The Imagine Cup Opening Ceremony

Remarks about technology and the power of a dream by:
Ray Ozzie, chief software architect for Microsoft
Dr. Tarek Kamel, Egyptian Minister of Communications and Information Technology
Ali Faramawy, vice president for Microsoft Middle East & Africa, and vice president for Microsoft International
Joe Wilson, Senior Director, Academic Initiatives, Developer & Platform Evangelism, for Microsoft
Imagine Cup Opening Ceremony
The Citadel
Cairo, Egypt
July 3, 2009

ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Imagine Cup 2009.

And now please welcome this year’s worldwide finalists. Please welcome Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Bahrain, Belarus, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Dubai, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestinian Authority, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sharjah [UAE], Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain , Sri Lanka, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela, Vietnam.

Ladies and gentlemen, please give all the Imagine Cup 2009 competitors a huge round of applause. (Applause.)

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the general manager of Microsoft Egypt, Karim Ramadan. (Cheers, applause.)

KARIM RAMADAN: Are you ready for Imagine Cup Egypt? (Cheers, applause.) That’s pretty wimpy. Come on! Are you guys ready? (Cheers, applause.)

OK, so you guys are pretty good at imagining, and that’s why you’re here. About two years ago, we in Egypt, the Microsoft Egypt team, imagined, even dreamed about having an Imagine Cup in Egypt, and we went for some very fierce competition against the U.S. and Brazil and many other countries around the world. And just like you guys are going to be going through some fierce competition in the next five days, and we won, and hopefully all of you guys will win, too. (Cheers, applause.)

Now, we’ve been waiting for you. I went to Paris last year, and I promise that this Imagine Cup in Egypt is going to be one of the best Imagine Cups ever, and we’ve been waiting for you. We’ve been actually fixing things and doing all kinds of logistics and great stuff so that you have one of the most memorable and fantastic events that you will tell your children and your children’s children about. So, have a great, great Imagine Cup. (Cheers, applause.)

That’s good, that’s good. (Cheers.) I didn’t hear that, but I’m sure it sounded real good. (Laughter.)

So, with that, let’s begin, and I’d like to introduce Mr. Ali Faramawy, the vice president for Microsoft, and the director for Middle East and Africa. Thank you. (Applause.)

ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Middle East and Africa vice president, Ali Faramawy. (Applause.)

ALI FARAMAWY: Stand up, stand up, stand up! Imagine Cup finalists, stand up! Stand up. (Cheers, applause.) You guys, you are all here because you’re winners. We started with 300,000 entries, 300,000 registrations. We’ve got 440 only here, .15 percent. You’re all winners. You’re all winners! (Cheers, applause.) Hug each other, celebrate, kiss each other, do whatever you want to do: You are winners! Do it, do it, come on, come on, come on, come on. (Cheers, applause.)

Don’t sit down. Don’t sit down. Do not sit down. Do not sit down. No, they always say – they always say one-on-one, one-on-one on presentations and so on, get to know your audience.

So, other than you guys are winners, I didn’t have the chance to get to know you yet. So, it’s time to kind of like get introduced to each other.

OK, my name is Ali Faramawy. I work for Microsoft. I’m Egyptian, and I’m very happy to be here, and I’m pleased to meet you.

But let me know who you are. Do we have anyone here from Latin America, anyone from Latin America? (Cheers, applause.) Anyone from Latin America?

What about Africa? Africa, anyone from Africa? (Cheers, applause.)

Hey, you know this small, little continent called Asia. Anyone from Asia? (Cheers, applause.)

North America, anyone? (Cheers, applause.) I’m really, really pleased to meet you. I’m really pleased to meet you.

What about Eastern Europe? Eastern Europe? (Cheers, applause.)

Rest of Europe, 70 countries? (Cheers, applause.)

One more thing, one more thing before I let you sit down, so that we know each other, I was told – someone said at some point in time, technology and software and so on is like a big guy, a big man’s game, a boy’s game, that this is a boy’s game. I’m not so sure that that’s right. Is that right, is it a boy’s game?


ALI FARAMAWY: Do we have girls here?


ALI FARAMAWY: Do we have winners?


ALI FARAMAWY: Are we going to give the boys a hard time?


