Secretary Antony J. Blinken At an English Language Learning Event
Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State
Uzbekistan State World Languages University
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, first, thank you for letting me join your class today. Now, I was listening very carefully to the first question, about what would you do if you were president; what are the hard parts, what are the easy parts. I have a chance to sit with the president of Uzbekistan later today. I took very good notes in my head, so I’m going to be able to share with him some of your ideas. But not just with him; also, when I go back to Washington and I see President Biden, I’m going to share your ideas with him too. Because I heard some very, very good ideas – and thank you.
And I’ll also tell both of them that you understand that it’s not always easy being president, because you have to make hard decisions, and sometimes you have to balance what one person wants against what another person wants. So it’s not always easy. But thank you for sharing those ideas.
And to all of you, it’s just wonderful to be – to be here with you. When I was about – probably about your age, maybe a little bit younger, and in my case I moved to another country – I moved from the United States to France and I had to learn French, so I remember well what it’s like to learn another language. But it’s a wonderful thing because it just opens your mind to different – to different things. We were talking about some of the different books that you like to read in English. And I’m really happy that we’re able to help share English with you, because one of the realities now in this moment in history – and it was different before and it will probably be different in the future – but at least right now, English is probably the international language. When people do business together, they usually speak in English. If you’re on the internet, which is maybe not such a good idea, it’s often in English. A lot of the music, the movies – in English.
And so it’s a wonderful ability to have to speak English, to understand English, and it’s something that we are very, very happy to share. We’re working here in Uzbekistan not only to help instruct English, but also, especially, to help train teachers in English. And I think to date we’ve trained almost 10,000, and now there are English-language school books in about 10,000 schools here in Uzbekistan. In many ways, English is the most important export from the United States to other countries.
But I’m so glad that each of you – and boy, my – I don’t think – I don’t think I would be able to say what you’ve said in English, never mind in a – for you, in a second language when I was your age. It’s wonderful, and I’m just very thankful to each of you for sharing with me today. And I wish you very good luck in your studies.
Thank you for letting us drop into your classroom.