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Remarks at the Swearing-in Ceremony of Goli Ameri as Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Washington, DC
May 12, 2008

Thank you. Welcome. I am delighted to be here to swear in Goli Ameri as our new Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs. Goli, it looks as if you've brought a few friends with you -- (laughter) -- and you are all very welcome.

I want to especially, again, welcome the family, Goli, your husband, your children. I've met your wonderful mother and your brothers and great cousins and it seems like a terrific family. So thank you for being here.

You know, it's a wonderful privilege to be able to represent our country as America's chief diplomat, as Secretary of State. But today's swearing-in of Goli Ameri makes me even more proud as an American to stand here as we put together a special woman and a special role in our Department of State. I have a particular affection for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. It's not because I was an intern in the Bureau, but I was in 1977. And so I tell always people to be good to their interns; they never know what might happen. (Laughter.)

But it is also because in many ways, I think Educational and Cultural Affairs is one of those under-named bureaus for the Department of State and for the United States because it is much more than educational and cultural affairs. It really is our window to the world on America and America's window on the world to us. It is the Bureau that makes certain that we are reaching out with the people of America, whether it is through our students who travel or international visitors who travel, whether it is the artists that we bring from the United States from the varied cultural diversity of this country to show people what the richness of a diverse country can mean. It is very often, and has lately been sports figures, people who have traveled like Michelle Kwan, a Chinese American who goes to China and says, "I'm first American, but I'm delighted to be here in the homeland of my grandparents."

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs is a way for people to really know us as Americans. And that's why it's such an important and critical part of this Department of State. Because ultimately, the great strength of America is, of course, its people. And it is having an opportunity for all of those out there to see what it really means to be a great multiethnic democracy.

Now, what better messenger for that story than Goli Ameri? As I stand here in the Benjamin Franklin Room, I have to wonder aloud what Ben Franklin would have thought as this black American Secretary of State, a descendent of slaves, stands here to swear in Goli Ameri, an Iranian American who grew up in Portland, Oregon, and will now be America's face to the world. And I'd like to think that despite the fact that at the time, our country was one that had high principles that were a long time in coming for my ancestors and for many in America, that nonetheless the Founding Fathers would have been very proud that those high principles are playing out here today.

And Goli, you are a wonderful messenger for this great message. Of course, as an Iranian American, you show what it can mean to be a part of a multiethnic democracy. It shows that America is a place that people come from all corners of this earth to enjoy the benefits of liberty. And in doing so, it shows that we are a country that values -- not just tolerates, but truly values diversity, and that we understand that the long journey of democracy is one that is best made by people of all nationalities, ethnicities, religions, that together, we are a stronger mosaic of democracy than we would be if we were homogenous.

You're also terrific at this because, of course, you come from a wonderful business background, a wonderful philanthropic background. Goli has served in many positions, including as the presidentially-nominated representative to the 60th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, and Goli is a Stanford grad. (Laughter.) Also a very, very good thing.

It is, therefore, a great honor, a great pleasure, indeed it is just very deep in my heart to say that this is a great match between an extremely important central role in the Department of State and a wonderful and beautiful representative of what we stand for as Americans.

Goli, I know that you bring great dedication and commitment to this work. I know that you will bring inspiration to those who will work with and for you. And I can hardly wait until your travels abroad take you to places that perhaps will only meet one American, maybe that will be you, and that will be just fine because I know how strongly you feel for this country, how much you love this country, and that you will therefore represent this country with commitment and dedication that will be unsurpassed.

I want to thank all of you for being here for this great moment. And now, I have the great privilege of swearing in Goli Ameri. (Applause.)

Goli is swearing -- being sworn in today with her hand on the U.S. Constitution, which I think is completely fitting.

(The Oath of Office was administered.)

2008/380



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