Ambassador Kathleen Fitzpatrick Remarks at ELC’s Access Micro scholarship Opening Ceremony

My Respects to:

  • Faculty of Education, Arts, and Humanities (FEAH) Dean, Prof. Doutora, Ana Cristina de Jesus S. Martins
  • Rector, H.E. Prof. Doutor, Fransisco Miguel Martins
  • Academic Director of the English Department, Felismina de Araujo
  • ELC Director Belina Rosario
  • Access Primary Teacher Ventos Falur
  • UmaAmerika Director Ezekiel “Zeck” Ribeiro
  • Professors and Adminstrators of UNTL
  • Access Microscholarship Students

Good morning everyone.

I am very pleased to open this new session of the Access Micro scholarship Program. Many thanks to UNTL for your good work and your strong partnership over the years. Many thanks also to mana Belina and maun Ventos at the English Language Center, who have worked tirelessly this year to set up this program.

Congratulations to our 24 Access Micro scholarship recipients. We are very proud of you.

By choosing to study the English language, you are wisely preparing yourself for a connected, global future and giving yourself an edge for future jobs and scholarships.

English is the language of ASEAN, and the language of global business. It opens opportunities for travel, employment, and relationships in places you might not expect.

The Ministry of Finance and Australian Aid’s Workforce Development Program have noted that there is a clear relationship between speaking English and increased income in Timor-Leste. If one or two adults in a family speak English, their income, on average, is higher by many hundreds of dollars.

When you sit down tonight to study English, you are joining a worldwide group of young people who are working hard for a better life. Maybe you want to apply for a job, or a scholarship. Maybe you have dreams of traveling to the United States, or even studying abroad. A command of English will help you realize those dreams.

The U.S. Embassy is very proud of this Access Micro scholarship program. I have met many previous students and sat in on their classes. They are impressive, and I know you will carry on that tradition.

We actively support English language training in other ways as well. Our Peace Corps has expanded its work to support English teachers in the districts.

Through our exchange programs, we have brought American English language teaching assistants and other support to Timor-Leste at every level, from the Ministry to the classroom. We will continue these programs even though COVID-19 has posed significant challenges.

At the U.S. Embassy, there are a number of programs available to Timorese young people who speak good English.

Many alumni from our exchange programs and scholarships started their journey where you are today: they applied for an Access scholarship. Just a few years later, they have graduated from American universities, participated in professional fellowships in the United States, and some have even brought their American colleagues here, to Timor-Leste!

When you are 18, we also encourage you to join the U.S. program called the Young Southeast Asia Leaders Initiative, where young leaders like you use their English to collaborate with colleagues from across the ASEAN region. Here in Timor-Leste we now have over 2,000 YSEALI members and they are a dynamic group.

I also encourage you to learn more about America at our Uma Amerika right here at UNTL – and even volunteer there.

As someone who has studied other languages, I know that this is not an easy task, but it is well worth it. It requires us to overcome our shyness and participate in class and most importantly, to speak the language even when we are unsure of our abilities.

In languages we learn by speaking. This is true for both young women and young men, but I especially want to encourage the young women, who can tend to hold back when they feel unsure of themselves in class or in public.

I encourage you to raise your hand in class, answer questions, and volunteer to lead class activities. Your English will improve, and you will gain confidence. Most people are very kind, as I have found here in Timor-Leste trying to speak Tetum.

I want to conclude by congratulating you all as the recipients of the Access Micro scholarship. You are starting something that will surely be a turning point in your academic careers and maybe even your lives.

We look forward to keeping in touch with you and seeing where your path goes.

Thank you.