Inauguration of the American Corner in Tripoli, Remarks by Ambassador Dorothy C. Shea

Inauguration of the American Corner in Tripoli

Marhaba wa masaa al-kheir lil jamii, I won’t try to get my whole remarks bil Arabi, even though I love the Arabic language, and it really is a window to your rich culture and society. But I have a feeling you all speak much better English than I do Arabic. So let me just thank you all for the warm welcome here, and I’d like to thank the municipal representatives here with us today, and especially to acknowledge the Safadi Foundation for their partnership in establishing the American Corner in Tripoli. I’d like to give special acknowledgment to Samar Boulos, Carmen Obeid, Maya Hussainy, Rim Kalfayan and the whole American Corner team. For your tireless efforts in making this American corner a reality. 

I just visited the Beirut Arab University for Tripoli and met with about 50 students there, and I encouraged them to take advantage of this American Corner, just like I encourage the youth and all of the civil society members here. Because these American Corners can really be a tool for you to gather and the sky is the limit in terms of how you use it, whether you want to brainstorm, whether you want to think about a problem that needs to be addressed in the community. Maybe it’s an entrepreneurship theme that you want to tackle or something else who knows what it may be. I’m very excited about it. I want to also acknowledge Fouad Hasanein. I understand he’s not able to join us today, but the brilliant architect who designed the modern and welcoming space that we are proud to call our American Corner, we think really reflects the depth and breadth of American culture. So it is wonderful to be among this inspiring group of youth, local leaders, professionals and educators from different areas of North Lebanon. Thank you for being here. Even more exciting is that the Corner is already operational. At this very moment, as I understand it, there are youth using this space to learn about robotics. There are groups of women collaborating to enhance their entrepreneurship skills. It’s really heartwarming to see people of all ages and backgrounds come together to partake in activities that help them grow as individuals and professionals. I can’t wait to meet them in a few minutes.  Before I do, I want to express how important it is for me personally to be with you for this inauguration. 

Some people might think that U.S. assistance is something that only happens in and around Beirut. That is simply not the case. Anyone who knows me knows that I have a special place in my heart for Tripoli, and there was a time when I was coming up here so frequently that there was some conspiracy theories saying, What is the U.S. Ambassador doing it yet again in Tripoli? Well, I say, why wouldn’t I be coming to Tripoli? Why wouldn’t we want an American Corner in the Safadi Foundation? So this is just one example of our engagement in Tripoli, and we’re confident that it’s going to help with skill building tools, trainings, beneficiaries will participate in a wide array of programing ranging from media literacy, civic engagement, economics, sustainment and employability skills. 

The United States wants to see the people of Lebanon prosper, and initiatives like the American Corner in Tripoli offer the knowledge and skills necessary for the people of North Lebanon to bolster your economies, support your neighbors in need and impact your communities. And in these very challenging times, I encourage you all to take full advantage of this space and do so knowing that we are here to support you every step of the way. And in that, I want to give special thanks to Mo Safadi himself and all of you associated with the Safadi Foundation. I look forward to returning to Tripoli many more times and seeing what magnificent things come out of this American Corner. 

Thank you for joining this inauguration. And please do keep in mind when I always like to say which is that we’re in this together. Thank you.