Fulbright Awards Ceremony Reception, June 12, 2014

Chief of Mission Residence
Thursday, June 12, 2014, 7pm

 (as prepared)

Αγαπητές φίλες και φίλοι,

Χαίρομαι πολύ που είμαστε όλοι εδώ απόψε στο Jefferson House .  Δεν θα σας κουράσω πολύ.  Θα ήθελα να πω μόνο δύο λόγια στα ελληνικά, αν μου επιτρέπετε….

Ενα μεγάλο ευχαριστώ σε όλους σας για τη θαυμάσια δουλειά που κάνετε στο Fulbright. Το πρόγραμμα είναι μία μεγαλη επιτυχία και αυτό οφείλεται αποκλειστικά σε σας!

Good evening, and thank you for that kind introduction.  Artemis, members of the Fulbright Board and staff; Fulbright scholars and students, distinguished guests, it is my pleasure to welcome you to my home to celebrate both a great program and all those who support and participate in it.

I especially want to thank you, Artemis, and your dedicated, hard-working colleagues at the Fulbright Foundation, who make this program such a great success year in and year out.

Without question, the Fulbright program is THE premier international educational exchange in the world.  It fosters academic excellence, the free exchange of ideas, and cross-cultural awareness.  I truly believe that there is nothing as important as educational exchange to build a solid foundation of trust and understanding between nations.

This is true now, and it was true back when Senator J. William Fulbright saw the devastation of World War II and established the program as a way to prevent future conflicts by fostering mutual understanding.  As recent events have shown, the challenge of building a Europe that is free and at peace is ongoing.  It goes without saying, that we cannot take for granted the progress that has been won here in Europe and advanced around the world, because the contest of ideas continues.  Proven programs, like Fulbright, have enduring value for all of our friends and partners around the globe. Indeed, more than 155 countries and 300,000 individuals have participated in the Fulbright Program since it started in 1946.  Fulbright alumni include 37 Nobel laureates and 65 Pulitzer Prize winners, as well as many, many other distinguished professionals.  Alumni from here in Greece include a Prime Minister, other ministers, parliamentarians, a Nobel laureate, leading academics and bankers, and famous artists.

In fact, the Fulbright Foundation in Greece is the oldest Fulbright program in Europe, the second oldest in the world.  Through the 66-year history of Fulbright in Greece, nearly 5,000 scholarships have gone to Greek and American scholars.  And tonight we have the honor to add 51 (!) more to these ranks.

In that spirit, we’re here to recognize those fifty-one Fulbright scholarship recipients for 2014.  These exceptional individuals stood out among a large pool of highly qualified applicants.  They were chosen both for academic excellence, and because they embody a fundamental value of the Fulbright program:  the desire to bring the people of our two nations closer together.

To be awarded a Fulbright scholarship is to join an elite group of individuals who represent the best in their fields and who embody the spirit of education and global understanding.  My congratulations to you all.We all know that Greece is currently going through some very challenging economic times.  It is precisely at times like these that we need to reaffirm our commitment to academic excellence and educational exchange.  They are a bedrock of our relationship and our shared future.
Finally, I would just like to note that the U.S. recognizes the tremendous sacrifices of the Greek people over the past five years.  We will do our best to work with the government and people of Greece for a future of stability and prosperity.  We want to see Greece emerge stronger – a stable country playing a stabilizing role in southeastern Europe and the eastern Mediterranean.  The need for peace, understanding, and friendship is as great today as it was in Senator Fulbright’s time.

Congratulations once again to you all.

Σας ευχαριστώ και πάλι που ήρθατε  εδώ απόψε. Να ‘στε  όλοι καλά!