Obama sees example of talent in boy he met four years ago

Obama sees example of talent in boy he met four years ago

For Vishal, son of a labourer, November 7, 2010, had remained an unforgettable day when he met United States President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle.

The boy, now 16, was pleasantly surprised to know that even the US President had not forgotten meeting him that day four years ago.

Vishal was among the 14 children, sons and daughters of the artisans involved in the restoration and conservation of the Humayun’s Tomb, whom the US President and the First Lady had met when they had taken a walk around the 16th-century World Heritage Site in New Delhi during their last visit to India in November 2010.

Obama and Michelle had a 10-minute tête-à-tête with the children. Vishal was the eldest of the lot and had a special gift for the Obamas — a message for the couple written by him on his slate: “Welcome to His Excellency, US President Barack Obama and his wife.”

He was later interviewed by mediapersons and he narrated how thrilled he was to see “the most powerful man in the world” almost kneeling down to talk with him and other children — all students of a small school run by the Archaeological Survey of India for the sons and daughters of the artisans. Life moved on for Vishal, who was traced by an official of the US Embassy in New Delhi a few days ago in South Delhi, where he lives with his parents and sister.

“I was happy to know that the US President would come to Delhi again and was keen to meet him again,” said Vishal, who on Tuesday sat next to Michelle at the Siri Fort Auditorium where Obama delivered a lecture before concluding his second visit to India.

Obama also mentioned about Vishal in his speech. “Just want to tell you a quick story. On our last visit here, we visited Humayun’s Tomb. We met some of the labourers who are the backbone of this nation’s progress. We met the children’s families as well,” he said, recalling: “(We saw) some wonderful young children with bright smiles and spark in their eyes and one of the children was a boy named Vishal. And today, Vishal is 16-year old and he and his family live in south Delhi in a village,” he said, looking at Vishal.
“Vishal’s mother still works at Humayun’s Tomb. His sister is in university and she wants to become a teacher. His brother is a construction worker earning his daily wage and his father works as a stone layer so that Vishal can go to school,” said the US President amid loud applause from the audience. “He likes watching Kabaddi,” Obama said, as Vishal stood up briefly and Michelle looked on him smilingly. “Vishal wants to join the armed forces. We are very proud of him and he is the example of the talent that is here. Vishal’s dreams are as important as the dreams of Malia and Sasha (Obama’s daughters)... We want him to have the same opportunities,” he added.

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