Ambassador Eric Stromayer remarks at Peace Corps Swearing-In Ceremony

Ambassador Stromayer Remarks
Peace Corps Swearing-In Ceremony
Chief of Mission Residence, August 23, 2019 

M.G Damehame Yark, Minister of Security and Civil protection
Representatives of the diplomatic corps and international organizations
Partners
Colleagues
Honored guests
Fellow volunteers and friends
Ladies and gentlemen

Good morning and thank you all for coming.  My wife, Susmita, and I are delighted to welcome you to our home.  As a former Peace Corps Volunteer, it is a true privilege for me to swear in the newest Peace Corps Volunteers today.

Created by President John Kennedy, the Peace Corps has been in existence since 1961; and we are proud that the Peace Corps has been in Togo almost as long.  Since 1962, almost 3,000 volunteers have served here.  Volunteers work alongside Togolese to support a variety of community-led education projects in health, agriculture, and English, to name a few.

I would like to tell you a little bit about the volunteers that will be heading out to your communities.  They come from all parts of the United States, from Alaska to Florida, and range in age from 21 to 53, so there is a vast supply of experience.  They have just completed several weeks of training and are looking forward to working in their communities.  I hope you can take time to get to know some of them after the ceremony.  I also want to note that I am proud these volunteers will take the same oath I took as a volunteer in 1982, and again in 2018 as Ambassador to Togo, to support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.  All U.S. officials take the same oath regardless of their rank.

Before I continue, I would like to thank some of our partners from the Government of Togo.   Without your strong support, our Peace Corps Volunteers would not be able to do their work.  We count on your continued backing and collaboration as we work together to assist Togo in achieving its goals.

Thank you also to all the communities and people who work with our Volunteers.  Depending on the community is key to a volunteer’s success, and we are grateful for your hospitality and effort to make their experience in Togo as safe and enriching as possible.

Finally, I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks in English to our new Volunteers.

First, congratulations for choosing to volunteer in Togo for the next two years. And thank you for your service.  Having served as a Volunteer in Senegal in the early 1980s, I can honestly tell you that you will be the true representatives of the United States to the Togolese you meet because, unlike most of us who reside here, you will be living with them on a daily basis, eating their food, experiencing their culture, and celebrating their festivals and cultural events.  In the end, you will be for many you meet, the enduring face of our country and the American people.

In my case, in 2016, 33 years after I left Peace Corps in Washington as Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, I got a call from a young officer in the Senegalese army, in the US on a US government sponsored training program.  Aziz said “my parents said I had to find you.”  After a memorable weekend showing him the sights in and around DC, he sent me copies of a picture of his family and a worn and treasured photo his mother gave him, of me with him in their courtyard in 1982.  At the time he was less than two years old.  So yes, years from now, people will remember your names for the impact you made in their communities.  With this distinction comes the responsibility of representing the best of the American people, and I know that you will make us proud.

Thank you again for your service and bon courage!

 

And now, let’s begin the swearing-in.