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Remarks at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) Groundbreaking Ceremony at FSI's Shultz Center

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Arlington, Virginia
November 30, 2007

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SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. Thank you very much. I very much want to thank you, Ruth, for your outstanding leadership; Pat, for your unwavering -- and we're so pleased to have our guests here from GSA. Administrator Doan, Mr. Reed, thank you very much for being here.

It's a pleasure to participate in this groundbreaking ceremony as FSI celebrates 60 years of training excellence in support of the men and women of the State Department as well as the entire foreign affairs community. FSI plays an essential role in helping our country meet the challenges of transformational diplomacy, and I am proud that we're taking this important step to help FSI continue to serve those who are serving us so well.

From its earliest days in a temporary building in downtown Rosslyn to this beautiful setting where we are today, FSI sure has come a long way. The construction we are initiating today will allow FSI to continue to help our Department fulfill its expanding missions and responsibilities. Today, this Institute provides 3 million hours of training each year, both over the internet and in classrooms here and around the world. FSI's innovative support for our colleagues serving in high-stress and unaccompanied posts ensures that we can meet our obligations to our fellow citizens who are answering the call of the toughest assignments.

FSI has, of course, played a pivotal role in providing the skills our diplomats need in the 21st century, from training our employees in hard languages like Chinese and Arabic and Farsi, to supporting those serving on the front lines in the war on terror in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. The new facilities that we are breaking ground for today will strengthen FSI across the board, especially its critical language programs. If we are to communicate America's values directly and persuasively to citizens around the world, we need to be able to do it in their native languages. There is no institution in the world that does that better than FSI, and we need to have the capacity to do much more of it.

We live in an age where technology is advancing at a blistering pace and FSI is helping us to seize that opportunity, especially with its path-breaking distance learning program which literally sets the standard for the federal government. One of the two new buildings we are beginning today will enable us to bring our entire technology training program together here at FSI, allowing for a more coherent program as well as greater savings in time and money.

So this building project is vital to the Institute's ability to train our staff for the future of American diplomacy, and again I want to thank our GSA colleagues for the tremendous work that you have done to execute this vision. Similarly, to the teams at Grunley Construction and Jacobs Construction, we are grateful for the hard work and dedication that you will bring to this project.

My predecessor, my mentor and my good friend George Shultz was the father of this beautiful campus and it still proudly bears his name. He made it one of his priorities to build a permanent home for the training of foreign affairs professionals, and I am proud to inaugurate today the process that will expand the National Foreign Affairs Training Center to be able to continue to support our diplomatic mission and to further our nation's goal.

I've said many times that you can have the finest policies, you can have the best intentions, but unless you have the best people to carry them out, you're not going to be very effective in this world. The Foreign Service Institute under the great leadership of Ruth is doing precisely that; it's taking the best and making them better.

And so thank you very much for joining me, all of you, at this wonderful groundbreaking as we expand this national resource. Thank you. (Applause.)


Released on November 30, 2007

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