Karen Hughes with Students at Dar al-Hekma College
Discussion with Students at Dar al-Hekma College
Karen Hughes, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and
Dar al-Hekma College
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
September 27, 2005
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Thank you. (Inaudible). Thank you so much Dr. (inaudible) to be here and I'm so glad (inaudible) so glad to be (inaudible) bright (inaudible) hearing from you.
I so appreciate being invited to speak to (inaudible) students here at Dar al Hekma College. I've been told that Dar al Hekma (inaudible) and I look forward to meeting, listening and learning from you here today. Dr. (inaudible) mentioned my title -- my formal title my formal I should say-- I wanted to mention my most important title is mom. I know that of a wife and mother -- working mom -- one of the things that I think people of other countries often don't know about America is that American people very greatly value many religious faiths. For a country that has freedom of religion we have people of many different faiths, including a number of Muslim American citizens. As a government official, I represent almost seven million Muslims who live and worship in my country.
We are a country that has freedom of religious but that does not mean freedom from religion, although people are also free not to have faith in America, but many, many Americans like me feel that our faith and our family are really the most important things in our lives. I have a daughter and a granddaughter. I also have a son who is about the age of many of you all. He's 18 and I just took him to college last week so I cried. I have to admit mom cried when I took him off to college. But my son has always been -- he and I have always been very close and when President Bush asked me to take on this new challenge of public diplomacy, which is basically America's dialogue with the world, I asked my son what he thought about it and he immediately said, "You should do it." And I was kind of surprised, taken aback, that he was so eager for me to go back to a full-time job in Washington. And I said, "Well, why Robert?" And he said, "Well, mom, you really care about it." And that's true, I really do. For years, I've -- especially in the aftermath of September 11th -- I've talked a lot with my own family about the importance of girls and boys across the world growing up in a spirit of greater understanding and respect for each other. And I think that is so vital to the future of you all and all of our children across the world.
But the second thing my son said is he said, "Well, mom, it's really important for my generation." And I absolutely agree. I think it's really important for the next generation of Saudi Arabian young people, men and women, and for the next generation of American young people and for the next generation across the world, that we grow up learning more about each other and trying to understand each other better and learning more about each other's cultures and faiths and different traditions.
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: (In progress) Can you hear me? hear me now? I'm pretty loud. I can talk pretty loud, how's that? (Laughter.)
I wanted to tell you a little bit of my new job -- public diplomacy. Some of the skeptics have said it's about public relations or it's about polls or images. I don't feel that way I all. I do believe that America's dialogue with the world is being about people and about our policy because I recognize that government policies really affect people's lives and that's really what drew me to public service in the first place was -- as a reporter, as I covered our government and many political leaders in America, I recognized what an impact the decisions they made had on people's lives. And so I decided I wanted to be a part of all that.
One of the ways that that President has been talking about our policies and how they affect people's lives is that President Bush has been promoting since his second inaugural an agenda of freedom and democracy, not because that is something that America is trying to impose on the world. But because he believes very strongly that the freedom to speak for yourself and to make up your own mind and to participate in your government, is something that we were all given by our Creator and that we're all intended to live in freedom.
Now last night, I attended a Majilis where -- with a number of very diverse people from throughout Saudi Arabia. We had a very interesting, sometimes heated, conversation and discussion and I was cautioned that America should not seek to impose our will on the people of Saudi Arabia. That Saudi Arabians agreed that they wanted to have greater freedoms and participations, but that that needed to be homegrown so I am mindful that the pace of change will be different in different places.
But I noted in the newspaper this morning that some change is happening. I was pleased to note that the cabinet ministers have approved a new labor law, which opens new opportunities for women. So when you all graduate from this college, I hope that you will find new opportunities waiting for you. For the first time, women candidates will be able to run for board member positions in the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and women members will be able to vote for their leadership.
