Remarks With Access English Language Microscholarship Program Students and Teachers

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Ramallah, West Bank
March 4, 2009

More Information on Access Program

TEACHER:: We have a very special guest today. For those who – you may not know, this is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’m excited to be here and to meet all of you and to participate in your class on Women’s History Month.

TEACHER:: Today is – yes, and we’re talking about an influential woman named Sally Ride -We would love you to join our class and your thoughts.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Sally Ride was our first woman astronaut. And when I was a little girl, I wanted to be an astronaut. But they didn’t take girls back then. That’s how old I am. They said no, no girls for the space program.

And then eventually, they let women compete and be accepted on their qualifications, and so Sally Ride was the first woman to go into space. And I remember how I excited I was when that happened. So I’m very happy you’re studying about influential women, and that you would be studying about an American woman, who I know personally and admire so much, when I walk into your classroom.

TEACHER:: And we’re glad to have you as an influential American woman to join us and we thank you to start off Women’s Month.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much.

TEACHER:: Thank you very much for being here. So would you like to join us?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I would love to.

TEACHER:: We’ll continue on our vocabulary words about Sally Ride. Who can tell me something that we use to jump out of a plane?

STUDENT: A parachute.

TEACHER:: A parachute. Who can tell me something – when we want to stop working, we don’t want to work anymore?

STUDENT: Retire.

TEACHER:: Retire. A task? A purpose?

STUDENT: A woman’s achievement for all of the achievement --

TEACHER:: A word from here for the time, which would mean it’s a purpose. A task?

STUDENT: A task would be –mission.

TEACHER:: Mission, thank you – mission. Who can tell me – the root word is star. The root word of it is star and it’s party of Sally’s field.

STUDENT: Astro --

TEACHER:: Astro --

STUDENT: Astrophysics.

TEACHER:: Astrophysics, thank you. The highest level of math when you go to college?

STUDENT: Calculus.

TEACHER:: Calculus, good. Who can tell me what navigation – do you know what navigation is? Navigation.

STUDENT: Control direction.

TEACHER:: Control direction, good. And who can tell me what was Sally’s purpose? What was her purpose?

STUDENT: To be an astronaut.

TEACHER:: First what?

STUDENT: First woman to be an astronaut.

TEACHER:: Yes, and we know that she was a science expert?


TEACHER:: And we know that when she joined the NASA program, that she didn’t have any idea how to use a spacecraft?


TEACHER:: So what did she have to do in order to learn? Who can tell me what she had to do in order to learn?

STUDENT: She had to learn many things about being in space, like parachute jumping or being weightlessness, or like water survival.

TEACHER:: Good. There’s two things that Sally Ride – two books she wrote to encourage children to like science. Who can remember the name of those books?

STUDENT: First woman in outer space?

TEACHER:: To Space and Back.

STUDENT: Voyager: An Adventurer to the Edge of the Solar System.

TEACHER:: Good, good. Now who could tell me how was she able to improve the science education for children, especially girls? Her aim was for girls to like science, so --

STUDENT: She (inaudible) a girl who interested in science.

TEACHER:: Okay. If you’d like to jump in at any time, we would love you to ask any questions if you’d like.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’m just very impressed by everything that you know. These are questions that are not easy questions.

TEACHER:: Thank you. All right. If you had a dream, and you know that’s difficult, but it can happen, what dream would you have?

STUDENT: Work hard.



TEACHER:: What would you want to be, though? There might be some difficulties, but you know it can happen.

STUDENT: Like astronaut here--

TEACHER:: Okay. What else?

STUDENT: I’d like to be a journalist.

TEACHER:: Okay, good.

STUDENT: So I have to work hard to be a successful journalist.

TEACHER:: But to be a journalist as a woman, do you think it will be difficult?

STUDENT: Well, yeah. Of course it will.

TEACHER:: Why? Why?

STUDENT: Well, because there’s not a lot of successful journalists women, so I have to work hard. Maybe I will achieve my goal.

TEACHER:: Good. If we can describe Sally Ride in one word – that means I want adjectives here – how would you describe her?

STUDENT: She’s a great woman.

TEACHER:: Okay, great woman.

STUDENT: She’s determined.

TEACHER:: Determined.

STUDENT: Famous.

TEACHER:: She’s famous.

STUDENT: Crafty.

TEACHER:: Crafty, good.

STUDENT: Hopeful.

TEACHER:: Hopeful, hopeful. Why hopeful? In which way was she hopeful?

STUDENT: Like in – not many girls learn – they thought that science is a difficult thing, so she said no and she continued studying science.

TEACHER:: That’s very good.

STUDENT: She is hardworking.

TEACHER:: She is hardworking. Anything else?

STUDENT: She’s great.

TEACHER:: She is great. Great, great.

SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s true. Can you imagine getting into that small little space capsule and taking off into space and being the first woman to do it, and knowing that the entire world was watching whether you could or not? It was very brave.

TEACHER:: If you could say two things to Sally, if you met her in person, what two things would you say to her?

STUDENT: My dream is to – when I grow up is to be an astronaut, and she encouraged me to do this and go along with --

TEACHER:: Okay. That’s what you would tell her? What would you tell her?

STUDENT: You are a great woman and we like your working and your (inaudible).