ALI FARAMAWY: We’re going to win!


ALI FARAMAWY: I promised my wife I was going to say that bit. You can sit down now. (Applause.)

Thank you, thank you very much for making it all the way to Egypt to a very, very special place, a very special place in the world, a very special place in my heart.

This particular place that we are in, I don’t know, I think you’ve got some few history lessons on the way in and so on, but you know that this place has never, never been conquered, has never been conquered. This is a place for very, very special people.

So, I’m so happy that you’re here. And as Karim was saying, we’re enjoying hosting you here. I hope you’re going to love it, love every minute of it.

As you probably have seen in the airport, Egypt is very popular at this point in time in the year. A lot of people come to Egypt. There are 17 million people in Cairo, 17 million people in greater Cairo, but tonight we have 17,000,440, and those 440 are exceptionally special. They are winners, they are young men and young women who are going to change the future of this world. We know it, our judges know it, and I think what you’re going to do over the new three days, and what you’re going to show over the next three days is going to prove that. (Cheers, applause.) Yes, yes!

So, now let me talk to you about a few things about your future, your future. I’m a parent. I have two sons. They’re kind of your age. One is in third year in college, one is about to start college.

Five years ago, my elder son, who was at that time in high school, asked me, what is the best job in the world? It was a very good career question: Who has the best job in the world? And I was not particularly sure I knew the answer, so I did what a very good parent does: I asked him back the question. What do you think is the best job in the world? (Laughter.) Or who do you think has the best job in the world? I’m sure your parents never do that. They always have the answers, of course.

So, he said, hmm, I think Tiger Woods has the best job in the world. I said, OK, why? Why does Tiger Woods have the best job in the world? He said, No. 1, his hobby is his profession. No. 2, he is really good at it. No. 3, he makes a lot of money doing it. (Laughter.) What do you think, pop? I was like, hmm, pretty good answer actually.

So, I thought of kind of like rephrasing that and giving him that very same exercise, that very same answer. Really you’re here – you’re here because you’re really, really good at what you do. Right now it seems to all of you more like a passion, more like a hobby, something that you really like, that you are proving now that you’re pretty good at. In fact, by being a finalist in such a huge worldwide competition, that actually means that you’re amongst the best in the world in doing that.

And I’ll tell you a thing or two about our industry. If you do things right, if you do it well, if you stay the course, if you work hard, if you make sure that you help others, and the same way you benefit from others, if you’re open, if you’re respectful, if you’re honest, if you’re hardworking, if you continue to learn, if you, if you, if you, you have a chance of making a lot of money, too, just in case you care about money. (Laughter.)

So, we are in a position – we are in a position now – we are in a position now to do great things for the world. That video had some very subtle messages. That video had some very special messages. Imagine Cup was built on the Millennium Goals, the Millennium Goals, which basically said that this world can become much better. Technology and smart people can make the world a much, much better place.

I want to tell you this is not a day for presentations and talks and advice. This is a day of celebration, what we’ve done so far, and of getting ready for the next three days. And three days from now, we’re going to know the best of the best.

In advance, I want to say to everyone thank you, because you’re all winners, but at the same time, I’m also looking forward, really looking forward to finding out who are the final winners.

Thank you very much, and enjoy your time, enjoy Egypt, and do very, very, very well. (Cheers, applause.)

But since I’m your kind of like host tonight or at least for most of the night, so I have the honor of introducing our very, very special guests. So, my first guest, your first guest, our first guest is someone who hasn’t, despite his great, great responsibilities, and despite his formal responsibility as one of the ministers in this government, in this country, is someone who loves technology – loves technology, loves innovation. This is a gentleman who is a true friend of the IT industry, who keeps on looking for opportunities to get people to learn and to get people to benefit from each other, and to help each other. He is exceptionally passionate about Egypt. He played a very, very big role in making us more ready and a better contestant to host the Imagine Cup.

So, my dear friends, please welcome His Excellency, Dr. Tarek Kamel, the Minister of Communication Information Technology in Egypt. Dr. Tarek. (Cheers, applause.)

MINISTER TAREK KAMEL: Thank you very much for the introduction.

