Happy New Year and Merry Christmas!
From Leigh and all my colleagues at the U.S. Embassy, I want to thank everyone in Armenia for giving me and Leigh one of the best years of our lives, since we arrived here in February 2015. I arrived with a video in which I quoted an American painter, Rockwell Kent, who described Armenia as a place full of wonders. And in the last ten months, I understand exactly what Mr. Kent means. I have seen wonderful wonders here in Armenia, from the monastery Geghard to the frescos in Meghri to the fountains in Yerevan Square. But, I think what’s made the most impression on me and my wife is the wonder of the Armenian people, who have been so kind, so open, and so warm to us since we have arrived. And it is a memory that will stay with me, this year and throughout my life. What I wish, I think when I look ahead to the New Year, is something that was expressed to me by a young Armenian who was participating in the Special Olympics program, which I think as many of you know, is a program designed for mentally challenged young people and gives them a chance to participate in sports. This young Armenian, I believe he is about 14 or 15, had just come back from Los Angeles, where he has been on the Armenian National Special Olympics team. And I asked him: Why it was important for him to have been on the Special Olympics team. And this young boy, whose name was Armen, said to me: “Mr. Ambassador, it made my parents very proud and whatever happens in my life it will get me confidence knowing that I once did this hard thing.” And I think, as I go into 2016, I am going to live by Armen’s words. I’m going to ask myself am I, is the Embassy, are we doing things that will make our parents proud? The most important, I am going to say: let’s have confidence, let’s have confidence to try some hard things. Because we’ve done some good things, working together with the Armenian people. And because I know how much the Armenian people have accomplished here over the last 24 year of independence, it gives me great hope for 2016. And I hope, as well, that you share that. Best wishes and a Happy, Happy New Year.