Peace Corps Volunteers sworn in, marking historic return to Sri Lanka


U.S. Ambassador Julie Chung, Peace Corps Director Carol Spahn, and First Lady Professor Maithree Wickremesinghe join U.S. Peace Corps Volunteers, school directors and counterparts at the Peace Corps swearing in ceremony in Colombo on March 6.


Colombo, March 06, 2024 – In a ceremony held in Colombo on March 6, Peace Corps Director Carol Spahn, U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung, First Lady Professor Maithree Wickremesinghe, and Minister of Education Dr. Susil Premajayantha officiated the swearing-in of 20 Peace Corps Volunteers from the United States. This marks the 25th group of Peace Corps Volunteers to serve in Sri Lanka since 1998. The cohort of skilled, diverse Trainees arrived in November 2023 to begin 12 weeks of training. Following three months of intensive training in language, culture, and effective engagement within Sri Lankan schools, these Volunteers will now embark on a two-year service journey as English teachers in the Central and Uva provinces. They will work alongside their Sri Lankan counterparts, including English teachers and principals, to deliver English language instruction to Sri Lankan school children.

Addressing the swearing-in ceremony, U.S. Ambassador Julie Chung congratulated the Volunteers and expressed gratitude to the Government of Sri Lanka for extending the invitation to the Peace Corps. She remarked, “I feel a tremendous sense of pride, both as U.S. Ambassador and as an American, in Peace Corps Volunteers. I cannot imagine a better way to demonstrate our collective engagement to serve the people of Sri Lanka.” She added, “These Peace Corps volunteers are embarking on a profound experience. They become part of their Sri Lankan communities, speaking Sinhala or Tamil, and working side-by-side with their Sri Lankan counterparts. Their experiences in Sri Lanka will forever shape them, and they will share their love for Sri Lanka with fellow Americans. These Volunteers will play an important role in strengthening cross-cultural ties between our nations, while also advancing the importance of English language education as a crucial tool for participation in the global economy, contributing to Sri Lanka’s progress and development.”

Minister of Education Dr. Susil Premajayantha addresses the U.S. Peace Corps Volunteers before their departure to teach schoolchildren in the Central and Uva provinces.

A newly sworn-in Peace Corps Volunteer shares a heartfelt moment with their host family, marking the beginning of their transformative journey of service and cultural exchange.


Peace Corps Volunteers learned Sri Lankan culture, Sinhala or Tamil for the past 3 months before they go out to their schools to teach English for the next 2 years.

Peace Corps Director Carol Spahn, who traveled from Peace Corps headquarters in Washington D.C. to oversee the swearing in and meet with Sri Lankan government officials, said, “To engage with and learn and walk side-by-side with Sri Lankans who come from such rich and diverse cultures is a gift. We thank the government of Sri Lanka for inviting Peace Corps back to Sri Lanka and we thank the people of Sri Lanka for your hospitality and welcoming these Volunteers with open arms. Finally, we honor these Volunteers for demonstrating the cultural humility, openness, respect, resilience, flexibility, and patience that are the foundation upon which we build peace and friendship, one relationship at a time. It is such an honor to be able to be here to attend the first swearing in ceremony of Peace Corps Volunteers in over a generation here in Sri Lanka.”

Minister of Education Susil Premajayantha spoke about the importance of English language education and partnership and said, “Congratulations to the 20 Peace Corps Volunteers for your swearing-in. Our partnership with Peace Corps unlocks opportunities for all Sri Lankans to benefit from English language education. I hope you thrive in our local communities and forge strong bonds with your host families, students, counterparts and schools, and hold all these wonderful experiences when you return to America. Embrace the rich cultural exchange opportunities that Sri Lanka offers, as these experiences will not only enrich your journey but also strengthen the bonds between our nations.”

“I want to recognize and express my gratitude to the community members who have opened their hearts and their homes to the trainees,” said Kavita Pullapilly, Country Director of Peace Corps Sri Lanka, to the teacher counterparts, school principals and host families. “We honor you today for your kindness, your willingness to share your culture, and your generosity in creating a space for the Volunteers to learn Sinhala and Tamil and experience all the joys of living in Sri Lanka.”

About Peace Corps Sri Lanka: Peace Corps and the Government of Sri Lanka have a long and cherished history together. Peace Corps first opened its program, upon the invitation of the Sri Lankan government in 1962. From 1962 to 1998, more than 500 Volunteers served throughout Sri Lanka, working in education, health, agriculture, and community development. From 2004 – 2006 short-term Volunteers served in Tsunami recovery programs, helping Sri Lankans when help was needed most. One of the most lasting legacies of the Peace Corps and the Ministry of Education was the District English Learning Improvement Center (DELIC) program, which was a teacher training program that trained young Sri Lankans to be English teachers in rural schools. Peace Corps Volunteers were placed in DELIC centers to work with the DELIC coordinator in conducting the training courses for these young teachers who, to this day, continue to serve schools and communities throughout Sri Lanka.

In 2016, the Government of Sri Lanka extended an invitation to the Peace Corps to aid the Ministry of Education in enhancing English language education across rural community public schools. Subsequently, in 2018, the Country Agreement was formalized through the joint signing by the Foreign Minister and the Peace Corps Director, marking the official re-opening of the Peace Corps program. Additionally, in the same year, a Memorandum of Understanding was established between the Minister of Education and the Peace Corps Sri Lanka Country Director, marking the official commencement of the collaboration on the English Language Education program.

About the Peace Corps: The Peace Corps is an international service network of Volunteers, community members, host country partners and staff who are driven by the agency’s mission of world peace and friendship. At the invitation of governments around the world, Peace Corps Volunteers work alongside community members on locally prioritized projects in the areas of education, health, environment, agriculture, community economic development, and youth development. Through service, members of the Peace Corps network develop transferable skills and hone intercultural competencies that position them to be the next generation of global leaders. Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, more than 240,000 Volunteers have served in 144 countries worldwide. For more information, visit

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