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The Swear In, In Extravagance

Posted on by chrissy

Our swear in ceremony was lavish, to say the least. Our stage (or the group of volunteers who arrived with me in February) has been exceedingly lucky since the start of our service. In Washington D.C., Aaron Williams, the Director of Peace Corps came and talked to our group along with the Malian Ambassador to the U.S., and an official from U.S.A.I.D. Since arriving in Mali, the American Ambassador to Mali, Madame Gillian A. Milovanovic, came to our training center to provide thoughtful encouragement to our stage, and indulge us with a group picture. The biggest treat, however, was certainly our swearing in ceremony.

In honor of the fiftieth anniversary of Peace Corps world wide, and the fortieth anniversary of Peace Corps in Mali, between the Embassy and the Peace Corps Administration in Mali, we were able to arrange for our swear in ceremony to be hosted by the President of Mali himself, his Excellency Mr. Amabou Toumani Toure (or ATT as he is known).

Tuesday afternoon, we all donned our finest Malian outfits and were bused to the President’s palace, perched high on a bluff overlooking greater Bamako and the Niger River. We were ushered into the Grand Ballroom and seated amongst current Peace Corps volunteers and staff, Embassy officials, and other invited guests. Including us, the crowd reached upwards of 400 people. Inspiring speeches were made by our country director of Peace Corps, the Ambassador, the Malian Foreign Minister, five current trainees (one for each local language we learned), and ATT.

All 61 of us were administered an oath by the Ambassador to uphold the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, et al… We are now official volunteers, with the faith and expectation that now we have the skills to assist our communities in their endeavors.

All of the speeches spoke to our character, to our determination, and to our commitment to service—all common qualities that drove us to the decision to live in Mali for two years. We will have the opportunities to do great things in the next two years, and we know we have a support system that reaches wider than just Peace Corps admin alone. The Embassy is rooting for us, as is the President of Mali. It is good to keep that in our minds as we venture to our respective villages.

The President’s speech was more touching than even I expected, as he told us the Peace Corps is the best aspect of U.S. Foreign policy, and that we go to live in places that some Malians won’t even dare living. It is nice to be serving in a place where our assistance is clearly appreciated.

After the ceremony, we posed for pictures with the President on the front steps, then had a [delicious] reception [that even included chocolate eclairs!] while we watched the sun fade over the city below. It was quite an inspiring way to start our service.


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  • About Me:

    I am a Peace Corps Volunteer working in Mali for two years promoting sustainable agriculture and environment development.

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    Christina Scheller
    B.P. 02
    San, Mali

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