I know that here in Saudi Arabia you had municipal elections earlier this year and we certainly hope and encourage, again we're not seeking to impose, but we're seeking to be your partners and to encourage that the next time there are elections here that women will be able not only to vote, but also perhaps to run for office. I look forward to the day when women will be able to full and equal participants in Saudi society. No society, our First Lady of America, Laura Bush, who many of you may have seen or heard her on television, says frequently that no society can prosper when half of its population is not allowed to contribute to its progress. She quotes the founder of the African American Association saying, "Society is like a bird. It has two wings and a bird cannot fly if one of those wings is broken." I hope you're at college, as you are being educated, that you are learning to spread your wings. And I hope many of you will consider coming to the United States to visit us and to study, and we're hoping to encourage many young Americans to come to Saudi Arabia.
The Ambassador and I talked this morning about ways that we could increase the people exchanges between our two countries because we think that is so, so important in order to further our mission of further understanding. And with that, I really look forward to hearing from you all. I'd like to hear what your hopes and dreams are. What you see as being important for you as Saudi women. I know -- I want to also commend this college because you have on the premises here a nursery where your students and professors who have children can bring those children to school with them. So they have a place to care for their children while they are learning or teaching and that is a wonderful opportunity.
One of the things I've talked about in America to our employees is I always encourage them to do more, to create family-friendly environments. And so I want to congratulate this college for doing that because families are so extremely important for all of us. And I thank you and look forward to hearing from you.
MODERATOR: Thank you, Ambassador Hughes and I'd like to also open the (inaudible) for Ms. Dina for some enlightening comment. Thank you.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POWELL: (In Arabic)
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POWELL: I'll say a few words now in English as well. It's an honor to be here with all of you. It's particularly an honor to be with her Royal Highness, Princess (inaudible), thank you so much for being here. Under Secretary Hughes is going to be talking to you all about our public diplomacy challenge and taking many questions. And I hope you'll allow me just to focus on one point, which I that I'm honored to not only be her deputy but I'm also the Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs. And a rough translation of that -- the key point of that, is that (in Arabic). So I hope I will be able to encourage many of you to participate in some of our exchange programs.
I know that her Royal Highness, the Princess, comes to the United States a lot and encourages these kinds of exchanges and we are really looking forward to having many of you there. And I thought I would just share one brief story about some exchange students, some women from Saudi Arabia that I met with very recently. They were extremely impressive. They made a big impact on all the officials that they met in Washington, but they were also excellent ambassadors for Saudi Arabia. And they told us some very important things, which is that they are working hard to be active members of society. They certainly would like to become even more active members of Saudi society. But they said, don't forget, we are very strong in Saudi Arabia. We do have opportunities and what we want the world to see is not just one image of us, but to see women who want to study, who want to work, who want to participate in all facets of society.
Well, thank you, and I hope more of you will come and share that story because that is the best way to get our message out -- your message out in the United States. Thank you very much (in Arabic).
MODERATOR: Before we start the dialogue I'd like to say just a few words if I may say. The vision and mission of Dar Al Hekam College is to bring that balanced person that will make the difference in the society. And by the participation of our students here -- can I have the hands raised for the students that are participating in this session? Can you raise your hands? How many students we have? Raise the hands. Okay, maybe a better thing is for them to stand up, but I won't have you stand up.
We have all the classes cancelled for this very important visit because I think the interaction is the key to learning. And without interaction and without dialogue, we will never (inaudible) and we will never (inaudible) of anyone in any nation and the other.
I feel that our youth has a significant role to contribute to the society of Saudi Arabia. And with that, I would like to open the forum for (inaudible).
QUESTION: I have Dr. Selsen(ph) (inaudible), the Vice Dean for Student Affairs and Dr. Sal Harlin(ph) to the left, the Vice Dean for Academic Affairs. They will be able to assist you in the questions you want to ask and also control the time because I don't want the mike to be held with (inaudible) and we need to have the contribution of as many people as we can. Now we have 20 minutes. You can see I have a scheduled visit so we have almost -- how long do we have with this -- 20 minutes before we go (inaudible). Okay, so 20 minutes. So if you have any questions, can you line up to the mike. I want to encourage you all to start asking.
