Saturday, October 16, 2021

Ambassador Baily’s inspiring speech at the ribbon cutting ceremony at the PS “Sande Sterjoski” in Kicevo

On June 3, 2015, the US Ambassador to the Republic of Macedonia, H.E. Jess L. Baily, attended the ribbon cutting ceremony at the PS “Sande Sterjoski” in Kicevo. Below you can read his inspiring speech:

“Minister Ademi, Mayor Dehari, Mr. Mehmedi, teachers, staff, parents, and students,

Mirëdita. Добар ден. Günaydın.

I am honored to be your guest today at the Pashino campus of Sande Sterjoski primary school.

Though I have officially come to celebrate the new multi-purpose sports playground, there’s something else about your school and your community that is worth celebrating even more than this wonderful new recreational space.

I also want to celebrate the ethnic diversity of your school, the example you set for all of us, and what it means for the future of Macedonia.

Often, the stories we read in the newspaper or see on television focus on the negative side of things. They talk about a divided nation and echo the divisive language of the political sphere.

Of course problems, misunderstandings, and tensions exist. But there is a positive story happening at Sande Sterjoski and countless other schools across Macedonia. And this is an encouraging story, every bit as real, about the young people of Macedonia and their future. This story of creating ethnic harmony among students, their parents, teachers, and neighbors also needs to be told, celebrated, and perpetuated.

USAID’s Interethnic Integration in Education project works in partnership with the Ministry of Education to build bridges across ethnic divides in every school in Macedonia. Through classroom projects, extracurricular activities, and excursions, students and teachers of different ethnic backgrounds are given a path toward friendship. The U.S. military contributes to this effort by funding the refurbishment and renovation of participating schools – to date, 35 schools have been renovated and 13 more will be this summer.

Though we are very proud of the results this project has achieved, how this story ends ultimately depends on you: you who are here today, your friends, your families, your neighbors, your elected officials. Everyone.

Building relationships among people and communities of different backgrounds doesn’t come from international donors. It’s not a given, anywhere, certainly not in my country. It needs continuous engagement and effort from all of us, leaders and citizens alike. It will be your legacy. It is all of you at Sande Sterjoski, and every other school across the country, who are determining that peaceful future for Macedonia and the region.

On behalf of the American people, I congratulate you and wish you the very best.

Falëmnderit.  Благодарам.  Teşekkür ederim.”