Sofia McNally ’21 is among the first Peace Corps volunteers to return to overseas service since March 2020, when 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 hope to gain a broader sense of global citizenship and the problems facing our planet and all people,” says McNally, a Phi Beta Kappa marine science graduate from South Portland, Maine. “I’m looking forward to exploring a new place and learning new languages and customs.”
A standout during her time at Eckerd, McNally was a recipient of the Gloria Taffae Trust Endowed Scholarship for Marine Science. She will serve as an agriculture volunteer in Paraguay.
“The world is at a critical juncture,” says Peace Corps CEO Carol Spahn. “The largest global vaccination effort in history is underway while other widespread health, social, political and environmental issues continue to erode the foundation of our global society. Actions taken in the next few years have the potential to fundamentally impact development trajectories for decades to come. Peace Corps volunteers returning to Paraguay will work alongside community members to support urgent development efforts and build critical connections.”
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 the 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.
Eckerd’s Peace Corps Prep program provides preparation and certification to students seeking to develop the competencies critical to the intercultural fieldwork of its volunteers.
According to the agency, it’s currently recruiting volunteers to serve in 48 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 23 countries around the globe. The agency continues to monitor COVID-19 trends in all of its host countries and will send volunteers to serve as conditions permit.
The Peace Corps currently has a high need for applicants to fill volunteer programs departing by early 2023. Interested Americans can apply online by October 1 for hundreds of available openings worldwide. Volunteers receive a living stipend, extensive language and technical training, and financial benefits including student loan deferment and graduate school fellowships after service.