Opening of International Education Week

Opening of International Education Week
Ambassador Jean Manes
Monday, October 15, 2018, 9:30 P.M., CCSA

Remarks by Ambassador Jean Manes at the Opening of International Education Week

October 15, 2018

* This is a courtesy translation. Only the original Spanish version should be considered authoritative.

Good morning, and thanks for joining us for this week’s launch, where all activities are focused on promoting educational opportunities in the United States. This week is an introduction, so you can learn more about the different options that you can access and in the areas that interest you the most. And as an Embassy we are committed to helping you in this quest.

We appreciate the presence of representatives from universities, exchange programs, and other institutions that are also participating to help them in this objective. But today I want to address my words especially to the young people in the audience. Because having opportunities for education in the United States will impact you more than anyone. And because it is also you who can get the most out of it.

We talk a lot about education, about the importance it has for everyone, especially young people, and we say that education is an opportunity for you to change lives. But what do we really mean by that?

I think the best way to explain it is by telling them about Carlos.

Carlos grew up in San Salvador and his family did not have many resources. He knew that when he graduated from the School, he was probably going to have to work to support his family, but Carlos always dreamed of going to college and thought: maybe, with a little luck, maybe he will succeed.

I, who am a little older than you, can tell you something very curious about life. Sometimes we don’t know the direction it is going to take. And something like that happened to Carlos too, because one day when he was in eighth grade, something happened. They came to his classroom to talk about a program called “Oportunidades”. As you can see, sometimes the opportunities literally come to you when you least expect them.

Carlos decided to join the program because he offered English classes, something that interested him a lot, and while there, he heard about a student exchange program of the United States government called “Young Ambassadors”. He applied again, and was selected to go to the United States where, for three weeks, he participated in community projects.

Three weeks doesn’t seem like a long time, but for Carlos, they changed his life.

When he returned from the United States he was determined to make his dreams come true, he was going to study at the University and he also wanted to support other young people so that they too could make their dreams come true. It was no longer a question of whether he was going to college or not. The question was only one: how? And when he investigated, he learned about the Walton scholarships, which paid for his studies at a University in the United States. In his last year of high school, he decided to apply, he had nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

And you know what? The scholarship was won.

Carlos studied International Business at John Brown University and now that he is back in El Salvador, he has launched “Young Pioneers”, an initiative specialized in teaching business and entrepreneurship for high school students.

Carlos never imagined that he would be able to make his dreams come true. And it all started with an opportunity. But opportunity is only the first step.

A saying that I really like says: luck is what happens when opportunity meets preparation. We cannot predict the future, but we do know that we must continue to promote the spaces that offer opportunities to you, because we have seen first-hand the incredible power that a high-quality education has.

The United States offers a wide range of study at all levels, whether in universities, in technical programs, for master’s degrees and doctorates. It is this variety, with more than 4,600 higher education institutions, that makes the educational offer in the United States so attractive. This year alone, there are more than a million international students in the United States, and there are currently more than 1500 Salvadoran students, that’s more than Panama, Guatemala, and Costa Rica.

Carlos is an example of how determination and hard work can bring you closer to your dreams. And this week’s goal is to tell you just that, that studying in the United States is also an option for you, and you will have access to all of these resources. They will learn about the different universities that are participating, they will hear about scholarships and financing options and also about EducationUSA and the different services they offer. And they will listen to the stories of others who, like Carlos, are achieving the same.

The only thing we can do is offer opportunities, but take advantage of them, that depends on you. And if I can guarantee that effort, work, dedication and passion, they have rewards. Maybe not now, maybe not tomorrow, maybe it will take months to find the most ideal opportunity for you, but all of that is part of the preparation. And if you are ready for when the opportunity presents itself, then there you will find your luck.