Ambassador Gilmour’s Remarks at Peace Corps Swearing-In Ceremony

Ambassador Gilmour Remarks
Peace Corps Swearing-In Ceremony
Chief of Mission Residence, August 17, 2018

Monsieur the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Inter-african Cooperation
Monsieur the Minister of Primary, Secondary Education and Professional Training
Monsieur the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Water
Madame the Minister of Community Development
Madame the Minister of Social Action and Women’s Promotion
Monsieur the Minister of Environment and Forest Resources
Monsieur the Minister of Health and Social Protection
Representatives of the diplomatic corps and international organizations
Honored guests
Ladies and gentlemen

Good morning and thank you all for coming. It is a true privilege for me to be able to swear in 51 new Peace Corps Volunteers today. As Ambassador, I attend a lot of ceremonies, but I will tell you that few are as meaningful to me as this one.

Since the creation of the Peace Corps in 1961 by President John Kennedy, more than 220,000 Americans have served as volunteers in 140 countries around the world. The Peace Corps program in Togo began in 1962, and since then almost 3,000 volunteers have served here.  Over the years, they have represented the highest ideals of volunteerism and service of the American people, and I am incredibly proud to officially swear-in the newest members of this proud tradition.

But before I begin the swearing-in, I would like to take this opportunity to thank some of the partners, without whose support, our Peace Corps Volunteers would not be able to do their work. In particular I would like to thank Minister for attending today’s ceremony. I think your presence demonstrates resoundingly the strong support and collaboration we receive from the Government of Togo as we work together to build the peaceful, prosperous, healthy, democratic Togo that we all hope for.

I would also like to say thank you to all the communities and counterparts who work with our Volunteers throughout Togo. We are grateful for their hospitality and we value their help in making our Volunteers’ time in Togo as productive, safe, and rewarding as possible.

Finally, I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to our new Volunteers. With your permission, I will offer these words in English.

(switches to English)

Volunteers: Get ready. The job you have signed up for is not easy. You will face difficult challenges that would test your resolve even if you weren’t 5,000 miles away from the support of friends and family.  You are going to have moments where you doubt you made the right decision.

But I know from the many conversations I’ve had with returned Peace Corps Volunteers, that if you stick with it, and put your heart and soul into this work, you will be rewarded far more than you could ever imagine. You will create positive change and be changed in the process, and the experience you gain, the relationships you build, and the memories you make will stay with you for the rest of your lives.

You also carry a great responsibility. You will be the true representatives of the United States to those 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, celebrating their festivals and cultural events.  For many Togolese that you meet, you will be the enduring face of your country and the American people.

I cannot tell you how many people I have met over the years who recall vividly the Peace Corps Volunteers who taught them or worked in their health clinic. Last year Togo hosted a huge summit on U.S.-Africa trade. The Minister charged with organizing that event, Dédé Ekoué, told me that she was inspired by the Peace Corps Volunteer in her village when she was a girl, and that led her on the path to higher education studying abroad, and eventually service at the highest levels of government. That’s just one example but there are many, many more.

So do not ever doubt the impact you can have, and do not ever doubt the trust and the faith that we place in you as representatives of the American people.

Thank you once again for your service and bon courage!

And now, let’s begin the swearing-in . . .