Baku, Azerbaijan, June 21
By Sabina Ahmadova - Trend:
On June 20th, the U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan Richard Morningstar hosted more than 150 Azerbaijani finalists and recent alumni of U.S. Government-funded exchange programs.
Returning alumni and 2014 finalists represented FLEX, UGRAD, and the Fulbright Student and Scholar programs as well as students from the United States who are visiting Azerbaijan on Critical Language Scholarship to learn and improve their Azerbaijani language skills.
"Alumni are one of the most important bridges for cooperation between the United States and Azerbaijan," Ambassador Morningstar noted, speaking to guests.
Ambassador Morningstar also presented U.S. State Department Certificates of Completion to Alumni Small Grant program recipients. 10 teams received funding for their community projects that vary from leadership training to civic engagement to environmental awareness campaigns.
The ambassador thanked the small grant recipients for taking the time away from their personal and professional obligations to volunteer and help Azerbaijani society.
The U.S. ambassador also touched upon the International Refugees Day, which is marked throughout the world on June 20.
"First, I want to recall that today is International Refugees Day, and it makes think of all the displaced persons here in Azerbaijan, and how many people looking forward to returning to their homes in the occupied territories in the Nagorno-Karabakh," Ambassador Morningstar said. "It emphasizes again how important it is to once and for all to resolve this conflict. So, the people waiting so long can go back to their homes. So we just have to work extra hard to resolve this conflict."
Following the formal part of the reception, participants engaged in a speed-networking session, allowing new current finalists to meet alumni and learn about their experiences living and studying in the United States.
Since 1992 more than 5,000 Azerbaijani students, professionals, and scholars studied and visited the United States through 25 different U.S. State Department programs.
Each year the U.S. Government funds U.S. study opportunities for around 100 Azerbaijani students and scholars.