Closing Ceremony of Access camp

Remarks by U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua, Laura F. Dogu
December 22, 2017

Have you enjoyed your week here? I meet with many Access students and they always tell me that Access camp was one of the best parts of the entire program. While everyone practiced English, what they really talked about was the friendships they built during this week. That includes friendships with the many people who helped organize everything this week including Mr. Cesar Dubois, Program Director at Fabretto Foundation, Ms. Alejandra Guzman, Access Coordinator, Colleagues from Fabretto Foundation, Access teachers, Peace Corps volunteers, Alumni from ASSETS, Access, and CHOP, And our English Language Fellow, Dr. Trent Hagar.

Thank you all for your hard work and for facilitating all the wonderful activities of the last few days. You all really deserve a round of applause.

But it is the friendships with other students that will stick with you when you go home after this week. I understand that for many of you, it is the first time being away from home. Being away can be hard but I am glad your parents gave you permission to participate in this English immersion camp. You can go home with more confidence about being on your own.

“Self-discovery through the arts” was the theme of this year’s camp. Working on your own, with your new friends, and with the camp counselors you discovered your strengths, your interests, and where you are heading. You had time to reflect on tolerance and respect for other people’s contributions; appreciation for all things, large or small; and the importance of project management and community service.

During my time in Nicaragua, I have been able to interact with some of you. I enjoyed cleaning the beach with some of you and with Stheffany Marin, one of the first Access teachers in Nicaragua. Together we demonstrated community service and the importance of protecting our environment by keeping beaches clean. Who helped me clean the beach? I was especially happy to know That you have focused on the Big problem of littering or throwing trash in the street. Nicaragua is a beautiful country But that beauty is often hidden Under garbage on the side of roads, Thrown off the top of hills, And just thrown in the streets.

Recycling needs to be part of the solution And I know you have been Taking bottles to be Recycled. Your parents, and your communities, are also getting Involved in helping clean up the environment. The good work doesn’t stop there. Some of you are cleaning streets Or visiting hospitals. You have taken your education beyond the classroom. Congratulations.

Who is from the Matagalpa group? I remember visiting you in Matagalpa, when your English was still at a beginners level, and you still managed to talk to me! Do you feel more confident in English now? I am sure that after speaking English almost full-time for a week your skills and confidence are much higher. It proves that practice Is needed to keep improving. So, when you leave camp, How are you going to Continue practicing?

Did you know that approximately one billion internet users speak English, over three times as many as in Spanish. English is the language most spoken across the globe with 1.5 billion speakers. Now with your skills we can say 1 billion, 500 million and how many students are here?

I have had to learn other languages And I know it isn’t easy but your desire for excellence and success; your persistent efforts for self-improvement; and your constant hard work will take you to positions of great importance in the future. What that means will be different for everyone, but part of this program Is self exploration. Don’t give up! Overcome any obstacles!

You still have nine more months of the Access Program, and, even though your Access program will end when you graduate, you will always be a part of the United States embassy family. Friend us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and remember that you can apply to exchange programs like Youth Ambassadors, or even get a scholarship to study at a U.S. university now that you will speak English.

Thank you for being excellent Access students and the future leaders of this nation!!!
Congratulations on all your hard work and participation in this successful camp.
Have a happy holiday season and a happy new year in 2018.

# # #