Peace Corps: Mesa woman gets ready for duty as aid group returns following COVID evacuations

For the first time since its inception in 1961, the Peace Corps, shut down during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The U.S. government group, which says they offer a "service opportunity for motivated changemakers to immerse themselves in a community abroad, working side by side with local leaders to tackle the most pressing challenges of our generation," evacuated its people from various places around the world in response to COVID-19 in 2020.

According to a 2020 article by the Associated Press, Peace Corps officials pulled all volunteers from projects around the world due to COVID. About 7,000 volunteers were evacuated from 60 countries, and those evacuated had to self-quarantine for two weeks after they returned to the U.S. 

In March 2022, the AP reported that Peace Corps officials are sending volunteers overseas again.

"In this time, we’re incredibly grateful to the volunteers that have stuck with the Peace Corps, and are accepting the offer to go to these countries at this time 2 years later," said Diana Callaway with the Peace Corps.

Long wait is over or Arizona woman

For Brenna Wojtysiak of Mesa, a two-year wait for Peace Corps is over.

"I'm one of the first to go back overseas, so I’m really excited about that," said Brenna, who is among the first to head to South America.

"August 16, I’m going to prepare for it. I'm taking off work," said Brenna's mother, Kandi Wojtysiak.

Brenna was initially set to go to Ecuador in March 2020. The pandemic, however, changed that. Now, the Peace Corps stint is set to begin for Brenna.

"To be able to immerse yourself in another culture, and learn how it really works building relationships between America and the country you go to is kind of the whole purpose of Peace Corps: build trust, learn another culture, and have them learn about your culture as well," said Brenna.

Brenna will first head to Washington, D.C. before starting her 27-month-long service.

"This is something that I will do at some point in my life, and I’m glad it’s now. I'm so glad it’s now," said Brenna.

Peace Corps officials say now that they are back in action, they are accepting applications. They hope to be back in 60 countries by August 2023.

The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.