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zambia landscape at sunset
Photo credit: Jeremy Boley on Unsplash

University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo alum Jeffrey Tomas is among the first Peace Corps volunteers to return to overseas service since the agency’s unprecedented global evacuation in March 2020. The Peace Corps suspended global operations and evacuated nearly 7,000 volunteers from more than 60 countries at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I was motivated to join the Peace Corps because of the opportunity to serve abroad in a community, immerse myself in a new culture, and learn a new language,” Tomas said. “I’m most excited to try new foods, travel when I have the opportunity, and become more knowledgeable in all things agriculture. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to serve.”

Jeffrey Tomas
Jeffrey Tomas

Tomas, a Hilo native, graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology. He will serve for two years as a volunteer in Zambia in the agriculture sector.

“My studies and experience at UH Hilo contributed to my decision to join the Peace Corps because as an anthropology major, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to fully immerse myself in a new culture,” said Tomas. “Also, being able to serve in a community while at the same time following my passion for agriculture, which I discovered while studying at UH Hilo, seemed like a great idea.”

The volunteer cohorts are made up of both first-time volunteers and volunteers who were evacuated in early 2020. Upon finishing a three-month training, volunteers will collaborate with their host communities on locally prioritized projects in one of Peace Corps’ six sectors—agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health or youth in development—and all will engage in COVID-19 response and recovery work.

Currently, the agency is recruiting volunteers to serve in 57 countries around the world at the request of host country governments, to connect through the Peace Corps’ grassroots approach across communities and cultures. Volunteers have already returned to a total of 51 countries around the world. The Peace Corps continues to monitor COVID-19 trends in all of its host countries and will send volunteers to serve as conditions permit. Americans interested in transformative service and lifelong connections should apply to Peace Corps service at Apply before April 1 to make a global connection by fall 2023.

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