Mr Robert P. Jackson, the United States Ambassador to Ghana, on Thursday, swore in some Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) and tasked them to use education to transform lives and share the American culture of generosity and fellow-feeling.
“We follow the principle of helping people gain the capacity to help themselves; Peace Corps is at the front line of that work,” he stated…. “We do this because a stable, prosperous and democratic Ghana is good for Ghanaians, and good for America.”
To the 22 volunteers, who would serve in five some regions for two years; Ambassador Jackson: “While you are here, you will serve as grassroots ambassadors. Working diligently in your communities, you will touch lives in unimaginable ways.” “Through your actions and attitudes, your service and kindness to others, you will show that Americans care deeply about Ghanaians and are committed to work side by side for the long-term.” The 12 females and 10 males are thus joining the nearly 5,000 other Americans who have served as Peace Corps Volunteers in Ghana over the past 56 years”. Ghana is the first country to host Peace Corps volunteers, when President John F. Kennedy developed the concept to build peace and friendship through dedicated service for the cause of our shared humanity. Ambassador Jackson hailed the long unbroken record of the joint engagement in resolving development challenges and increasing mutual understanding, goodwill and friendships, since then. The new volunteers, whom the Ambassador described as being among the “the best and the brightest of America” have undergone 10 weeks of training to facilitate their integration. They would handle subjects such as Mathematics, Science and Arts in Junior and Senior High Schools and at the State Schools of the Deaf. The institutions are in the Eastern, Volta, Northern, Upper East and Western Regions. Ambassador Jackson, however, noted that the work of volunteers had changed over the years in response to evolving development challenges in Agriculture, Education, Governance, Health, Water and Sanitation and Security; and helped to engender positive outcomes.
Additionally, he said, the US continued to facilitate the training of young Africans through its Young African Leaders Initiative; the Mandela Washington Fellowship, under which ‘young leaders from Africa honed their skills at US Colleges and Universities, and returned to the continent to craft solutions – in Africa, for Africa, by Africans.’
Ambassador Jackson also mentioned the “Innovating” Programme, jointly formulated with the Ministry of Education, to encourage reading beyond the classroom among preschoolers and pupils, as efforts to improve manpower development.
For his part, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, a Deputy Minister of Education, commended the volunteers for their selfless spirit; stating that, “I commend you, particularly, for accepting to serve in the rural and under-resourced communities, under conditions, which even some Ghanaians will not want to serve.
“My advice is that in whichever community you find yourselves, remember that you are role models, change agents and most importantly, you are Ambassadors of the United States of America.”
The Deputy Minister said there were thousands of Ghanaians, especially the educated, whose lives had been affected and, their vocations changed, as the result of the activities of some PCVs.
He shared his experiences of how he bonded with his students when he taught Mathematics in the United States and advised them to devise innovative ways to connect with theirs to make them appreciated and fruitful.
Dr Adutwum, who lived in the US for 26 years, had a successful career as a school manager and eventually got a grant to own a school, with more than 1,000 students, before he returned to Ghana.
With his experiences from both cultures, he said, he would become a bridge between Ghana and the US for the mutual benefits of the sides.
Ms Carla E. Ellis, the Country Director, Peace Corps Ghana, said the volunteers, whose experiences ranged from ‘just from college to retired’, were motivated by their commitments to serve mankind.
Two of the PCVs, Mr Caleb Davis and Ms Ariel Gonzalez, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, expressed their joy over the privilege to work in Ghana.
Mr Davis, who would be teach in the Northern Region said: “I am excited, though a little nervous. But, I feel very well prepared through the training that we have received.”
Ms Gonzalez, who is versed in Special Education, also said the pre-deployment training programme they had received had adequately prepared them to deliver.
“Since we arrived in the country, Ghanaians have been very helpful and very welcoming,” she said.
Dressed in diverse fashionable clothes made with Ghanaian prints, the volunteers, after taking their oaths, displayed their grasps of the indigenous languages of their host communities by translating Founder of Peace Corps Volunteer’s assertion that, though people had different abilities, everyone one deserved an equal opportunity to education.
Their audience duly appreciated these efforts with laughter and applause.