On behalf of the State Department, welcome to the “Global Moment in Time” initiative. 

Those of you joining in this new initiative hail from around 90 countries. You are government officials and journalists; educators and public health professionals; law enforcement officers and human rights defenders. You fight for the equal rights and inclusion of people with disabilities in Armenia. You’ve used music to advance LGBTI rights in Indonesia, to bridge long-standing divisions between the Republic of Korea and Japan. You’ve organized movements to give voice to indigenous communities in Suriname and Guatemala and used photographs to humanize the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Wherever you work, whatever you work on, you were nominated for this program because you’re in a position to help lead in addressing at least one of three pressing global challenges: the pandemic; peace and justice; and diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility.

All three are challenges we’re grappling with right now in the United States. COVID-19 has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. It’s hit Black and Brown communities hardest, laying bare deep economic, health, and educational inequities that have existed for far too long. We’re working to urgently address inequities in our institutions, in our communities, even our individual relationships, so that we can draw on the diversity that is our greatest strength. 

The United States is not alone in this. Most democracies in the world are facing some version of these challenges. So are countries with authoritarian governments. Many of you know this firsthand. 

And just as you will learn from some of the State Department’s best policymakers and diplomats and from pathbreaking civil society advocates across America, from faith leaders to grassroots activists, we will learn from you – from the questions you ask, the experiences you share, and the tactics and strategies you’ve developed. 

And, maybe as important or more important, you will learn from one another, and, we hope, form partnerships and friendships that will last long into the future. 

Too often, we end up working most with people who approach problems from a similar perspective. This initiative will expose you to colleagues whose backgrounds and tool kits are completely different from your own. Seek them out. Of all the skills you’ll deepen in this initiative, the capacity to see these challenges through the eyes of others – and make them your allies – will be among the most valuable. 

A big thanks to Anne Grimes, head of the Office of International Visitors, and her entire team for launching this initiative. 

And welcome to you all. I can’t wait to see all that we’ll do together. 

U.S. Department of State

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