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Alumni Roundtable
Remarks by Ambassador Claire Pierangelo
July 8, 2022

July 8, 2022

Assalamu alaikum

Bonjour, good morning, and thank for you all joining us for this occasion.  

Special thanks to:  

ORTC Director Mohamed Abdou Mhadjou,  

President Ibouroi Ali Tabibou of the University of Comoros  

Thank you for joining us today and for your continued cooperation to improve journalism and increase to increase educational and economic opportunity for the young people of Comoros.  This week, I had the honor to reaffirm the longstanding relationship between our two peoples and governments.    Together with your leaders, I discussed  the important ways we work together to address key challenges – in education, economic development, climate change, maritime security, and many other areas.   

This morning we want to highlight the U.S. government’s support for individuals and organizations here in Comoros who are addressing  challenges in their communities, their nation, and our world.  These projects, both large and small, demonstrate the commitment of the American people and the U.S. government to strengthen our relationship with Comoros and help the Comorian people build a strong, prosperous, and independent Comoros.    

Today, we are pleased to announce more than $200,000 in U.S. support for four projects that will  introduce journalists to new skills and improve the teaching and learning of English.  These projects will be led by young Comorian leaders in their fields who have the vision, drive, and ability to organize meaningful professional programs that will generate positive change in their communities.    

First, I would like to acknowledge the success of the Solutions Journalism workshop led by our exchange alumni Mr. Ahmed Bacar  Launched in December 2021, the Solutions Journalism pilot program has trained 20 Comorian journalists.  Since the training, these journalists have published more than 40 articles using the solutions journalism framework to identify community problems and most importantly,  propose solutions.  Today we are pleased to announce an expansion of the Solutions Journalism program that will allow Mr. Bacar to bring this training to journalists in Anjouan and Moheli.   

One of my great pleasures is working with our Young African Leaders Initiative (or YALI) members.   In March of this year, we awarded the Comorian YALI alumni chapter a grant to launch Comoros’ first English-language newspaper.  In just four months, the Comores Positif newspaper has established itself as a valuable resources for English teachers and learners as well as a premier source for news about youth-oriented activities and achievements..  Today, we are pleased to announce that we are extending our support for Comores Positif from one year to two years to further develop into a self-sufficient and premier source of credible  youth-oriented news for English learners throughout Comoros.   

Enhancing the teaching and learning of English in the Comoros is one of the U.S. Embassy’s key goals.  English is the most-widely spoken language in the world and is the international language of science, business, the internet.  Proficiency in English will open many doors to educational and economic opportunities for students and professionals in Comoros.  That’s why I am pleased to announce our support for an important new  English teacher training initiative.  The American English Training of Trainers will provide 30 teacher-leaders from schools all over Comoros with an intensive training on the U.S. Government’s free online library research-based teaching methods and materials.  These 30 newly trained educators will then conduct workshops  in their own school communities, bringing these high-quality methods and materials to several hundred English teachers throughout the country.   Our excellent partner in this project is the Yes We Can association.    

Lastly, I am pleased to announce a major reinvestment by the Embassy in this facility, the American Corner Moroni.  Since 2006, American Corner Moroni has been a hub of engagement with youth leaders, journalists, and, of course, English students and teachers.  We will continue our collaboration with the University of Comoros to revitalize American Corner Moroni’s physical space in the coming months, with renovations as well as with the installation of new equipment and furniture.  We want the American Corner Moroni to be a center for the exciting programming we have just announced today, expanded future programing and to serve as a center of excellence for the English teaching and learning ecosystem in Comoros with the collaboration of the English Department here and with the Peace Corps.  The renovated American Corner will offer new technological capabilities that will enable exciting interactions and connectivity between Comorian citizens and their counterparts in Madagascar, the region, and around the world.  Unfortunately, this means  the American Corner will have to close for a period of time, but we know that it will be worth the wait  when we reopen American Corner Moroni as a state-of-the-art programming space connecting the people of Comoros with the people and culture of the United States.  I hope to be with you at the grand reopening.    

I am so impressed with the intellect, commitment, and drive of our Comorian exchange program alumni. We are pleased to continue to invest in the capacity of young men and women through the wide range of U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs.    

These exchange programs include long-term academic exchanges like the Fulbright scholarship, which provides the opportunity for Comorian students to pursue their master’s degrees at U.S. universities.  It also includes shorter-term programs like the six-week YALI Mandela Washington Fellowship, through which young Comorian leaders join leadership trainings with likeminded civil society, government, and the private sector leaders from across Africa.   

In 2021, we proudly supported the virtual and in-person exchange experiences of five Comorian leaders, some of whom are here with us this morning.    

This year, we are extremely pleased to have had six Comorians selected for U.S. government-sponsored exchanges programs, both in-person and virtual.  The Mandela Washington Fellows are currently in the United States participating in their exchanges, while some of our other exchange participants will be leaving for their programs in the coming months.    

In particular, I would like to highlight the participation of 6 Comorian government and civil society leaders in our International Visitor Leadership Program. They will be joining important regional exchange experiences with counterparts from the other nations in the Western Indian Ocean to explore topics of key importance to this region.  Four participants will join a three-week exchange focused on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.  Two others will join a separate three-week program on combatting wildlife trafficking.  

I am thrilled to be able to recognize these individuals and organizations for their drive and commitment to make a difference in their communities.  I look forward to hearing all about your experiences.     

Many of these grant and exchange opportunities are detailed on the U.S. Embassy’s website, and I encourage all Comorians to see how these U.S. Government programs may enable you to pursue your own vision of how to pursue your own professional development or tackle challenges you see in your own community.  

These grants and exchanges, together with our ongoing collaborations with the Government of Comoros on a wide range of issues, represent the U.S. Government’s continued commitment to a productive and effective bilateral relationship that advances our shared goal of a more prosperous future for all Comorians.   

 Thank you.