Good morning, G-19!
It is an honor to swear in eight of America’s finest new ambassadors. Thank you for stepping up to represent the people of the United States of America to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini. What a responsibility. What a challenge. What a privilege and joy to do so in such an extraordinary country.
Your impact will be remarkable. Everywhere I travel in Eswatini I meet people who tell me how Peace Corps Volunteers touched their lives. Senior government policy and decision makers, civil society leaders, teachers, healthcare workers, students of all ages, talk of their wonderful experiences with Peace Corps Volunteers.
You now add your legacy. You join the 1859 volunteers who served in Eswatini since 1969. You join the almost quarter million volunteers who over the past 62 years did what you will do this morning. Stood up, raised their hand, and declared they had something to share to make a difference in the world.
You may be the first American some Emaswati ever meet. You will be asked about our country. Speak your heart. Tell the story of America as you know it, our country’s struggle, imperfect and ongoing, to live up to its founding ideals, to heed the better angels of our nature. Tell the story of our country’s promise but also its limitations. Tell the story of America’s possibilities represented by each of you.
The world relies on the young and young at heart. It always has been.
57 years ago, Senator Robert Kennedy visited apartheid South Africa and delivered his famous “Ripples of Hope” speech at the University of Cape Town.
Kennedy said, “The world demands the qualities of youth; not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of will, a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease.
It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man or woman stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, they send a forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance…”
Starting today, G-19, you send forth your ripple of hope.
“Give me a place to stand,” said Archimedes, “and I will move the world.”
Few will have the greatness to bend history itself. But each of you can work over the next two years to change a small portion of events, and the total of those acts will be written in the history of your generation.
Share your enthusiasm and smarts and kindness. Be curious. Learn all you can.
And after your service in Eswatini, what can’t you do? Right? What challenges can’t you face? Bring me giants!
So off you go. You will be fantastic. Look out Eswatini.
Be proud of yourselves and each other on this joyous day.
Now, I will administer the oath of service. Please rise, raise your right hand, and repeat after me: (the oath)