Remarks by Chargé d’Affaires William Taylor to Undergraduate Students at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy (NaUKMA) at the Beginning of the New Academic Year
August 31, 2019
Dobre Den. Vitayu vam. [Good day. Hello to you.]
I am so pleased to be here with you today. Congratulations to all of the students who are starting off their academic career here at this wonderful university.
This prestigious university is known around the world. It is certainly known in my country, in the United States.
I’m delighted to be here… [applause]
The President [of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Andriy Meleshevych] talked about the weather. This couldn’t be a better start for your career. The summer is over, but it’s still delightful. It’s an opportunity to take advantage of this last weekend.
Classes start on Monday, and Tuesday, and Wednesday. This is an exciting time for all students. It’s an exciting time in the United States. It’s an exciting time in the rest of Europe. You all are in the center of Europe; other parts of Europe are also welcoming their students back to school.
You’re looking at your roommates, you’re signing up for classes, you’re looking to see what the environment is like. This environment in this city could not be more exciting and more promising than it is today.
The education that you get here means more than just classes, and studying, and research skills. The education you get here makes you citizens. The education that people around the world get makes us all better citizens. This is important for Ukraine, it’s important for the world.
Ukraine is important for the world. I am honored to be here. [applause]
It’s a great honor for me to be here serving in Ukraine as Ukraine shows the rest of the world how committed it is to a democratic, European, prosperous future. Congratulations to Ukrainians for showing the world. [applause]
Students in this body will make a great contribution. I tell my countrymen back in the United States that Ukraine has a great opportunity right now. You are here – I believe – at a crucial time in Ukraine’s history. The potential to do great things, the potential to form a new Ukraine, breaking from the problems of the old Ukraine.
We know you have challenges. We know your large neighbor has started a war against your country. We stand with you in resisting that aggression.
You will have the opportunity to create a new Ukraine in spite of the difficulties that that war shows. You will have the opportunity in this new Ukraine to fight corruption, to fight problems, to fight economic difficulties. You will have the opportunity to make the new Ukraine great. [applause]
Education is the best hope for that future, and so you are at the right place to make that happen.
The United States Embassy that I am proud to serve at here in Kyiv, right up the hill here – actually, a little ways down the road – supports many programs that I hope you will take advantage of during your time here at Kyiv-Mohyla.
We send students to the United States. We bring students and scholars here to Ukraine. I hope you will take advantage of those.
There’s a program called the Fulbright Program that brings people here. You will – I hope – interact with the Fulbright Scholars.
Just before I started – just before we took the walk around this great group of students – the President [of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy] and I were at an academic building, an old academic building that’s not now in use. It hasn’t been in use for several years because it’s fallen out of repair.
This is an old academic building – this is the Old Building, the Old Academic Building. Three-hundred-years-old [muffled] this university, a 200-year-old building. You all know this building.
This building is on your currency – on the five hundred hryvnia note. You will look on it and there is this building right here. [applause]
You will also find it on your passport. So you will find this building.
We are very pleased – the United States government, the United States Embassy – is very pleased to contribute to the work that’s going into renovating that building. This will be a… [muffled, applause]
The President [of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy] gave me a souvenir of that building. This nail is 200-years-old – a little more than – 204-years-old. And it was pulled out of an old wooden beam that was in that building.
I am going to cherish this nail. And I will remember you, and I will remember this day and this building as a start of a great opportunity for Ukraine. A new Ukraine from an old nail. [applause]
We are also working with your faculty on a new track, a new academic track here at the University. It’s a program designed in partnership with the University of Indiana in the United States, which has one of the most competitive programs in communication.
Our hope is to see Kyiv-Mohyla become the training ground for a new generation of public affairs professionals in your government. Advocates who can share Ukraine’s story – a great story – with all people around the world. This program will also bring current public servants to take courses in public affairs here at Kyiv-Mohyla.
Which reminds me: the President [of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy] also told me that – speaking of government officials – that there are six members of the new Cabinet right up the hill here, six members of the new Cabinet of your government, who studied here, including the Prime Minister.
So somewhere in this group is the Prime Minister – man or woman – of 15 years from now, or maybe less. [applause]
Our Embassy also has a rich variety of English language programs. We would always love to have conversations with you.
We’re trying to improve our Ukrainian language skills, but if we can help you – if you would like to practice your English on us – we would be very eager to do that.
We have an America House – again, right up the hill – which you should take advantage of. This building houses a high tech and very friendly environment for you to come and get to know us and we will get to know you. There are online materials, there are people there who would be eager to have the conversations.
So let me again congratulate you for being here today. I understand this is not only the largest class, as the President [of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy] said, this is also the most qualified class ever to attend here. And, I’m told anywhere in the country.
So congratulations to you.
Your generation will inherit some of the problems that my generation – that our generation – caused. You will solve those. You will make Ukraine great.
Thank you very much.