Okay, I think our translator is very anxious that he hears our load speaking voices, but everyone speak English in this room so you don't have to worry that much. He may just panic just a minute ago.
QUESTION: Can you hear me? I'm Lusa Gof(ph) (inaudible) Education Department. First of all I would like to welcome you here to (inaudible). We are interested in knowing and hearing about your perspective, since it is (inaudible) present to the American people about Muslim women, in general, and the Saudi society in particular. Thank you.
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Well, I've been fortunate to (inaudible) a number of very wonderful Muslim women.
Good now? I have a number of Muslim women whom I consider friends and they are people of great dedication, of great faith. They care a great deal about their family. They are --
MODERATOR: Can you hear? Can you hear? No? Okay, you can use my mike.
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Now you can hear. All right. My son always tells me I'm very loud, so I'm not used to being the one who can't be heard. (Laughter.) I'm known for having a very loud voice. The question was what my opinion was and perspective was on Muslim women and I have a number of Muslim women, many of whom I've been fortunate to work with, whom I consider friends and who I also consider role models because they are people of great faith. They model in their lives the tenets of their faith. They are people of great love for their families. They feel a very special obligation to give back to the community. I know in America when we recently experienced Hurricane Katrina, a number of Muslim organizations and women and individuals gave so generously, as Americans from all walks of life did, to try to help our fellow Americans in need.
I'm actually traveling today with a young Muslim American woman and I'd like to introduce her for just a minute. Karema, would mind standing up? Karema (inaudible) (applause) is -- I met Karema my first week on the job. I asked to meet with a group of young people because I thought -- I believe that our young people are really our future. And if I seek to reach out to the wider Muslim world, I thought it made sense to start with our Muslim Americans at home. And so I asked us to meet with a group of students from area campuses in the Washington, D.C. area, so they were college students, much like you. Karema is getting her PhD in Arabic linguistics and I met her and she followed up by emailing me. And she asked me to go to lunch and we went to lunch and a friendship was born. And Karema is one of two citizen ambassadors traveling with us today. Bill O'Brien is the other. He's a teacher from Wisconsin.
I really believe in the importance of letting -- of people-to-people exchange. There's a famous saying in America public diplomacy that the most important part of this job is the last three feet, and that's the space between you and the person next to you, to make that personal connection. And so I really feel that that personal connection is vital and that's why I'm so honored that Karema and Bill would come with us on this trip. And they've had an opportunity to meet last night at the Majilis and they were able to meet with many Saudi Arabians, Saudi women and talk with them and share their experiences. And it was a wonderful opportunity for us to have a great, frank discussion on a variety of issues.
QUESTION: Can you hear me? My name is Lena Algina(ph). I'm not a Saudi. I'm not Saudi but I'm proud to be a Saudi citizen. I'm going to talk about why the name of Muslims and Arabs. I wonder about the negative pictures and created by the American media and where is the process of the American Government. I wonder what is the plan for the U.S. Government towards this problem?
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: You know, it's interesting. I've heard a great deal of similar comments on this trip. A real pain and concern in both of the countries I've visited so far -- Egypt and Saudi Arabia -- from people who feel that particularly in the aftermath of September 11th that media impressions have given the impression that, or what they've heard over the airwaves, had given the impression that all Muslims are linked with terror. And we know that that is absolutely untrue.
President Bush took very proactive steps in the immediate aftermath of September 11th. In fact, I was with him when he visited a mosque in the Islamic Center in Washington, D.C., two days after September 11th, on September the 13th, to send a clear signal that we value and respect our Muslim American community in America. And that the vast overwhelming majority of Muslim citizens are people of peace and respect for people of different faiths. And that we did not want in any way for the criminal acts, the horrific murderous acts of a few to jeopardize our relations with the many in the Muslim American or wider Muslim community throughout the world. And I think that was a very important signal to send.
I have to tell you a personal story. I am a Christian and a Presbyterian and when I was in Washington I attended National Presbyterian Church. And the weekend after September 11th, I was in church worshipping and a Muslim woman -- I don't know even who she was -- came and sat in the pew next to me and told me she was just there to express her sorrow and sympathy and support for America. And I thought it was such a wonderful, wonderful gesture of love and fellow citizenship.
