Honored guests, Mr. Hajzeri, Municipal Education Department Director, Assistant Secretary Adiga. Guests from Access Program-Kamenica, Natasha, staff, and teachers from Community Building Mitrovica, family and friends of the students. A special welcome to the new Class of 2018 Access-Mitrovica students and especially to the Class of 2016 graduates.
I’m very happy to be one of the first people to congratulate this gifted group of students. I’m so impressed by your dedication and your perseverance, but perhaps most of all, by your willingness to use your free time to learn English and American culture.
I know how challenging that can be. Throughout my life, I have studied many languages and cultures, including a bit of Albanian before I arrived in Kosovo and Serbo-Croatian before my time in Croatia. Languages are tough! Especially ours.
But by dedicating your time to learning English, you can now consider some of the other education and exchange programs offered by the U.S. Embassy, like the UGRAD program or the Fulbright program.
And you can learn about all these programs our new embassy website at xk.usembassy.gov. Check it out today!
With your English language skills, you have opened up an entirely new world of opportunities, especially in higher education and later on, when you join the workforce.
And if I can pass along one piece of advice to the successful graduates—one thing that I know for certain about foreign languages—if you don’t use them, you start to lose them. So keep using your English. Seek out new situations and new opportunities in which you can continue to develop your skills. I know that if you continue to use the lessons you have learned over the past two years—from grammar and vocabulary to leadership and service—that your potential is tremendous. I know you will make us and your families all proud.
To the incoming students, Access-Mitrovica Class of 2018, I wish you good luck. You’ll find English can be a frustrating and challenging language, but as these graduates know, it can also be fun. And in the end, it’s worth the hard work.
I think it is particularly appropriate that we are having this ceremony today so close to the Ibar Bridge that connects Mitrovica with itself. The Access program is like a symbolic bridge between the majority and minority communities of Kosovo, helping the students see each other as individuals, and friends, rather than as members of some group of “others.”
To the friends and family here today, and those with us in spirit. Thank you for your support of these students and thank you for your trust in the Access program. None of this would be possible without your encouragement and support for your children.
And last but not least, to the teachers and administrators at Community Building Mitrovica—thank you for all of your hard work. Congratulations on two fantastic groups of students. You truly are changing lives and building a brighter future for Kosovo.
Congratulations again, graduates and new students. Best of luck to all of you in your future endeavors.