I had prepared a speech to be delivered to you this night, but after the excellent introductions by Karim Ramadan and Ali Faramawy with their Microsoft style, it would be very difficult to deliver a speech like this, because probably this will be the only boring part in this night. (Laughter, applause.)

The Microsoft style is a very special style that I can’t compete with. Although I am coming from the age bracket, but I can’t afford what they have been doing during their excellent presentation, but still a couple of messages.

The first message is a very special welcome in Egypt to all our friends from all over the world on behalf of the government and on behalf of the whole Egyptian ICT community, a special welcome from Her Excellency Susan Mubarak, First Lady of Egypt. (Applause.) She is the patron of this event, and she will be welcoming part of the winners on the last day in her office, Tuesday the 7th, Insha’Allah.

Indeed, I’m very happy to see such a gathering, and I have to start by thanking Microsoft very specially, Ali Faramawy, Karim Ramadan, Achmed Adel (ph), and Amin Abdul Afif (ph) for helping us to get this great event to Egypt. It’s an honor for Egypt to host such a distinguished gathering of young people, talented people, that are very passionate about technology, and that want really to change the world.

Some 20 years ago, I have been involved in similar events that were hosted by the Global Internet Society in Virginia. We had been gathered from all over the world to provide connectivity to our beloved countries for Internet.

Today, with the boom that we say and the evolution of technology, I can see that you are a very lucky generation. You are a lucky generation that because you have been provided with excellent infrastructure that is ready for innovation and ready really to connect you with the rest of the world with excellent bandwidth and excellent speed.

But the responsibilities come with great leaders like you. They have to be aware of their responsibilities and really to improve and make the world better using information technology.

If we look at social networking tools, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and other social networking tools that are evolving, we have a belief that this will bring you really more and more closer, more and more together, and this will help us to bridge problems of tolerance and understanding in the world.

I look forward to the competition within the next couple of days. We are happy that it does not only cover technology issues, but it covers other issues related to software and children, software and human trafficking, software and improving education, software and developing issues that are related to the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations.

We look forward to a very successful event within the next couple of days. We look forward to the final ceremony on Tuesday at the pyramids. We look forward to having one of the most successful Imagine Cup events in Egypt. We look forward to new ideas. We look forward to your contributions. And we look forward to a process that is starting to come to the Middle East and involve the Middle East and the Arab world as part of the world when it comes to innovation, when it comes to technology, when it comes to young people that are shaping the future of our globe.

So, once again welcome to our country, enjoy Egypt, and enjoy the Imagine Cup competition within the next couple of days in our beautiful city, Cairo.

Thank you very much, and have a nice event. Thank you. (Cheers, applause.)

ALI FARAMAWY: Now, I spoke to you about my son’s perception of the gentleman with the best job in the world. Let’s talk now about the most difficult job in the world. Let’s talk now about the most difficult job in the world. Anyone can guess? Come on, give me some guesses, the most difficult job in the world?

PARTICIPANT: (Off mike).

ALI FARAMAWY: Yeah, good try, yes, programmer.

PARTICIPANT: (Off mike).

ALI FARAMAWY: A job that you don’t like is a nightmare, I agree. It’s not what I had in mind, but yes, OK.

PARTICIPANT: (Off mike).

ALI FARAMAWY: Speaker, translator.

PARTICIPANT: (Off mike).


PARTICIPANT: (Off mike).

ALI FARAMAWY: I’ll tell you what I used to think, and what maybe is one of the most difficult jobs in the world. It’s the football coach of Brazil. (Laughter, applause.) The football coach of Brazil. You know why? You know why. Everyone in the country has a say in what this guy does. Everyone in the world expects Brazil to be the best, right, in football – in football. In Imagine Cup we’re going to see, we’re going to see. OK?

So, I’m going to talk to you about another job, another job that actually may resemble the difficulty of the football coach of Brazil, and that’s the chief software architect of Microsoft. Why? Because everyone in Microsoft, all those hundred thousand people who are very, oh, most of them at least, I won’t speak about myself, but all of them, with the exception of me, exceptionally smart, exceptionally passionate, they want to do great things with technology, they want to succeed, they want to be the best. And they’re used to that, have something to say about what the chief software architect does.

