Speech of Ambassador Luis E. Arreaga – Opening ceremony National Teachers Conference NTC

November 2nd. 2017

IGA administration and faculty; Ministry of Education officials; Presenters; teachers; students.

Friends all

Good morning!  It is a great pleasure to be with you today at the 36th annual National Teachers Conference.

This year’s theme, “Different Cultures, One Classroom” serves as a great reminder of the world we live in and the deep ties between the U.S. Embassy and IGA — the only binational center in Guatemala.

We are very proud of this relationship and of our shared commitment to education and cultural exchange.

I am especially proud to be an alumnus of IGA.  Many years ago, when IGA was still in zone 1, I studied English there. Learning English opened many doors for me and influenced the course of my life and career in ways I could have never imagined. I am deeply grateful to the teachers like you who nurtured my thirst for learning.

Your work is very important. You are contributing to a more prosperous future for young Guatemalans.

You are preparing today’s youth for success in the 21st century because today’s global economy requires multi-lingual interaction and cross-cultural understanding. I am proud that the United States is Guatemala’s economic partner of choice, and as such tomorrow’s business leaders and entrepreneurs will continue to need English.

According to INGUAT, the number of tourists arriving in Guatemala in August 2017 increased 13 per cent over the previous year. More Europeans and North Americans are coming to enjoy the natural beauty and cultural richness of Guatemala. In the tourism sector as in many others, English fluency opens up opportunities for future employment and education. Speaking more than one language expands our horizons and helps us interact smartly with people from other cultures.

We live in a beautifully diverse world and I believe that this diversity strengthens the human race.  As educators you have the privilege and responsibility to guide students to appreciate this diversity and use it to the benefit of their communities and their country. I would urge to teach respect for all people, and to promote inclusion of everyone no matter what their race, ethnicity, language, gender, economic class, sexual orientation, physical or cognitive ability, or religion.

Encouraging diversity in the classroom extends to showing respect for the different learning styles that students use to gain knowledge.  As teachers you constantly work to adapt and create the best learning environment, and to use the most effective teaching strategies for your students. Taking part in conferences such as NTC is essential for your professional growth and to keep up with the current trends in education.

Congratulations to IGA for organizing this important program for educators. I am confident you will find today’s sessions enriching. I wish you success in creating excellent English language classrooms that promote both inclusion and diversity, and prepare students to contribute to a more secure and prosperous Guatemala.

Thank you.