I also heard numerous stories throughout America where Christian and Jewish women went with the Muslim American friends to the store. They were wearing cover. They went with them to the store and other -- so they would not feel threatened in any way or feel that they were being viewed with suspicion. And so I really think one of the strengths of my country, and I think if you talk with Karema she will tell you this story from her own experience, is that Muslims in America feel very free to practice their faith. They feel very much a part of our community and our country. And that we are really a welcoming country to people of different faiths, traditions.
QUESTION: Hello (inaudible). Not quite one of the young faces -- Dr. Netajadi (ph) and I used to be -- previously of this wonderful place, Dar Al Hekma College. I'd like to go back to the questions the students have started a while ago about the media (inaudible). I'll share with you a small story. King (inaudible), the neighboring college has sent a group of scholars, about 60 of us, to do a summer training at Virginia Tech. We went throughout the summer and there was such sensationalized media about women being (inaudible). But then -- this was in the Associated Press in the local media -- I was asked along the lines to help with (inaudible). But during the interview, the interviewer was not assertive, he was a (inaudible) graduate. But at the end of the interview when I explained that it's not about (inaudible). It's not about (inaudible) education (inaudible). It's about furthering (inaudible). And when I explained that what we have here is complemented by the (inaudible). After about an hour of an interview, those of you have said to me, so you think this whole thing is about nothing and (inaudible). It didn't stop there. It didn't stop there.
After that there was still a greater attack on us (inaudible). And the idea was that we were -- why we were in separate classrooms. And we kept explaining that it was a natural way that it will set up (inaudible) that people naturally women (inaudible) to stay with women and men stay with men. I was asked to be, after that, on CNN to talk about it, where the interviewer this time was a much nicer looking lady. I explained the same thing. This is about education and people -- we are not, by any way, barred from talking to the other sex. We exchange ideas and we work with them all the time. This is not (inaudible) anything else. And I'm sure (inaudible) but it's not an absolute (inaudible).
So it was an interview and it took about two hours. After the program was aired -- it was aired during the day and the end of our program was like (inaudible). The issue was presented as an overt problem at Virginia Tech that the people were (inaudible). Let me tell you, I lived there for almost two years -- two months -- and we were accepting the people on campus and people on campus were accepting us. There was quite an exchange and an understanding of the difficult cultures. The media at the time explained that as a total resistance and it was not the case.
The other thing, after I was up on the stage and I was saying that there was no inside (inaudible) exchange of information or verbal knowledge, the interviewer included that section saying -- and listen to this, it just explained sensationally little bit more. Don't forget you (inaudible) the university that graduated Osama bin Laden, to close with such a conclusion. It's overly sensationalized. So my thought here is it's nice to work at this (inaudible). Sensationalized media, careless media, sensationalized media doesn't allow normal people to interact with other normal people. We had a wonderful experience. It was a totally good project. We benefited. There was quite an exchange, but to close with such a conclusion, it just (inaudible). Again and again, we all know, sensationalized media doesn't help (inaudible) anywhere in the world.
Number two, I just don't -- it comes from such a big media -- CNN. I mean if we have, you know, taught to do that, taught to thinking like that, but for CNN to do that (laughter).
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: We also have our friends from the America media here with us today. They're to be congratulated.
Well, let me say a few things. First of all, we do have a free press in America and I think that's an important part of our democracy, that the press is able to challenge our government officials. I've been asked a lot about different government actions during this trip. And even when our government makes mistakes in a democracy, just because you're a democracy does not mean you're perfect. But when the government makes mistakes in a democracy, the press is there to ask questions and to hold government officials accountable and to force our government to respond to the concerns of the people. And so I think a free press is a very important part of our American society.
Now I -- members of the media who are here know I sometimes have concerns myself with things that are reported in the press in the way that they are reported. None of us ever agree 100 percent of the time. I do think, by and large, the American press -- I'm a former reporter myself -- and I don't know exactly who was interviewing you, whether it might have been more an editorial talk show or whether it was a reporter for a newspaper or a television or radio station. But I do think, by and large, the American press has held the standards of objectivity and fairness.
