The “Education Ambassador” bids Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean a fond farewell…
For nearly four years, I have been privileged and honored to serve as Ambassador of the United States of America to Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States.
The people of these beautiful nations welcomed me and my wife to their respective shores with an overwhelming outpouring of hospitality. It is with a profound sense of gratitude that I bid you, the citizens of Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, a fond farewell. I depart with warm memories and an unshakeable belief in, and respect for, the talents that lie within the people of the region. I am thoroughly convinced that there is nothing in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean that its citizens cannot accomplish.
Together we lowered the HIV infection rates among some of the most vulnerable populations and raised awareness of domestic violence and human rights, implemented climate change mitigation projects, conducted annual joint military training exercises, provided life skills training for hundreds of marginalized youth, and supported a variety of renewable energy initiatives. Thousands of people were treated by medical personnel from the U.S. Naval Vessel Comfort. And our Peace Corps volunteers worked in communities on literacy and other projects designed to support small businesses.
I am not sure who first nicknamed me “the education ambassador” but it is a most fitting moniker. As a former college professor I readily admit that diplomacy is in my head, but education is in my heart! During my tenure we supported the Obama initiative, 100,000 Strong in the Americas, which seeks to increase educational exchanges between the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean.
The thousands of you who attended our various cultural programs know that I am also sometimes the singing, dancing ambassador! From American string quartets, to gospel choirs, to zydeco bands, to Jazz quartets we are so honored to have presented some of the most celebrated American artists, poets and musicians to enthusiastic audiences in Barbados and across the Eastern Caribbean.
Thank you for not keeping me at arm’s length, for teaching me about cricket, for introducing me to “goat water,” for sharing your rum punch recipes, and for making me feel like a true Caribbeaner! But most importantly, in the name of diplomacy, I will not disclose which island produces my favorite rum — that remains highly classified!
May God bless all of our great nations.