Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Yuri Kim at the “Promoting School as a Community Center” Conference

Good morning, everybody!

Minister Kushi, Mr. Hroni, Ms. Dervishi, thank you very much for enabling me to be here with you, the students, all of you who are participating in this wonderful program called “Schools as Community Centers.”

This is one of our favorite programs, because it is a way to reach out directly to you. I think we started out four years ago with two of these things, and now we have 16 and I am pleased to say that soon we will have 22 and I hope that we’ll continue to extend.

My staff at the Embassy drafted some very official sounding remarks. But now that I had the chance to meet some of you at the tables, and also to listen to you speaking today, I want to speak from the heart.

Since I arrived in Albania more than two years ago, I have always had this bag. Can you see it? It says “Ambition, Respect, Teamwork!” And it is A R T – the ART of the diplomacy, this is what I tell my team at the Embassy we should be doing, the art of diplomacy.

I tell everyone on the Embassy team that we should act with ambition, respect, teamwork. In meeting you, I feel that we are on the same team. So, I want to tell you whether it is through “Schools as Community” program, or just being yourselves, we, all of us, should act with ambition, respect and teamwork. And let me explain to you what I mean with that.

I want all of us to be ambitious for ourselves, for our school, for our country, for our world. Think big! Think about what you have, what you have to give! But just don’t think big, you have to work hard. Develop the skills that you need. What languages do you need to learn? What skills? Is it coding? Is it English? Is it learning how to paint? What is it that you need and work on that!

Respect is also important. And respect begins with self-respect. I would like you to ask yourselves every morning at the start of the day, “Who am I?”; “Who I want to be?” Respect yourself! Respect others! Respect not because of any other factor but because it is an extension of self-respect. Whether it is on the Internet or sometimes in politics, to be honest, I hear messages of hate. They want you to hate someone else because they are richer than you, poorer than you, come from a different part of the country, a different part of the world, a different party, because they are a different religion. And there is a very powerful saying, “hate corrodes the vessel that holds it.”

Holding hate in your heart is the worst thing that you can do for yourself. It is the opposite of respect for yourself. So, reject hate! Reject the people who have the message of hate! Fill your heart instead with hope!

And fill it with ambition for yourself. You are better than this! And remember that, as you go forward in life, it is very difficult to do things by yourself. You need a team. Everyone in “Schools as Community Centers” is part of a team. So, I hope that you will reach out to your fellow teammates for help, but also be there to give help when your teammates need it.

And I want you to know as the American Embassy and as the American Ambassador, I consider you part of the team. You are part of the team! And I hope you consider us to be part of your team as well.

So, go out into the world, remember who you are, think about who you want to be! Act with ambition, respect, teamwork! Never forget that you are good and you are great!

(applause)

This is for you!