I'm concerned that a lot of what I see is -- in the press in this area and in the region of the Middle East where there's been an explosion of Pan-Arab stations and satellite stations and a number of other stations that I'd hoped that I would like to challenge the press to -- and not just here, but across the world, to seek to enlighten people rather than incite and to try to work to help build understandings among -- to help build understanding of the issues. I think that's so important because we live in an age, you know, it's looking at my job compared to the way a public diplomacy challenge for America used to be.
Back in the days of the Cold War, the information environment was very different. People were hungry for information and couldn't get it. And we were trying to deliver information into societies that were closed and couldn't get information. Today we have an explosion of information. I don't know if you have the internet here. Do you have access to the internet? You can go on the internet and find all kinds of information, some of it's truth and some of it's not. Some of it's valid, some of it's not. You can watch television and find all kinds of information. Again, some of it's myths, some of it propaganda, some of it outright lies and some of its truth.
And so it becomes harder and harder, I think, in this environment for affluent people to make their way through and sort through all that information to find out what the facts are and I think that's why I think it's even more important that certain people who have a great responsibility and I think the media as a group has a greater responsibility to seek, try to inform and to help people understand all sides of complex issues -- I think by and large our media in America is professional and does a pretty good job of that.
QUESTION: Okay, (inaudible) steps for taking improvements (inaudible) inception is taking on our goal. I think I speak for all of us and we're happy we're not only content, we're happy. So what steps you're taking to show that image? The image that's out there isn't the one that it is, that's true. It's been false. (Inaudible.)
QUESTION: Can I ask you a little bit more about that?
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Okay. Go ahead. Tell me what image do you mean? For example, what --
QUESTION: I think the general image that's out there is that we are (inaudible) one that's in the newspapers and one that's in the magazines. I mean, the general image of the Arab woman is that she isn't very happy. I don't want to go into details. I think we're all short on time. But the general image is one that's where she isn't very happy. We're all pretty happy. I think (inaudible).
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Thank you. Thank you for that comment. I have to say that I have found that the Arab women that I've met with have been very strong, very intelligent, very willing to engage in debate and discussion, very family oriented, and I've been very impressed by the Arab women that I've met. I have been told about a specific Oprah show that I know has concerned some of you that apparently focused on abuse and maybe made it appear that this was something that was widespread and there was some concern, but that is not the case. I think -- you know, I think there's some things that are cultural differences -- that are different that tend to maybe foster that image. And I would be glad to go back to the United States and talk about it with the Arab women that I have met with and how -- I will tell the story that you said, tell them that I am happy.
But take for example, you know, there's some things -- we in America take our freedoms very seriously. Our freedom of speech, our freedom to participate, our freedom of religion, our freedom on issues, things like driving, for example. I have to tell you that -- and I believe that women should be full and equal participants in society. And I feel as an American women that my ability to drive is an important part of my freedom. It has allowed me to work during my career, it has allowed me to go to the grocery store and shop for my family. It allows me to go to the doctor and it gives me a measure, an important measure, of independence.
Now I understand that your culture and traditions here in Saudi Arabia are very different. And so I don't think that we should try to impose from the outside an outcome for you all. What I do think we can do is try to encourage greater participation, encourage opportunities like this for women in Saudi Arabia to speak up and speak your mind. And as you are able to more fully participate in the political process, you're able to discuss and we're able to bring out into the open issues, all kinds of issues from child care to driving to being able to vote. And as you participate more fully in the political process, that you are able to begin to discuss and determine those issues for yourselves.
QUESTION: (Inaudible.) We were just talking about democracy and how you didn't want to impose this on us. I think there's an argument now that the U.S. has turned into a right-wing country and the media is not really as free as it used to be.
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: That's why -- you find that the U.S. has been turned into a --
QUESTION: Right-winged country?
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: A right-winged country?