That job doesn’t come easier because the previous chief software architect was a gentleman by the name of Bill Gates. Kind of puts some pressure on that. But everyone in the world, and technology is being used now, the same way we all look at Brazil, but everyone in the world expects Microsoft to be the best.

So, the gentleman that’s going to talk to us now is a very, very, very special person, because he happens to hold one of the most difficult jobs in the world. So, please join me in welcoming the chief software architect of Microsoft, Mr. Ray Ozzie. (Cheers, applause.)

RAY OZZIE: Good evening. Welcome to Cairo and the seventh edition of the Imagine Cup.

I am really, really honored to be here with you this evening. Unbelievable to me, 444 students, 149 teams representing 70 countries from across the globe.

This is the finale of a competition that began, as you’ve heard, with more than 300,000 students worldwide who registered for the event. So, what you’ve accomplished to be here is nothing short of amazing to me.

So, before anything else, for your creativity, for your passion, for your perseverance, I just want to say congratulations. Please give yourselves a big round of applause. (Applause.) It’s great.

You guys probably don’t know this, but I began programming as a student myself more than 40 years ago when I was in high school back in 1968. This was an era that is probably hard for you guys to understand. We coded on paper sheets. We transcribed them by typing into teletypes and onto punch cards. It was a really different world.

I’m not sure if you can picture me walking around in high school carrying around these spools of yellow paper tape and these big fanfold printer listings and showing them to my friends, really proud of what I was doing. And I can just tell you it was not cool at all, not at all.

But the few of us who did this kind of hung out together. We were kind of odd ducks but we had a lot of fun. We loved to build things. We loved to explore. We loved to write games. We loved to spend hours upon hours talking about these machines and talking about the future and what it might all mean, what it might all become.

Five years later, in ’73 or ’74, I was still punching cards at University of Illinois, and I happened to meet an amazing man, a guy by the name of Don Bitzer. Don was a faculty member, but he really stood out. He was different. He had a dream, and he was just very passionate about this dream. And he pursued this dream all the way since about ’68 when I was still in high school, and he developed this system that he called PLATO. PLATO is an acronym: Program Logic for Automated Teaching Operations.

He had a passion that technology could be used to solve the world’s education problems. He really had this vision that he could really change the world by extending teaching and education out to many, many places that didn’t have the standard capacity that we all kind of get accustomed to.

And in order to do it even then, and remember this is an era of punch cards, he felt that he needed a terminal, something for students to interact with, a new kind of terminal, something more than just a teletype, something that students could have fun with as a part of doing their lessons. And nothing like this existed, nothing even remotely like this existed.

So, he just took it very patiently and built one thing at a time until he could achieve his goal. So, he started by building this thing called the plasma display panel, and you’re probably familiar with it, because it’s inside of many TVs that are hanging on your walls right now. Then around that plasma display panel he built a graphics terminal with audio and multimedia and touch. He built thousands of these things, and created a worldwide network of tens of thousands of users in little pockets of four, eight, 16 terminals at schools worldwide.

Usage of PLATO expanded far beyond the realm of just computer assisted instruction. It included the authors of the students who authored the lessons and so on. And this broad set of users emerged into if not the first, one of the first online communities, complete with interactive online gaming and online forums and chat and all the things that you’ve grown to know on the Internet.

I happened to be one of a handful of systems programmers on PLATO, and we got assigned projects from time to time in the course of our work, and at one point I was assigned this project to work on something with this guy who I’d never met before. He lived in the next town over, and he was one of these rare people who was allowed to take a terminal to his home, and he pretty much worked from there.

And we worked, and I learned so much because even though I hadn’t met him face-to-face, he would publish the specs for this project in an online discussion forum. And these were beautiful specs; I learned so much about the structure of thinking that led to the structure of the project that led to the structure of the code. It was really incredible.

And when I had a question, I would interact with him in this online discussion forum or I’d use PLATO’s instant messaging system, which was more like a character at a time chat. And it really drove me nuts, because as elegant as his specs were, he would just type so slowly, it just was so frustrating, he’d type one letter, another letter, backspace. It was insane.

