December 29, 2003 - US Embassy in Tanzania: Oath of Office Ceremony and remarks by Peace Corps Country Director Marily Knieriemen

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Tanzania: Peace Corps Tanzania: The Peace Corps in Tanzania: December 29, 2003 - US Embassy in Tanzania: Oath of Office Ceremony and remarks by Peace Corps Country Director Marily Knieriemen

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Oath of Office Ceremony and remarks by Peace Corps Country Director Marily Knieriemen

Oath of Office Ceremony and remarks by Peace Corps Country Director Marily Knieriemen


NOVEMBER 19, 2003


It is a very great pleasure for me to welcome all of you on this special occasion. We are honored that you are with us today for the Swearing-In Ceremony of 87 new Peace Corps Volunteers.

It was President John F. Kennedy who established the Peace Corps - and called for Americans to commit themselves to living and working with ordinary people all around the world, creating opportunities for advancement at the grass-roots level, and strengthening the ties of friendship and mutual understanding around the world.

Peace Corps promotes world peace and friendship through working towards its three goals:

# Providing Volunteers who contribute to the social and economic development of interested countries

# Providing a better understanding of Americans among the people served

# Strengthening Americans' understanding about the world at its peoples

Volunteers make a commitment to work for two years in their host country. They leave their homes in the U.S. with a wide variety of expectations and emotions. They want to serve and to make a difference. They also realize that they will benefit personally from the experience through the opportunity to learn a new language, to understand a new culture, and to develop new skills, and to form new friendships.

You might like to hear what two of them wrote about their expectations before arriving in Tanzania:

# "I expect to see things that I have always wanted to see and things that I would not wish for anyone to see. I expect to experience the joy of making a difference in a person's life and the regret of not being able to help another's. I expect to face challenges that seem insurmountable and overcome them. I expect to eat things that I would have previously deemed inedible. I expect to be happy, sad, angry, lonely and homesick all in the course of an hour. But most importantly I expect the unexpected."

# "As naïve and clichéd as it sounds, I hope to make a difference. However small my contribution may be, I feel it is my responsibility as part of the human community to help serve those in need."

The 87 trainees you see here today arrived in Tanzania with their different expectations back in September (for some) and early October (for the others). Since then they have been involved in a very intensive training program to prepare them to live and work effectively in Tanzania. They have learned Kiswahili, mastered new technical skills in Education, Health, and the Environment, found out a lot about Tanzanian culture through homestay experiences, and learned to stay healthy and safe. They are now ready to leave for their new homes and work in one of Peace Corps Tanzania's three programs:

Environment - 25 of these new Volunteers will live in rural communities, working with district government extension teams and local residents to improve the management of natural resources and facilitate community development. Their work will vary from village to village. A few examples are promoting energy-efficient stoves, introducing improved agriculture techniques, and working with milk goats or chickens.

Education - 43 of these new Volunteers will teach Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, or Information Technology in Secondary Schools. They will teach, work on curriculum development and participate in extracurricular activities.

School Health - 20 Volunteers will teach part time and then spend the rest of their time working in their schools and communities to increase basic health knowledge and improve health attitudes and behaviors, particularly in regards to HIV/AIDS, life skills, and reproductive health.

In addition to their primary assignments described above, all Volunteers are strongly encouraged to work in the cross-sectoral areas of environment awareness, girls' empowerment, and - very important - HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention, and mitigation.

An Indian sage once said:

"If you want to help over a year, plant rice;

If you want to help over a decade, plant trees'

If you want to help over a century, plant awareness."

All three are indeed important. Peace Corps Volunteers in Tanzania are here to "plant rice, plant trees, and plant awareness". And that's just Goal One.

Goals Two and Three mean working towards mutual understanding - and in so doing, working towards the "Peace" that Peace Corps stands for. This understanding doesn't come just by reading books or casually traveling around a country. It comes from evenings spent chatting with neighbors, chai breaks talking with co-workers about ideas and experiences, and from special occasions like weddings and even funerals spent together. This isn't all easy. It requires time, energy and commitment to go beyond what is superficial to arrive at a good understanding of what we all share as humans.

A Peace Corps program can only be strong if it is a partnership. Peace Corps Tanzania is fortunate to have a strong partnership with the Tanzanian Government - from the national level to the village level. On this occasion, I would like to express to those of you representing the government today my heartfelt thanks for this excellent collaboration.

I would also like to thank the training staff for their work these last months in preparing these new trainees to live and work effectively in Tanzania.

And I would like to thank the Trainees who today are committing themselves to spending two years working to fulfill the Peace Corps Mission in Tanzania.

I would like to address my last remarks to you - using the words of one of my predecessors here in Tanzania:

"Building peace the Peace Corps way is a long and arduous process. It is hard work that requires self-motivation, determination, patience, sacrifice and a good sense of humor. You don't often and easily see the fruits of your efforts. They are subtle and may not be apparent until after you depart. But what you do does matter. You need to plant rice and plant trees - but also plant awareness. You need to do this work with passion, responsibility and humility.

# Passion in the belief that you can make a difference.

# Responsibility towards your commitment to go around, under and over the many "walls" or obstacles you will face;

# Humility to recognize that we have at least as much to learn as we have to teach."

One of you wrote: "I don't expect to immediately see the fruits of my labor, but I believe if I can make a positive impact on just one person, my influence may inspire that person to teach others and knowledge, understanding, acceptance, etc. will spread with time and patience.

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Story Source: US Embassy in Tanzania

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Tanzania; Country Directors - Tanzania



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