American Corner is Foundation for Deeper FriendshipJendayi Frazer, Assistant Secretary
Remarks to MERC/American Corner Event
Republic of Congo
April 3, 2006
Good morning, and thank you Mr. Biedlingmaier for that warm introduction. Your Excellency Minister Akoualat, Minister of Communication of the Government of the Republic of Congo, Dr. Agbenonci, MERC co-founder and UNDP Resident Representative, honored guests, I am pleased to join you today in Brazzaville.
I am pleased to visit this American Corner and present this gift of English-language learning materials from the American people.
I am especially pleased to see the many English-language students here today. I would like to recognize the students from Marien Ngouabi University, PARADOX and SITA Learning Centers, and the English Language Student Society for their interest in learning English and gaining a greater understanding of American culture.
Today, English is the most widely taught foreign language. It has become the lingua franca in international business, science, and technology. This also means that we can communicate more easily with our international partners. The friendship of our two nations gains strength and becomes deeper, as each of us gains a greater understanding of the other.
President Bush believes so strongly in the importance of knowing more than one language, he unveiled a new Foreign Language Initiative earlier this year. As any language student knows, learning a foreign language is the gateway into another culture's priorities and attitudes. As he unveiled this new program, President Bush noted: “ When somebody comes to me and speaks Texan, I know they appreciate the Texas culture.”
This Initiative is intended to help Americans be good citizens of the world, able to understand and engage our friends abroad. By learning other languages, Americans will become more familiar with other countries and faiths. In the years ahead, America 's young people will be able to communicate with people throughout the world, in the language of those hearing the message.
This American Corner is part of that effort to reach out to our friends where they live and communicate American values. We hope that this center offers opportunities for more Congolese to learn English and become more familiar with the history and culture of the United States.
We hope that this American Corner will soon have its efforts complemented by an official Embassy. I understand that construction for that Embassy is scheduled to begin later this year. We hope that our permanent presence in Brazzaville will serve as an enduring reminder that the American people reach out to you friendship.
Thank you for inviting me to join you today, and may this mark the beginning of an even closer relationship.