Remarks for Peace Corps Swearing-In Ceremony

Remarks for Peace Corps Swearing-In Ceremony
Chief of Mission Residence, August 18, 2017

Mr Robert DUSSEY, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Inter-african Integration
Mr Komi Paalamwe TCHAKPELE Minister of Primary, Secondary Education and Professional Training
Col Agadazi, OURO-KOURA Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Water
Mrs Victoire Sidemeho TOMEGAH-DOGBE, Minister (and Presient’s Director of Cabinet) of Community Development
Mrs Tchabinandi KOLANI-YENTCHARE, Minister of Social Action, Women’s Promotion and Illiteracy Elimination
Mr André JOHNSON, Minister of Environment and Forest Resources
Prof Moustafa MIJIYAWA, 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 47 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.

For 55 years, Peace Corps Volunteers have represented the best of what America has to offer. The more than 220,000 volunteers who served in 140 countries – including 2800 who have served in Togo since 1962 – have demonstrated our highest ideals of volunteerism and service, and I am incredibly proud to officially swear-in the newest members of this proud alumni.

You heard from the Peace Corps Country Director already about the different sectors the new Volunteers will be working in, and about the impressive accomplishments that have been made in these sectors by past and current Volunteers. I would only add to what Victor said by pointing out that no Volunteer succeeds alone. Therefore, I would like to recognize and thank Minister Dussey, MinisterTchakpele, Minister Ouro-Koura, Minister Dogbe, Minister Kolani-Yentchare, and Minister Johnson 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. The Peace Corps motto used to be: “The toughest job you’ll ever love.” I don’t know if that has been retired, but the sentiment certainly still holds true. 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. I am sure many of you know that Togo just 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 . . .