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Peace Corps recruitment continues online despite COVID-19 challenges

Virginia Tech Peace Corps Recruiter Anne Patterson conducts a training in Squire’s Student Center about a menstruation awareness program in Peace Corps.

When in-person activities were cancelled at Virginia Tech, Peace Corps Recruiter Anne Patterson realized that she needed to reinvent the way she does her job.

According to Patterson, “Covid-19 changed the look of Peace Corps recruiting at Virginia Tech and in southwestern Virginia. There were activities, panels, and gatherings planned for the spring that could not happen. What that has meant for me has been Zoom office hours, information sessions, and classroom chats.”

Patterson typically conducted recruitment activities in-person at campus and community events as well as during office hours.

She continued, “These are difficult times, as the number of applications has decreased. Students have been attending online information sessions and emailing questions, and Peace Corps is continuing to interview potential volunteers. I’m here to help people in southwestern Virginia interested in development work overseas.”

For the first time in history, Peace Corps suspended its global operations and evacuated all volunteers in countries worldwide on March 15. Several VT alumni were among those who evacuated following the announcement. Some current students were also impacted, as new volunteer departures have been pushed back to late fall.

Peace Corps has not specified when operations will resume. In the meantime, volunteers will remain in the States until it is safe for them to return to their countries of service. Peace Corps is still interviewing and recruiting in all six work areas (community economic development, education, environment, health, agriculture, and youth development) so that volunteers will be prepared to serve when operations resume.

Yet, Patterson is optimistic about getting back to a new normal. “Throughout all of the evacuations, departure delays, and disappointments, there is one thing that Peace Corps volunteers share – hope,” said Patterson.“ When it is safe, Peace Corps will send the volunteers back, and the work to spread knowledge and peace will continue.”