Peace Corps/Cameroon Swearing-in Ceremony
Place des Fetes, Bafia | August 16, 2012, 10:30 AM
Remarks of Ambassador Robert P. Jackson
Ladies and gentlemen, the representatives of ministries with whom the Peace Corps works,
Mr. Prefect, Deputy Prefects,
Madam Director of Peace Corps Cameroon,
Dear Cameroonian friends and colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen…Bonjour, Good Morning,
It is a great pleasure to speak to you on this very special day. We are here, of course, to continue a proud Peace Corps tradition in Cameroon: the swearing in of our newest volunteers. This ceremony is symbolic of the strong relationship between the Republic of Cameroon and the United States. Almost exactly 50 years ago, on September 13, 1962, the first 39 Peace Corps Volunteers to serve in Cameroon arrived here to teach English. Since then, more than 3,000 Volunteers have served in Cameroon in various sectors, including education, computer technology, small enterprise development, agroforestry and community health. In fact, agriculture, education, entrepreneurship and health constitute some of the core sectors in the strong partnership between Cameroon and the United States.
Peace Corps Volunteers reflect the diversity of the American people. A volunteer can be a recent college graduate, a retired professional, a farmer – or any number of other things. This diversity is a great strength, as each volunteer draws upon his or her unique talents to accomplish the important Peace Corps mission.
Fifty years on, Peace Corps/Cameroon continues to follow the founding guidance foreseen by President John F. Kennedy. Peace Corps Volunteers continue to share their experience, helping to develop business plans to start new enterprises or demonstrating new medical and agricultural techniques. Such knowledge is based on sustainable techniques that can be replicated, laying the groundwork for a better future for all Africans.
I salute Peace Corps Volunteers for their commitment and their dedication. I celebrate this important aspect of America’s development assistance. I thank all those who have assisted volunteers during these 50 years and who contributed to the success of this wonderful example of collaboration, partnership, and fellowship.
Today, we celebrate the achievements of these 31 men and women, who are beginning their service. Each of them decided to devote the next two years of their lives to expanding horizons – their own and, most importantly, those of the Cameroonian villagers and townspeople with whom they will develop wonderful working and social relationships during the time they are here.
And now, to the new volunteers:
This is an exciting moment for you who are about to become Peace Corps Volunteers. More than two months ago, you came to Cameroon anxious to begin your Peace Corps experience. Since then, you have learned to communicate in new languages. You are now well prepared to discover the myriad new things that await you in your assignments, and to accomplish the many things that you certainly have your hearts set to do. That is ample cause for excitement.
We also are excited for you as we anticipate your success and the many joyful experiences you will have during your volunteer service. For 50 years, men and women like yourselves have come to Cameroon, full of hopes and dreams, worked diligently and harmoniously with their Cameroonian partners and completed their tours with more satisfaction and a greater sense of accomplishment than they ever thought they could have. Since President Kennedy created the Peace Corps in March 1961, more than 200,000 Americans from all 50 states have worked side by side with people around the world. You are continuing that tradition of excellence today.
While they are not here with us at this ceremony, the people with whom you will work, in the villages and towns across Cameroon, also are excited today. They are ready to welcome you and have great hopes for the work that you will accomplish together. To these people, your Cameroonian colleagues and neighbors, you will be the face of America, perhaps the only American they will ever know. Please remember that you will always be viewed as representatives of the United States of America, of the American people. I have great confidence that you will show the best of America to our Cameroonian friends and will represent our country and our people well.
As you prepare to begin your assignments in education or community economic development, I congratulate each of you, and I wish you great success. I know that your Peace Corps experiences will be wonderful, and that what you begin today will remain a part of you forever.
And now, please demonstrate your sincere commitment to partner with the people of Cameroon for the next two years by pronouncing the Oath of Service. This Oath is the same one that every American in federal service takes. It is a meaningful affirmation of our values as Americans as we pledge to uphold the profound principles embodied in our Constitution, including the Bill of Rights. So if you are ready,
Please stand and raise your right hands and repeat after me, filling in the pause after “I” with your name.
I, ____________________ DO SOLEMNLY SWEAR (OR AFFIRM)
State your name
THAT I WILL SUPPORT
Congratulations! It is an honor to welcome you as Peace Corps Volunteers. Serve honorably and productively. Enjoy every challenging moment that lies ahead. Learn as much as you can and share as much as you can. Your experience will serve you well for all the years to come.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present our newest Peace Corps Volunteers.
May the cooperation between the United States and Cameroon continue to prosper!
Thank you very much.