BM Fulbright Orientation Opening Remarks

Distinguished scholars and friends of Fulbright, good morning!

On behalf of the U.S. Mission in Morocco, I would like to extend a warm welcome to each of you here.

 One of the highlights of being the U.S. Ambassador to Morocco is that I have the opportunity to meet Americans like you.  Americans who are sharing their time, their talents, and their expertise with Moroccans that they have just met.  And over the course of my time here as Ambassador I have also had the opportunity to witness the long-term impact of your commitment firsthand, and for that reason I am a BIG Fulbright fan!

The Fulbright program is the global standard bearer for academic exchange and the prestige of the program has profoundly strengthen the relationship between our two nations.

As each of you know, we have a rich array of Fulbright programs here in Morocco supporting the work of American student grantees, English teaching assistants, and visiting professors who will have the opportunity to make important contributions at their host institutions throughout the country.

Your counterparts from Morocco, who recently left to study, research or teach in the U.S. under Fulbright grants also represent a wide range of institutions and fields of study.

MACECE runs thirteen Fulbright programs, 7 for Moroccans and 6 for Americans.  You heard Dr. Miller talk about the programs for the Americans but many of you are not aware of the Fulbright programs for Moroccans.

The most popular is the Fulbright Grant for Moroccan students, which allows them to spend 2 years pursuing Masters degrees in the U.S.  This year, MACECE said goodbye to 11 students who are about to about to embark on a path similar to you on American campuses at the University of Virginia, Carnegie Mellon, the University of Oregon, Oregon State, Northeastern, Indiana, Syracuse, Columbia, and my alma mater Cornell.  These young Moroccans will come back with a deep understanding of American life and will, like the over 1,700 Moroccan Fulbrighters who have gone before them, become leaders in this country.

We also have 14 Moroccan doctoral students who were selected by MACECE in January to study in U.S. universities for one year to conduct research under the guidance of an American university professor.

MACECE also selected 9 Moroccan professors who will pursue academic research this year at institutions ranging from Stanford to University of Minnesota.

MACECE also works closely with the U.S. State Department in selecting Moroccan mid-level professionals in various fields for a year-long program of seminars and practical experience at U.S. universities under the Humphrey Program.

I’m also very proud of the three Fulbright programs designed specifically for Moroccan teachers, including the Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistantship (FLTA), which supports teachers of the Arabic language in more than 100 American colleges and universities.  Through MACECE the U.S. government has sponsored more than 160 Moroccan language professionals who teach Arabic to students just like you.

Because of the Fulbright program’s rich history and the deep cultural ties created through this experience, I want each of you to see yourselves as ambassadors too, as you contribute to local communities; as you enrich the lives of those around you; and as you help Moroccans of all ages uncover new skills and talents.  In so doing, you build mutual understanding between the United States and Morocco – the fundamental mission of the Fulbright program since its inception in 1946.

I am proud to state that the bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Morocco has never been stronger.  I believe that the reason is that the challenges facing each of our countries are in many ways quite similar.

These challenges include:

  • Maintaining competitiveness through a highly skilled workforce;
  • Protecting citizens from negative social influences, such as drugs, gangs and radicalization, that destroy the fabric of communities;
  • Finding new, sustainable energy sources that will help us reduce climate change; and
  • Most importantly ensuring a brighter future for our youth through a sustained investment in education.

These are just some of the common challenges that Morocco and the United States must address in the years ahead.  I strongly believe that the mutual understanding built through the Fulbright program strengthens our ability to work together in taking on these challenges.

The success of the Fulbright program can be seen by the number of former American and Moroccan grantees who have made their mark in government, education, business, media, culture, and non-governmental organizations.

Many Americans started a lifelong relationship with Morocco through their Fulbright experience.  The bridges they built are very much a part of the strong bonds our two peoples share.

I fully expect that you will find your time in Morocco not just rewarding, but a life-changing experience.  We are all looking forward to watching you follow in the footsteps of other Fulbright grantees in helping to make the world a better place by taking on leadership positions in the government, the private sector, civil society and academia, both in America and abroad.

I would also like to take the opportunity to recognize MACECE for its commitment to promoting mutual understanding between the U.S. and Morocco for the last thirty years.  Thank you Dr. Miller, the entire Fulbright Board and above all, the dedicated staff here at MACECE for making these programs happen, year after year.

As the Honorary Chair of the Fulbright Commission, I wish you the best of luck during your year here in Morocco and I encourage you to make the most of this unique experience.