Thank you Stephanie and Peace Corps Tanzania. I am delighted to be here today to celebrate this milestone event. In fact, 2021 is a special year in the history of the friendship between the United States and Tanzania.
We are celebrating the three 60’s: the 60th anniversary of Tanzania’s independence. The 60th anniversary of the U.S.-Tanzania bilateral relations and last but not least the 60th anniversary of the launch of the Peace Corps program in Tanzania.
As you heard from the MC, Tanzania was among the first countries to invite Peace Corps. President Julius Nyerere met with President John F. Kennedy in July 1961 and by September of that same year; the first group of Volunteers arrived in Tanzania.
Since then, Peace Corps Volunteers have served in towns and rural communities throughout Tanzania carrying the vision of President John F. Kennedy promoting global understanding and friendship through cross-cultural exchange and capacity building on the ground. As a result, the work of the Volunteers, alongside their Tanzanian counterparts, has linked our two nations in profound ways.
Since 1961, 3200 Returned Volunteers have been touched by the hospitality and generosity of the Tanzanian people. After two years of working side-by-side with Tanzanian counterparts, sharing meals, laughter, and learning about one another’s cultures, the Volunteers are forever changed, and they carry Tanzania in their hearts wherever they go.
When Volunteers return to the United States, they influence the understanding of Tanzanian culture for so many Americans. Imagine how many friends and family of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers have learned about Tanzania’s rich culture, history, and beauty.
There are also hundreds of Tanzanian communities that have a better understanding of the United States and the rich diversity of American culture because so many Tanzanians have welcomed Volunteers into their homes and communities.
The bond between communities and Volunteers teaches us that by approaching others with open hearts and minds, there are no limits to what we can do together. The beauty of Peace Corps is that everyone wins – our two nations, our peoples, our volunteers, and those whose lives they touch. Peace Corps represents all that is good about American volunteerism and service, and we are eager to have the Volunteers return.
I sincerely want to thank the people of Tanzania and the Government at all levels for the years of support provided to the Peace Corps program and the Volunteers. I also want to thank the host families and the communities who have hosted our Volunteers over the years. Because of you, the Volunteers fully experience Tanzanian culture and hospitality.
Finally, yet importantly, I want to acknowledge and thank the Peace Corps staff, past and present, for their hard work and dedication to the Peace Corps mission and goals.
The staff do the hard work of finding good safe sites for the volunteers in addition to preparing them for service and supporting them every day of their two-year service. Peace Corps staff are known to commit to a 24-hour, seven day a week job and they do so with a ready smile and encouraging word.
So, I can imagine how hard it is without the Volunteers. I know these past 18 months have not been easy. Keep going strong. You are doing great. We are proud of you and the work you are doing to bring the Volunteers back to Tanzania.
May the relationship between our two nations continue to flourish for the next 60 years. Zawadi kubwa ya maisha ni urafiki (the greatest gift of life is friendship.) Thank you.
Have a wonderful evening.