WACO, Texas (FOX 44) – Waco resident Cecilia Martinez is among the first Peace Corps volunteers to return to overseas service since the agency’s 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.

“My personal goal is to get out of my comfort zone and explore new things, new culture and new people. Professionally, I want to acquire new skills to help youth in all places and wherever I may end up next,” said Martinez.

Martinez is a graduate of Texas State University, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice. She will serve as a volunteer in Costa Rica in the youth in development sector.

“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 Costa Rica 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.

The agency is currently recruiting volunteers to serve in 40 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 17 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. Anyone interested can apply to Peace Corps service at www.peacecorps.gov/apply.