On March 29, 2023, a team from the Peace Corps, led by former Sri Lanka Country Director Kristin Besch, visited the State of Yap’s Honorable Governor Chieng to assess the feasibility of bringing the Peace Corps program back to the FSM and to Yap. The team consisted of Drew Contreras (safety and security), Dr. Erin Wilkinson, (medical and behavioral health expert), and Frank Talluto, the U.S. Embassy Kolonia Economic/Consular Officer and Team Liaison. Governor Chieng was happy to greet the assessment team, as the Peace Corps has a long history of providing volunteer programs in the Pacific region and in Yap in particular. Challenges such as staff vacancies, geographic distances, access to medical care, and weather emergencies caused the Peace Corps to withdraw in 2017. While many challenges remain, the Peace Corps is evaluating a major expansion in the Pacific, Yap included.
According to Team Lead Kris Besch, the team's visit to Yap is part of a general assessment covering every aspect of program implementation, including programming and training for volunteers, safety and security, health, and management and operations. The assessment will be used to make a decision on whether the program can return to the FSM. If the decision is to return the program to the FSM, the Peace Corps will likely start with one or two states before ramping up to have volunteers in all states.
The team will meet with various government and community entities, including those focused on youth, health, environment, agriculture, and education. In the above picture from left to right is Frank Talluto, Kris Besch, Erin Wilkinson, and Drew Contreras.
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