Ambassador Hall Remarks at the Reception Honoring U.S. participants in Exchange Programs


Ambassador Hall Remarks

At the Reception Honoring U.S. participants in Exchange Programs
CMR, Vilnius

May 15, 2017


Welcome and thank you all for coming for this very special event.  It is a great honor to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to Lithuania during the centennial celebration of the restoration of Lithuanian statehood.  The United States has proudly called Lithuania a friend for the past century and that is, in large part, because of the strength of the ties between the people of our two great countries.

As we look forward to the next 100 years of U.S.-Lithuanian relations, we know that the strength of our bond will continue to come from our shared values and our people-to-people ties.  That’s why the U.S. government and the staff of this Embassy are so committed to academic exchange programs.

To live in another country, to become part of someone else’s family, school and community, to establish friendships on another continent – you can’t help but develop an intimate understanding and, I hope, a love for that country and its people.

Today we are honoring the Americans who have come to Lithuania this year as part of these academic exchange programs.

We hope that all of you have found great success in your academic fields through collaboration with Lithuanian colleagues, and we also hope that you have embraced the cultural opportunities that are part of your exchanges.

When you return to the U.S., we hope you will share with Americans what you have learned about Lithuania.

I also want to thank all the Lithuanians here with us today.  Thank you for opening your homes, schools, communities and – most importantly – your hearts, to these Americans.  Thank you for teaching them about the people, history and culture of Lithuania, and thank you for sharing your professional expertise.

Lithuanians are known for their hospitality and we hear incredible things from our exchange participants about how graciously you have welcomed them.  I would like all the Americans here to join me in a big round of applause for all of you!

Now, as I introduce each of the exchange participants, I would ask that everyone here please join in me in a round of applause.  Althea will assist me with your certificates of appreciation.

First, I’d like to congratulate our ExCEL Abroad students, both of whom have attended high schools in Vilnius while living with Lithuanian families, thanks to the support of American Councils: Belinda Escamilla and Mallory Milestone!

This was the Embassy’s first year welcoming Fulbright English Teaching Assistants and I want to congratulate them all on a very successful year working alongside English teachers in three cities.

  • At Vilnius University: Joseph Recupero.
  • At Visaginos Gerosios Vilties Progimnazija: Veronica Pidduck.
  • And at Zarasų žemės ūkio mokykla: Katrina Karlsons.

At the Ministry of Education and Science, strengthening teacher education and assessment, our English Language Fellow Cristina Berry.

We have two Fulbright Students conducting graduate-level research in architecture and music:

  • At Kaunas Technical University: Ellen Tracy.
  • At the Music and Theater Academy: Dovas Lietuvninkas.

Our three Fulbright Scholars collaborated with their Lithuanian colleagues on teaching and research in the fields of business and history:

  • Jay Vegas has already completed his work at Kaunas Technical University and returned to the U.S.
  • At Vytautas Magnus University: Charles Perrin.
  • At ISM University of Management and Economics: Charles Matthews.

Finally, we had several Fulbright Specialists come to Lithuania this year for short periods, and we are delighted that one of them is here today.

  • At LCC International University, Larry Locke.

I am pleased to report that the Embassy is continuing all of these programs next academic year.  We anticipate at least ten Americans will be joining us throughout the next academic year, and we are especially delighted that Cristina Barry and Veronica Pidduck will both be returning in the fall.

Thank you all, again, for everything you have done this past year.  The future of U.S.-Lithuanian relations really does rest in your hands and we hope that this exchange experience will be just the beginning of your work together.

To all those returning home in the coming weeks, Sekmes!

And to all our Lithuanian friends, Ačiū!