Remarks by Ambassador Blake at Peace Corps Swearing In, Kediri, East Java.
Ibu Suharto from the Ministry of Education and Culture,
Representatives from Kediri and from STAIN Kediri,
Peace Corps Country Director Nina Favor, Surabaya CG Heather Variava,
Volunteers, ladies and gentlemen,
I am really delighted to be here to be able to participate in this swearing in ceremony for our latest batch of Peace Corps volunteers.
Spending time with our Peace Corps Volunteers in Indonesia is one of my favorite things to do. It is always energizing and inspiring.
It is also great to be here in Kediri, the first time we have held our Peace Corps training here. I would like to extend my thanks to the leadership of STAIN Kediri for hosting the training for these volunteers for the past three months. You have provided our volunteers with a wonderful introduction to Indonesia.
My sincere thanks go out to the families who have hosted and will host our volunteers in their homes. The opportunity to live with Indonesian families is one of the highlights of our Peace Corps program here.
We truly appreciate how you open your homes and your hearts to our volunteers, how you share the culture of Indonesia with them, and how you take care of them. They will remember this and I’m sure keep up their contacts with you for years to come.
I see many of our partners from Jakarta, from East Java and from West Java. Close partnership with our steering committee members and with our provincial partners help guide our presence here in Indonesia.
Without your support, our volunteers would not be here, ready to live and teach all over East and West Java. Thank you.
To the Volunteers, welcome and congratulations. You have worked hard to reach this point, and I am delighted that you are now poised to start the work for which you have been preparing.
I was proud to learn that this year’s group of volunteers is the largest ever, 68! We’ve come a long way from our batch of 18 volunteers that re-opened our Peace Corps program in Indonesia back in 2010.
Your work here adds so much to our bilateral relations with Indonesia, a country of growing strategic importance to the United States and the world.
You will be working with English teachers to help a new generation of Indonesian students learn English. English skills will help young people in Indonesia compete in an increasingly globalized and inter-connected world, which in turn will help Indonesia as a nation reach new levels of prosperity.
But as important, or even more important, than the English teaching you will do is the role you will play in building relations between the United States and Indonesia.
Strengthening ties between the people of the United States and the people of Indonesia is one of my top priorities as Ambassador. I am so pleased that I have such a talented and motivated group of people, like you volunteers, working with me to expand these personal ties.
I may be the overall U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia, but I hereby appoint you as my Deputy Ambassadors! I do that because I need you to:
- represent us in the communities where you will be living and working;
- explain American society culture and experience with your students, host families and new friends here. Let them know that our countries share common values of democracy, tolerance and respect for diverse cultures.
I encourage you to take advantage of these similarities and absorb the lessons of our differences.
Likewise, when you conclude your time here and return to the U.S., I hope you will tell your American friends and family about your experiences in Indonesia. Few Americans know much about Indonesia and its importance. So please take the time to speak at local Rotary or other Clubs or to your local newspaper or TV channel to let Americans know about:
- the important changes taking place in Indonesia,
- how Indonesia is now a member of the G-20 with a near trillion dollar economy,
- how it is a country that now has a strategic partnership with the U.S., how it has declared its intention to join the Trans Pacific Partnership,
- how it is playing a growing global role by taking constructive steps to stop climate change, counter the violent rhetoric of ISIS and other global terrorist groups, contribute to UN peacekeeping operations, and assist global health and refugee efforts.
As such, you will be important bridges helping to further build the strong ties between the United States and Indonesia.
Now, I’d like the new Volunteers to stand and raise their right hands and repeat after me:
I (state your name), do solemnly swear that I will defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic,
and that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same,
that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion,
and that I will well and faithfully discharge my duties in the Peace Corps (so help me God).
Congratulations to all of you!