In early 2020, Brent and Deeporn Beardsley were planning their third mission trip with the Peace Corps. And then COVID-19 took over.

The Peace Corps had to evacuate over 7,000 volunteers from more than 60 countries after suspending operations.

The couple’s trip would have taken them to the Republic of Georgia, but now the Beardsleys are some of the first people to return overseas to continue helping communities.

After completing their three-month training, they have their sights set on South Africa in just a couple of weeks where they will teach English to kids up to third grade.

“We’re looking forward to getting out and doing this again,” Brent said. “So that’s why we’re going for it.”

Previously, the couple spent time in Armenia and Moldova working in the community economic development and education sectors. Collectively, they’ve served in the Peace Corps for over eight years since they both retired from IBM over a decade ago.

Deeporn says she’s excited to work with the smaller children and immerse herself in a country she’s not familiar with.

Im looking forward to new experiences with a new culture, with new people, making new friends, and learning new things,” she said. “Its gonna be exciting – and helping people.

The Beardsleys say they are some of the only retiree volunteers in the Peace Corps, as most of the program is college students or recent graduates.

But Brent said that as long as you’re healthy and can travel abroad for extended periods of time, age shouldn’t stop you from joining the organization.

Age itself is not a limitation on it. So, we encourage anybody who is interested,” he said. “The Peace Corps is not about money. Its about people being there, volunteering, rolling up your sleeves, and making a difference with your time and your effort.

And thats the real world. Its not the textbook stuff. And each case is different. So, you have to be flexible, you have to have perseverance,” Deeporn added. “If you want to progress in your career later on in life, all these qualities are whats necessary.

The couple says they’re unsure if they’ll take another trip with the organization after returning from South Africa, but they’re grateful to have had the opportunity to change people’s lives for the better.