To the Chief of the Defense Cabinet (Chefe da Gabinete do Estado Maior da F-FDTL) Colonel Trix; honored guests; teachers; and of course, to the graduates of the American English Language Course, good morning and welcome to today’s ceremony.
I’m proud to be with you today and to celebrate the hard work that you’ve put into improving your English language ability over the last six months. I understand what it’s like to learn a new language, as I am currently trying to learn Tetum. Although it is difficult at times, I enjoy learning new words and more about Timorese culture.
One thing that I’ve learned in my language class in that most people in Timor-Leste have more than one name. These names can come from your ancestors, or refer to the day that you were born. Hau-nia naran Dan, but since I was born on a Sunday, you can also call me MAUN MEU.
Our mission in Timor-Leste is to assist the F-FDTL in achieving its full potential. An effective means to accomplish this is through the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program, which sends Timorese officers to the United States to attend professional military education courses.
Now, I heard the earlier speakers, and they were very impressive. Some even spoke without notes. But I noticed a couple apologized for making mistakes or for misinterpreting. I want to say to you: I hope you make many mistakes. You should be sorry only if you don’t try. When you try, you will make mistakes, and it is only when you make mistakes that you learn.
I myself am learning Tetum. And in my other assignments, I have learned some Filipino, Lao, Korean, and Thai. But today I would like to thank one person who taught me it is ok to make mistakes, and that is Mr. Benjamin Lupica, my high school Latin teacher.
Military training in the United States is just one of the goals of this course. Improving English language proficiency will help the F-FDTL work more closely with regional partners and hopefully one day to better integrate with organizations such as ASEAN.
English is the world’s most widely spoken language. By increasing the number of speakers through programs like the American English Language Course, we help Timor-Leste form bridges to the rest of the world.
Lastly, I would like to give special thanks to the Government of Timor-Leste, the F-FDTL, and the American English Language instructors, Heather Caturia and Fred Gomez. Your hard work and passion for teaching serve as inspiration to us all.
Ita ba hamutuk (Let’s go together)! Obrigadu barak!