Transformational Leadership Program Welcome Home Reception

Ambassador Delawie’s Remarks at Transformational Leadership Program Welcome Home Reception, June 16, 2017

Welcome home graduates, it is wonderful to have you here. It’s a privilege to be here as we celebrate your return, and I congratulate you all on receiving your Master’s degrees.  It’s a terrific accomplishment, one you’ve all worked very hard for I’m sure, and we’re proud of you.

This week your country also accomplished something important, in holding democratic elections on Sunday.  You and your fellow citizens have spoken, and now we’re all counting on your new elected representatives to form a government that works in the best interests of you and all of Kosovo’s citizens.

Fair and credible elections are essential but they’re not really enough for a democracy to thrive.  It takes the contributions and talents of young people like you to drive real change in a society. The TLP program afforded you the chance to deepen your knowledge and skills in your chosen field.  But it’s what you do now upon your return, what you were talking about today, that truly determines the long-term success of your program. Because TLP isn’t just an investment in your education.  It’s an investment in each one of you as future leaders in Kosovo, leaders who will innovate and be change agents, and build a stronger, more transparent, more prosperous country.

And that’s really why we sent you on this journey, for the extraordinary potential we saw in each and every one of you.  You probably sat through a commencement address upon receiving your Master’s degrees, but make no mistake: the far-reaching transformation you will help lead commences here and now. Whether in finance, technology, academics, law, or some other field, all of you were chosen for your interest in an area where Kosovo needs greater development and greater investment.  So I challenge you to use your newfound skills to make a positive difference in the future of your country.

With help from Citizens Corps, many alumni from the first cohort are already doing just that.  There are so many incredible stories, too many to share.  But let me just mention TLP alumni Valmir Ismaili, who along with several other TLP graduates founded Democracy Plus, upon returning to Kosovo.  He and his colleagues started working on good governance and the rule of law, political parties and elections, and social issues and human rights. So look around the room tonight at this new network of scholars and future activists and entrepreneurs, and imagine what you can contribute together.

I know it’s a lot of responsibility we’re charging you with.  But that’s what public service is about, giving of yourself to benefit your communities and your country. Service to others is powerful.  It is, as Muhammad Ali said, “the payment you make for your space here on earth.” In a way, 30 years into my own career in public service, I envy you.  You’re just starting out, everything is ahead of you now.  What will your impact be?  What choices will you make?  How long will you stand up for what’s right?

These are daunting questions, but exciting as well.  You get to pick your own paths now.  So enjoy this evening and be proud of your incredible academic successes. And then get to work figuring out what the rest of your journey looks like.  Graduates all across the world are asking themselves those same questions right now.  But I think it’s even more urgent for all of you because you know that your country is counting on you.

We’re counting on you too, we’re so proud of you, and we can’t wait to see what you’ll all do next. Thank you very much.