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A Corvallis resident is one of the first Peace Corps volunteers to return to service

Adam Burgess
Adam Burgess
Adam Burgess, third from the left, with his host family in 2020.

A Corvallis resident is one of the first Peace Corps volunteers to head back into the field after a two-year hiatus.

Adam Burgess graduated from Oregon State in March of 2020, excited to start a post in Africa. “I was in Zambia with the Peace Corps for, I believe it was eight or 10 days," he said. "And then we found out about COVID and we all had to go home.”

The Peace Corps evacuated nearly 7,000 people from around the world. Burgess had embraced his brief time away and waited—longer than he’d hoped—to go back. He’s training in Zambia’s capital now, excited to move to an eastern village in June for two years of field work on reforestation. He told KLCC, “I’m very experienced with forestry management and agriculture, so I’m ready to get my hands dirty and get down to work.”

The Peace Corps is recruiting. Burgess said they hope to be back to pre-pandemic service levels within a year.

He said the Peace Corps rolled out the red carpet for the pioneering group to re-enter service. The 35 initial volunteers gathered in Washington, D.C., and met First Lady Jill Biden. For Burgess, though, the best part was getting back to Zambia. “It’s refreshing here, it’s a very relaxed place," he said, adding, "I could get used to this.”

All the 2022 volunteers were trained in COVID-19 response and education efforts.

Karen Richards has been a KLCC reporter since the fall of 2012.