This evening, American Ambassador David Hale hosted a reception for Lebanese youth leaders at his residence. During the reception, Ambassador Hale thanked participants of the U.S. Embassy’s Youth Advisory Council, a group of young Lebanese leaders who meet monthly to discuss current events and topics of interest for the youth of today.
Below are Ambassador Hale’s remarks from the event.
Tonight, we celebrate youth, and in particular, the U.S. Embassy’s Youth Advisory Council.
In my job as Ambassador, I work closely and every day with Lebanon’s leaders, on political, social, military, and economic issues. This is a great privilege for me and something I value highly. But no Ambassador is doing his or her job properly if all they do is meet with officials and leaders. It is vital that we engage with the leaders of tomorrow. Fortunately, that isn’t just a responsibility, but a source of great pleasure. Many of Lebanon’s future leaders are the active students and young professionals in this room.
Working with youth is an important part of the Embassy’s efforts to support Lebanon and the Lebanese. The United States Agency for International Development provides over $180 million in assistance for education programs just here in Lebanon alone. USAID works closely with the Education Ministry and renowned American educational institutions, such as AUB and LAU. The programs range from building a stronger public school system to improving reading, and from training teachers in science and technology to expanding access to education. Through the Middle East Partnership Initiative, we provide fully funded scholarships for four years of undergraduate education to promising students in Lebanon from the public schools. Through our Public Diplomacy Section, we offer programs to study in the U.S., or to learn English here in Lebanon, or to develop the skills needed to be active citizens in your communities.
Our Youth Advisory Council idea is now three years old. We could not be happier with the results. The Council brings young people from different backgrounds, genders, regions, and political and religious affiliations to gather in a friendly and informed setting for candid dialogue among themselves and with our Embassy team. Together, we have shared information, ideas, and strategies for working toward common goals such as equality, democracy, and stability.
I participated in a discussion with the Council in October. I was so impressed by the passion, energy and intellect of the members. Their insights concerning the current political and security environment in Lebanon were valuable, and their first hand examples instructive to me and I think to each other. These discussions are worthwhile in themselves, but have without question given me ideas to work on with your leaders.
There are so many bonds that tie Lebanon and America together. The Youth Advisory Council is a relative newcomer, but has a bright future in the years ahead of enhancing ties between us and deepening the Embassy’s understanding of Lebanon and how best we can help you achieve your aspirations.
Recently, Secretary of State John Kerry said “Today’s generation of young people is the largest and most interconnected the world has ever seen, defined by energy, talent, and optimism. Whether mobilizing for climate change or demanding democracy and equality, we are witnessing the unprecedented impact that young people can have in the 21st century.”
This is certainly true here in Lebanon. The current members of the Youth Advisory Council illustrate Secretary Kerry’s point. Tonight, we thank all of the members of the Youth Advisory Council for sharing their opinions over the past year. As is appropriate with a youth program, we now look to the future, and to the addition of new Council members. I hope all of you will consider applying and I look forward to the next time we can sit down together for a discussion with the Youth Advisory Council.