Governor Sahakyan, Deputy Governor Movsisyan, Mr. Mayor, National Institute of Education Director Karen Simonyan, Principal Shukhyan, Peace Corps Country Director Charles Enciso, Faculty and Students of Proshyan School, I am delighted to be here today for two reasons. First, to celebrate with you all the centuries-old festival of Te-ren-dez. And second, to see also the brand-new facilities and furniture that have been provided by the Peace Corps and two California-based organizations: the Water Charity and the Armenian School Foundation. Partnerships such as these illustrate the depth of the friendship between the U.S. and Armenia. And speaking of friendship, my wife Leigh is an old friend of Proshyan school, having visited in December to read to 3rd and 4th graders. She very fondly remembers the day she spent here and has spoken to me about it often, so I am doubly glad for the opportunity to visit the school as well.
I want to recognize and say thank you to Peace Corps Volunteer Susan Spano for her dedication and service as an English teacher in Ashtarak. Let me also take this opportunity to thank the community of Ashtarak for so warmly welcoming Susan as one of their own. I am proud to say that our Peace Corps volunteers have established strong and mutually beneficial relationships in communities throughout Armenia, but I am particularly impressed by what has been accomplished here at the Proshyan School, and am delighted that the collaboration with the Peace Corps has resulted in the provision of new water tanks and furniture that will directly benefit the students.
And of course, beyond the obvious benefit of the new water tanks and the furniture, one of the most valuable advantages of a Peace Corps Volunteer is the exposure and interaction that your children have with a native English speaker. As I am sure you all agree, English skills are a valuable asset in today’s world. With English, your children can benefit from greatly enhanced educational and professional possibilities. And Ashtarak, with its many beautiful churches and its proximity to Yerevan, is poised to benefit from growth in the tourism sector. English is a key to that success. I applaud all the teachers and school staff who are working so hard to provide the students with the skills and knowledge they will need to pursue their dreams and contribute to a bright economic future for Armenia.
And now, it is time for me to become a student, and for the students to teach me about the Te-ren-dez festival. Let me thank you again for inviting me to celebrate the festival with you today. On behalf of everyone at the U.S. Embassy: Happy Te-ren-dez to you all!