The US’s incoming ambassador, William Heidt, made his first Cambodian appearance in public Friday, at a swearing in ceremony for Peace Corps volunteers.
Since 2007, the Peace Corps has sent nearly 400 volunteers to Cambodia, especially in rural areas, and the Peace Corps is a central component to an education initiative of First Lady Michelle Obama.
The program, Heidt said, “represents the great people-to-people connections we have between our two countries.”
“You will be the real face of America,” Heidt told the 64 volunteers on Friday. “As the Cambodians learn from you, you will also learn from them, especially the families you are placed with.”
Cambodia is facing the growing challenges of an integrated Asean, which means learning English and other skills from volunteers like these is becoming increasingly important, said Im Koch, secretary of state at the Ministry of Education.
Blaal Ahmadi, one of the volunteers, who will begin his mission after two months of training, said Peace Corps volunteers have one thing in common. “We are all Americans.” These volunteers are “students of Cambodia,” he said. “Although Cambodians have gone through so many challenges, they’ve offered us a very warm welcome. To them, we’re family.”