SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all so much. (Applause.) Well, I am delighted to welcome all of you to the Ben Franklin Room here in the State Department. That’s a portrait of Benjamin Franklin, who was one of our great early leaders, and now we welcome all of you leaders from around the world. It’s exciting for me to be here to see this diverse and impressive gathering as you begin a very worthwhile year of study.
I want to thank Assistant Secretary Ann Stock and Dr. Allan Goodman, the president and CEO of the Institute of International Education. But mostly, I came here to really thank you for deciding that you wanted to come to the United States and to learn and to let us learn from you as we build greater understanding and more bridges between people. I think that the idea of nurturing talent and creating opportunities for the next generation is really key to what we’re trying to do in the Obama Administration and here at the State Department. We’ve got to build more mutual understanding and mutual respect. We need more links between people in government today and people who will be in government tomorrow. So we do expect great things from you when you return home after this period here as a Humphrey Fellow.
I must confess I’m very pleased to see so many women here. (Applause.) I really believe that investing in half the population pays off. (Applause.) This is a fellowship that is founded on service. You heard Assistant Secretary Ann Stock talk about Hubert Humphrey, one of our real inspirational leaders of the last century in the United States. He took stands on issues, whether they were popular or not, and he fought hard for them. He was an early leader when it came to civil rights. He supported the creation of the Peace Corps. He was someone who really appreciated the legacy of service.
Now, I hope that each of you will take advantage of this opportunity – ask questions, schedule meetings outside the classroom, volunteer to help on projects, just take it all in. Because we want you then to take what you have learned and put it to use in your own countries. You will meet friends that you never met before, both among the other Humphrey Fellows and here in the United States. And so you will get a chance to exchange ideas and to really test yourself. The students sitting in your classrooms or studying next to you can be a valuable resource for you.
As I travel the world now and meet leaders who are currently serving, I know many of them had an opportunity to come to the United States at some point early in their careers, and we feel strongly that those people-to-people connections is really at the foundation of all of our work here at the State Department. Because when you get to know someone as an individual, it really does change your mindset, and I find that in my own experience and I hope each of you will as well.
It also means that there’s an alumni network of more than 4,000 Humphrey Fellows in 156 countries around the world, so there’s a built-in opportunity to have a network experience because of who you are and this extraordinary opportunity. Now, one of your colleagues who is already here landed an exclusive interview with President Obama in the Oval Office this June, right? (Applause.) Another one of the Fellows who studied law with the class of 2002 just became the first female police commissioner in her state in India. And in August of 2008, a Humphrey Fellow was appointed the Colombian minister of defense.
So you have a lot of partners and allies across the world, and remember that we stand with you. We believe in you. We support you. You are here because a lot of people decided that you should be here. So we know that this is a challenging experience, but we all think you’re up to the challenge. And I think if you can take advantage of this time, your experiences will help you become even more ready to assume a leadership position in your own country and society.
I heard you were up here. I wanted to stop by and welcome you. I want to wish you well and congratulate you. You’re now going to hear from the person who’s really behind this program year after year, making it possible, who has all of the experience about why this is so important, someone who has a well-deserved reputation not only in the United States, but across the world for believing in young people, investing in young people, opening doors for young people, and then helping to prepare those young people to walk through those doors, like every one of you are going to be doing.
So please join me in welcoming Dr. Allan Goodman.
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