Monday, July 13, 2009

President Obama's shout-out to Peace Corps Ghana

This week was one of those weeks that reminded me how lucky I am. I'm down in Kukurantumi helping out with the training for the new group of Peace Corps volunteers who arrived the first week of June. My time on duty right now just so happened to coincide with President Obama's visit to Ghana. I didn't think we (the Peace Corps) would get to do anything with the President, considering how tight his schedule was for this visit. But three days before he arrived, as I was on my way south for my last round of training duties, I got a very exciting message -
"Peace Corps volunteers will have the opportunity to attend the departure ceremony for President Obama in Accra on Saturday." Wow.
I wasn't expecting much. We are after all just volunteers. There was no way we were going to get special treatment at such an event. But as we discovered when we arrived at the Airport was there was a special standing section for Peace Corps volunteers and other important people (ie - Embassy staff etc) just a few yards away from the podium upon which President Obama would speak. Double Wow. We ARE special.
I thought that would be the end of the specialness. I was wrong. Here is a short excerpt from his short speech to the crowd gathered to see him off...
I want to recognize our Peace Corps volunteers who are here. (Applause.) You know, Ghana was the very first nation to host young people from the Peace Corps. And for decades, our two nations have formed vital partnerships and lasting friendships because of this program. So all of you in the Peace Corps, you are doing an outstanding job and we're proud of you. (Applause.)
(the whole speech, both President Atta Mills and President Obama's can be found at
The part where it says (Applause) is a gross understatement. We went crazy. If you read the whole speech, you'll discover that not only did Peace Corps Ghana get a shout-out from the President, but we were thanked for our service directly after the country of Ghana and President Atta Mills.
And it gets better still. After the speeches were over and the national anthems sung, Obama got down and came to shake our hands. I wasn't able to push my way to the railing to get a handshake, but I did get one from Mrs. Obama. Triple Wow.
So thank you, President Obama. Thank you thank you thank you. I feel loved.
I'll put up some pics on flickr later on. I don't have my laptop with me to transfer them.