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Well, I think it's -- (inaudible) elections it would be very hard to say that. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Well, the media has become (inaudible) now and any comments that regard anything insulting to the President is not allowed anymore. And I thought that U.S.
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: I have to say I sometimes wish that were the case, but it's not. (Laughter.) I will -- you're probably talking -- well, let me just back up and say that actually the American electorate, I think is very, very closely divided. The last few presidential elections were decided by very, very small margins. In the case of the 2000 election, the smallest possible margins. The last, I think, in four or six Congressional elections had been decided by very small margins. And I don't know if you all saw the electoral map of the United States but if you do, the red states and the blue states are -- they country is very divided, very bipartisan. We have a number of Democrats. We have a number of Republicans. We have very vigorous political debate in my country. We have voices from the left and voices from the right. I think if you asked someone on the right, they'll say you have too many strident voices on the left; and if you asked somebody on the left, they'll say you have too many strident voices on the right.
I remember the last Presidential campaign, there seemed like there were some pretty loud voices in opposition to President Bush that received a great deal of coverage and attention, including a number of films and a lot of money spent by different groups. I think, again, if there were a Democrat sitting here, you would hear the same concern expressed about the people on the right.
So I don't think it's fair to say that -- America is a very healthy democracy. We have a vigorous debate. We have a lot of different voices and they all find outlet in our society.
MODERATOR: Can I negotiate more time? Just five more minutes? (Inaudible).
AMBASSADOR OBERWETTER: (Inaudible).
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Let's go it.
AMBASSADOR OBERWETTER: Let's take the five minutes.
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Great.
MODERATOR: Five more minutes? Okay?
QUESTION: My name is Rameda Salod(ph). I'm a banking and finance student. I'm really happy and delightful for having you here and I'm really happy that you said that you liked a lot of our (inaudible) common because we as staff and as students (inaudible) we're working so hard to make this image everywhere, not just (inaudible) and the states.
However, I have two suggestions for you. We, and our colleagues, we're having so much information -- I want information and ideas and -- in our curriculum about Jewish society, which is very good for us. But I have this suggestion for you. Maybe -- and one of my friends, she told me that (inaudible) that you can add some more information about the Middle East societies and (inaudible) and tradition in your curriculum, in your schools and universities. So that will help the students and everybody to improve the image besides what the media are telling them. That's the first thing.
My second suggestion is for the media. There is a problem there. Maybe we can give some solutions for the media people to have a better image for us and about us, which is, maybe -- I don't know if you have a minister of media or -- (laughter) -- that can relieve some --
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: I'd volunteer over here (inaudible). (Laughter.)
QUESTION: --that can relieve some, like, press or official press for them to give them more information -- correct information through our own media so they have the opportunity to and a chance to see what our (inaudible) like the real image about us. Thank you.
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Thank you for that wonderful point and one of citizen ambassadors, Bill, made a point last night at the Majlis that before he came here he really didn't know much about the people here. And people to people contact is really the way to help teach understanding. I think there are (inaudible) institutional (inaudible) Saudi Arabia (inaudible) introducing to the people of Saudi Arabia (inaudible) in the United States.
One of the things that I think is very important is that our government, frankly, does not do a really good job of it. There are young people who want to learn more about people of different countries and different cultures so they learn different languages. I think it's so wonderful that Dina, because she was born in Egypt, speaks beautiful Arabic and I have to admit I'm a little jealous when I hear her speaking it, I wish I would have learned that myself and I think it's very important that young people throughout our country learn to speak different languages and then learn about your country and your culture. And I'm committed to that as part of my two-way dialogue (inaudible).
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POWELL: I just want to add one specific idea to get your reaction. Are any of you studying to be journalists? Any of you?
QUESTION: We kind of feel (inaudible) knee-jerk journalism based on (inaudible).
ASSISTANT SECRETARY POWELL: And if there were a major offer at Dar Hekma who would be interested in studying journalism? Okay. I ask that question because I think that that particular area of it, the Under Secretary and I want to focus on from an exchange perspective because if you came to the United States, I know members of the media would be very interested in talking to you, talking about how they became journalists and I think that's the best way, again, to share stories directly with the media and working side by side with the media. Don't you think you all would be receptive to that? (Laughter.)
