Today, we complete the journey of officially becoming United States Peace Corps Volunteers.
United States President Barack Obama said in his Inauguration Speech:
“What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on part of every American, that we have duties to our selves, our nation, and the world — duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.”
The men and women here in this room take these duties to heart. What we will be doing in South Africa is fulfilling, a promise, one we are making to the people of South Africa, the people of the United States, and — most importantly — to ourselves, to do good and make a positive difference in the world.
The journey so far has not been without its share of challenges. Along this path, we had to learn a new language — where one word can have eight meanings; eat new food — that earlier in the day may have been crowing in the yard; and reconcile South African time with American time. Speaking of time, perhaps the most difficult challenge has been finding the time to really absorb our surroundings, especially midst of learning everything we will need for the next two years.
President Obama also said: “Don’t underestimate the power of people who join together…they can accomplish great things.”
Over the past seven weeks we realized this. We joined together with Peace Corps staff, LCFs (Language Cultural Facilitators), PCVLs (Peace Corps Volunteer Leaders), PCVs (Peace Corps Volunteers), all other manner of acronyms, our kind host families and each other. We acquired the tools for effecting positive, sustainable changes in classrooms and communities. Thanks to these new friends, we can now go forth to our respective communities across South Africa and continue to accomplish amazing things.
In the words of President Kennedy, “Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air, we all cherish our children’s future, we are all mortal.”
Today, we completed the first step of our Peace Corps journey. And today we embark on the second half of a Peace Corps century in its 51st year.
[Our swearing-in ceremony speech written by my fellow PCTs (and now PCVs!) Eva Cappuccilli, Carolyn Giese, Erik Hendel, Michael Anderson, John Doughtery, Briana Lambert, Vanessa Leja, Laura Bramblett and Holly Baukin.]
This speech was also read aloud in isiZulu by fellow trainee Michael Anderson, who did an amazing job pronouncing and speaking! Unfortunately, I didn’t grab a copy of the isiZulu speech. To be honest, I couldn’t understand a lot of it, but I’m on my way with language because today I also found out I passed my oral language exam as a “mid-intermediate” isiZulu speaker!
I, Elizabeth Warden, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and 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 my duties as a Peace Corps Volunteer. So help me God.
I have officially sworn-in as a Peace Corps Volunteer and am no longer a trainee!
My geographic group that is headed to the Battlefield Region of Kwa-Zulu Natal left straight for site right after the ceremony. We will be meeting our principals tomorrow at a supervisor’s workshop then heading to our new homes following.
Blogging on the go — as always,
Here are pictures of my new American-South African buddies and I at the ceremony!
Battlefields region group — Liz, Monica, Will, Laura and Katie
Andrea and me
Amy, Katie, Eva, Rakeesha and me
Brooke and me
California — west coast — reppin’ it!
CYLA alum Katie and I! Ripples!
Los Angelenos / George and me — we met in the states before coming to South Africa
Katrina and me taking a normal picture
Eva and me — my roommate at the first week of training
Katrina looking artsy with the scenic South African background
My isiZulu language group — Katie, Esther and our Language Cultural Facilitator Nonkonzo
Rakeesha and me — my roommate at staging
Kelsey, Brooke and me on the run…as usual
Our country director John Jacoby giving remarks at the swearing-in ceremony
Fellow SA 26 PCV Michael Anderson delivering the swearing-in speech in isiZulu