Chargé d’Affaires Nicholas J. Giacobbe’s Remarks at Kosovo United States Alumni (KUSA) Networking Event, December 20, 2019
Thank you, Mjellma.
It is great to be here tonight with so many alumni of U.S. Government programs—at every level—from high-school exchanges to advanced degrees and professional exchanges.
Thank you to the excellent staff of Kosovo United States Alumni— Labi, Alba, Fjolla, and Rina — for doing a great job organizing this event. The atmosphere here is fantastic.
I will be brief and to the point so everyone can get back to what you really came here for—networking and socializing. But I do want to say a few words about why these exchange programs exist.
During my career as a Public Diplomacy Officer, I have worked on many of different exchange programs. Over the years I have had the opportunity— the privilege, really —to meet many members of our vast alumni family.
It is a wonderful family. All over the world, our alumni are actively engaged in making a difference in their communities.
For some of you, this is through volunteering and direct involvement in community activities. For others, making a difference means working to make the government institutions more transparent, and helping deliver services to citizens more efficiently. Other alumni are developing new technology, building a better business environment, and improving the education system.
Whatever alumni are doing, and wherever they are in the world, they are applying the experience they gained in the United Sates to finding creative solutions for challenges at home.
That is the real goal of exchange programs. That is why U.S. taxpayers continue to choose to fund these programs, and continue to give you these opportunities. We often say in the exchange world that the exchange program begins when the participants return home.
What this means is that the program is only successful if you—the alumni—use the experience you gained in the United States to make positive changes back home.
And so, I would like to take this moment to encourage you to redouble your efforts here in Kosovo. Your country, your home, needs you, your experiences, and your talents.
We can talk all we want about fighting corruption and working to help Kosovo achieve greater European integration. We can talk about improving Kosovo’s education system. We can talk about all the issues the country faces, and what we can do to overcome them.
But Kosovo’s future relies, in the end, on one factor alone—the commitment of its citizens to build that future. That means you.
And that is why I am glad to be here today, in a room full of people determined to build the future for Kosovo that all of its citizens deserve. Tonight, we are in a room full of people working—in whatever capacity—for positive change.
Alumni— an enormous investment has been made in you. Now is the time to do as much as you can to pay that investment back. And remember that the payback is not to the United States, but to your own country and fellow citizens.
So, in that spirit, I hope that all of you will be positive examples for others. Encourage your fellow Kosovo citizens to build an open and fair system for all. One where merit pays dividends, and success is the result of hard work. The Kosovo of tomorrow needs you today.
Now, I will announce awards to two alumni who are perfect examples of that commitment and dedication.
Thank you. It is wonderful to have this opportunity to meet you all. I look forward to our conversations this evening and over the next couple of years while I am in Pristina.