GLEN RIDGE, N.J. – Glen Ridge resident Evan Gates 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 have been motivated to join the Peace Corps ever since I first learned what the Peace Corps was 15 years ago when I was in fifth grade,” said Gates. “I hope Peace Corps will provide me a chance to serve others and use my skills to bring value to people’s lives. I am also excited by the prospect of exploring and connecting with a new culture and way of life.”

Gates is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis with a bachelor’s degree in film and media studies. He will serve as an education volunteer in the Eastern Caribbean.

“The world is at a critical juncture. 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,” said Peace Corps CEO Carol Spahn. “Peace Corps volunteers returning to the Eastern Caribbean 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 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.

On March 15, the Peace Corps welcomed the first volunteers to service in Zambia. The agency is recruiting volunteers to serve at 24 of the agency’s 60 posts, though all posts have enthusiastically requested the return of volunteers. The Peace Corps will continue to monitor COVID-19 trends in all of its host countries and send volunteers to serve as conditions permit.

Gates will work in cooperation with local community and partner organizations on sustainable development projects.