Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams Delivers Welcome Speech to Peace Corps Staff and Current and Returned Peace Corps Volunteers

September 17, 2009

Senator Harris Wofford, Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson and Newly-Appointed Peace Corps Chief of Staff Stacy Rhodes Delivered Remarks at Ceremonial Swearing-In

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 17, 2009

This morning, in a packed Shriver Hall at Peace Corps Headquarters, Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams was ceremoniously sworn-in by former Peace Corps Associate Director and former aide to President Kennedy and Sargent Shriver, Senator Harris Wofford. Director Williams addressed his remarks to both returned and current Peace Corps Volunteers as well as worldwide Peace Corps Staff.

Director Williams reflected on his first four weeks on the job and announced his intent to focus on targeted growth, broad innovation across all operations and a commitment to bringing the Peace Corps Volunteer experience home to help promote a better American understanding of other nations and cultures, also known as the Agencys 3rd goal. In addition to Director Williams and Sen. Wofford, Assistant Secretary of State, Ambassador Johnnie Carson (Tanzania, 1965-1968) and newly-appointed Peace Corps Chief of Staff Stacy Rhodes (Bolivia, 1968-1970) delivered warm remarks.

The following are excerpts from Director Williams speech as delivered:

I would like to thank three groups of people that I think about everyday in this new job.

First of all: The Peace Corps Volunteers in the field: Nearly 7,500 of you in 74 countries around the world. I hope that every single one of you is afforded the same opportunities I enjoyed and that you eventually conclude your time in Peace Corps service with the same quality life-changing experience that firmly placed me on the path that has led me here today. Last week, I returned from my first trip to the field as Director. I went to the Dominican Republic thats not a surprise is it? How did I end up there first? [Laughter] and Nicaragua. I saw your fellow Volunteers, engaged in a wide range of projects that are improving the human condition in hundreds of communities around the world.

Two: As this room well knows, the individuals who share the experience of Peace Corps service are united by a similar belief in people-to-people exchanges. There are nearly 200,000 Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. Returned Volunteers are leaders in classrooms, clinics, embassies, non-profits, newsrooms and other organizations that contribute to change. You are our best recruiters, our best spokespeople and the legacy of service that President Kennedy envisioned. I look forward to working with you.

And number three: I want to thank the Peace Corps staff both here in the states and around the world. This is my fourth week as Director and I have had the privilege of meeting a small fraction of you. I look forward in the weeks and months ahead to meeting more of you and working side by side as we move forward in this important mission with this incredibly important agency.

. . .

As all of you can imagine this is an emotional moment for me. In my first few weeks I have been here the Peace Corps staff has commented on the fact that I laugh a lot. This is the dream job for me. I never expected in this stage of the game in my career Id have the chance to serve and I thank President Obama for giving me that opportunity.

. . .

Today, the Peace Corps continues to provide the bridge to accomplish great things around the world person to person community by community. Under my leadership, and with the dedication and support of my colleagues, this magnificent work will continue.

I intend to focus my efforts on targeted growth, broad innovation across all of our operations, and a commitment to Peace Corpss 3rd goal: to bring PCVs experience home and help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

This noble cause that President Kennedy launched under Sargent Shrivers superb leadership and this agency that now hears President Obamas call to service is challenged once again to rise to the occasion. I am convinced that the Peace Corps of the 21st century will continue to harness the enthusiasm, skills and talents of Americans willing to serve humanitys neediest communities around the world.

I am honored to be the new Director of this iconic American agency. I took this oath today in recognition of this sacred trust Peace Corps is a sacred trust and I am committed to recruit, train, and support the dedicated and enthusiastic Americans willing to serve in every region of the world.

In closing, let me say that I look forward to working with you to make sure that future generations of Peace Corps Volunteers are afforded the same quality experience that I had that so many of you have had and that communities in this great nation continue to benefit from their extraordinary service and this rich texture that you bring back to our country. Thank you for joining me and my family today, its been an honor to speak with you today, and I look forward to working with you in the future.

. . .

Please contact the press office if you are interested in obtaining Director Williams' remarks in their entirety.

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