Ambassador Pittman’s Remarks at Mozambique-USA Alumni Association (MUSAA) Conference
“Alumni and the Spirit of Leadership”
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Esteemed MUSAA Board of Directors
Members of the General Assembly
And Assembled Alumni
It is my pleasure to join you for this first formal meeting of MUSAA – a milestone that has been almost a decade in the making. Some of you in this room were involved in those first efforts to establish an alumni association back in 2008. With time, persistence, and fresh energy from a new cadre of exchange alumni, your collective effort paid off with MUSAA’s founding in 2015. I would like to congratulate those founding members who have seen MUSAA through from a concept to a reality and your Board of Directors, led by outgoing president Tatiana Pereira, who was integral in convening us here today. Please give yourselves a round of applause.
Today, as you know, is Nelson Mandela Day. What a fitting occasion for a conference on “Alumni and the Spirit of Leadership.” As you’ll remember from your own experience, we talk a lot about leadership in our exchange programs. We seek candidates who have demonstrated leadership; we support participants to develop their leadership skills; we encourage alumni to identify leadership opportunities at home. We do not always, however, emphasize the link that Nelson Mandela so perfectly embodied: that service is leadership.
Imagine, if we as a society reframed our thinking toward the pursuit of service. If we stressed to our children that everyone has the ability and responsibility to serve their communities, and in so doing to impact the world. Nelson Mandela held this vision and spent 67 years of his life in public service. Every Mandela Day, those who are inspired by his legacy are asked to devote 67 minutes of their own time to take action and inspire change. How will you spend your 67 minutes?
I invite you to think constructively about how you as individuals, and as an Association, can use your voices and your platforms to be Servant Leaders as Mandela was. Last week, we issued a call for proposals for projects supporting struggling, self-employed women in Beira and Chimoio who lack financial literacy skills. Right now, I call on each one of you to search within your networks and identify at least one organization to compete for this grant. As servant leaders yourselves, I know that many of you are directors, members, volunteers, and affiliates of non-profit organizations that can do this work. Call them, talk to them, assist them to apply, and think about what you as an alumnus can do to support those communities.
I applaud the hard work that you have done to forge the Mozambique-U.S. Alumni Association and I congratulate the new Board of Directors that will take their office today. I understand that this conference is but the first of several Encontros de MUSAA that will be held throughout the coming year. For this event and the ones to follow, I ask you to remember the spirit of service that should motivate every leader. Nurture that spirit within yourselves and among our ever-growing alumni community. Remind new members and old that everyone has a role to play and a responsibility to give back. And use your platform to inform others about opportunities for service. You should have already received an e-mail from us about the financial literacy project grant for women in Beira and Chimoio; you’ll soon receive another for proposals related to good governance. Read them closely on our website and identify and coach at least one organization to respond.
Your voices have the potential to defining the important issues in Mozambique and shape the solutions for the country. We are partners with you in building a better future for Mozambique. Thank you.