It is a beautiful day in Essequibo. A fitting farewell to our band of merry gentleman (and women). The breeze is like an old friend cooling us from the hot sun. I couldn’t have picked better weather for our ceremony officially welcoming us into the Peace Corps.
Swearing in is our official transition from Peace Corps trainees to volunteers. We have a ceremony with all our staff, the ambassador, members of the health and education ministries, and other dignitaries. (Below is a picture of the ed volunteers)
Everyone is dressed to the nines (as much as we can be from the suitcase we packed for two years). Some of the volunteers are in new Guyana swag (gifts from host parents/made in the community) from saris to matching jaguar dresses to evening gowns.
We started with taking pictures together, because although this day is mostly joyous it is a little bitter sweet – our last time together for the next 3 months. I’m so excited to begin this grand voyage. The ceremony consisted of several speeches, reminding us all what journey we are about to begin and why we committed our next two years to Guyana.
Maybe because of my background in the military or my patriotic nature, standing for the national anthems of Guyana and the United States was very moving. I could not help but feel unified between my culture at home and of our new home for the next two years. Even the music played after the ceremony was a combination of American and Guyanese, seemingly a nod to the melding of our cultures that Peace Corps strives to foster.
Our Oath: (which was surprisingly similar to what I said joining the Air Force)
I, (first, last name) do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; 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 the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. [So help me God.]
I first, last name promise to serve alongside the people of Country of Service.
I promise to share my culture with an open heart and open mind.
I promise to foster an understanding of the people of Country of Service, with creativity, cultural sensitivity, and respect.
I will face the challenges of service with patience, humility, and determination.
I will embrace the mission of world peace and friendship for as long as I serve and beyond.
In the proud tradition of Peace Corps’ legacy, and in the spirit of the Peace Corps family past, present, and future- I am a Peace Corps Volunteer.