Officially becoming volunteers

4 July 2003 -- Dili, East Timor

On July 4, 2003, in a ceremony at the U.S. Embassy in Dili, East Timor, eighteen of us took an oath, becoming official volunteers. We are now the first group of Peace Corps volunteers to be trained in and initiate service in East Timor.

Before administering the oath, The U.S. Ambassador spoke a few words regarding the real possibility that the people of East Timor could realize a positive future, and that we could help bring this about. He echoed the tone we have heard many times from various sources: considering the current state of governance and economic activity in East Timor, if the leaders chose wisely, this country could remain a rising democracy with a satisfactory economy. Alternatively, if the leaders take a different path, the situation could deteriorate greatly. For the sensitivity of the current position, the size of the country, and the openness of the people to suggestions, it is a place he believes a group of people such as we volunteers can have a substantial impact. He went on to state that if he could choose between lots more volunteers or embassy staff, he might accept a few more people for the embassy, but would rather have lots more Peace Corps volunteers.

[Web master's question: why then has the Peace Corps delayed sending the next batch of volunteers, originally scheduled to arrive in August, and now perhaps coming next February or later?]

The next two years, if we are to believe what the Ambassador and others have said, will give us all a good indication of what the future of this country will be.

After the Ambassador spoke and we were all sworn in, two freshly initiated volunteers spoke a few words of inspiration and thanks. Will Gudeman spoke in English, and then Teresa Michael spoke in Tetun.

Here is the written version of their speeches:

Address by William Gudeman:

Will addressing group.


I would like to give respect to Senyor Grover Joseph Rees, American Ambassador; Senyor Rui de Araujo, Minister of Health; Dr. Belo, National Representative Habitat for Humanity; Senyor Diego Hay, Director of Peace Corps East Timor; and to all new Volunteers and other guests.

So far Peace Corps has been nothing but sad goodbyes. First to our families and friends in America last April. Then, on 26 June we left our host families in Nauner, Tibar, Laulara, and Hera, proving to be another sad goodbye. And now, in a couple of days, we all leave each other to begin our work in our respective districts. We've all made new friends among ourselves as well with many Timorese people, including our training and program staff, and we must say goodbye yet again.

Our oath spoke of upholding the three missions of the Peace Corps. Mission #2, to learn about other countries and their culture and people, is a continuing process. Mission #3, to teach Americans about other countries, is also continuing via our letters and expensive phone calls home, and via Michael's, and soon to come, Natalie's web pages.

So many lives are changing, and not just the 18 of us sitting here today. Our families and friends back home are affected by us being here. Our new friends here in Timor learn from us as much as we learn from them. Our wonderful teachers have taught us as well as learned from us, and I know they take their funny stories about us home with them to share with their family and friends.

And so now, go to your districts with peace in your hearts, not just in your job title. Enjoy these next two years and always remain present. Training is over, so don't dwell on it. Don't worry about tomorrow because it hasn't come yet. You will be more productive in your new communities if you just live for the moment.

Whenever you feel as if you're about to slip, or that you're about to fall, if you think that the whole world seams cold, or that all the magic has gone away, remember that your main support system is sitting to your sorin [side]. Our dice have been shaken, so now let them fall and go with what is presented to you.

Obrigado barak.
Maka nee deit.

Address by Teresa Michael:

Obrigada ba tempu mak fo mai hau. Hau hakarak hatoo katak ami hotu laran haksolok mai iha nee atu servisu hamutuk ho maun alin Timor Lorosae. Ami moos kontenti liu tanba mai iha nee, aprende kona ba cultura rai nee ho hasoru ho ema Timor. Durante fulan rua ho balu tiha ona ami aprende buat barak kona ba cultura i hatene ituan adat Timor nain. Ami hakarak teb-tebes atu hatene liu tan buat barak kona ba nasaun ida nee. Ami haree ema Timor laran diak, simu ami diak, liu liu familia ida ida haree ami, hadomi ami hanesan sira nia oan rasik. Depois besik fulan rua diet, ami rona historia kona ba Timor hosi ami ida-idak nia familia, fahe experiencia ba malu. Entaun ami hatene ona katak ema nasaun nee aten brani.

Maski ami lao dok husik hela ami nia rain i ami nia inan aman maibee ami laduun triste tanba ema Timor moos haree ho hadomi ami hanesan familia hanesan oan rasik. Ami kontenti tebes atu servisu hamutuk ho maun alin sira hotu iha Timor Lorosae.

Iha opurtunidade diak ida nee, ami hotu foo agradese ba ami nia mestri sira, nebee mak fo atensaun, pasiensia, ho domin boot. Ami senti hanesan amigus boot. Ami sei nunca haluha -- imi nia koalia, hamnasa, gosta troca idea ba malu. Tempu diak barak hamutuk agora atu liu ona. Se la iha mestri sira nee, entaun agora hau la hamrik iha nee ohin hodi halo diskurso ho lian Tetun hanesan agora imi rona dadaun.

Obrigada barak ba staf Corpo da Paz hotu, ho voluntariu tuan. Ami hantene, imi halo servisu makaas ba ami. Obrigada ba imi nia pasiensia, matenek ho laran diak. Ho imi nia ajuda, ami senti ami prontu ba distritu halo servisu ho ema foun.

Ohin loron boot. We have only just begun. Hau rasik hatoo obrigada barak ba colega voluntariu foun hotu-hotu. Ami hotu-hotu husik hela ami nia familia ida idak i agora ami forma familia foun ida fali iha Timor. Ami nain sanulu resin walu komesa, i ohin ami nain sanulu resin walu iha nee hotu.

Experiensia nee loke ami nia matan i hosi experiensia ida nee ami hetan buat barak iha ami nia moris.

Experiensia nebee ami 18 hetan laos influensia ami diet, maibee ba moos ami nia familia ho colega sira nia moris.

Maka nee deit!

Taking the Oath


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