Good afternoon, everyone!
We have much to celebrate today. We honor this year’s graduates of the Access English program, and welcome our newly selected students as they launch into their two-year Access journey.
Thank you to all the parents in the room, who have traveled from, Tuzla, Travnik, Visoko, and Busovača. You can all be very proud of your daughters and sons, who have accomplished so much through this program. I thank you for your support of this program and for your partnership with the Access team.
I thank Reisu-l-ulema Kavazović for hosting us today, the Gazi Husrev-Beg Library for organizing this wonderful ceremony, and the Islamic Community, with whom we have partnered for many years to advance English language learning through the Access program.
I also thank the school directors and teachers from Tuzla, Cazin, Travnik, Mostar, and Stolac. The Access program in Bosnia and Herzegovina succeeds thanks to your work, day-in and day-out, ensuring students gain these skills.
Students, our main purpose today is to celebrate your success. Just as your parents and your schools are proud of what you have already accomplished, the U.S. Embassy is proud to support your education and growth through this program.
Qualifying for this program is competitive. It takes a lot of hard work just to be accepted. The investment of time and effort you make over two years to complete the Access English course is very impressive – building not just your English language abilities, but also your knowledge of American culture and history, and your overall leadership skills. Your achievements are inspiring.
You are members of a global community of English language learners and young leaders. Since 2004, more than 100,000 students in more than 85 countries have participated in the Access program, and today you join a worldwide and accomplished Access Alumni family.
Learning another language is a wonderful challenge for the mind and a powerful way to increase your capacity to understand and accept people different from ourselves.
New languages open you to seeing the world from different perspectives. English in particular will serve as a powerful tool as you pursue university studies and in your future careers, no matter what field you choose. English is the language of global commerce, science, and opportunity for so many reasons. It will help you contribute to the future of this country in countless ways.
Young people like you have the power to make an undeniable difference to the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina. With your participation in Access, you have already demonstrated that you want to make a difference in your future and your communities. You are young BiH leaders. And we have launched a new program for young leaders here in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It’s called BOLD –Bosanski Omladinski Lideri. BOLD provides opportunities for leadership development, exchange fellowships, and funding for community projects, all in an effort to build the next generation of leaders.
You can join the BOLD community when you are 18, and I hope that all of you will do so. You can find information on our Embassy web site and at bold.ba. The future success of your country depends on its future leaders and their willingness to work together, to unify around shared values and goals and overcome divisions that hold this country back.
Now it’s your job to take everything you’ve learned through Access – your English language, your expanded world view, your experiences cooperating and collaborating together – and engage in your schools and communities to make BiH a better place for everyone. I look forward to seeing the great things you can achieve.
Congratulations on your graduation, and for all that you have accomplished, and all that you will accomplish.