Lela Karagianni Building, Kipseli
19:15-20:30 p.m, June 11, 2018
Thank you very much Fillipos. Good evening, kalispera. My friend, Deputy Mayor Leftetis, where are you, you’re hiding back there. Let me say first of all what a real pleasure it is to be in a part of Athens I don’t get to come to that often, so it’s really nice to be here on a really lovely evening. And I want to say especially what a pleasure it is to be here as part of the celebration of the successful conclusion of the Tech Talent School project, or at least this phase of it.
I would like, to start with, to express some thanks, first of all to Microsoft and Mr. Morfis, and Peggy, who is not here but please do pass my personal regards and appreciation. Also to the outstanding team from the Tech Talent School, Dimitris Kalavros and Nikos Nikitas from Found.ation, Magy Kontou from SimpleApps, and Antonis Padadapoulos from Mataroa, for hosting this event tonight and also for bringing me here to the Lela Karagianni Residence. I didn’t know the story of this building, but I think, as the Deputy Mayor explained it to me, the historical role that Lela Karagianni played during the Second World War and the rebirth of this building in its new role is really appropriate and is a symbol of the reasons why we should be hopeful about this remarkable city of Athens.
I want to say special, special thanks to the Athens Municipality, to Mayor Kaminis, who could not be here today, and really congratulate them on their partnership, and the essential support that Microsoft Hellas has provided.
I am very proud of the fact that the U.S. Embassy enjoys such a productive working relationship with Mayor Kaminis, with his deputies, and with the whole municipality, and also with Microsoft Hellas which has been a partner across many different projects like the Tech Talent School.
As you all know quite well, digital skills are essential life skills. So equipping young people with digital skills helps to prepare them better for future job opportunities. It is very important to us at the Embassy that the Tech Talent School is aimed at helping Greek youth gain the digital knowledge they need to succeed in a globally connected economy, and thereby helping to support the U.S. policy goal of advancing the prospects for sustained economic growth in Greece as the country emerges from the bailout.
This project also reminds me of the great dividends that result from the State Department’s exchange programs because so many of you are alumni – Dimitris, Magy, and Antonis, are all alumni of U.S. Government exchange programs. And as a result, the Tech Talent School project was selected to receive an Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund award from the U.S. Department of State in Washington D.C. and the U.S. Embassy in Athens.
In 2017, the U.S. Department of State announced its seventh annual Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund project competition, which focused on business development and economic opportunity, and encouragement of civic participation and resilient communities, with a particular focus also on empowering women and girls around the world.
The Tech Talent School project was one of the 68 alumni teams selected from over 1,000 project submissions from all over the world. The winning alumni teams led projects across the globe, all of which were intended to make a difference in our communities. The project here was already having great success thanks to the support from Microsoft Hellas, but I’m proud of how the support of the U.S. State Department enable the move into broader areas of cooperation and education, like coding and digital marketing, and applications like WordPress for beginners, LinkedIn, Bootstrap, and Intro to Content Management.
The courses were ultimately offered in six different cities around Greece, totaling over 1,300 participants from the ages of 16 to 35. And I’m told the students were very impressed with the instructors’ levels of knowledge and that these workshops were offered for free, providing a critical form of support to Greek youth at a challenging moment in the country’s economic recovery.
Our Alumni Fund supports educational ideas submitted by alumni from U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs around the world. Every year, it recognizes a small number of truly exceptional projects that promote shared values and support innovative solutions to global challenges. Tech Talent is clearly one of the exceptional projects.
So, again, congratulations to all of the organizers. You all truly earned this award through your meaningful and really remarkable work with the community.
So to finish where I started up, one of the highest priorities of the U.S. Embassy in Greece is to sustain our efforts to support economic recovery; and one of the best means of achieving that goal is to cultivate Greek entrepreneurship, innovation, and technology, especially among Greek youth, and to support young people’s participation in the science and technology fields.
This year, the Embassy has an especially strong focus on entrepreneurship, due, in part, to the United States having been selected as the honored country for this year’s Thessaloniki International Fair.
The theme of the American Pavilion at Thessaloniki this September will be “Innovation”, and events like this one show the connection between the innovative spirits and culture found both in The United States and the tremendous human capital that Greece enjoys. We also see the Thessaloniki fair as an opportunity to bring Greece and the U.S. closer together, fostering more partnerships between the entrepreneurs and creative minds from both countries.
So I hope that many of you are interested in participating and visiting the Thessaloniki Fair, including the technology-focused American Pavilion. Again I want to thank Microsoft for their commitment to being a part of the U.S. Pavilion at Thessaloniki in September.
The U.S. Embassy is firmly committed to supporting programs like the Tech Talent School that stimulate youth entrepreneurship in Greece.
So I want to congratulate all the participants. As part of this remarkable and intelligent community, you are identifying yourselves as self-starters who have the determination to take on new challenges and learn new skills.
I encourage you to continue down this road, and I can promise you that the Embassy will continue the wonderful collaborative relationship we have with the Tech Talent School team, Microsoft Hellas, and of course the Athens Municipality.
Congratulations to you all. Thank you.