US Embassy Swears in Peace Corps Members for Youth Empowered by Sports Project
Today, the US Embassy held a swearing-in ceremony for its newest Peace Corps newest members. The twenty volunteers will serve in the country for the next two years in the Youth Empowered by Sports (YES) Project. The American nationals spent three months immersing themselves in Belizean culture and learning Creole and Spanish. US Ambassador Michele Kwan spoke about the significance of the project and its goal.
Michelle Kwan, U.S. Ambassador: “Well I was super excited about today’s event. I mean it was great to have Governor General Tzalam here as well as Minister Ferguson and Fonseca talking about Peace Corps’ work and in partnership in terms of youth development and sports. So the last 11 weeks these volunteers, Peace Corps volunteers, were in intense training in terms of culture, language, and the curriculum. They will be helping in terms of carrying out throughout the country in Belize. So it was intense training but today is like the capstone graduation. They swore in and now they’re gonna go into the Belizean community to make a difference. As you heard a very rigorous process it was nice to see that was majority women that were being volunteers and it’s very exciting. But it is that there’s an application, there is clearly a training involved and then it’s a commitment that they really undertake. I think it’s great for folks that want to make a difference. That’s why I brought up my niece who’s 17 years old who we’ve had a number of conversations about making a difference and making an impact. Peace Corps is the epitome of that, of selflessness, of public service, and really getting into the community and making a difference in children’s lives across Belize.”
Minister of Youth and Sports, Rodwell Ferguson, says that the endeavor was sparked by the need for additional manpower in the country’s sporting sector.
Rodwell Ferguson, Minister of Youth and Sports: “This all started out of a symposium we had last year around the same time. I insisted to my senior staff that we must have a youth and sports symposium to energize young people and get out to the organizations around in the country and likewise the business sector. And about a month after the symposium I got a call from Peace Corp and they said they want to partner with the Department of Sports. And if you know that we have a country with about 68% of the population under the age of 29. So we have a find accommodation for them. So after we met with Peace Corps the first time we continued dialogue and this is the end result and they are here now to volunteer around the country with sports. We have a lack of coordinators locally and so especially the primary school sports and secondary school sports, they’re going to assist coordinators around the country to make sure that they have a very good competition among the high schools and the primary schools.”
The next cohort of volunteers arrives in March.