This morning I was sworn
in as the 18th Director of the Peace Corps. While preparing for this
day, I decided that the first thing I wanted to do was to take a moment
to introduce myself to the Peace Corps community and thank you for
everything you have done and continue to do.
As a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, this is quite an emotional moment. When I was in that small town in the Dominican Republic, I was consumed by the same daily thoughts: How was I going to master another language? What did it mean to be a 20 year old, training rural school teachers, many twice my age? How would I make a life in a community so far from my home? In 1967, I couldn't have imagined all of the people who had worked so tirelessly to allow a Volunteer like me to help in this small community - a community that most staff would never get the chance to see or experience.
Today, the roles are slightly reversed. I have spent most of my career working in developing countries - but now I will have the extraordinary opportunity to work with the staff in the U.S. and abroad to ensure that the next generation of Volunteers will have the same quality experience that I had in the Peace Corps. Everybody's service is unique, but I know that no matter where or when someone served - being a Peace Corps Volunteer is a life changing experience. We all tried to make a difference every day. We accomplished a lot with very little. And most importantly, we had the opportunity to recognize what we can achieve when given the tools to succeed. As President Kennedy envisioned, we learned to understand, respect and admire our host communities and countries.
This is my first day at Peace Corps headquarters since my nomination in early July. I am truly excited and honored to be here. In these first few weeks, I will be spending time getting to know many of you, listening to your ideas, and getting reacquainted with this agency that has meant so much to all of us. We'll immediately move forward addressing the challenges - both old and new - the agency faces.
At this historic moment, America is now led by a President committed to renewing the call to service and the Peace Corps is on the cusp of our 50th anniversary - I believe there could be no better time for us to work together to capture the imagination of those Americans interested in serving. I can't do this alone. I look forward to working with you to maintain the high standard that has been set by all of those who have come before us. Together, in the 21st century we will build on this legacy and grow a stronger Peace Corps that continues to champion world peace and friendship.