Good afternoon everyone.
It’s a pleasure to join you all today for the virtual closing ceremony of our Mission-Driven Alumni Outreach program. As you know, this was a two-week program focused on developing leadership, proposal development, and pitching skills. 30 young alumni have been working in 10 teams, with alumni mentors, to develop and implement their projects. The teams are competing for up to $4,000 in funding for their proposals. It is really inspiring to know that everyone participating in this program has some connection to the United States. Many of you have learned English through our Access English program, have volunteered for UmaAmerika or are members of YSEALI. You all hope to develop your careers and gain more opportunities for education and professional development. And I know that many of you want to improve not just your own lives but also your country as well. That is why my colleagues have brought you all together for this program. The senior alumni who have studied or joined professional programs in the U.S. are excellent connections to make. They are mentors that can open doors for many of you. I strongly encourage you all to keep in touch with your mentors and reach out to them for guidance. We all need role models to learn from. Good mentors and role models can give us valuable advice and guidance, but that is not enough. We need to get out there and take action to develop skills and confidence. That’s the second part of this program. Each of your teams have come up with really creative ideas that will improve your communities. I know the judges had a difficult time picking the best programs. The foundation of your project ideas is a vision for a better future for Timor-Leste. A healthy environment, a vibrant economy that benefits all Timorese, and a well-educated public are all part of your vision for your country.
The United States strongly supports you in this goal. That’s why we are contributing thousands of dollars for your project ideas. We believe that the success of Timor-Leste depends on the action of young Timorese leaders like you all. I have been really inspired by the work that many of you have done in recent months. Soon after the COVID-19 pandemic spread from China around the world, young alumni leaders came to the Embassy with creative ideas on how to prevent the spread to Timor-Leste. Their programs directly benefitted over 600 vulnerable families with important COVID-19 information. Alumni like Apolinario dos Santos, Feliciano Aleixo, Angelo Aparicio Menezes, Nuncia Xavier, and many more used their skills to join the battle to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Timor-Leste. Meanwhile, other alumni like Silvia de Araujo and Dircia Belo organized wonderful leadership and educational workshops for Timorese youth, despite the physical limitations caused by COVID-19. These are real heroes and I congratulate you all for your work. You all are examples of the good that young people are doing in Timor-Leste – in contrast to the image that sometimes appears in the media about young people.
The projects that you all created during these past few weeks will continue build the resiliency of your communities. Before I announce the four winning teams, I would like to congratulate all of you for your hard work. The discussions you had and the connections you made during this program will bring you closer to your shared vision of the future. Continue to support each other on this journey!
And now let’s announce the winning teams…