FIRST LADY HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON
REMARKS FOR AMERICAN COLLEGE OF SOFIA
OCTOBER 12, 1998
Thank you very much, Desi. And I am delighted to be here with all of you.
I want to thank our Ambassador. Ambassador Bohlen has worked very hard in Bulgaria
on behalf of the partnership and friendship between our two countries. And she's
also worked very hard on behalf of this American college, because she understands
how important education is and how providing a good education and providing
it in a setting that challenges such bright young people as yourselves is important
for the future of Bulgaria. I want to thank Don Presley whom you heard from.
Don is with the United States Government agency called USAID, the Agency for
International Development, and his responsibilities include much of Eastern,
Central, and Southern Europe and even into Central Asia. And what he tries to
do is to look for ways that through the United States government we can support
people in helping themselves and creating their own futures. And that is why
USAID has helped support this college, because we know how important it is to
have computers in the classroom, to have this institution that has such an excellent
reputation, operating again to help create the new Bulgaria.
I am also very grateful to be here with the Director of the American College
because Lu Persky is person that has spent most of his life working on behalf
of international education around the world. As I was talking with him today,
he told me that his last assignment, as many of you may know, was in Zaire.
That was a very difficult assignment. He is, for many reasons, happy to be here
in Bulgaria at the American College with all of you.
I was pleased that the alumni were introduced and the Ambassador was acknowledged
because certainly, this American College could not have been revamped and revived
without the support of people who understood its mission and were very committed
to making it available to young people today. It is critical that we all understand
the role of education, not only in your country, but throughout the world. And
I've been impressed by everything I've heard about the educational
mission here. I know you have extraordinary teachers and I know you have extraordinary
I'm also aware that as the school is once again back and open, it really
represents a triumph of the human spirit and a commitment to the power of education.
It was closed, it was as Desi said a jungle grown over, neglected, ignored,
its mission, people thought, never to be revived again. But then on September
15, 1992, almost 50 years to the day after the last American faculty members
had been expelled. These doors for this institution for learning were reopened.
Even in its darkest days when this college was closed and its grounds were turned
over to the Secret Police, the community that understood the mission of the
American College never gave up hope. The Board of Trustees in the United States
preserved the college's endowment for 50 years.
There were Americans, Bulgarian-Americans, Bulgarians who believed that there
would come a day when Bulgaria would be free again, determining its own destiny
and understood how critical education would be to making sure that its destiny
was all that it could be. The library was maintained at a monastery and many
of you are living proof of the faith that all those people had for those long
50 years. Even in the darkest days when former teachers and students were persecuted
because of association with this school and its ideals. Your predecessors believed
that this remarkable institution would not only be opened again, but would lead
again. And that is exactly what you're doing.
I had an opportunity to meet the students behind me who are members of your
student government for a short visit. I met the students who were using your
brand new computers and I'm well aware of the reputation of students who
come from this school. I'm told that your average Scholastic Aptitude Test,
the SAT scores are higher than those of many entering students into America's
top colleges and universities. With your accomplishments academically, with
every lesson learned, with every question posed, your are not only helping to
secure your own personal future in the 21st century, you are in a very personal
way fulfilling the promises of freedom, and hope, and prosperity, stability,
and democracy that all those people who never lost faith, held on your behalf
all those years here in Bulgaria and in the United States.
I'm pleased that the United States both through its government and many
private citizens will continue to support this college. Not only to ensure that
your tradition of excellence continues, but as a very visible reminder of our
enduring partnership, of the friendship between the United States and Bulgaria.
I am pleased that we are able to announce a gift today, a 100 volume set from
the Library of America and I have a copy here from this set. This is happens
to be the speeches and writings of President Lincoln that are still as eloquent
and moving today as when he penned them so many years ago.
This collection brings together the writings of classic American authors, novelists,
poets, historians, philosophers, and statesmen. And I know that you are in the
process of rebuilding your library, and how important it is, not only to have
your online library, but your own books as well that you can refer to and I
hope that many of you find interest, and ideas, and inspiration in the books
of this collection.
I also want to just say just a personal word about all of you whom I have had
just a brief chance to meet. I met mostly students who are just graduating this
year and they're very interested in going to the most difficult and select
colleges and universities that they can enter. And many of you, both in the
conversation I had with the student government leaders and in the computer room
where I saw many students online looking at college information are thinking
of attending higher education in the United States and we welcome you. We are
delighted to have students of your caliber, and your ambition and motivation.
Join our students and literally students from all over the world in the finest
colleges and universities in America.
But I hope with all my heart that you will take that education that you have
received here at this American college and whatever university you attend in
the United States and bring it home to Bulgaria. That you will be part of using
this great gift that people have given to you of a first class world education
to help build your country, to once again make it what it should be. The Bulgarian
people are well known for being well educated, intelligent, and hard working.
But many Bulgarians were, as you know well, forced out of Bulgaria and have
made their fortunes and their successes elsewhere. I hope they will think of
coming home or at least of helping as I met several Bulgarian-Americans who
are giving back to Bulgaria.
But I hope that each of you will see what's happening in your country
today as the great adventure it is and want to be part of be part of building
a prosperous, successful, free, stable, future-oriented, hopeful Bulgaria. Thank
you all very much.