But in any case, after the project was done, a number of us who worked on the project were invited to his house to have a party, because the project was successful. And we piled in the car and went over there. I was looking forward to meeting him for the first time, walked into the house through the door, saw the PLATO terminal in the corner, and what I saw then next was – well, I was kind of speechless, because this guy who had written these elegant specs, this guy who was this really lousy typist was a quadriplegic. He was in a wheelchair. He had no use of his arms, no use of his legs, and he was typing with a stick.

If there was ever a defining moment in my career, that was really it. PLATO in letting us do what we did together had transcended the limits of time and location, enabling us to be together, even though we needed to work apart.

It made me realize that technology could take us beyond the limitations of our bodies, kind of acting like a bridge, like a superconductor between our minds.

And ultimately this experience became the inspiration for my own dreams as I left college, as I decided what to work on in my spare time and so on, and this is why I created Notes, this is why I created Groove, this is why I continue to be extremely optimistic about the possibilities in an Internet era of distributed work, and computer supported cooperative work across the industry, and of course at Microsoft.

In many ways those of us who are fortunate enough to have used the PLATO system in the mid ’70s got a little sneak peak at what the Web would become nearly 20 years later in the ’90s.

And how did things like PLATO and the Web and other such innovations come about? Because of one or two or maybe a handful of creative eccentrics who believed they could change the world or perhaps didn’t know that they couldn’t change the world.

Ultimately, over the course of all these years, I’ve had the good fortune to meet and to work with many more of these individuals. Doug Engelbart: I don’t know if any of you have heard of him, but if you go search the Web for the mother of all demos, he’s really the father of computer supported cooperative work. It’s just amazing to look at what he did in that era. Ted Nelson, the inventor of hypertext; Dan Bricklin, inventor of the electronic spreadsheet; Bill Gates, who had this little dream to put a computer on every desk and in every home.

One common thread among all of these folks is that they wanted to change the world for the better. It wasn’t enough to be a technologist or to be enamored with the capabilities of technology.

For those of us who learned to program when we were very young and did so much programming in our early years, we soon were able to forget about the technology and just treat it as a tool, like clay that can be molded into anything that you want.

Software is the ultimate pliable medium. That’s why I love software. And all of us got accustomed to knowing that we could make software do just about anything that we could imagine. And so we could step up and think more about for what purpose we’re developing software, toward what end. We’d dream, and then we’d be able to suspend disbelief because we knew we had a tool with which we could realize those dreams.

I thought I’d share this story with you because I want you to truly appreciate that what’s possible really is mostly just a function of your creativity and how boldly you dare to dream.

If I could just give you a few thoughts to walk away with, the first one would really be to feel great about being here. Just being here, it’s a tremendous accomplishment. It says something not just about your skills, which is really the price of entry not just here but to our industry, but also it says something amazing about your creativity and how technology can be applied to a problem. You’ve proven through your work that if you can imagine it, you can build it.

No. 2, and this is not something that you hear a lot about, but if you care about something, if you really deeply care about something, you have to get used to being relentless, to persevering. There are going to be a lot of obstacles over the course of your career, a lot of naysayers, a lot of things you’re going to need to overcome. Don’t let them get you down. It’s hard. If they do get you down, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.

No. 3, feel good about yourself. This may not pertain to everybody here, but for those of you who might have been labeled that you were a little bit weird, just ignore it. It’s only by being a little bit different, by thinking a little bit differently, that you’re going to come up with new and creative solutions to the existing vexing problems all around us.

It might interest you to know that you have a very distinct advantage to solving today’s problems relative to somebody like me, specifically because of your youth and your inexperience. You’re untainted by the knowledge of the patterns and practices and approaches that have failed in the past or with past technologies. And you do have a chance to succeed and make an important during your careers and during your lifetimes beyond your wildest dreams.

As President Obama said here at Cairo University just about a month ago, you more than anyone have the ability to re-imagine and remake this world.

With the new friends that you make here during the next few days, and by looking at their approaches that might differ to your own approaches to common problems, perhaps you’ll begin to get a sense that by intermixing our ideas, by recombining our diverse perspectives across our cultures, that we’ll solve problems together in ways that would simply not be possible by doing them apart.

On behalf of Microsoft, on behalf of all of those who are organizing Imagine Cup and organized this great event, one last time, let me just say congratulations to you for what you’ve achieved, and have a great week here in Egypt. And most importantly, have a lot of fun. Thanks a lot. (Applause.)