So that's just one idea in a very specific way to speak for yourselves and to make the relationships and friends because, you know, I think it's really important when we talk about public diplomacy that it's not just that the United States is misunderstood around the world; but the American people sometimes have misunderstandings.
And so in as much as you have chances to come and participate in our society, even short term, I know we would be very open to it.
MODERATOR: Okay. I think we just (inaudible) thank you so much (inaudible) could be in place a fellowship deal (inaudible) my students to study journalism in the United States?
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: One of the things that President Bush and King Abdullah, then Crown Prince Abdullah, talked about during their very successful meeting in Crawford earlier this year was expanding exchanges between Saudi Arabia and America. And we're following up on that. The Ambassador and I talked about that last night. We're going to be following up on that in meetings today because we think that it's very important that we increase significantly the exchanges between our two countries.
Dina, did you want to --
VICE CHAIR: I'd like to thank (inaudible) going to the United States (inaudible).
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: (Inaudible).
VICE CHAIR: On my side (inaudible) not on the government. But one of them, his classmate, he took a couple of his classmates -- Americans, graduated (inaudible) -- immediately to come work for me for two years in (inaudible). And they are our best ambassadors in the United States (inaudible). So it is a very successful method of exchange.
I studied a little bit in (inaudible) with western students. So one of my classmates came over and they worked for me (inaudible) United States (inaudible). It's a very successful method, but proven.
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: And I'll say one final point because there are so many young women in the audience but one of the things that we are certainly encouraging is that as we expand the number of exchanges between American and Saudi Arabia that we want a lot of women to participate in those. And so you'll have more chances to, we hope, come to our country and we'll have the opportunity to welcome you there.
MODERATOR: Excellent. Before we conclude --
MODERATOR: I want to acknowledge the presence of our Chairman of the Board, which I thanked you at the beginning. So I want to give him a big hand because he supported us.
MODERATOR: And for his (inaudible) and for his, you know, approval we were able to host this whole dialogue (inaudible). So I'm not going to comment further but I want to end by just -- giving a chance to Ambassador to give just a few a words if he wishes.
AMBASSADOR OBERWETTER: I thank you for the opportunity that today I can think of no one better to have conducted this than our Under Secretary and our Assistant Secretary. And from the guys side of the table, I think I won't add to this discussion -- (laughter) -- but I would just like to thank you for making these facilities available to us today.
I wish on the Under Secretary to have -- that there was more time to take every single question that those in the audience have. But because we do have schedules we have to keep, we won't be able to today. But thank you very much.
MODERATOR: Thank you. And Karen, do you have any last words? Would you like to say any last words?
UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Well, I just want to thank you all and I want to tell you that as I look out in the audience and see your smiling faces, that I will see the faces of our future. And I encourage you to pursue your education to -- I know you will value the family, to continue to learn and take advantage of this wonderful opportunity here at this college to build a bright future.
Thank you all so much for your (inaudible) (applause).
(Inaudible) a token of our gratitude this book, which is a -- has a number of different American architectural styles and it features the picture of our American Embassy here in Saudi Arabia on the front.
MODERATOR: Thank you. Thank you so much. I just want to end this forum by thanking our distinguished guests and also thanking Ms. Erin Eddy for the donation that the Embassy has made for us. So I want that acknowledged, please.
QUESTION: And (inaudible) this event. And (inaudible) very anxious to address this audience (inaudible) can you do that?
MODERATOR: I don't think we can do that with a tight schedule, but maybe at (inaudible) they can come to (inaudible).
QUESTION: (Inaudible). Thank you.
MODERATOR: Yes. Thank you. Thank you so much everyone for such a wonderful gathering and I hope next time we'll have more time to address your questions. And thank you for the media. They've been hard on you but you've done a wonderful job keeping quiet. So (inaudible). Bye bye.
Released on October 11, 2005