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U.S. Ambassador swears in inaugural cohort of Peace Corps Volunteers the Youth Empowered by Sports Project

Posted: Wednesday, November 22, 2023. 1:37 pm CST.

By Zoila Palma Gonzalez: On November 17, U.S. Ambassador Michelle Kwan swore in a group of 19 new Volunteers at a ceremony in Belmopan on behalf of Peace Corps Belize. 

For the next 2 years, Volunteers will support the Youth Empowered by Sports (YES) Project in partnership with the Ministry of Youth, Sports & Transport.

The goal of the YES Project is to see Belizean youth lead healthy and empowered lives and realize their full potential.

Trainees arrived in country on September 5th and for the past 11 weeks participated in pre-service training and learned about Peace Corps’ approach to development, Belizean culture, and their work assignment requirements to meet the needs of service.

Ambassador Kwan administered the oath of service and emphasized that “I love that this group is focused on the transformative power of sports, something of course I deeply care about.” 

“It is only fitting since she represented the United States as the most decorated figure skater in U.S. history, having won 43 championships, including five world championships, nine national titles, and two Olympic medals,” the U.S. Embassy noted.

Peace Corps Country Director, Dr. Nadine Rogers, administered the Peace Corps pledge and had a special message for YES: “You are the very best of what America has to offer the world. “

Rodwell Ferguson, Minister of Youth, Sports and Transport, stated that he was pleased when he heard that Peace Corps would be working directly with youth sports, since 68% of Belize’s population is under the age of 29. 

Francis Fonseca, Minister of Education, Culture, Science and Technology, echoed the sentiment saying, “The promotion of sports and healthy lifestyles is an integral component of our Ministry of Education’s sector plan.”

In attendance was the Governor General of Belize, Dame Froyla Tzalam, a longtime friend of Peace Corps Belize and Ambassador Attallah Shabazz, Ambassador-at-Large representing Belize internationally. 

 Iris Centeno, Director of the National Sports Council of Belize delivered remarks and her contributions to the development of sports in Belize was recognized by Ambassador Kwan.

The new group supplements the currently serving 27-month Volunteers in 6 communities across Belize and the recently sworn in Response Volunteers already in communities across Belize. 

This is the second group of Peace Corps Volunteers following the COVID pandemic. Another group is expected in May 2024 to support the YES Project.

Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps by executive order on March 1, 1961, more than 240,000 Americans have served in 143 host countries. 

Peace Corps Volunteers reflect the diversity of America and return to the United States as more informed global citizens and with increased understanding of the people and countries in which they worked. 

The Peace Corps extended its gratitude to the people and Government of Belize for their collaboration and opportunity it offers these Volunteers to assist in the pursuit of the nation’s development.


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