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MMC Alum Joins Peace Corps’ First Wave of Volunteers Since Pandemic’s Start

  • Jackson Webb ’22
An MMC alum is fulfilling a lifelong dream to help people around the world: Jackson Webb ’22 is one of some 900 Peace Corps volunteers who’ll set out across the globe this month as the agency resumes overseas services for the first time in three years.

The Peace Corps suspended its international operations and evacuated nearly 7,000 volunteers from more than 60 countries at the start of the pandemic in 2020.

Webb, who received his BA in communication arts, will work as an education volunteer, teaching English in the Southeast Asian country Timor Leste. He’ll also participate in projects to support the area’s ongoing recovery from COVID-19. He is the 30th MMC alum to join the Peace Corps since President John F. Kennedy established the agency in the 1960s.

“The Peace Corps’ mission is to help build communities outside the United States and build a cross-cultural connection between the U.S. and other countries,” Webb said. “It’s important work, and I feel very lucky and blessed to be a part of it.”

Peace Corps volunteers serve a two-year commitment in their host country with three additional months of training. Webb leaves for Timor Leste—where he’ll stay with a host family—on January 19 and returns in March 2025.

He first developed an interest in the Peace Corps at just five years old after hearing an older cousin talk about it and her experiences working for international humanitarian groups. “I remember seeing photographs of her in a school library she helped build in Mauritania,” he said. “She was my age at the time, 23, and those experiences changed her life. To this day, she continues to volunteer for humanitarian causes around the world.”

Later, other globetrotting family members who lived abroad would inspire him to envision a life beyond his neighborhood in the suburbs of Wilmington, Delaware.

“When they talked about their lives overseas, I’d always think, wow, that must give you such a different perspective on the world, one that I could never really access from a suburban cul-de-sac in Wilmington,” he said. As a result, although Peace Corps volunteers can choose a country close to the U.S., Webb asked to be sent wherever he was needed most.

His days at Marymount Manhattan would also help cement his decision to apply. Webb started MMC in 2020 after transferring in his sophomore year. One of the first classes he took: a course on international conflict and diplomacy taught by Moussa Ky, a faculty member at the time who hailed from Burkina Faso.

“He was so passionate about international affairs and humanitarian efforts,” Webb said. “On the first day, he went around the room and asked everyone if they did any volunteer work and encouraged us to get more involved. His passion rubbed off on me and made me even more interested in the international world.”

Now, though Webb had never imagined himself as a teacher, he’ll soon be standing at the head of a classroom, instructing schoolchildren. But the work won’t end when the school day does.

“The Peace Corps is 24-7 service—you don’t just go home, and that’s it,” Webb said. “You’re out talking to the community and your host family. You’re helping adults learn English on the weekends. You’re learning more about Timor Leste’s culture, and they’re learning more about American culture.”

In the end, he said, that’s what makes the Peace Corps so special. “Your goal is to become part of the community and build that relationship of trust so that you can be of more service and learn more,” he said. “There’s no other organization I can think of that allows you to travel internationally and become ingrained in a community.”

For more on Peace Corps volunteer opportunities, visit peacecorps.gov.