Remarks by Ambassador Matt Harrington as Prepared for Delivery American Corner Dedication Ceremony

Khotsong bo-‘m’e le bo-ntate and welcome.

Thank you for being here today for this special event. I am delighted to be able to welcome all of you to the American Corner.

Before we proceed, I would like to pay my respects to:

His Majesty, King Letsie III,

The Right Honorable the Prime Minister,

Members of His Majesty’s Cabinet,

in particular the Minister of Tourism, Environment, and Culture, the Honorable Likeleli Tampane, who has joined us here today,

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Southern Africa and Public Diplomacy, Todd Haskell

Acting Director of the State Library and his staff

Regional Information Resource Officer Paula Kittendaugh

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen

It’s a pleasure to be here with you today to celebrate the opening of the renovated and renewed American Corner in Maseru. This Corner is the result of strong cooperation between the Ministry of Tourism, Environment, and Culture; the State Library; and the U.S. Embassy. Thank you, Madame Minister, to you and your team for making this space available to us and for working so closely with us to make it a success. We are honored to be associated with the State Library as our host institution.

Since this American Corner opened eight years ago, it has become a well-respected and popular place for Basotho to learn about the United States and to explore and exchange ideas. The American Corner is a visible symbol of the strong partnership between the United States and Lesotho, and is a place where we can gather to learn from one another. This American Corner serves as a venue where alumni of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders – or YALI — can use sophisticated tools, including video conferencing equipment, and meeting space to continue their professional development and mentor others. Other alumni of U.S. Government-funded exchange programs also use the space for outreach projects that benefit local communities. Budding social and business entrepreneurs will find a place here to develop their ideas, leadership skills, and professional networks through programs and workshops designed especially for them. Students and life-long learners of all ages will be invited to take part in Massive Online Open Courses, MOOCs, as they are popularly known. Offered by universities in the U.S. and elsewhere, these MOOCs allow U.S. experts and scholars to share their expertise here via the internet. And for those who want to study in the United States, there is an education advisor based here at the American Corner who can help guide you.

Additionally let me thank our partners: BAM Group Foundation, the Lesotho Council of NGOs, Sesotho Media & Development, and the Media Institute of Southern Africa-Lesotho. Our close collaboration with these partners has helped us increase the quantity and quality of our programming. For instance, we now offer weekly professional development activities every Thursday afternoon that focus on building the leadership skills of Basotho youth. We also share American culture through screenings of American movies each month. To stay up-to-date on the activities taking place here at the Corner, I encourage you to follow the Facebook page for this American Corner.

The Corner you see today is very different from the original American Room that was opened here back in 2008. I would like to thank my many colleagues in the U.S. Embassy who worked so hard to create the new look and feel of this space. The former space was much more of a traditional library with books as the main resource. While we still have books, we have moved much more toward digital content and platforms. We provide 20 computers with high-speed internet. We host live-streaming events that connect U.S. experts to Basotho audiences. We provide free online courses for members of the YALI Network.

And even though we are dedicating the space today, we are still growing and improving. In the coming year, we plan to offer a space for people to learn computer programming, and to offer students a chance to experiment with circuitry and robotics. The idea is to introduce them to science and engineering through hands-on fun. Who knows, maybe the next breakthrough technology, social media network, or successful app will get its start right here!

In closing, I invite everyone to visit the American Corner, explore our resources, and take part in our programs.