For Immediate Release
U.S. Chargé d’Affaires ad interim Ambassador Richard H. Jones celebrated the launch of USAID University Scholarship Program (USP) VII at a reception this afternoon at the Lebanese American University (LAU). The USP has provided merit-based scholarships for approximately 600 students to study at top American-style universities such as the American University of Beirut (AUB), the Lebanese American University (LAU), and Haigazian University since its launch in September 2010.
USP provides full undergraduate scholarships to promising public high school students and technical school graduates from all six governorates of Lebanon. Each year, for the next three years, USAID will support 110 student beneficiaries to experience AUB’s and LAU’s rigorous academic standards and a campus environment that promotes social equality and critical thinking, while giving back to their communities through civic engagement activities.
USP scholars are selected based on merit, academic performance, and financial need. They benefit from full four-year scholarship support including tuition fees, housing expenses, medical insurance, textbooks, and a monthly stipend. All scholars are required to maintain academic excellence, actively engage in community service and leadership training, and partake in career preparation workshops.
At today’s reception, CDA Jones had the chance to hear testimonials from current USP scholars about the impact of the scholarships on their lives. During his remarks, CDA Jones urged the students to tap into the knowledge and skills acquired at LAU to make change in their communities and contribute to their country.
The University Scholarship Program (USP) is only one element of the American government’s investment in education in Lebanon. The American people, through USAID, have provided more than 240 million dollars in assistance for education programs in Lebanon over the past ten years. This assistance has helped renovate public school buildings, provided public school teachers with English language proficiency courses, and equipped schools with science laboratory and computer equipment and trained staff on its use. The Middle East Partnership Initiative and the Embassy’s Public Diplomacy section also help train teachers in new methodologies, offer after-school enrichment classes, and give high school students in rural areas access to American English language courses.
Remarks “USP Reception” at LAU, Beirut
First I want to say thank you to Dr. Jabbra for having me and thank you for giving a stirring speech. You just said you were going to do some brief remarks but I didn’t realize it was going to be such an oratory. You really could give lessons to people in my business. And thank you to the students; it seems that you’re learning well from Dr. Jabbra. So good morning again to Dr. Jabbra, and university of LAU faculty and the administration, and of course all of you students that are here this morning. It is my great pleasure to join you today to welcome the new cohort of 45 students to the sixth year of the United States Agency for International Development University Scholarship Program, commonly known as USP. You students are about to embark on an intellectual adventure in the vibrant learning environment that is the Lebanese American University. I am pleased and privileged to have this opportunity to interact with all of you, Lebanon’s promising new generation, and I look forward to hearing your ideas in fact I’ve already heard some to make your country and the world a better place.
Last month, just last month, I was very pleased to announce an expansion of the USP program. The American Government is contributing another $37.5 million to continue this successful program over the next three years, this will allow at least 320 additional students nationwide to have the opportunity to access a high quality education at either the Lebanese American University or the American University of Beirut. I think the figure for LAU is about 170 students. This latest grant from USAID raises our total investment in the USP program to nearly $100 million since its inception in 2010. To the newcomers of 2015, you are among the fortunate few that have the privilege to embark on this unique academic journey.
The USP program makes good on a pledge President Obama made in his first term quote: “We build on our efforts to broaden our engagement beyond elites, so that we reach the people who will shape the future -– particularly young people.”
The United States’ focus on education in this region is not new. Americans have played an important role in the evolution of higher education in the Middle East for some time. Already in 1835, American-style education was beginning to have an influence on Lebanon, bringing with it new approaches to the teaching of sciences, arts, and medicine, as well as contributing to Lebanon’s cosmopolitan culture of East meets West and intellectual openness. American educational institutions that took root in Lebanon also placed a strong emphasis on mutual respect, cooperation, and co-existence between different sectarian traditions and cultures. Americans and Lebanese share these values still. Lebanon’s educational institutions, strongly influenced by their contacts with American universities, remain one of the primary mechanisms for communicating and spreading these values to new generations of Lebanese.
As a demonstration of our continuing commitment to the American-Lebanese educational partnership AID began extending assistance to Lebanese public school graduates several years ago. Today the USP program offers talented public school graduates from all over Lebanon scholarships to continue their education. The partnership we forged with LAU in 2010has opened the door of opportunity for these graduates to receive a high-quality education in one of the leading educational establishments in the country.
To our new class of Ambassador Merit Scholars, I really like that name, Ambassadors, you are the difference-makers! I congratulate you as you are about to set out on an incredible journey that will stretch your mind and shape you into the leaders of your communities and your nation that you will become. I encourage you to take advantage of the immense array of intellectual opportunities offered by LAU to acquire a truly broad education. LAU’s talented faculty will most certainly guide you on that journey and open doors to new, remarkable possibilities. During this journey, you will also build your civic engagement and community service skills. I also encourage you to enjoy the interaction with your peers and build on the experience of the university faculty to enrich your learning experience. Most importantly, I invite you to immerse yourselves in the wealth of knowledge and culture you will find here and take it with you beyond the campus boundaries to make a positive impact in your communities wherever they may be.
I would like again to extend my sincere thanks to Dr. Jabbra and LAU for working together with the United States Government to provide these exceptional young Lebanese women and men a setting where they are able to think, learn, and grow, and the faculty and staff to support them and encourage them to bring their new ideas into the world.
So thank you again for inviting me today. I hope you are as excited as I am that you are starting on an amazing journey of discovery a journey that will prepare you to lead meaningful, valuable lives and help create a better future for you and your country.
Congratulations…and best of luck in the coming year and throughout your academic careers! And remember, love your country. Thank you very much.