Thank you, Gene, for that kind introduction, and thank you, Ariunaa and Magnai, our two able emcees.
Chairman Erdenebat, host family members, staff, honored guests, and Peace Corps Volunteers and Trainees, good morning.
I am pleased to be in Darkhan on this special occasion and honored to swear in our newest group of Peace Corps Volunteers.
I recall well the excitement of last year’s swearing-in ceremony with then Peace Corps Director Hessler-Radelet as part of our celebration of 25 years of Peace Corps in Mongolia.
This year we are celebrating 30 years of U.S.-Mongolia diplomatic relations, so today’s ceremony is equally grand and I’m thrilled to be with you.
Congratulations to the M28 group for successfully completing your pre-service training.
Thank you for choosing to serve in the Peace Corps and to dedicate the next two years to working alongside your Mongolian counterparts teaching English and health education in schools across this vast and beautiful country.
And thank you as well to the many partners that make Peace Corps Mongolia a success.
I know we have government representatives, school administrators, teachers and host families with us today – thank you for welcoming Peace Corps Volunteers into your communities and for everything you to do to ensure that Peace Corps Volunteers have productive work experiences and lead happy, fulfilling lives in Mongolia.
I am enormously proud of the many positive contributions Peace Corps Volunteers have made to the development of Mongolia as a democracy – teaching English, working in public health, empowering young people, and helping to build the bonds of friendship between our two countries.
You are extraordinary individuals who embody the indomitable spirit of volunteerism – of giving back to one’s country – for which the Peace Corps is deservedly proud.
The United States deeply values its relationship with Mongolia, and as Peace Corps Volunteers, you are taking on the important responsibility of serving as a representatives of the United States.
Your commitment as a Peace Corps Volunteer demonstrates your high character, and I expect that in the tradition of the Peace Corps in Mongolia you will represent the best of the United States – in the workplace, in your personal lives and throughout your service.
Peace Corps service is challenging.
When President John F. Kennedy created the Peace Corps in 1961, he anticipated that Peace Corps Volunteers would be challenged and would serve under conditions of hardship while carrying out their duties.
As set forth in the Peace Corps Act of 1961, the purpose of the Peace Corps is:
To promote world peace and friendship through a Peace Corps, which shall make available to interested countries and areas men and women of the United States qualified for service abroad and willing to serve, under conditions of hardship if necessary, to help the peoples of such countries and areas in meeting their needs for trained manpower.
Whether it is a hard winter – and we have plenty of those in Mongolia, a difficult work situation, or feelings of isolation and homesickness, all Volunteers will encounter some type of challenge and hardship during their service.
As Peace Corps Volunteers, you can demonstrate your strength and resilience by the way in which you overcome these challenges.
I encourage you to be patient as challenges arise and to problem solve in a constructive way that helps those around you and promotes peace and friendship in your communities.
I wish you every success as you begin your service.
I look forward to hearing about your adventures and successes over the next two years and to seeing you as I travel around the country.
I now have the honor of administering the Peace Corps pledge.
Please stand. Raise your right hand and repeat after me.
I, first and last name, promise to serve alongside the people of Mongolia.
I promise to share my culture with an open heart and open mind.
I promise to foster an understanding of the people of Mongolia, with creativity, cultural sensitivity, and respect.
I will face the challenges of service with patience, humility, and determination.
I will embrace the mission of world peace and friendship for as long as I serve – and beyond.
In the proud tradition of the Peace Corps’ legacy,
and in the spirit of the Peace Corps family past, present, and future,
I am a Peace Corps Volunteer.