Good morning! It is a great pleasure and honor to welcome you to this special ceremony commemorating the arrival of three dedicated Peace Corps Response Volunteers — the first of many as Peace Corps prepares to bring in additional groups of Volunteers to serve throughout Namibia. Peace Corps makes a significant contribution to building international understanding, peace, and friendship by its unique people-to-people connections.
To our soon-to-be Response Volunteers, Alan Marks, Lauren Pinkerton, and Robert Kankelborg, I would like to extend a warm welcome to Namibia. Thank you for your dedication and commitment to Volunteering with the Peace Corps. In April, U.S. President Joseph Biden celebrated national Volunteer week, reflecting on the self-less spirit of Volunteers, he said, ”Volunteering brings people together, uniting us around our common belief in the dignity and equality of every person and giving us a chance to learn from others we might otherwise never meet.”
The U.S. – Namibia partnership is strong and diverse, built upon a foundation of meaningful people-to-people relationships and forged in shared values including democracy, rule of law, and human rights. Peace Corps, is a special part of the overall U.S. presence in Namibia, and is an important cornerstone of our friendship.
As many of you know, in 1990, upon the request of then-Prime Minister Hage Geingob, our two nations signed an agreement to facilitate Peace Corps Volunteers assisting in Namibia’s development. The request was for Volunteers to serve “in the field of education and youth skills development programs.” Today, our newest Response Volunteers will join the more than 1,900 Volunteers that have contributed to this partnership. The Peace Corps Response program was reestablished in 2022 (with the arrival of Donald Hartline) after 7 years of being dormant in Namibia. We are very pleased to have it running again in response to a need expressed by our Peace Corps partners.
Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to travel to the Oshana, Oshikoto, and Ohangwena regions to engage beneficiaries of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program. During my visit, I had the opportunity to meet and witness the contributions of two Peace Corps Volunteers as they support the Ministry of Health and Social Services and Sam Nujoma Multi-Purpose Centre in Ongwediva. Volunteers support the Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) program, conduct community outreach services, and co-facilitate youth education life skills curriculum in surrounding schools.
Our newest Response Volunteers will also serve in northern regions identified by the Ministry of Education, Arts, and Culture; Kunene, and Kavango West. The devastating effects of COVID-19 impacted the education sector and highlighted the need for innovative strategies to reach youth such as distance learning. In the year ahead, the Response Volunteers will offer their technical expertise in the roles of: e-learning teacher trainer, English education specialist, and monitoring and evaluation specialist in Education. As education Response Volunteers, they will help the younger generation of Namibians to become entrepreneurs, business leaders, scientists, doctors, nurses, community health workers, and more.
It is with great joy that I welcome into service our three passionate Response Volunteers who will serve in Namibia for a year or maybe longer (as I am sure they will fall in love with Namibia).
With humility and intercultural competence, they work alongside Namibians not just as equals, but as a member of their communities. As you all serve, it is important to reflect on the significance of the perspective that you will gain as you deepen your understanding of the language, eat the same food, take the same transportation, and go deep, to fully integrate and help improve the lives of your new communities.
On behalf of the United States, I extend gratitude and thanks to the Namibian people who have opened their arms to welcome our Volunteers and have enabled our collective friendship to grow. Through this process of working together toward shared development aims, you help us achieve the broader goals of personal connection and cultural understanding between the people of our nations.
And for you, Alan, Lauren, and Robert, I thank you for your passion for service, and encourage you to embrace the challenges that lie ahead and enjoy exploring the Land of the Brave.
Source: US Embassy