Peace Corps Director Swears-In First Sri Lanka Volunteers Since ’98

This volunteer cohort arrived in Sri Lanka in December 2023 to complete a comprehensive cross-cultural, language, and technical training program to prepare them in understanding the country’s education system.

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Peace Corps Volunteers giving remarks in Sinhala and Tamil at the Peace Corps swearing in ceremony in Colombo on March 6.

As part of her second official visit to Sri Lanka, today Peace Corps Director Carol Spahn officiated the swearing-in ceremony of 20 new volunteers, who represent the first cohort of Peace Corps Volunteers to serve in the country since 1998. Sri Lanka’s First Lady Maithree Wickremesinghe, several Sri Lankan government ministers, and U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie J. Chung were in attendance to mark the momentous occasion. The event paid tribute to Peace Corps’ enduring partnership with the people and government of Sri Lanka and underscored our shared belief in the power of education to empower youth with the knowledge and skills to navigate opportunities of the future.

“Today marks the start of a new chapter in a longstanding friendship shared between the Peace Corps and the wonderful people of Sri Lanka,” expressed Peace Corps Director Carol Spahn. “I am grateful to our staff, host communities, and volunteers for answering the call to serve in the spirit of peace and understanding, for opening their hearts and homes, and for embracing the opportunity to stretch beyond their comfort zones. It is our hope that the opportunity to learn and grow together will build bridges of connection that last a lifetime.”

During her visit, Director Spahn met with Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe to express gratitude for the government’s partnership with the Peace Corps and discussed opportunities for continued impact. Having previously served as Education Minister, President Wickremesinghe spearheaded the creation of the country’s District English Language Instruction Centers (DELIC) at which Peace Corps Volunteers taught and trained future Sri Lankan English teachers until 1998. As Prime Minister, he was a strong advocate for Peace Corps’ return to Sri Lanka.

Since Peace Corps’ departure from Sri Lanka in 1998, Sri Lankan ministers, local administrators, and teachers have emphasized the great demand for English language education as a means of accessing economic, educational, and cross-cultural opportunities that benefit youth, families, and communities across the country. Through their advocacy and partnership, the government of Sri Lanka invited Peace Corps to return to the country in 2016. Peace Corps subsequently reestablished operations in the country in 2018 and formalized the development of the English education sector that same year. Today’s volunteers represent the latest evolution in the agency’s commitment to Sri Lanka and meeting their development priorities. These volunteers join the more than 500 U.S. citizens who have served as volunteers in Sri Lanka since 1962.

“The collaboration between Peace Corps and Sri Lanka exemplifies our shared commitment to sustainable development and cultural exchange,” shared U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie J. Chung as she reflected on the long-standing partnership. “This work is the heart of people-to-people diplomacy and the strong bonds that volunteers and Sri Lankans will develop are an important part of building friendships, promoting cross-cultural understanding, and advancing shared progress.”

This volunteer cohort arrived in Sri Lanka in December 2023 to complete a comprehensive cross-cultural, language, and technical training program to prepare them in understanding the country’s education system. Following today’s ceremony, the volunteers will co-teach with and support their Sri Lankan counterparts in Tamil and Sinhala schools across the country for two years.

Peace Corps invites U.S. citizens from all backgrounds, who embody the spirit of service and cross-cultural understanding, to become volunteers. The next application deadline is April 1, 2024. Interested individuals are encouraged to apply online to take the first step towards a life-changing experience in contributing to global peace and friendship. Visit PeaceCorps.gov/Bold to learn more about Peace Corps Volunteer service and how volunteers connect with immersive experiences in over 60 countries.

Sri Lanka Guardian

The Sri Lanka Guardian is an online web portal founded in August 2007 by a group of concerned Sri Lankan citizens including journalists, activists, academics and retired civil servants. We are independent and non-profit. Email: editor@slguardian.org

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