Remarks by Ambassador Donald Lu at the Tirana Madrassa

Mirëmëngjes nxënës! Të mësosh një gjuhë të huaj është vërtet e vështirë. Unë vetë luftoj çdo ditë me shqipen time. Prandaj, sot do flas anglisht që edhe ju të praktikoni anglishten. Madje, kam sjellë edhe vajzën time Aliya dhe djalin tim Kip sot që të festojnë edhe me ju. Nëse nuk e kuptoni atë që them, mund të pyesni Aliya-n ose Kipin më pas.

(Hello kids!  Studying a language is really hard.  I struggle every day with my Albanian.  So I am going to speak English today to give you more practice in English.  And I’ve brought my daughter Aliya and my son Kip with me today to join your celebration.  If you don’t understand what I said, you can ask Aliya or Kip later.)

Let me tell you about an experience I had when I lived in a Muslim village in West Africa 27 years ago.  My story reminds me of how we all share the same values.

It was the holy month of Ramadan, and that year Ramadan was in the middle of the summer.  So you can imagine, in Africa these were really long, hot days.  And many of my friends found it difficult because they were not eating or drinking during the day.

On one of these very hot days, I was driving to a small village on my motorcycle, and I was carrying a heavy load of cement and steel to build toilets.  That was my job.  Suddenly, my rear tire exploded.  It was bad.  There was nothing I could do to repair it.  So I had no choice but to start walking back to my home, pushing my heavy motorcycle with all the cement.

It was really hot, 45 degrees, and so after only a few minutes I was ready to give up.  Suddenly, a man came to me and asked if he could help.  Happily, I accepted his offer, and we spent the next two hours pushing my motorcycle back to my village, under the hot sun.  Finally we arrived, exhausted from the hard work.  Now, I had no idea whether the man was Christian or Muslim, but I offered him some food and water for helping me.

He smiled and answered, “No, thank you.  God gives me everything I need,” and then he left.

I never saw that man again.  I never knew his name. But he taught me a lesson that day.  He taught me that no matter where we are from or how we worship, we share the values of helping others and trust in our faith to keep us strong.

So let me again say thank you for inviting me to come speak to you.  Thank you to the students, the teachers, and especially to those involved as actors, poets and musicians.  You have organized a wonderful festival of English.

Faleminderit shumë. (Thank you very much)