Sauquoit woman travels to Peru as part of the Peace Corps

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Jacquelyn Scibior traveled the world with her family when she was younger.

Scibior remembers going with her parents and three sisters to places like Jamaica, where there was culture shock about the way children grew up and people lived. She vividly remembers riding a horse on the island and seeing children living in huts with metal roofs.

“I remember asking a lot of questions,” Scibior said, noting that her parents were as direct as they could be with her.

His parents explained that the children had to walk many miles to get around, had to work to support their family, and not be able to do things that the typical American child takes for granted.

She carried these memories with her throughout her studies at New Hartford and at Clarkson University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering.

Now 27 and residing in Sauquoit, Scibior is preparing to leave for Peru on Sunday, May 22, as part of the Peace Corps. Scibior’s aunt, Deborah Morone, also served in the Peace Corps, spending time in the Central African Republic.

“I always knew I wanted to do Peace Corps. Since I was 12, 13,” Scibior said.

Jacques Scibior

About the Peace Corps

Peace Corps is an international service network of volunteers, community members, host country partners, and employees driven by the agency’s global peace and friendship mission.

At the invitation of governments around the world, Peace Corps Volunteers work alongside community members on local priority projects in education, health, environment, agriculture, community economic development and youth development.

Since President John F. Kennedy created the Peace Corps in 1961, more than 240,000 Americans have served in 142 countries around the world.

Scibior will serve as a health volunteer in Peru. She will work on issues of infrastructure, water sanitation, health and COVID-19.

The exact job will depend on the needs of the area she works in, Scibior said, noting she would know more once she arrives in Peru.

She will work in the coastal region of Peru and stay with a host family, as is the custom for the Peace Corps. She will stay there for two years.

Peace Corps volunteers receive nearly 12 weeks of training, which can include language, technical and cross-cultural training, she said.

Peace Corp members receive a living wage, which is set at the same level as the community in which they work. They may also receive a readjustment allowance – usually $10,000 – to help them get back on their feet after their service.

Peace Corps volunteers are also entitled to after-service educational assistance, and their health care coverage is covered by the Peace Corps while on duty.

“I’m really excited to go,” Scibior said just over a week before he left. “Now is a critical moment.”

According to a Peace Corp report completed in November 2019, 14,550 New York residents have served in the Peace Corps since 1961.

New York had 395 residents on duty in March 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jacquelyn Scibior working on an unidentified construction site.

Pandemic issues

Scibior was supposed to travel to Peru in March 2020, but the pandemic changed that.

March 2020 marked the first time the Peace Corps was forced to evacuate all of its volunteers worldwide, said Erin Curran, media coordinator for the Peace Corps.

In total, more than 7,000 volunteers were evacuated from posts in more than 60 countries in the span of two weeks, Curran said.

After that, the Peace Corps continued its work through a virtual service pilot, volunteering to help with the United States’ COVID-19 response and continuing development work.

“The pandemic has set back years of development progress, exacerbated existing inequalities, and had a disproportionate impact on the communities where the Peace Corps serves,” Curran said. “With decades of experience contributing to large-scale public health efforts, the Peace Corps is uniquely positioned to provide essential grassroots community support to global COVID-19 response and recovery efforts.”

On March 15, the Peace Corps returned its first volunteers to service in Zambia. The Peace Corps is recruiting volunteers to serve in 24 of the agency’s 60 positions, although all positions have enthusiastically requested the return of volunteers.

Peace Corps will continue to monitor COVID-19 trends in all of its host countries and will send volunteers to serve as conditions permit.

“The world is at a critical juncture,” Peace Corps CEO Carol Spahn said in a statement. “The largest global vaccination effort in history is underway as other widespread health, social, political and environmental issues continue to erode the foundations of our global society. Actions taken in the coming years have the potential to have a fundamental impact on development trajectories for decades to come.

Anyone interested in learning more about the Peace Corps can go to www.peacecorps.gov.

Ed Harris is the Oneida County reporter for the Observer-Dispatch. Email Ed Harris at EHarris1@gannett.com.

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