As Prepared for Delivery
AMBASSADOR GALT: Good afternoon. Thank you for inviting me to join you today.
I know I’m standing between you and lunch, so I won’t talk for long.
First of all, congratulations to all the volunteers – on choosing the Peace Corps and on being placed in Mongolia.
As United States Ambassador to Mongolia, I am extraordinarily proud of the many positive contributions the Peace Corps has made to Mongolia’s development.
I am also proud of the fact that the Peace Corps is a partnership between the United States and Mongolia.
The presence of your Mongolian counterparts here today is evidence of the importance the Mongolian government and people place on the Peace Corps.
You are carrying on a long tradition of the Peace Corps in Mongolia and you are here during a very important time.
In 2016, we will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the arrival of the very first Peace Corps volunteers in Mongolia.
In short, you are making history.
I’ve only been in Mongolia for a few short months, but the positive impact of the Peace Corps on Mongolia is already abundantly clear to me.
An NGO leader I met the other day told me that he learned his English – excellent, by the way – from a Peace Corps volunteer.
He recalled her very fondly, remembering her name and her hometown in the U.S.
Mongolia’s Foreign Minister told me just yesterday how proud he is that there is a Peace Corps volunteer in his home village.
You are in many ways my Ambassadors on the ground and I thank you for helping me represent the United States in every aimag across this vast country.
Everything you do and say is representing the United States – the clothes you wear, the food you prepare, the stories you tell from home.
Each of these things will help your Mongolian counterparts understand the United States and contribute to enhanced mutual understanding between our two countries.
In addition to being an anniversary year, 2016 is also an election year in both Mongolia and the United States.
This presents a unique opportunity for you to talk with your Mongolian counterparts about the democratic process and the responsibility of citizens to vote.
I look forward to seeing many of you as I travel around Mongolia and to joining you for some of these conversations.
Before I close, I want to welcome our new Mongolia Peace Corps Director, Gene Smith.
Gene is himself a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, and brings with him to Mongolia a commitment to a strong program and to the health, safety and security of all volunteers.
In fact, the health, safety and security of Peace Corps Volunteers are the Peace Corps’ highest priorities.
I had the pleasure of visiting Peace Corps headquarters here in Ulaanbaatar shortly after I arrived earlier this fall.
I was impressed with the team there – and in particular with the medical and security support structure the Peace Corps has in place.
I also have medical and security teams at the Embassy and I’m pleased that they are in constant communication with the Peace Corps staff, sharing information and providing assistance when required.
Make no mistake – Mongolia is a tough place to serve.
You may have heard that it gets a little chilly in the winter.
You have taken on a challenging assignment and one thing I suggest you think about as you head to your local community is how you will sustain your personal resiliency during the winter and beyond.
I wanted to share a few tips that I’ve learned in almost 30 years of living and working overseas.
Stay connected – to your fellow volunteers, to your Mongolian community, and to your family and friends at home.
Thanks to technology, this is easy to do. So, reach out and stay in touch.
Have a passion – whatever it is that energizes you, that recharges your batteries – an hour watching goofy video clips in YouTube, cooking, or exercising – make time for it every day.
Know Yourself – be honest with yourself and with your community about what you can and can’t do.
None of us can do everything – reach out for help and support when you need.
Finally, laugh – share jokes with friends and family and find happiness in everything you do.
And now, bon appetit! I look forward to chatting with you over lunch.