DCM Hyland’s Remarks at the Peace Corps Mayor Event

DCM Hyland’s Remarks at the Peace Corps Mayor Event, December 12, 2018

Thank you, Darlene.  Good afternoon everyone.  Peace Corps staff and Volunteers, thank you very much for the opportunity to show our support, the Embassy’s support, for your work in Kosovo and to hear more about your programs.  General Secretary, all of the mayors here today, welcome.  I know I have visited a number of your municipalities, and joined you in celebrating some of the work of our Peace Corps Volunteers there.  So, let me first thank all of you for your partnership with Peace Corps, and our Volunteers, who come here full of energy and ready to work with the people of Kosovo.

I really do believe there is no better partnership for Peace Corps than the one it has here in Kosovo.  You have the youngest population in Europe, and our seventy Volunteers, currently teaching in your schools and working within your communities, are speaking directly to the youth of Kosovo, and hopefully, inspiring them to improve their language skills and to find ways to be more engaged in their community. Our Volunteers are paired with some of your most experienced teachers, working in their classrooms helping to elevate the level of English language training your children receive.

Outside of the classroom, they do much more.  They have chosen to dedicate two years of their lives to you and your students, and that dedication does not stop at the schoolhouse door.  Peace Corps Volunteers seek out and initiate community projects, like one in Vushtrri, to develop leadership at the secondary school level.  With the support of the local Director of Culture, Youth and Sports, the Volunteers have worked with a group of students to spread the idea of community service through after-school activities and other community events.  The result is these students are now going out and starting their own organizations at other schools, providing more young people with opportunities for non-formal education and promoting community service.

I know you want to do everything you can for the young people in your municipalities; after all, they are the future leaders, entrepreneurs, and teachers of your communities.  I also know you have limited resources and many competing demands for those resources.  So, let our Volunteers be a resource for you.  Dr. Grant and her staff want to work with you to find schools where Volunteers can be successful, to identify families to host Volunteers so that they can better understand your unique and rich culture, and organizations to partner with so Volunteers can effectively expand their efforts through your communities.

In a moment, you will hear some of our Volunteers and their local counterparts describe their work.  I encourage you to listen and imagine all that a partnership with Peace Corps could help you achieve in your communities.  I want to thank you all also for hosting our Peace Corps Volunteers, because as important as it is for you to have your young people exposed to different cultures—to travel, to know Americans—it is equally important for the United States to have its young people exposed to different cultures—to live abroad; to understand what happens in other countries; how Europe is; how Kosovo is; what your unique history is.  I think it is incredibly important to expose Americans to the outside world as well.  I want to extend a warm thank you for your willingness to partner with us.  It is really a two-way street and we appreciate the partnership.  Thank you.