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Obama Yangon University Speech with Transcript

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Published on Nov 22, 2012

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19.11.2012 The first President of the United States of America to visit Myanmar (Burma), Barrack Obama talks to students about human rights, democratic reform & religious tolerance. [Convocation Hall at Rangoon University]

Transcript Below:
Obama: Thank you. (Applause.) Myanmar Naingan, Mingalaba! (Laughter and applause.) I am very honored to be here at this university and to be the first President of the United States of America to visit your country.

I came here because of the importance of your country. You live at the crossroads of East and South Asia. You border the most populated nations on the planet. You have a history that reaches back thousands of years, and the ability to help determine the destiny of the fastest growing region of the world.

I came here because of the beauty and diversity of your country. I have seen just earlier today the golden stupa of Shwedagon, and have been moved by the timeless idea of metta — the belief that our time on this Earth can be defined by tolerance and by love. And I know this land reaches from the crowded neighborhoods of this old city to the homes of more than 60,000 villages; from the peaks of the Himalayas, the forests of Karen State, to the banks of the Irrawady River.

I came here because of my respect for this university. It was here at this school where opposition to colonial rule first took hold. It was here that Aung San edited a magazine before leading an independence movement. It was here that U Thant learned the ways of the world before guiding it at the United Nations. Here, scholarship thrived during the last century and students demanded their basic human rights. Now, your Parliament has at last passed a resolution to revitalize this university and it must reclaim its greatness, because the future of this country will be determined by the education of its youth.

I came here because of the history between our two countries. A century ago, American traders, merchants and missionaries came here to build bonds of faith and commerce and friendship. And from within these borders in World War II, our pilots flew into China and many of our troops gave their lives. Both of our nations emerged from the British Empire, and the United States was among the first countries to recognize an independent Union of Burma. We were proud to found an American Center in Rangoon and to build exchanges with schools like this one. And through decades of differences, Americans have been united in their affection for this country and its people.

Above all, I came here because of America's belief in human dignity. Over the last several decades, our two countries became strangers. But today, I can tell you that we always remained hopeful about the people of this country, about you. You gave us hope and we bore witness to your courage.

We saw the activists dressed in white visit the families of political prisoners on Sundays and monks dressed in saffron protesting peacefully in the streets. We learned of ordinary people who organized relief teams to respond to a cyclone, and heard the voices of students and the beats of hip-hop artists projecting the sound of freedom. We came to know exiles and refugees who never lost touch with their families or their ancestral home. And we were inspired by the fierce dignity of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, as she proved that no human being can truly be imprisoned if hope burns in your heart.

When I took office as President, I sent a message to those governments who ruled by fear. I said, in my inauguration address, "We will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist." And over the last year and a half, a dramatic transition has begun, as a dictatorship of five decades has loosened its grip. Under President Thein Sein, the desire for change has been met by an agenda for reform. A civilian now leads the government, and a parliament is asserting itself. The once-outlawed National League for Democracy stood in an election, and Aung San Suu Kyi is a Member of Parliament. Hundreds of prisoners of conscience have been released, and forced labor has been banned. Preliminary cease-fires have been reached with ethnic armies, and new laws allow for a more open economy.

*****Transcript to Long for Description. For full transcript please check out:
http://119eng.com/category/video/12/l...

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