ALI FARAMAWY: How many more speeches can you take? Five? Ten? One. One.

From the gentleman who thinks about the Imagine Cup all year long for the past five years. For the past five years, he’s been thinking about Imagine Cup after Imagine Cup.

He tells me – he tells me that he had the most important job in Microsoft. I’ve said a lot of “mosts” today, and I mean all of them. I mean, he believes he has the most important job in Microsoft, because his job is primarily – is primarily to take care of students who love technology.

You’re supposed to clap here. (Applause.)

So, please join me in welcoming the gentleman who loves students, loves technology, even kind of like dresses like students or tries to, but I’ll leave that to you, and who’s going to be your host from now till the end of the competitions on Tuesday, Senior Director, Worldwide Education, Joe Wilson. (Cheers, applause.)

ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Senior Director of Academic Initiatives, Joe Wilson. (Applause.)

JOE WILSON: Thank you. How many of you guys have been to any speech that I’ve ever given before? Raise your hand. Yeah, I recognize a lot of faces.

So, you know what this is for, right? Because why? Because every time I take a business trip, I have to make sure my wife knows where I am, and so I’m going to take a picture, I’m going to do a video, and the challenge has been all year long in all the different universities I went to who screams the loudest. And I’ll tell you, I was in Indonesia, and we were in a small room, and it just about broke my eardrums.

So, I’m going to try this one time. I don’t have time to do it twice, so you’ve got to be with me. Everybody get the idea?? Be loud when you do it. Here we go. Here’s the video. OK, and you can say, “Hi, Julie-Anne,” if you want to. That’s my wife. Ready, so let’s go. (Cheers.)

All right! Hey, honey! Thanks. (Laughter.) Okay.

All right, I am just blown away. I mean, just being here and looking at where we are, and sort of being in this place right now, I’m overwhelmed completely.

Usually I come out, I’ve got everything ready, I know what I’m going to say. I’m a little lost for words right now. So, I’m going to collect myself for just a minute, and then I’m going to go.

All right, so thank you. Where’s Ali? Where are you? That guy, he knows how to put on a show. Thank you very much, Dr. Kamel, Ray; great speech, thanks for that, really inspiring.

But I want to get really centered here for just a moment, because what I’m going to say from here in the next four or five minutes is not for everyone, it’s just going to be for the students, and I’m just talking to you guys. Let’s just have a little chat, just us 445.

There is a lot of important people here tonight. There are government officials, there are corporate executives. There’s a lot of really important people here tonight just to see you.

But guess what? The most important people at the Citadel in Cairo are the students. (Cheers, applause.) From now and for the rest of the week you get to be the most important people in the room every single time, and that’s the way it should be. And we’ve said it tonight multiple times, 300,000 tried to get here, but you’re the only ones who made it. It’s like we said, that’s special.

Finally, guess what? We’re together. We’re all in one place. And for us that’s pretty awesome. For those of us that run the Imagine Cup and that sort of make all this work, this is incredible to get everybody in one place at one time.

But I hope you don’t blow it, right? I hope you don’t mess it up, because guess what, when you leave, you still know each other. You still know each other. You get to the be the brightest minds on the planet in one of the coolest places in the world. Don’t miss the chance to get to know each other. Don’t miss it.

One thing I hope that you see, if nothing else, is that together you’re special, together you are stronger. When you are here like this, you’re smarter, you’re faster. Together you represent nearly all of the world’s most widely spoken languages, right here in this place right now. More than 70 countries, cultures, histories all right here.

Together you can make a difference. You can do something that matters. This week we can make a difference, and that’s why we’re here.

And guess what, like it or not, you represent the best of what the world has to offer right now. You do. (Applause.) You represent the future of our world. That’s truth.

Now, Imagine Cup is about chasing your dreams. We’ve said this tonight. Dreams have come up over and over. And I’m going to ask again, I’m talking to students, right? Anybody who wants to play along, go ahead. Who here has a dream? Yeah.

