Peace Corps Volunteers in Botswana Experience a Visit from the President

“One of the main reasons I joined the Peace Corps was to experience things,” said Volunteer Kevin Collins. “But never in a million years did I expect to meet the President of the United States.” On Wednesday, July 10, twelve Peace Corps Volunteers in Botswana were given that opportunity. The Volunteers met President George W. Bush, First Lady Laura Bush and daughter Barbara Bush at a game reserve about 15 kilometers south of Gaberone.

Earlier in the day, when the President had met with President Mogae of Botswana, President Mogae recognized the Peace Corps for its work in his country. The President took full advantage of getting to know some of these workers up close. President Bush greeted and thanked each of the Peace Corps Volunteers for their efforts, as he chatted his way around a semi-circle of eager Volunteers. “The President was warm and friendly and spent time talking with each of us,” said Volunteer Donna Stanislawski. “The President thanked all the Volunteers for their support and commitment to helping Botswana fight the scourge of HIV/AIDS.”
photo of President Bush with Volunteers
President Bush meets with Volunteers in Botswana.

But the talk wasn’t all serious. Peace Corps Volunteer Chris Talley, a 2001 graduate of Yale University, shared some laughs with the President. Talley reminded the President of his commencement address at their alma mater in which the President said, ‘You, too, can become the President of the United States…with a C average.’ “We laughed together in jest over the comment and he embraced the two of us who were on either side of him,” said Talley. Peace Corps Volunteer Sally Atland, a graduate of Austin College in Texas, had celebrated her birthday the day before. The President gave her a belated birthday hug and kiss on the cheek and wished her a happy birthday.

The Volunteers expressed sincere appreciation for the opportunity to meet the President. “It was a privilege and an honor,” said Stanislawski. Peace Corps Volunteer Key James explained, “I was genuinely pleased with the level of compassion (the President) held for Botswana in helping the country combat HIV/AIDS.” Others were more euphoric in their appreciation, “It will be an event I will never forget!” said Peace Corps cashier Gladys Nlondiwa.

Collins summed up the experience by saying, “We all felt incredibly fortunate to have met the President of the United States. Just a typical day in the life of a Peace Corps Volunteer, right? In a way, yes, because I have new and amazing experiences every day. Peace Corps is a great life.”

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