October 16, 2019
Hello, good afternoon, everybody. It is a real pleasure and honor to be here.
You know, this is the favorite thing [for] me and my colleagues in the Embassy to do every year, because it’s so fun to see the volunteers, the host families, and all the people that make the Peace Corps program here in Ukraine possible.
28 years ago, just months after Ukraine achieved independence from the Soviet Union, the Government of Ukraine invited Peace Corps to come here, and our program has matured into the largest in the world. Last year, 461 Peace Corps Volunteers served in Ukraine – a symbol of U.S. dedication to this country.
I would like to recognize the Ukrainians here today who will host and support the Volunteers. Thank you all for opening your organizations, your schools, your hearts and your homes to the unique experience of working with a Peace Corps Volunteer.
Volunteers will show you the very best of America – and will contribute their skills, time and passion for the benefit of Ukraine.
And I’d also like to share a few thoughts with the Volunteers who are going out across Ukraine.
You’re following in the footsteps of over 3,300 other Volunteers who have served throughout this country, in small villages, in large cities, as an important element of the direct contact between the people of Ukraine and the people of the United States.
We at the U.S. Embassy consider you the “forward-deployed ambassadors” and we know you’ll accept this responsibility seriously. And when you return to the United States, we know you will continue to be Ambassadors for Ukraine.
The more complicated our world becomes, the more important people-to-people diplomacy and mutual understanding becomes.
Those of you serving in smaller communities or villages, keep in mind that you could be the first Americans that a local Ukrainians may have ever met.
The impressions you leave on the people who you work and live with will be the impressions they have of America.
So we’re counting on you to ensure it’s a positive impression.
The work you do will be varied and adapted to the placements that you have.
You’ll be focusing on helping children access their rights to education, preventing bullying, encouraging civic engagement at the local level. And you will take on the roles of motivator, co-teacher, observer, and catalyst.
Some of you will work with internally displaced populations or children with special needs, modeling inclusivity.
Others will support HIV prevention, care and support.
While we emphasize the important technical work that you will do, I want to remind all of you – Volunteers and Ukrainian counterparts – that Peace Corps’ global mission is “World Peace and Friendship,” and it’s been the same since 1961.
So, without further ado, I now ask that all the volunteers please stand, raise your right hands, and repeat the oath after me.