Ambassador Kathleen Fitzpatrick Remarks at INpaktu Youth Read for Impact Program

Good morning everyone, and my respects to H.E. Mr. Abrao Saldanha, Secretary State of Youth and Sports.

I would like to congratulate our YSEALI members Nelania Doutel Sarmento and her entire team for this truly innovative program.

By being an active member of our YSEALI program, Nelania was selected in a competitive process to travel to the United States and take part in the YSEALI Academic Fellowship on Social Entrepreneurship and Economic Development at Brown University. She then worked with Kingsley Loong in Malaysia to pitch this program to the U.S. Mission to ASEAN. Their excellent, creative proposal was selected for significant funding from the U.S. Government as part of the YSEALI Seeds for the Future grant.

I would also like to congratulate the INpaktu team for finding opportunity in the midst of a pandemic. They had to adapt their original project plan quickly, but they realized that this was a chance to engage with so many young people using new technology and taking advantage of closed classrooms.

Nelania and her team represent what makes me so excited about the future of Timor-Leste young leaders, especially women leaders, who understand the challenges in their communities, and are working with international counterparts to address those challenges. This program, and the work of everyone involved, is why I believe Timor-Leste has such a bright future.

This program demonstrated creativity, innovation, and intelligence. It started by developing a solid foundation in English reading, because Nelania and her team know that English skills are the key to accessing the majority of information and educational opportunities in the world.

The art of reading leads to a better understanding of the world around us and the ability to imagine things we have never thought of before. It also improves our ability to write and share our own ideas and experiences. I love that the next step in INpaktu is to encourage social journalism and promote youth voices.

Actually, before becoming a diplomat, I was very interested in becoming an international journalist. Free and independent journalism is so important for our democracies. Journalism can expose the reality that people face every day and hold our elected officials accountable. Youth journalism is especially important. It provides a way for youth to make their voices heard and be active members of a democratic society.

I see that the INpaktu team received over 200 submissions for this National Summary Competition. That is very impressive. I would like to congratulate everyone that took part in this program. Whether your summary received a prize or not, know that the real prize is the skills and knowledge you developed from participating.

This is just the beginning of INpaktu’s work and collaboration with the U.S. Embassy in Dili. Both the Embassy and INpaktu’s goals are to amplify youth voices and provide more educational opportunities to young Timorese.

I encourage you all to join YSEALI if you have not already, and follow our Embassy Facebook page, where we post new opportunities.

Once again congratulations to the winners of this National Summary Competition, and please continue to read, write, discuss, and make your voices heard. As Nelania and her team say, “Together we are better!”