Concord’s Brinkley Brown on her way to Peace Corps

  • Brinkley Brown will be among the first Peace Corps volunteers to travel overseas since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Courtesy of Julieta Sarmiento ORP

Monitor staff
Published: 6/8/2022 5:13:56 PM
Modified: 6/8/2022 5:11:48 PM

Growing up in Concord gave Brinkley Brown the perfect launch pad to join the Peace Corps.

Brown said her exposure to multiple cultures through classmates who had resettled here from around the world left a lasting impact that she’s continually worked to explore. 

She took that desire with her to Harvard in 2017. She studied abroad in Cameroon during her junior year and also interned at Harvard’s Humanitarian Response Intensive Course that simulates complicated disaster and conflict scenarios that could occur around the world. 

Now, Brown finds herself among the first Peace Corps volunteers to return overseas since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. She will travel to Rwanda as an education volunteer where she will co-teach English at a primary school.

“The Peace Corps is my opportunity to serve the world and also immerse myself in another culture,” she said. “And being the first cohort in Rwanda since the pandemic, it puts a unique responsibility on our shoulders in picking up the work where our past volunteers left off. It’s a really special opportunity in that we get to be innovative and creative in being the first ones back.”

Brown originally applied to the Peace Corps Rwanda program in July 2020, but the agency was not sending volunteers abroad during the ongoing pandemic. She was then interviewed for a spot in the Fall of 2021, over a year later, and received an offer to join the Corps in February 2022.  She is part of a group of 15 volunteers, mostly working in the education and health sectors, who will travel to Rwanda on June 8 and stay until their contracts expire in August 2024. 

While at Harvard, Brown made headlines for running 70 miles back to school and her ongoing humanitarian work. She recently graduated as part of the class of 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and French.

“I don't know exactly what I want to do after this, but I'm hoping that this experience will give me a broader sense of the world and another point of view from a different culture,” she said. “I feel called to work in foreign relations and some sort of humanitarian work, so I’m hoping that this will inform whatever I do next.”

The Peace Corps suspended operations and evacuated nearly 7,000 volunteers from across the globe at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and just recently began deploying volunteers again. The agency sent their first corps members back into the field on March 15 to serve in Zambia, and will continue returning volunteers to service until all posts have reopened. 

“The world is at a critical juncture. The largest global vaccination effort in history is underway while other widespread health, social, political, and environmental issues continue to erode the foundation of our global society. Actions taken in the next few years have the potential to fundamentally impact development trajectories for decades to come,” Peace Corps CEO Carol Spahn said in a statement. “Peace Corps volunteers returning to Rwanda will work alongside community members to support urgent development efforts and build critical connections.”  

These critical connections are part of what inspired Brown to join the Peace Corps and to carry out its three pronged mission of helping others, understanding other cultures, and sharing American culture. She hopes to employ her experiences from the Granite State and elsewhere throughout her time in Africa.

 “I never pictured myself being a teacher, and yet when I look back at high school and college, it's kind of something that I've returned to often in the roles of counselor, English teacher or coach,” she said. “So I'm really excited to be able to share my mentoring skills with others in other parts of the world while fulfilling the missions of the Peace Corps.”

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