U.S. Ambassador Lisa Johnson Remarks at the U.S. Peace Corps Group 49 Swearing-In Ceremony

U.S. Peace Corps Namibia trainees taking the Oath of Service.

Good morning!  It is a great pleasure to be in Okahandja again to swear in the next generation of U.S. Peace Corps Volunteers in Namibia, and also to convey America’s appreciation for the support this community provides to the Peace Corps.

To the Group 49 Trainees, it is wonderful to see you again and I thoroughly enjoyed your visit to see President Geingob.  The President told me when I saw him again last Friday that you asked him excellent questions!

The U.S.-Namibia relationship is strong and diverse, and is built on people-to-people connections.  The Peace Corps is a special part of the overall U.S. presence in Namibia, and in many ways, a cornerstone of our two countries’ friendship.

After the U.S. immediately recognized Namibia’s independence in March 1990, a memorandum was signed that same month by then Minister of Education, Sport, and Culture Nahas Angula so that Peace Corps Volunteers could assist in Namibia’s development.  Today, more than 1,800 Volunteers have honored that commitment.

By pledging to dedicate yourselves – and the next two years of your lives – to helping your fellow human beings, you embody the very best American values.  You will work alongside Namibians not just as equals, but as genuine members of their communities.  By modeling American values of diversity, equality, and respect, you will represent the bright future of the U.S.-Namibia partnership.

For many Namibians, you will be their first, and perhaps only, in-person experience with the United States of America.  By representing our ideals, you will broaden their minds.
By authentically opening yourself to their world, they will enrich yours.

Your experiences and your insights will be different from other Americans because you will learn the local languages, eat the same food, take the same transportation, and “go deep” to integrate and to help improve the lives of your neighbors.

Your roles – 14 Health Volunteers and 16 Community Economic Development Volunteers – will help the younger generation of Namibians become entrepreneurs, business leaders, scientists, doctors, nurses, community health workers, and so much more.

Your acts of service will help grow Namibia’s economy, reduce unemployment, and inspire countless youth.

Your efforts will help save lives and control the HIV epidemic by preventing new infections and encouraging those already on ART medicine to keep the virus undetectable and  thus untransmittable.  U = U.

But all that you will do, and all that you will achieve, begins with the friendship and welcome extended by Namibians.  On behalf of the United States, I extend profound gratitude and thanks to the homestay families that invited these 30 trainees into their homes, introduced them to Namibian culture, and helped them begin learning a new language.

To the broader city of Okahandja – the police force, the hospitals, the business community, and many others – thank you for looking after Group 49 over the past nine weeks.  Your hospitality and care represents the very best of Namibian values.

To the government of Namibia, such as the Namibia Training Authority and local authorities, and to the many partner organizations across the country, thank you for your support of our Volunteers.

I also would like to recognize the important role of our Peace Corps staff.  You manage the relationship with our local partners.  You orchestrated an excellent pre-service training.  And you support these Trainees emotionally and mentally to help prepare them for their next 24 months of service.

Trainees, it takes courage and dedication to join this legacy of U.S.-Namibia partnership and friendship.  I appreciate the work that you soon will begin, and I admire the risks you accept in your service.

I commend you, in advance, for the lasting imprint you will have on the lives of so many Namibians.  And I thank you for your service on behalf of the United States of America.

Trainees, you are ready for the challenge ahead, and it is now time to take the Oath of Service.