Leaders, third-year extension volunteers, and response volunteers were placed in larger urban centres, such as Kingston and Ocho Rios.

“Due to the pandemic, all volunteers were evacuated in March 2020. However, while our volunteers have been absent from duties for the past two years, staff continued to support the work of our partners and are busy preparing for their return. I am pleased to announce that with the necessary clearance given, come September 2022, our volunteers will return to island to resume their work with the people of Jamaica,” Green continued.

The celebration service was one of the organisation’s celebratory events highlighting its long-standing partnership with the Jamaican people. Celebrations were prolonged with a public speaking and poster design competition in partnership with the Social Development Commission at its training site in Highgate, St Mary. Various early childhood, primary, and secondary institutions in the community participated.

Further, a 60th anniversary awards ceremony to recognise the Peace Corps’s partners will be hosted on Wednesday, June 29, 2022.

The US Peace Corps was established in 1961 by President John F Kennedy and involves a diverse group of American men and women who volunteer to spend two years providing assistance to develop sustainable solutions for the world’s greatest challenges to 61 nations. Volunteers work across the globe to address challenges in agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health, and youth development. Jamaica was the seventh country to receive Peace Corps volunteers.

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