In March 2020, the pandemic forced the Peace Corps to halt its operations in over 60 countries. This consisted of evacuating almost 7,000 volunteers across the world.
Sammamish resident Liam Paup is among the first volunteers returning to service for the organization.
Founded by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, the Peace Corps is a governmental agency that sends volunteers to various countries worldwide. Its goal is to maintain and promote world peace by implementing initiatives that further international development in interested nations.
Paup, 24, was originally accepted as a volunteer in 2019 and was set to depart for Benin in June 2020, before the pandemic.
The Skyline High School alum expressed both excitement and nervousness about getting to finally fulfill his Peace Corps mission.
“Getting to this point has felt like a massive ordeal, and I am thrilled to be leaving soon,” Paup said in an email to the Sammamish Independent before his departure on June 5.
“Growing up in a diverse/multicultural environment, I have always been interested in other cultures,” said Paup. “As a student, I tended to gravitate more towards writing and history.”
These factors led Paup to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in international affairs from George Washington University in 2020.
He said that talking to former Peace Corps volunteers including his high school teachers and professors piqued his interest in the organization.
“I wanted to give back, improve my French, and experience another culture,” he said.
He will be serving in a designated community for two years after undergoing three months of training in Benin. Volunteers like Paup will undertake diverse projects pertaining to agriculture, environment, education, health, community economic development, and youth development.
Paup will be volunteering as an English teacher. This entails various forms of educational outreach, such as co-teaching at a local school, leading an English club, and planning community-centric initiatives.
“I hope to be able to improve the quality of English education in Benin, positively represent the US to others overseas, and to learn about a new culture,” said Paup.