Ambassador Julie J. Chung’s Remarks for American Alumni Association (AAA) Rice Donation Event

May 31, 2023

Good evening friends of the American Alumni Association, Disaster Management Center, and all guests.  This year marks the 75th anniversary of bilateral relations between the Sri Lanka and the United States, and there is no better testament to the breadth and depth of that relationship than a project like this.

You already know that the U.S. Government is a strong partner with Sri Lanka and that we provide significant assistance here – over $270 million in new support over the last year alone.  From fertilizer for farmers to helping feed schoolchildren to funding assistance for small businesses.  I’m proud of every one of projects we are engaged in.

But what is amazing today is that this isn’t a government project – this is the generosity of the American people and the kinds of relationships that form when we study together, do business together, and respect each other.

Thank you to Charitha and the American Alumni Association for the legwork to make this event, and this donation happen.  I’m so proud of the work that AAA does here in Sri Lanka.  Sri Lankans who have studied abroad in the United States, then taken ideas and lessons learned from their studies to return to Sri Lanka to help their country prosper.  You are truly the bridges between our countries, using your talents and networks to do good like today.

Thank you to the Disaster Management Center for your logistical support and helpful advice, and for working with AAA to ensure that this generous donation ends up in the hands of the people who need it.

Thank you to Mark Neuman and the many American donors who helped to drive this effort and then stepped up to provide the shipping fees to get the donation to Sri Lanka.

But especially, thank you to Billy and the Bridgeforth family, whose story and legacy are so inspiring.  As a third-generation farmer in Alabama who had the heart to help Sri Lanka, I know Billy couldn’t join us today but we all thank you from across the miles.

This is what is possible when good nations, and good people, come together to build a stronger, more secure future for all.  This is what true friends do for one another.  This rice you see here is not only a donation, it is a donation from the heart – to help those in need and to demonstrate our ongoing friendship.

Thank you.