Remarks as Prepared For Delivery By Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet at the Let Girls Learn Event With First Lady

March 21, 2015

Siem Reap, Cambodia

Saturday, March 21, 2015

As Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, Danielle. I am inspired by the amazing work you are doing to help girls in your community imagine a brighter future for themselves.

I’d like to thank Ambassador Todd for his leadership and his support of the Peace Corps mission here in Cambodia.

And I’m so delighted to be joined by our Cambodian counterparts. Thank you so much for opening up your homes and your hearts to our Volunteers.

Finally, and especially, I want to recognize all of you, our Peace Corps Volunteers, for serving your communities and representing our country with such passion and purpose.

I’m so very excited to join you today at our first Let Girls Learn field-based training. Let Girls Learn is our country’s commitment to girls’ education. As part of this initiative, the First Lady and Peace Corps have come together to form a powerful collaboration to increase access to education for girls around the world.

As a Peace Corps Volunteer teacher in an all-girls school in Samoa, I witnessed firsthand the power of education to transform lives. And I have learned through my 25 years of international work experience that an investment in girls’ education is the single greatest investment we can make – because when a girl is given the opportunity to learn, everyone in her life benefits.

Few understand this better than you – our Peace Corps Volunteers and counterparts – who live and work side-by-side with the people you serve. And few are better-positioned to help communities break down barriers to girls’ education.

Because you know that the best solutions for girls’ empowerment come from communities themselves. And you already serve as powerful catalysts for community-led change.

Danielle, I’m told that when asked if the girls in your community saw you as a role model, you said that you weren’t sure. Instead, you said, you have focused on shining a light on Cambodian women and showing your girls that they have real-life examples to aspire to, right here in their own country.

Your statement speaks to the incredible respect you have for the Cambodian culture and people, and the powerful, personal relationships you have developed. Because relationships are at the very heart of the Peace Corps experience – relationships of trust, that give you a unique window into the lives of adolescent girls, as together you craft community-led solutions that make a difference.

Relationships that enable you help those girls dig deep within themselves to discover their own unique, powerful potential. Relationships that support big dreams. Relationships that reach both girls and boys with messages of hope and inclusion.

Relationships that show how much you care that they succeed. Relationships that give you the credibility to serve as powerful advocates for girls’ education and empowerment in communities across Cambodia.

We are so honored to be working with the First Lady on this important issue. Along with President Obama, she has seen firsthand the power of education to spark creativity, passion and change in the lives of girls, if only given the chance. That’s why we believe so much in what Let Girls Learn can accomplish.

Together, the First Lady and the Peace Corps will:

  • Offer new training on girls’ education and empowerment, building on sessions just like this one, delivered to thousands of Peace Corps Volunteers and tens of thousands of community leaders;
  • We will support hundreds of community projects, from GLOW camps to youth entrepreneurship clubs to school libraries through our newly formed Let Girls Learn Fund;
  • And we will recruit, train and place hundreds of additional Peace Corps Volunteers who will be passionate supporters of girls’ education around the world.

Today’s training is just the beginning.

We are so grateful for the First Lady’s leadership – and I know you will agree with me that we couldn’t have a more passionate, inspiring champion. That is why it is my great pleasure to introduce you to the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama.

Watch First Lady Michelle Obama's remarks during the event here.

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