Ambassador Kosnett’s Remarks at the WiSci Camp Closing Ceremony, August 28, 2019
Ladies and gentlemen, students and scientists – good afternoon. It is a great pleasure to join my colleagues from the Embassy’s Millennium Challenge Corporation office, and the folks from Girl Up and INTEL and the other supporters of WiSciKosovo in congratulating the 100 young women here today – high school students from Kosovo, Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, and the U.S. – who have devoted their past few weeks to working as a team to learn about science, and about themselves. To begin to build a future that taps into the energy and potential of young women. A future where people cross borders and break down barriers. That’s a future I can believe in.
Over the past weeks, participants have had the opportunity to dive into the STEAM subjects – STEAM, that’s Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Design, and Mathematics – to dive into the STEAM subjects alongside their peers and develop their leadership skills, in an exciting cross-cultural environment. WiSciKosovo aims to tackle directly the problem of women having unequal access to STEAM jobs.
A lot of people, a lot of organizations, are standing with our 100 future “STEMinists” – I have just learned that word, and I love it! The mentorship from industry experts and friendship with global peers are two elements of a successful recipe that GirlUp has employed in nine other camps around the world.
In addition to Girl UP, I would like to thank all the partners involved in making this camp happen: Millennium Foundation Kosovo, Intel Corporation, Millennium Challenge Corporation, American Chambers of Commerce, Coca-Cola, Bechtel, Microsoft, NASA, the U.S. Department of Energy, and our partner American Embassies in the region.
One of the reasons this program is so special is that in Kosovo, as elsewhere in the Balkan region, women do not have an equal share and participation in the economy. Women’s participation in the labor market is critical to meeting the needs of growing sectors like energy and computers. Empowering young women throughout this region will bolster innovation, growth, and self-sufficiency for the entire region. The drive and creativity these young women brought to WiSci, and further developed in the program, will bring opportunities for themselves, their communities, their countries – and the world.
Now, permit me to address our “STEMinists” directly.
First, congratulation on your completion of the program! I look forward to hearing from some of you today about your final team projects. I encourage you to take these experiences back to your home countries, communities, schools, and families and share all the lessons you have learned related to technical knowledge, leadership skills, and inter-cultural good-will. And I hope you will bring back stories of Kosovo as well – of the warm and welcoming people you’ve met and the delicious meals you’ve enjoyed, and all the sleep you’ve missed. I know you will return to your homes ready and eager to inspire the next generation of young women, as you have inspired all of us.
Before we move on, let me leave you with the words of two great American women. From the astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison: “Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.” And from the late science fiction writer Ursula Le Guin: “The first step out of childhood is made all at once, without looking before or behind, without caution, and nothing held in reserve.”
Ladies – scientists –- the future is yours. Go get it!