As the 27th batch of Peace Corps was officially sworn in, United States Chargé D’Affaires, Bryan Hunt, emphasised that the organisation forms a critical part of the US mission in Guyana.
At the swearing-in ceremony yesterday, 42 trainees became confirmed volunteers after three months of intensive training here in Guyana. With their swearing-in, the volunteers will spend the next two years living and working in Guyana to better the nation, particularly in the health and education sectors.
Hunt noted the challenges that the new batch of Peace Corps volunteers will be facing. According to the US official, Guyana held remarkable potential. This potential, he said, will make the two-year stint a rewarding one.
However, Hunt emphasised that challenges will also come.
“Despite its intense beauty and tremendous potential, Guyana is also a developing country and as such faces considerable challenges including poverty, HIV/AIDS epidemic, ethnic and racial divisions, crime and security threats and education gaps,” Hunt said.
He said that the United States has a strong interest in working along with Guyana to support national efforts to meet these challenges. He said too that a more productive partnership between Guyana and the US is also being sought.
According to Hunt, the US mission is to help build a more prosperous, more secure and healthier Guyana. He made special note of the benefits for the disabled, women and children, youths and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
He added that US personnel in Guyana seek to achieve these objectives through acts of diplomatic engagement, targeted development assistance and the two-way flow of people, information and ideas.
Additionally, Hunt emphasised that the Peace Corps volunteers will go a long way in furthering these goals.
“The Peace Corps forms a critical part of the US Mission in Guyana,” he said.
He said, too, that working and living in Guyana will present the volunteers with the opportunity to represent the best of the United States.
Similarly, Minister of Health, Dr. George Norton and Minister of Education, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine, noted the tremendous benefits that the Peace Corps volunteers could offer to Guyana.
However, both of the ministers opined that the relationship will be a symbiotic one and not only beneficial to Guyana.
Dr. Norton said that the experience would be a “learning process”, particularly when it comes to cultural exchange.
“It’s a learning process you’re going into and it’s a two-way street; you will learn from them just as much as they’ll learn from you. The friendships you establish will be ones that can change the lives of people in the communities,” he said.
Additionally, Dr. Norton opined that it sometimes takes persons coming from outside of one’s community, district or country to make people recognise the advantages already present.
Dr. Roopnaraine extended gratitude to the US Government for its continued engagements through the Peace Corps. Deeming the volunteers “valid and valuable”, Dr. Roopnaraine added, “I’d like to welcome you as worldly ambassadors of your country and as valued partners in Guyana’s development.”
During their three months here in Guyana, the 42 volunteers spent their days and nights with Guyanese families, who acted as hosts.
The volunteers were also involved in pre-service training focused on providing them with opportunities and experiences that would enable them to perform a number of functions.
These functions included working in the project areas of Community Health Education and Community Education Promotion, integrating easily into the Guyanese society and understanding Peace Corps policies and procedures to enhance their field work.
During their two-year stay in Guyana, the volunteers will not receive a salary but rather a stipend to upkeep them.
According to Linda Arbogast, Peace Corps Country Director, the exchange of cultures will be one of the integral areas of focus.
She said too that the new volunteers are expected to depart for their sites from next week and they will be working in schools and health centres. These sites will be in Regions One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six and Ten.
The volunteers age 22 through 53 and come from 23 States.
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