April 10, 2017, 7:00 pm
Let me first of all say what a pleasure it is for Mary and I to welcome all of you here to our home this evening. This is a very special event for us in view of what you all know is a very strong relationship between President Kanellis, the American Farm School and the U.S. Embassy. But tonight, I have an opportunity to show the U.S. government’s great appreciation for this partnership.
This is, in many ways, the opening event of what I expect to be three months of activity through which the Embassy and our wonderful Consul General in Thessaloniki will mark the 70th anniversary of the Marshall Plan and the very strong relationship that the United States has maintained with the people of Greece, including Northern Greece.
I did some homework, I was telling Panos, the first time we met he gave me my homework, which was the history of the school. And as I was reading that history, I realized that, in so many ways, the history of the American Farm School is the history of Modern Greece. They are woven together inexorably.
And so this has been an institution—the Farm School has been an institution—which has set the standard for American excellence, has provided exceptional educational opportunities to generations upon generations of Greek and foreign students, including many national leaders, but also underserved rural children.
It is truly an institution that represents the best of America, and our longstanding partnership with the people of Greece.
The Farm School is also leading the way in agricultural entrepreneurship. They have introduced and continue to promote the virtues, for instance, of pasteurized milk and omega-3 eggs here in Greece – and that is an achievement for which I know they are still remembered.
One of my top priorities as American Ambassador is to cultivate Greek entrepreneurship and innovation, so I’m very encouraged to see a great American institution, like the Farm School, breaking new ground in this field.
I also enjoy seeing strong, institutional participation with U.S. counterparts, including my own Alma Mater the University of California, so that’s an added bonus.
The American Farm School continues to play a vital role in the economic development of Greece, as agro-tourism and agricultural entrepreneurship are a natural fit for a country with vast natural resources, and is clearly an area for additional growth, as I was reminded by meeting this evening with several of you who have successful agro-export companies that are selling goods all over the world, including to the United States.
One of our newest institutional partnerships and areas of collaboration is our upcoming work with the Farm School to offer scholarships to qualified refugee students to study at the school for one year.
Through this initiative, the American Farm School will provide knowledge and skills to young people who arrived in Greece under the most dire circumstances and show them a path to a better future.
And tonight, I am doubly pleased, because in addition to recognizing the American partnership with the Farm School, we are also here to recognize Ms. Aliki Perrotis and the Farm School community.
The new Perroti Educational Center at the Farm School is under construction now and will be a superb resource for Master’s students from the College of Agriculture, Environment & Life Sciences.
Ms. Perrotis, we’re honored to welcome you to our home here this evening and congratulate you on receiving the prestigious Prix Galien award in recognition of your contributions to health, medicine, and education, which Mary and I were honored to be able to attend last week.
We are particularly grateful for all you have given to the American Farm School, which serves a tangible representation of our strong bilateral relationship.
In this regard, I should also note that when I was doing my homework, I was looking through the book, and I discovered a photograph from October 2001 at the inauguration of the Perrotis Library. And I have to say, you haven’t changed a bit since that day!
But in many ways, you exemplify the best of the Greek and American Diaspora community and all that can be accomplished through dedicated service.
The people-to-people ties between Greece and the United States are the foundation of our strong bilateral relationship.
And the selfless contributions and dedication of Greek-American philanthropists, like you, further cements the relationship between our countries.
So thank you for joining us, I hope everybody enjoys the evening, and I’d like to offer a quick toast. By the way, for those of you who were not aware, the red wine this evening actually comes from the Farm School, from the vines there on campus, and the white wine comes from… one of your trustees, Christos Zafeirakis. Yes.
So I hope everybody enjoys, and I’d like to raise a quick toast to the American Farm School, and the partnership between the people of America and Greece. Στην υγειά σας!