Remarks by Ambassador Michael Raynor at a reception in honor of the 2018-2019 Fulbright Scholars and ADS

Michael Raynor 
U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia
at the Welcome Reception for American Exchange Scholars
U.S. Embassy, Addis Ababa
October 02, 2018

(As prepared for delivery)

Good evening.

My wife, Kate, and I are very honored and happy to host this gathering of this year’s Fulbright Scholars and Ambassador’s Distinguished Scholars, as well as our Ethiopian partners who are so essential to the success of our educational exchange programs.

This is the largest gathering ever of U.S. Department of State exchange scholars in Ethiopia, including Americans in Ethiopia and Ethiopians who have been to the United States.

It’s wonderful to have you all here tonight.

It’s also wonderful to have so many of our Ethiopian partners in higher education here this evening.

Without your dedication and good will in sustaining these partnerships, our exchange programs would be impossible to sustain.

And I can’t stress enough how important academic exchange programs are for both our countries.

When we bring our scholars together, we’re making an investment – actually a number of investments.

We’re investing in the capacity of our scholars to advance research, to build academic careers, and to share and deepen academic insights.

We’re investing in our educational institutions, providing an opportunity to share best practices and to work together to improve the quality of research and education.

And of course, the most important investment of all is in our young people.

Through these exchanges of people and ideas, we can offer a richer, higher quality educational experience for the next generation of scholars in both our countries.

And we know that few investments will ever pay off as much as a quality education.

For all these reasons, investing in Ethiopia’s education system remains one of the United States’ top priorities, as part of our commitment to supporting the capacity of all Ethiopians to achieve the best possible future for themselves.

My sincerest thanks to each of you here tonight for being a part of that effort.

And of course, the benefits of what you do go well beyond educational equities, as important as those might be.

There’s no better what to strengthen broader diplomatic relations than to promote understanding and collaboration by building relationships and sharing perspectives between thoughtful and motivated people from both our countries.

The founder of the Fulbright Program, U.S. Senator William Fulbright of Arkansas, saw this way back in 1946 when he said, “Educational exchange can turn nations into people, contributing as no other form of communication can to the humanizing of international relations.”

Those words are as true today as they ever were, and I’m grateful to you all for being a part of these very human and humanizing programs.

Gathered here tonight– and I would ask that you raise your hand so that you can be acknowledged – are participants in a number of exchange programs:

  • Fulbright Scholars and Fulbright Student Scholars;
  • Fulbright African Research Scholars;
  • Ambassador’s Distinguished Scholars; and
  • Hubert Humphrey Fellows

Also here tonight are representatives of our Ethiopian partners who host Fulbright and
Ambassador’s Distinguished Scholars at many Ethiopian universities, including:

  • Addis Ababa University
  • Bahir Dar University
  • The University of Gondar
  • Haramaya University
  • Hawassa University
  • Jimma University; and
  • Mekelle University

I’d also like to acknowledge the Institute of International Education – IIE – plus Bahir Dar University and the University of Gondar for their partnership and collaboration on the Ambassador’s Distinguished Scholars Program.

This is a pilot project in which American scholars are placed at these two fine Ethiopian universities for extended periods of time, working closely with faculty and students on teaching, research, and curriculum design.

The support of IIE to this program is invaluable, and I’d also like to note, with great gratitude, that the universities themselves bear much of the financial and logistical burdens of supporting this program.

Thanks to your support, this program is proving to be a great success, and we’re gearing up to significantly expand both the number of participating scholars and the number of participating universities over the next two years.

To the American exchange scholars here this evening, congratulations on being included in these highly competitive and prestigious programs.

Thank you for representing the best of the United States as you teach, conduct research, publish, mentor, and engage with students and faculty at your host universities.

Your academic accomplishments, commitment to the free exchange of ideas, and passion for supporting top-notch education and research, are the very heartbeat of these programs.

And congratulations as well for having arrived in Ethiopia at such an exciting time in this country’s history.

Over the last decade, Ethiopia has made impressive gains in the education sector, in both access and quality.

There’s room, of course, for further progress, and Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed and Minister of Education, Dr. Tilaye Gete, have reinvigorated the Ethiopian government’s focus on quality in education.

And as Ethiopia embarks on ambitious reforms, there will be few factors more important than education in ensuring the long term success of this country.

U.S. scholars and scholarship will play an important role in achieving this vision.

The same is certainly true of our Ethiopian guests this evening, especially the exchange scholars who have returned to Ethiopia from their programs in the United States.

I hope your experiences in the United States broadened your horizons, provided new academic insights, and advanced your research as well as your career.

While in Ethiopia, I encourage all of our scholars to be actively engaged not only at your host institution, but in your host communities and beyond.

There are so many ways to be involved here, and so many ways to discover this extraordinary country.

Thank you for signing up for this most excellent adventure.

I hope you will enjoy it to the fullest.

I look forward to staying in close touch with you in the days ahead, and to visiting you out in the field.

And my sincerest thanks to all of you here tonight, for gracing this event with your presence and for supporting these important educational exchange programs.

Have a wonderful evening.