Statesville resident Cheryl Parker, who has Alexander County roots, is among the first Peace Corps volunteers to return to overseas service since the agency’s unprecedented 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 maternal relatives in Alexander County are the Barkers and Mayes of Taylorsville. My paternal relatives in Alexander County are the Parkers of Old Mountain Road, Stony Point. My paternal grandparents are the late Jay Luther and Molene Parker. They ran a dairy farm and beauty salon when I was growing up. Land has been passed down through several generations in the Parker family, and our ancestors were farmers.”
“I hope to connect with my African ancestry while living in Senegal; I look forward to continuing the legacy of my forefathers and mothers through agriculture. They cultivated and cared for their land in Alexander County and my family has benefited from their toilsome labor,” said Parker. “Professionally, I hope to grow in my ability to collaborate and communicate more effectively so that I can contribute to communities that are dear to my heart. I’m most excited about being immersed in the local culture!”
Parker is a graduate of North Carolina Central University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. She has served the federal government before, most recently as an accountant the U.S. Marshals Service. She will serve as a volunteer in Senegal in the agriculture sector.
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.
Currently, the agency is recruiting volunteers to serve in 59 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 57 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. Americans interested in transformative service and lifelong connections should apply to Peace Corps service at www.peacecorps.gov/apply.
The Peace Corps is an international service network of volunteers, community members, host country partners, and staff who are driven by the agency’s mission of world peace and friendship.
At the invitation of governments around the world, Peace Corps volunteers work alongside community members on locally prioritized projects in the areas of education, health, environment, agriculture, community economic development and youth development. Through service, members of the Peace Corps network develop transferable skills and hone intercultural competencies that position them to be the next generation of global leaders.
Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, more than 240,000 Americans have served in 143 countries worldwide.