Ministers of the Government;
Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Peace Corps Country Director Linda Arbogast;
Peace Corps Volunteers;
Members of the Media;
Thank you for inviting me to address and swear in this new group of volunteers. It is a privilege to have the opportunity to speak to you all as you embark on your new journey. I have long admired the Peace Corps for representing the very best of the United States. The Peace Corps truly reflects the strong sense of volunteerism that marks our nation, our openness to other people and cultures, and a strong spirit of adventure.
Like so many who have served before, I believe this group of volunteers will find that their work will be challenging as well as rewarding. As many of our volunteers may have already discovered, Guyana is a country for nature lovers and adventure seekers. It has an irresistible combination of fascinating and breathtaking natural beauty, including pristine rainforests; incredible waterfalls; and amazing wildlife, that is joined to a vibrant culture, a diverse and rich heritage, and some of the most hospitable and friendly people in the world. Despite its intense beauty and tremendous potential, Guyana is also a developing country, and, as such, faces considerable challenges, including poverty, an HIV/AIDS epidemic, ethnic and racial divisions, crime and security threats, and education gaps. The United States has a strong interest in working in partnership with Guyana to support national efforts to meet these challenges.
The United States Government is working hard to forge a closer and more productive partnership with the Government and people of Guyana to help build a more prosperous, secure, democratic, and healthy Guyana. Our talented and hard-working personnel at the U.S. Mission in Guyana seek to achieve this through active diplomatic engagement, targeted development assistance, and an active two-way flow of people, ideas, and information. Our Mission will continue to work with the Government and people of Guyana to solidify the gains in democratic governance, bolster economic growth, and promote equality and opportunity, particularly for young people, women, the disabled, and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities.
The Peace Corps forms an important part of the U.S. Mission in Guyana. Peace Corps was first welcomed to Guyana in 1966, and served the development interests of the country until 1971. Again in 1995, Peace Corps was invited to Guyana to work as community based promoters in the sectors of health and education. Though times have changed, Peace Corps has adhered to the unchanged twin goals of its founding: helping the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and womenand helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of peoples served and a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.
Peace Corps generally provides the most attention to communities with the greatest development challenges and fewest resources with which to address them. With this group of 29 trainees that forms GUY28, over 800 volunteers will have served in Guyana since 1966. During 10 weeks, trainees lived with host families in places like Capoey and Mainstay, in the hinterland of Guyana, and in Suddie, Huis ‘T’Diren, Anna Regina, Windsor Castle, Affiance and Golden Fleece on the Essequibo Coast of Guyana.
Our Peace Corps Volunteers come to Guyana from all fifty states and represent the ethnic, cultural, religious, and social diversity of the United States. They come from many backgrounds, with a variety of skills and experiences to contribute to their service in Guyana.
For fifty-four years, Peace Corps accepted invitations to work in 139 countries across the world, and there are now several generations who have worked in every corner of the world in the pursuance of friendship and peace. Many have gone on to continue service to others abroad or in the United States. These returned volunteers look back with fondness, respect and understanding for the people with whom they have worked. They dedicated themselves to changing the world for the better one person at a time. All of this would not be possible without a very hard-working and talented Peace Corps Guyana staff, and I would like to take this opportunity to recognize these critical members of our Embassy team for their excellence and dedication to our Peace Corps program.
I have always had great admiration for the extraordinary commitment and compassion that Peace Corps volunteers bring to supporting others and to building stronger communities by increasing human capacity to address development challenges. What is most gratifying to observe is the synergies and friendships that develop between the volunteers and their dedicated local counterparts, supervisors, and community leaders, who together have been able to help each other achieve their goals and vision for a brighter future for the people of the country of service.
I hope that you all recognize that you will all be ambassadors for our nation in your communities. I know you will represent our nation with distinction and earn the respect and goodwill of the people you meet. And when you return to the United States in two years, I trust that you will spread the word about the beauty of this country and its people to your friends and family, and promote the spirit of understanding that President Kennedy knew such exchanges would create among Americans and our friends in Guyana and elsewhere in the world.
I salute all of the new volunteers from GUY28 for continuing this finest of American traditions. Thank you for your willingness to serve and to represent our country here in Guyana.
I will now administer the Peace Corps Swearing In Ceremony Oath. Please repeat after me:
I, (state your name) do solemnly swear (or affirm)
that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America
against all enemies, domestic or foreign,
that I take this obligation freely, and without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion,
and that I will well and faithfully discharge my duties in the Peace Corps (so help me God).