Remarks by Ambassador Jennifer Zimdahl Galt at Peace Corps Volunteers End-of-Service Conference

AMBASSADOR GALT: I guess I’ve really been in the Foreign Service for a long time. That’s a pretty long bio, I’m sorry about that. [Laughter]

And I know I’m standing between you and lunch, but I wanted to just say a couple of words primarily to say thank you.

Thank you for inviting me to join you in this fabulous place, beautiful location for your seminar this week.

And thank you for everything you have done – and will continue to do for the next couple of months – as Peace Corps volunteers here in Mongolia.

As United States Ambassador to Mongolia, I am enormously proud of the Peace Corps. Enormously of the many contributions that you have made to the development of Mongolia and enormously proud of the fact is that this is a partnership between the United States and Mongolia.

And this year, we’re celebrating 25 years of that partnership. So, this is a historic year to be concluding your Peace Corps service and historic year to mark the many contributions that you have made to Mongolia.

Whether you’re teaching English or working in public health or empowering young people, your contributions are valued and will not be forgotten.

Every day I meet Mongolians who tell me about their Peace Corps teachers. They remember your names, they remember your hometowns – they remember everything you taught them about the United States, about American society and culture.

So, you have changed lives and that is something you can be enormously proud of.

I know I’m very proud to have had you as my ambassadors in every aimag across this vast country.

I have not had the opportunity to travel as much as I would have liked so far. I hope to get out and about and see perhaps some of you before you depart. And see some of the next generation of Peace Corps volunteers that are just coming into the country this coming summer.

So, as you start to think about the life after the Peace Corps – and, yes, there is life after Peace Corps, I know you heard from a couple of my colleagues this morning, very pleased that they were able to join you.

I wanted to just offer a couple of thoughts for your consideration. I joined the Foreign Service out of the belief in service and a desire to represent my country overseas. Something of that same spirit, I imagine, inspired you to join the Peace Corps and to come to Mongolia. And will no doubt carry you forward to future positions, be they in teaching, graduate school or perhaps continued government service.

When I was in Washington in the middle of March for the Chiefs-of-Mission Conference, of the various desk officers in the various agencies that are represented in my Embassy here, fully half of them are returned Peace Corps volunteers. And it’s always exciting to run into a returned Peace Corps volunteer, either back in Washington or at a mission overseas.

The State Department is proud to employ many returned Peace Corps volunteers, so I would encourage you to think about the Foreign Service as one of your many options for the future.

Another sector to consider is international non-governmental organizations. Just this past week, I had the pleasure of meeting the new Deputy Country Director of the Asia Foundation here in Mongolia. She is a Cuban-American, returned Peace Corps volunteer, who speaks fluent Mongolian – I can’t think of a better representative of the United States than that.

So, you have a lot to offer. Organizations will snap you up. The skills that you have learned in the course of your Peace Corps service, including a bit of humility, a bit of confidence in yourselves, an ability to represent your country overseas – sometimes in difficult circumstances – all of those skills will serve you well and will make you a very skilled employee for organizations that are looking to hire you.

So, with that said, I’m confident your futures are bright.

Thank you again for your service to the United State government, to the Peace Corps, and to the U.S. Mission to Mongolia. As I said this is the 25th anniversary, I’m extraordinarily proud of everything the Peace Corps does here in Mongolia.

I wish you all the best in everything that you decide to do and look forward to our paths crossing again somewhere, sometime.

And now, bon appetit, I look forward chatting with you over lunch.

Thank you.