LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP, Pa. (WHTM) — A Dauphin County man is leaving for Ecuador this month. He is part of one of the first Peace Corps volunteer cohorts going back overseas since the pandemic started.

Sam Dynako was supposed to start his volunteer commitment in the spring of 2020. After waiting two years, he said he is excited to get to experience a new community and culture.

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For the next two years, Dynako will live in Ecuador teaching English to high school students.

“It’s something that I’ve been wanting to do for so long,” Dynako said. “I’m quite excited to go ahead and see what my community is like.”

Dynako first heard about the Peace Corps in college from a friend who grew up in Cameroon, one of the countries where the Peace Corps works.

“They actually try to have grassroots effort,” Dynako said.

Dynako said his friends’ stories convinced him this was the right volunteer opportunity.

“I didn’t want to go ahead and do like ‘volunteerism’, where I would go ahead and feel good about doing something that might not have an impact that people wanted,” he said.

Dynako was initially placed in Mozambique and was supposed to start in 2020, but when COVID-19 hit, the Peace Corps evacuated their overseas volunteers.

“We’re going back into communities that have been hit hard by the pandemic,” Peace Corps recruiter Daysi Morales said.

Morales said Dynako and fellow volunteers are some of the first to head back overseas.

“It’s a huge moment for us,” she said.

In January 2022, Dynako said the Peace Corps reached out about the new position in Ecuador. He said he is excited to explore South America for the first time.

“I’m excited for the variety of just different kinds of food,” he said.

Dynako said he thinks Central and South America will be good places to visit. He studied abroad in Spain in college.

“I have a bridge with the language already,” he said.

Now, he is looking forward to meeting his Ecuadorian host family, whom he will stay with for at least six months.

“While I was in Madrid, I was with a host family, and that was one of the most enriching experiences I’ve ever had,” Dynako said.

“Those connections last so much longer,” Morales said.

Dynako said his main goal is to leave a positive impact on his students and the community.

“If I can go ahead and also, at the same time, help others find some sort of beauty in English, then I think that I will have done what I was hoping to do,” he said.

Dynako leaves for Ecuador on May 12. He will spend about three months training with the other volunteers before being placed in his new community.