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Essex Junction man, Johnson State College alum among first post-pandemic Peace Corps volunteers to return overseas

A man wearing mirrored sunglasses and a gray tank top looks down into the camera beside a light-furred and smiling dog.
Ben Nelson, courtesy
/
Ben Nelson will be among the first Peace Corps volunteers to return overseas after thousands of volunteers were brought home in March 2020 due to the pandemic.

In March of 2020, the world was just beginning to understand the life-altering scale of the COVID-19 pandemic. That month the Peace Corps suspended its operations across the globe and recalled nearly 7,000 volunteers in more than 60 countries. Now, a Vermonter will be among the first volunteers heading back overseas.

The Peace Corps announced this month its once again sending volunteers abroad for two years of international service. Essex Junction resident Benjamin Nelson will be among the first volunteers returning to service when he heads to Kenya as a health volunteer.

Nelson is a Johnson State College alum—a school that's now part of Vermont State University—and he joins the ranks of the more than 1,600 Vermonters who have joined the Peace Corps since it was founded in 1961.

Vermont Edition host Connor Cyrus spoke with him about his path to the Peace Corps.

Broadcast at noon on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2022; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or tweet us @vermontedition.

Connor Cyrus joined Vermont Public as host and senior producer in March 2021. He was a morning reporter at WJAR in Providence, Rhode Island. A graduate of Lyndon State College (now Northern Vermont University), he started his reporting career as an intern at WPTZ, later working for WAGM in Presque Isle, Maine, and WCAX Channel 3, where he covered a broad range of stories from Vermont’s dairy industry to the nurses’ strikes at UVM Medical Center. He’s passionate about journalism’s ability to shed light on complex or difficult topics, as well as giving voice to underrepresented communities.
Originally from Delaware, Matt moved to Alaska in 2010 for his first job in radio. He spent five years working as a radio and television reporter, radio producer, talk show host, and news director. His reporting received awards from the Alaska Press Club and the Alaska Broadcasters Association. Relocating to southwest Florida, he was a producer for television news and NPR member station WGCU for their daily radio show, Gulf Coast Live. He joined Vermont Public in October 2017 as producer of Vermont Edition.