The Peace Corps has announced that, for the first time ever, the organization will send a team of Crisis Corps volunteers to Sri Lanka, including Evergreen alumnus and Olympia resident, Nels Christianson. According to a Peace Corps press release, Christianson will leave at the end of this month to help the people of Sri Lanka recover from last year's devastating tsunamis. He will serve as a civil engineer with the Christian Children's Fund and work to develop and design projects to rebuild Sri Lanka's damaged communities. He also will work with other Crisis Corps civil engineers to assess the Fund's current projects and make recommendations on ways to improve them. Christianson holds a degree in computer science and management from Evergreen and a degree in civil engineering from the University of Washington. Previously, he served as a water engineering volunteer for the Peace Corps in Kenya from 1978 to 1980, where he worked with the Ministry of Water Development to create rural water supply systems. He also has worked with the charity organization Africare to design and improve water systems in Somalian refugee camps. Before joining the Crisis Corps, Christianson was a computer analyst and programmer for the Washington State Energy Office.
The Sri Lankan support effort will mark one of the few occasions when a Crisis Corps team of volunteers has been sent to a nation with no regular Peace Corps program. The Peace Corps closed its Sri Lanka program in 1998. The government of Sri Lanka estimates that more than 30,000 citizens died in the tsunamis that killed more than 176,000 people in 11 countries. Some 500,000 Sri Lankans lost their homes.