The Chronicle (Lilongwe)

22 December 2003

Malawi: New Group of Peace Corps Sworn in

Lilongwe — On Thursday, December 18th 2003, twenty new Peace Corps Volunteers in the secondary education field were sworn in after a 10 week training program.

The oath, under which they were sworn in, was directed by the US Ambassador to Malawi, His Excellency Steven Browning. The ceremony took place at the US ambassador's residence. Giving a speech at the ceremony, Peace Corps Country Director, Annamaria Watrin said that the evolving response from Peace Corps shows and promotes understanding between the two nations of Malawi and the US.

'The great understanding between the Malawian nation and the US can clearly be seen here. Peace Corps evolved in response to the changing policies in Malawi and recognises the need for qualified teachers,' said Watrin and as if to provide proof to these words, three newly sworn in peace corps volunteers namely, Daniel Tennant, Harlan Young and Merilee Valentino gave speeches in Tumbuka, Chichewa, and English respectively.

The twenty newly sworn in peace corps volunteers will be appointed where secondary teachers are mostly needed. To receive these trainees was the Director of Secondary Education, Stanley Chamdimba who, in his speech encouraged the volunteers and praised them for the high goals they set.

Perhaps no one at this ceremony could have appreciated these volunteers more, because, as it turned out, Chamdimba himself was taught by the first volunteers to Malawi in 1963.

'I encourage and urge you to do the best and strive to pass on your skills,' said Chamdimba who also praised the great late President of America, John F. Kennedy, for birthing this brainchild.

Last to speak on the occasion and who directed the peace corps oath, was the Ambassador of US to Malawi, Browning Steven who was quick to point out to the newly sworn in volunteers the unique role they are playing in Malawi.

'As peace corps volunteers, you play a unique role in development and international understanding,' said Browning who also pointed out what a rare and enriching experience this would be for the new volunteers.

'You have the chance to truly learn the culture in which you live in and to take back to your families and fellow Americans a deeper understanding of, not only the broader realities of the world, but also a wisdom that will add to the reservoir of compassion and insight,' he said.

Education and Health walk in hand and this was the case at the ceremony when Browning pointed out to the volunteers the reality of AIDS and the critically need of addressing this problem because it is no longer just a health issue.

'As role models in your communities you can do much to dispel misconceptions about HIV. You should take an active role in working with all those around you to confront the reality of the issue,' said Browning who wished these new volunteers good fortune after commending them for taking up such a big task.

'As peace corps volunteers, you are serving goals larger than yourselves: tolerance, understanding, empowerment, capacity building, self-sacrifice and compassion', said Browning.

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