Washington, DC - During the final months of 2015, more than 350 new two-year Peace Corps volunteers were sworn into service and have begun their work in communities across Armenia, Fiji, Lesotho, Macedonia, Rwanda, Samoa, The Gambia, Timor-Leste, Tonga and Ukraine.
The new volunteers come from all over the United States and each completed nearly three months of intensive cultural, language and technical training in their countries of service before the swearing-in ceremonies. For the next two years they will integrate with local communities and work to foster relationships and address the communities’ most pressing needs.
Peace Corps volunteers work at the grassroots level toward sustainable change in six program areas: education, health, community economic development, environment, youth in development, and agriculture. Volunteers work closely with local counterparts to promote the country’s development goals and inspire cross-cultural understanding.
Below find highlights from some of 2015’s final swearing-in ceremonies:
On Nov. 12, 39 new volunteers were sworn in by U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Richard Mills during a ceremony in Yerevan that was attended by more than 200 people, including regional governors, ministry officials and local leaders. The new volunteers showcased their knowledge and appreciation of Armenian language and culture by performing Armenian songs and dances and sharing their experiences in the local language.
Over the next two years, the volunteers will work in education and youth development within various schools, universities and NGOs throughout the country. More than 945 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Armenia since the program was established in 1992.
On Nov. 4, 35 new volunteers were sworn into service following 10 weeks of intensive training. During the swearing in ceremony, volunteers demonstrated their language skills and cultural knowledge through a traditional performance and speeches in the local language.
Once in the field, volunteers will help Fijian youth build positive lifestyle and health skills. Nearly 2,420 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Fiji since the program was established in 1968.
On Dec. 16, U.S. Ambassador to Lesotho Matthew Harrington swore 32 new volunteers into service. The swearing-in ceremony included remarks from Lesotho’s Minister of Education and Training Thabang Kholumo and a speech by a new volunteer, delivered in Sesotho.
The new cohort will teach English and math throughout the country and work to improve the quality and availability of education for the people of Lesotho. More than 2,390 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Lesotho since the program was established in 1967.
U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia Jess Bailey swore in 41 new volunteers during a ceremony at city hall on Dec. 10. The new volunteers will assist their communities with economic development and English education, collaborating closely with counterparts at local schools, government and partner organizations to improve the quality of life for people in their communities.
More than 635 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Macedonia since the program was established in 1996.
On Dec. 1, Peace Corps Rwanda welcomed 50 new volunteers in a ceremony that marked the end of an intensive 12-week training program in which volunteers studied Rwandan culture and the local language, Kinyarwanda. Over the next two years, the volunteers will work in education and health.
More than 605 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Rwanda since the program was established in 1975.
On Dec. 11, Ambassador Mark Gilbert swore 15 new volunteers into service at a ceremony in Apia. The volunteers, ranging in age from early 22 to 65, will work with the Samoan Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture to promote English literacy throughout the islands.
More than 1,805 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in Samoa since the program was established in 1967.
On Dec. 14, 33 new volunteers were sworn in by U.S. Ambassador to The Gambia Patricia Alsup at her residence in Fajara. Among the new volunteers, 17 will work on community-based health projects while the remaining 16 will collaborate with farmers and community gardeners to improve local agricultural practices and promote sustainability.
Peace Corps volunteers have served continuously in The Gambia since the program was first opened in 1967. More than 1,745 volunteers have served across the country since the program was established.
On Dec. 18, the first Peace Corps volunteers to return to Timor-Leste in nearly ten years were sworn into service during a ceremony in Dili. The 20 new volunteers will work on community economic development projects at the village level alongside local counterparts.
Peace Corps volunteers previously served in Timor-Leste from 2002 through 2006. During this time, more than 100 volunteers worked on community economic development and health related projects.
On Nov. 7, U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission from the U.S. Embassy in Fiji Doug Sonnek swore in 15 new volunteers who will join the 14 existing volunteers to teach English literacy skills to primary and middle school children in rural villages throughout Tonga.
Their efforts are part of the English Literacy Project, a collaboration between the Peace Corps and Tonga’s Ministry of Education and Training. More than 1,650 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Tonga since the program was established in 1967.
Following a one-year suspension of Peace Corps’ program in Ukraine, the first 55 two-year volunteers were sworn into service on Dec. 22, marking the official re-opening of the program. The new volunteers will live in communities ranging from small villages to large cities and will teach English and focus on community and youth development projects.
Peace Corps has enjoyed a strong relationship with the government of Ukraine dating back more than 20 years. Since the program first opened in 1992, more than 2,000 volunteers have lived and worked in communities across the country.