15 August 2012

Kenya: Remarks of the Honorable Stephen J. Nolan, U.S. Ambassador to Kenya

press release

Distinguished Representatives of the Government of Kenya, Host Family Representatives, Peace Corps Staff, Former, Current and Soon-to-be Volunteers, Honored Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:

I'm delighted today to swear in 30 new Public Health Volunteers. Over the 48 years the U.S. Peace Corps has been in Kenya, more than 6,000 American Volunteers have served here, demonstrating a long history of friendship and understanding between our two nations.

Before coming to Kenya all of the Trainees to be sworn in today have undergone a highly selective recruitment process, usually lasting a year or more. Only one of every three applicants is invited to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer. That's why, as has been often stated, the Peace Corps is the "the gold standard" of volunteerism and national service.

With today's swearing in, there will be 156 Volunteers working in Kenya, serving without salary and living alongside their Kenyan counterparts in rural communities throughout the country. They will make important contributions to the country's development, foster public problem solving and promote civic participation--all of which are necessary to build a healthier, more prosperous and more vibrant Kenyan society.

Our new Public Health Volunteers will help build the capacity of their respective communities to respond to the numerous health challenges confronting the country today, including HIV and AIDS, malaria, malnutrition, rapid population growth, lack of access to improved water sources and high maternal and child mortality.

In addition to their important technical work, however, there is a strong cultural exchange aspect to Peace Corps service. Volunteers will build strong bonds with their host counterparts and will bring to their communities a new point of view, a different way doing things and a fresh look at Americans and the world. They will also demonstrate that America and its people care deeply about the Kenyan people.

In return, American Volunteers will take home with them new perspectives on this country and a greater understanding of issues confronting the rural poor. As the first director of the Peace Corps, Sargeant Shriver said, "When Volunteers return home they will add to the reservoir of compassion and understanding in America."

This is the essence of what the United States Peace Corps is and what it does. It is the finest example of an equal development partnership between Americans and their host communities, with each being enriched by--and being the better for--the experience. It is the ultimate "Win/Win" in cross-cultural understanding and changing lives, one person at a time.

In closing, I'd like to acknowledge today the tremendous support the Peace Corps has received from all levels of the Government of Kenya: national, regional and local and to thank the GoK representatives and volunteer supervisors here with us today. It has truly been a fruitful partnership.

I'd also like to leave you with a few words from President Obama that really sum up what Peace Corps service is all about. He said:

We have a stake in one another ... what binds us together is greater than what drives us apart, and if enough people believe in the truth of that proposition and act on it, then we might not solve every problem, but we can get something meaningful done for the people with whom we share this Earth.

It is now my pleasure to administer the oath of office to our 30 new Public Health Volunteers.

Please stand, raise your right hand and repeat after me:

"I, (STATE YOUR NAME)

DO SOLEMNLY SWEAR

THAT I WILL SUPPORT AND DEFEND THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES;

AGAINST ALL ENEMIES FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC;

THAT I WILL BEAR TRUE FAITH AND ALLEGIANCE TO THE SAME;

THAT I TAKE THIS OBLIGATION FREELY,

WITHOUT ANY MENTAL RESERVATION OR PURPOSE OF EVASION;

THAT I WILL TRUE AND FAITHFULLY DISCHARGE THE DUTIES

OF THE OFFICE ON WHICH I AM ABOUT TO ENTER.

SO HELP ME GOD.

Congratulations. You are now Peace Corps Volunteers!

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