Peace Corps National Museum Exhibition Opening

Today, we celebrate the power of a simple idea - that by working hand in hand with communities across the world, we can make a better place for all.

Today, we celebrate the power of a simple idea – that by working hand in hand with communities across the world, we can make a better place for all.

After 50 years, you might think it easy to talk about the work of Peace Corps. Of course, it’s easy to give the facts: Over 2,500 volunteers during Botswana’s 50 years of independence. A national budget written. 3,100 miles of rural roads constructed. 73,000 students provided with education in subjects such as math, sciences, and life skills.  And more than 94,000 individuals reached with HIV interventions.

But, upon preparing my remarks, I found that it was almost impossible to succinctly capture the true lasting impact of the partnership between the Peace Corps and the nation of Botswana.

How can you capture the deep bonds of friendship and love that tied together volunteers and their communities? How do you describe the generosity with which these Americans, thousands of miles from home, were greeted? How can you speak to the power that millions of moments of exchange can have on an individual, a family, a village, or a nation?

Instead of giving a speech, I invite you to relive the experience with us. Here. Today. See the impact through the many photographs surrounding us today. Hear the stories of people whose lives were changed in the video montage. Speak with volunteers with us here today. Write a name of a volunteer who touched your life on the wall behind us.

Today, ladies and gentlemen, I look out into the audience and I see the power that a very simple idea can have. Because of people like you who welcomed our volunteers into your homes and hearts, people like you who believe it is important to build bridges of compassion and understanding and create peace throughout our communities, we stand here united today.

This exhibit highlights not the Americans who have sacrificed two years of their lives in the greater mission of world peace, but instead celebrates the joint efforts of our two nations to make Botswana the success story it is today.

Thank you. Pula!