The Peace Corps has resumed operations in Thailand by sending 52 American volunteers to the kingdom following the easing of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The volunteers, who arrived yesterday, will work with local communities on education and youth development projects, said Peace Corps Thailand Country Director Sonny Luu.
He said the cultural exchange organization has been in Thailand for 61 years and more than 5,500 volunteers have been sent to the country. But it was halted in March 2020. The arrival of the volunteers yesterday marks the resumption of full operations, he said.
“We have been looking forward to this day for a long time. It has been three years now since we evacuated the last volunteer back in March 2020. The volunteers are excited and enthusiastic … we have been looking forward to working with Thai people again,” he added.
The Peace Corps has prepared two more programmes for volunteers: teacher empowerment where they work with teachers in local schools on English education, and the Youth in Development Project whereby they help students gain leadership or other important skills.
“This is what our volunteers are here for. So we work hand-in-hand with Thai people to further society and their communities,” Mr Luu added.
The volunteers will stay in Thailand for 27 months, he said, adding the Peace Corps will run a series of training exercises for them over the first three months with topics including language, culture and survival skills such as preparing their own mosquito nets, or how to wear a sarong.
Later, they will be assigned to a community and stay with Thai host families, for up to two years.
“After two years, they have the option to extend their service. So you might find some volunteers that will be staying for three years and that has been something we are looking forward to,” Mr Luu said.
When asked what challenges the group now faces, he said the organisation will make sure the volunteers are aware of the pandemic situation and join hands with locals to help combat any future spread of the virus.
The Peace Corps also plans to work with the government and Thai people in climate action and on health issues, he added.