Remarks by Ambassador Butenis at closing ceremony for the ACCESS program
June 9, 2012
Thank You Srimal Jayasundara for that welcome address. Your words are a testament to the success and purpose of this program.
Good morning everyone. It’s a pleasure to be here today to share this achievement with you. This closing ceremony for the ACCESS program honors the accomplishments of students from the Anuradhapura, Hambantota, Kaluatara and Trincomalee Access Centers. Just as you come from all over Sri Lanka, your diversity, talent, and dedication reflect the enormous potential that your country has.
I would like to begin by thanking the Academy of Professional Studies (APS) especially Mr. Lakshman M. Kuruppu, the Managing Director; Mr. Lakshman Kingsley Yapa - Project Coordinator; and Mr. Basil Gunasekara - Manager of Human Resources of these projects.
Due to their tireless dedication, commitment, and enthusiasm, this program has been a success and we are honored to continue our partnership.
The ACCESS scholarships that you received were the U.S. government’s way to support improvement in your English language skills, but not just for individual students. It is also our investment in Sri Lanka’s future. With initiatives such as the trilingual policy and increasing English curriculum in schools and universities, Sri Lankans realize the importance of strong English Language skills for tomorrow’s generation. The Embassy has been ready to help - with over 1000 participants ACCESS is one of our most significant programs—and we hope that it will expand in the future.
By investing in English programs, we hope that you as future leaders can make a difference in your country. With greater language skills, you will be able to communicate across the island more effectively with one another. Also, since international commerce is now largely done in English, this will also give you an advantage when you enter the job market. Furthering the economic development in all parts of the island will be an important part of Sri Lanka’s success. English will also be a crucial part of that development as well.
The ACCESS program is unique because it strives to go beyond the classroom—the point is not to just learn the skills but to be able to use them. So, you encouraged to communicate and engage with one another and your teachers and, you were also given the opportunity to utilize these skills in different ways. I understand that students from these centers participated in such varied activities as the Toastmasters oral competition program, community service programs such as beach clean ups, and enhancement programs such as the visit to the U. S. Vessel “Mir” at Galle Port. We were even exposed to some budding filmmakers though our “Beyond the Camera Lens” film workshop.
This program also aims to prepare students for possible participation in U.S. exchange programs and study abroad opportunities. Already, six students and a teacher from these centers participated in a Youth Leadership Program in the US which focused on developing skills to actively engage in community development issues. We hope that the skills you learned from this program will result in future participation in programs, exchanges, and even study in the U.S. So please stay in touch with us at the American Center for more details.
Everyone here today has put a lot of time and energy into ensuring this program’s success, from our project partner who artfully administered the program, to the Embassy Officials who were involved in every stage of the program. But the real stars today are the students—who gave up their afternoons and weekends to improve their English Language skills. You were given an opportunity to participate in a unique program and had the drive and determination to see it through. These skills are just as useful as the English Language ones you gained—and all will serve you well on your path to success.
Your achievement today demonstrates that this program is only the start of your continued academic and career success. I want to congratulate each and every one of you and look forward to seeing great things from all of you in the future.