STUDENT: And we like to be like you in the future, and we want to be – has courage like you.

TEACHER:: Great, okay. Go ahead.

STUDENT: How did she feel when she (inaudible) outer space?

TEACHER:: Okay, she – if you were that person, if you were Sally Ride and somebody asked you how did you feel – how do you think she felt? How do you think she felt?

STUDENT: Maybe she felt at the time, on the top of the world.

TEACHER:: On top of the world. (Laughter.) Top of the world, okay.

STUDENT: She was scared a little bit.

TEACHER:: Scared.

STUDENT: Of course she was proud of her (inaudible) achievement.

TEACHER:: She was proud. She was definitely proud, definitely proud.

STUDENT: I think it was a fantastic feel – was amazing (inaudible).

TEACHER:: I believe our students would like some questions.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Of course. I can’t talk about going into space, but I can answer your questions. Yes.

STUDENT: What was your favorite subject when you were in school as a student?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I had an interest in history and in political science. So I studied both of those. But I also am very impressed at how well you’re doing with English, because I loved English and I loved reading literature.

STUDENT: My question is what difficult – what are the difficulties in your life by being a professional, a wife and mother at the same time?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that’s a good question, and it’s a question I get asked all over the world by young women, about how to balance being a wife and being a mother and being someone who has a job that you love.

STUDENT: Lots of responsibilities.

SECRETARY CLINTON: It is lots of responsibilities. I think that it’s challenging, but it’s very worthwhile. You need an understanding family. And sometimes you have to work on that. You always have to be primarily responsible for your children, because once you’re a mother, that is your principle responsibility. So you have to be organized and schedule your time so that you can take good care of your children, but also do your job, and it’s every day.

Now, you know, my daughter is grown now. She’s an adult. But when I was practicing law and raising my daughter, I was always very careful to schedule my time. That’s – and that goes back to your point about being hardworking. You have to be willing to work hard in your job and willing to work hard in your home.

STUDENT: I want to ask you, what’s your best achievement in your life?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, probably my daughter. (Laughter.) I think that that’s what gives me the greatest sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. But I’ve been very lucky, because, of course, my husband Bill Clinton was President and I was able to work with him for eight years. Then I was very fortunate to be elected to the United States Senate for New York and I was able to work hard for the people of New York. And then President Obama asked me to be the Secretary of State.

And so I have been very honored in my life, and my opportunities now are to work on behalf of my country, to help to improve lives of people and solve problems. And I’m very proud that this program you’re part of is an American program, because we want the young people here in the West Bank and in Gaza and in places around the world to know more about our country, know more about our culture, obviously our language, because we want to be closer.

STUDENT: Who was your role model in your life?

SECRETARY CLINTON: My mother. My mother was someone who had a hard life when she was young. She had to go to work when she was 13, but she was able to finish her high school education, but she never got to go to college. And she always loved learning and she always emphasized education. So she instilled that in me. And so I’m very fortunate; she’s going to be 90 years old in June, and so I’m still lucky to have her in my life.

But I also admire Eleanor Roosevelt, who was a great woman, who worked very hard to overcome problems in her own life. And obviously her husband was Franklin Roosevelt, one of our greatest presidents. But she also worked on human rights around the world, and I admire that.

STUDENT: Before you were first lady of USA and now you are secretary of state - how has your life changed?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, they’re different responsibilities. When you’re first lady, you live in the White House and you are really there to help your husband with his job. That’s what everyone in the White House does; they help the President. Being secretary of state, I have a lot of work to do on my own, that I work with the President and the State Department to do. So they’re different responsibilities, but my goal is to help my country and to help my country do better and do more for our own people and for people around the world.

STUDENT: What is the U.S. Government planning to do to reconstruct the Gaza after the war?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I went to the conference in Sharm el-Sheikh that the Egyptians hosted on Monday and announced, number one, that the United States would commit over $900 million to help the people of Gaza and the people of West Bank, because we think that the Palestinian people need to all be helped. We have immediate problems in Gaza to get humanitarian aid in to help the people, but we also want to help continue the progress that is being made here in the West Bank.

I also said at the conference that I was very impressed with what President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad had done in their presentation. It was one of the best I’ve ever seen from anywhere. And I just told the prime minister and his staff that when I met with them.

And I said that the United States is committed to a two-state solution. We will begin to work immediately, as we have, to try to help solve these problems, and I’m very committed to that.

TEACHER:: Last question.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Let’s see. Who hasn’t had a chance?

STUDENT: What program or programs do you have in the world to support women’s right?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good question. I am a very strong supporter of women’s rights because I think every child, every boy and every girl, should have the right to live up to fulfill his or her God-given potential. You know, we are all born with talents and abilities that, if we work hard, we can develop. But if societies prevent anyone, because you’re poor or because you’re of a different race or a different religion or you’re a girl, from having a chance to fulfill that God-given potential, I think that is a terrible loss.

So I believe strongly in helping young girls and young women to have the tools to lead their own lives. That’s why this program is so important to me. So we’re going to continue to do a lot of programs to help everyone, but particularly girls and women.

Thank you all for letting me come, and I’m so impressed to meet you. Thank you very much.

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PRN: 2009/T2-25