Judith A. McHale
Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs
Washington, DC
July 14, 2010

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Thank you, Bob. I am absolutely delighted to be here with all of you. I obviously didn't get the memo about wearing green. (Laughter.) Had I known, I would have been wearing a green jacket. But I admire your green t-shirts. I was trying to figure out how I could get one.

This is one of my favorite projects, so I am really happy to be here to meet all of you. And, most of all, I want to congratulate all the Seeds of Peace who just completed your three-week program in Maine. A member of my own staff, Andrew Cedar, who is here, was actually once a Seeds of Peace counselor, and you're going to recognize him by his Seeds of Peace tie. Raise your hand. And he has told me a lot about the exciting interaction and activities that take place each summer.

I want to thank those -- these impressive young participants for their involvement, and especially thank Executive Director Leslie Lewin and her entire team at Seeds of Peace, for bringing young people like you together year after year. We are delighted to honor you, the Seeds of Peace, at this event. Your energy and courage are an inspiration to all of us. You remind us what really matters: To reach beyond cultural norms and historical hostilities to build real, personal relations across borders and barriers.

Governments do important work, but tolerance and understanding can't come from government bureaucracies. John Wallach understood this fact when he founded Seeds of Peace in 1993. Since then, the Seeds of Peace program has changed lives and created new realities. President Obama and Secretary Clinton firmly believe in the importance of expanding and strengthening relations between the people of the United States and the people of other nations. For this reason, the State Department is proud to support you, Seeds of Peace, in your important efforts.

As you return home from your experiences in Maine, I am confident that you will actively contribute to these partnerships and to the important relationships between your own countries and between your countries and the United States. During your weeks at camp you established new friendships that cross borders and barriers. You also became part of a new, global family that includes thousands of Seeds of Peace leaders. As we all know, Seeds of Peace is more than a summer program. It is dedicated to empowering young leaders from regions of conflict with the leadership skills required to advance reconciliation and coexistence.

It is now your turn, as alumni, to contribute to that mission through lasting relationships and continued public service. When I was last in India, I saw such service in action when I sat in on a video conference between Seeds in India and Pakistan, who were working together to change history textbooks on the relationship between nations. Think what that could do for the relations between your countries, if you look at the history between your two countries through different prisms, and look at it a little bit differently, the understanding that can really build. I am certain that you will initiate similar initiatives, and I look forward to hearing about your activities and achievements.

Now, enough from me. I hope you enjoyed your stay in Washington, and I know that you will build on your Maine experience by working with each other and the Seeds of Peace family after you return home. You are now all Seeds of Peace ambassadors, and we are proud to stand here with you. Thank you very much.


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PRN: 2010/951