My respects to:
Virgilio Guterres, President of the Press Council
Joao Saldanha, President of Joao Saldanha University
It’s a pleasure to join you all today for the closing ceremony of our Mission-Driven Alumni Outreach program. We are delighted to be here to celebrate the conclusion of four excellent youth-led projects. I’d like to thank the VIPs for joining us this evening.
We kicked off this program in August with a workshop on “Building Leadership Skills, Proposal Writing, and Pitching Ideas.” This was followed by a two-week boot camp focused on developing leadership, proposal development, and speaking skills. 30 young alumni worked in 10 teams, with alumni mentors, to develop project ideas that would serve their communities. In the final activity, a pitching competition, four groups won up to $4,000 each in seeds funding to realize their project idea. The four winning projects covered a wide range of topics, including agriculture, leadership, media literacy, and environment. Together, they reached over 250 people in communities around Dili. We have heard a bit already from them, but I want to highlight again how innovative and diverse they are.
Despite the wide range of topics, all the projects had one thing in common: they were based on a vision for a better future for Timor-Leste. That future includes a healthy environment, a vibrant economy that benefits all Timorese, strong youth leaders, and a well-educated public. The United States strongly supports you in this goal because we share that vision. And we believe that the success of Timor-Leste depends on the action of young Timorese leaders. We also believe that we do better when we work together. That’s why the MDAO has a strong focus on mentorship. The relationships that you have nurtured over the past few months are paving the way for future collaborations, brainstorms, and solutions.
On that note, I want to praise the connections you have made with each other and with your mentors throughout this program. Many of you started working with the U.S. Embassy by participating in our Access English program, as a volunteer for UmaAmerika, or as a YSEALI members. You seized those opportunities, excelled, and went on to connect with mentors and other alumni to conceive and implement these projects. You also connected with schools, organizations, and companies like HASATIL, Cal Tech, and Knua Juventude Fila Liman. You are building the foundation for change.
I want to thank everyone who helped make this program possible. Many thanks to Mana Belina do Rosario at the English Language Center at UNTL—your work was vital for the success of this program. Many thanks to our alumni mentors: Abilio Barros, Juliana Cabral, Angela de Jesus Tavares, Januario Soares, and Silvia Araujo. You embody the spirit of YSEALI, and your investment in Timorese youth is already yielding results. Many thanks to our VIP guests who have joined us tonight. We are grateful for your support and for your continued partnership with the United States. I encourage you to talk with these young leaders during the networking event and see how you might partner with them on future projects. And last but not least, many thanks to the participants who took this opportunity and made a difference in your communities. The U.S. Embassy will continue to support similar programs like this in the coming year. We look forward to seeing what you do next!
As we break for the networking event, I want to mention that our band tonight, The Kraken, has written 4 songs about the four MDAO groups! What a great way to honor everyone’s work here. Thank you!
With that, let’s start the networking event.