I’ll tell you something about dreams, powerful stuff. If you don’t have one, get one. Get one. It’s going to drive you, it’s going to teach you, it’s going to make you smarter, it’s going to make you better at what you do, it will give you direction like you have never believed. So, you’d better get yourself a dream. That’s a valuable thing to have.

Just think about it. The world’s top technology companies, make your list: Microsoft, Yahoo!, Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter. Every single one started as a dream, but guess what else? All those companies were started by students, every single one started by students. So, those dreams come true, but you’ve got to stay with it.

And let’s face it, right now our world could probably use a few more big, good dreams.

Some advice, this is the advice time: This is your time, this is yours. Use it wisely. Think about it. This week is going to blow right by. You’re going to wake up on that plane on the way home and go, what happened; oh my God, it just went right by. So, don’t miss it.

Connect to the people, like I said. Take something back with you, but give something while you’re here as well.

Because look around. Take a look. Look at everybody. Go ahead. They’re just like you, just from a different place, but they’re just like you.

And we are all honored to be here with you. Every single person who’s not a student in this room is humbled by what you can achieve. We are blown away.

But remember where you come from. Take the time. Thank your parents, thank your friends, thank your teammates, anybody who believed in you enough to get you here. Yeah, these guys are looking at their teammates, that’s right, thank them.

So, right here before I close, I’m going to ask you to do something. I’m going to ask all the students to hold one thought in your mind – I know that’s hard – hold one thought in your mind for just a moment. Think back. For some of you this is almost a year ago. Think back. Why did you get into the Imagine Cup in the first place? What was the reason? Just think about it. Was it because it looked like fun? Maybe. Was it because, you know, it looked easy? I hope not. Was it because you got to come to Cairo? Maybe? Yeah?

I think for some of you though I know, because I’ve read all the projects, I’ve seen them, and guess what, many of you are in this because technology can make social change, technology can make a difference. I see some nodding heads out there. You can do something with technology that’s virtually impossible to do in other ways, and we can make a difference with this. Millennium Goals are out there, and you had to choose one, so that matters.

This week is not going to be easy, nothing easy about it. You will be tested. But do your best, belief in yourself. Like we said earlier, you deserve to be here. Every single one of you deserves to be here. You earned the right to show up here and compete.

So, from all of us with the Imagine Cup to the most important people in the Citadel tonight, we want to wish you good luck, and we look forward to seeing you shine all week long, so thank you. (Cheers, applause.)

One more time for the Imagine Cup 2009 world finalists, and I want all the people in the back that are being way too quiet right now to give a big round of applause for all of these guys sitting in the front. (Cheers, applause.) There you go, bring it up. Let’s hear it all the way back. (Cheers, applause.) Yeah! (Cheers, applause.)

All right, I’ve got to make sure – see, I made them write it down so I didn’t miss what I was supposed to do. Yep, that’s right, I got it in the right order.

So, every year we have sort of a ceremonial beginning, the opening of the games, if you will, sort of like the Olympics. And I’m going to ask our distinguished speakers to come back up onstage with me, and we’re going to have our ceremonial – Ray, Dr. Kamel, Ali, all you guys, come on back up, and we’re going to have our ceremonial official opening of the Imagine Cup 2009. And when that is over, I want everyone to stay seated because we’re actually going to take a photo from up there in the tower of everybody who’s sitting out here, and after that we’ll let you go get some food — and only after that.

So, let’s get everybody back up here.

You guys tired yet, by the way? Yeah? The students are feeling kind of sleepy? Want to take it easy? How many people traveled six hours to get here? How many people traveled 20 hours to get here? See, look at that. That’s a long way to get this going. There’s a lot of special stories about getting here, a lot of special stories. And when you want a really special story, go talk to the team from Palestine, and see what they have to say. (Cheers, applause.)

All right, gentlemen, are we ready to kick it off and get it going in a big way? Are you ready to kick it off?


JOE WILSON: Then let’s do it! (Applause.)

[Break for photo shoot.]

JOE WILSON: –, so that’s the end of the opening ceremony. Some of you start competition tonight, some of you start competition tomorrow, but at least for the next 15, 20, 30 minutes, there’s a little bit of food and a little something to drink back in the back. So, go, rest, go, go, go, because it gets serious tomorrow, and thank you all. (Cheers, applause.)

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