Ambassador Robert T. Yamate’s Remarks for the Access Graduation Ceremony

English Teaching Program (ETP) ACCESS Graduation Ceremony
Saturday, February 13, 2016
10:00 a.m.
American Center, Tanjombato

Mr. Secretary General (SG) of the Ministry of Education, Rolland Rabeson
ETP Board Director, Mireille Razafindrazaka
ETP Director Vony Razanadrakoto
Distinguished guests, friends and family members, and most of all, ACCESS graduates:

I am so very happy to celebrate with you here today.  The United States Embassy is proud to partner with the English Teaching Program to make the ACCESS program available to Malagasy youth.  I  want to thank the teachers here at ETP for dedicating their time and their enthusiasm to helping these students do so well.

I want also to thank the parents of these students.  Thank you for encouraging them in their studies, thank you for supporting their education, thank you for inspiring and motivating them to expand their horizons through their study of foreign languages and cultures.

Congratulations to today’s graduating class,  Thank you for putting in all the extra hours of studying it took to get you to this day.  I know English can be hard, and confusing.  I know, because I too have studied a bunch of foreign languages.  It’s not just learning new words and strange pronunciations, it’s about learning a new way to think.  It’s about new ways of seeing the world, and the different kinds of people that are in it.

It’s about new ways of looking at problems, and new ways of finding solutions.  It’s hard.  So I hope all of you are proud of the work you have accomplished,.  I know your parents and your teachers are.

I know you have all worked hard to learn as much as you have.  I hope you also had fun.  I really hope that your experience with ACCESS has encouraged you to keep studying English.  The more you learn of this international language, the more doors will be open to you.  English is the language of the internet.  It’s the language of international business and trade.  It’s the language of science and technology.

It’s the language of poets, like Shakespeare and Justin Bieber.   Master it, and the opportunities for your future are endless.

So continue I hope all of you will continue your studies here in Madagascar and, at that explore ways of visiting and studying in the U.S.  As you keep learning, keep asking questions.

Ask where all these new and different words come from, and you could end up learning American and English history, and how immigrants and sometimes invaders integrated into our societies.

Ask about the holidays we celebrate, and you might end up learning about anything from what crops we grow, to what values we hold most closely.  Ask about our music, and you might find out something new about life in our cities, or about how businesses deal with new technology.  And don’t be surprised when the answer to each question leads you to another question, or another great idea.

That tends to happen when great minds get inspired, and are brave enough to question their teachers.  I hope you always see questions as the best way to open your mind, and never as a sign of disrespect.
So thank you again for having me here today and thank you for the hard work you have put into this great achievement.

I wish all of you success as you continue mastering this language and exploring the opportunities you have created for yourselves.  Congratulations.