Assalomu Aleykum! Добрый вечер! Good afternoon! It is a great pleasure for me to be before you today to have a chance to speak about International Education Week. But before we speak about education which is really about the future, I would like for us to think about our current world and the danger that surrounds us. I was at the French embassy earlier today signing the condolence book for the victims of the Friday the 13th terrorist events in Paris. And so I’d just like for us to take a moment of silence and think about the people who were killed, think about the efforts that your country and my country and all countries around the world are making to ensure that people, future students can be safe for everyday study. It’s a moment of silence. Thank you. Today we are commemorating International Education Week, which is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of State. It is an excellent opportunity to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. International Education Week is one of many ways in which the U.S. government promotes programs that prepare Americans for a global environment, and also attracts future leaders from abroad to study, to learn, and to exchange experiences in the United States. Over the last 16 years, thousands of events have been held around the world during International Education Week, showcasing the benefits of international education and exchange. Throughout this week, here at the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent, we will host daily events to inform Uzbek citizens like you about different opportunities to study in the United States. Today, in our kick-off, you will hear about U.S. government exchange programs and our alumni that is the people who studied and then came back here to Uzbekistan will share their experiences that they had in the U.S. And during the rest of the week, we will talk about the college admissions process. The EducationUSA center will hold a viewing party for students to take part in a virtual college fair, and at the end of the week everyone will be invited to a movie night event which we very much hope you will attend. Let me just give you a few reasons why I am a huge fan of International Education Week and International Education. I want to give you 10 reasons why I think you should study in the United States. The first one is Academic Excellence. International education positions individuals to develop the skills and competencies necessary to succeed in the global community of the 21st century. And America is famous for academic excellence. The second is Educational Innovation. From the use of computers in schools to the proliferation of massive open online courses or MOOCs, the United States has been an innovator in higher education for over a century. We are proud to be the training ground for many who created and also benefit from today’s most important technological innovations in higher education. We pride ourselves in being skill builders through our universities. The third after Academic Excellence and Educational Innovation is Prosperity. International education builds and sustains a more secure, and prosperous world that benefits the global community. Through international education, students cross socio-economic, cultural, political, religious, and geographic borders. Connecting countries through international education helps to open markets and increase trade. So prosperity is important. The fourth is Cultural diversity. Study abroad programs allow students to achieve academic advancement, experience new cultures, learn a new language, and expand personal goals. They have the opportunity to do this in classrooms full of students from all over the world. So cultural diversity is important. There is also mutual understanding. Unfortunately, very few Americans know and understand this beautiful country of Uzbekistan. What they read is often very, very distorted. So when you study abroad, you have the chance not only to experience the United States as a different culture but it also allows you to be an Ambassador for Uzbekistan. and to help share your country’s rich traditions, culture, and history with Americans. So mutual understanding is important. The sixth is Personal Networks. Exchange program participants become aware of a world beyond their borders as I’ve said. They gain new perspectives and begin to establish networks that will enhance their individual prospects for the global marketplace and future potential as global problem-solvers. Connected networks among people and communities are necessary to solve global challenges and help countries and people compete in a world economy. So personal networks really grow and expand when you study abroad. The seventh is Language competency. Demand for English language skills is expanding here in Uzbekistan, as English increasingly represents a gateway to higher education and a path to job opportunities in our globalized world. So language competency is important. The eighth is Great value. There are thousands of different kinds of universities and colleges in our 50 states. Considering study in the United States gives students access to a wide variety of institutions from our most prestigious, elite institutions, like Harvard and Yale, to entry level institutions like our very famous and I think extremely productive community college system that offers great value and personal attention for the time and money. So great value. Lifelong Learning is also important. A commitment to lifelong learning is now deeply embedded in the higher education and its culture across the United States. Students who study abroad will have opportunities to continue their educations, whether online or through specialized programs at their universities or others for an entire lifetime. So it’s not just a time you are in the United States but beyond. And finally, the tenth is Giving back. When students return home, they will be bringing a whole world with them. They will have grown in knowledge, world understanding and will have a whole new friendship network. They will embody the very best of their own culture and they will bring with them the culture of the higher education country, we hope the United States. And most of all, you will have the opportunity to help yourself, your family, your community and country achieve the great potential that I see here every day. So those are 10 reasons why I think it would be great to study in the United States. Today I am pleased to announce that a record number of students from overseas studied in the United States this year alone. Almost a million international students are enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities. This is the highest growth rate in international student enrollment that we have had in the last 35 years which is very impressive. And I am also pleased to note that the number of students from Uzbekistan increased by 6% this year. This represents the highest growth rate of students studying in the United States from all of Central Asia. So this is a little about higher education. Diane will tell you about specific programs and then you’ll hear from the alumni. So I’d just like to say: E’tiboringiz uchun tashakkur! Thank you for your attention! Спасибо за ваше внимание! And удачи вам! Thank you!