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 NWTC student has unexpected meeting with President Obama

 4/8/2014

 Rodee Schneider

 

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College international student Mohamed Dhib thought he was going to Washington D.C. for a day of meetings with fellow Tunisian exchange students. Less than twenty-four hours after arriving in the nation’s capital, he found himself at the White House, chatting with President Obama & Tunisian Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa in a meeting he’ll never forget.

Dhib is one of sixty-five Tunisian students participating in the Thomas Jefferson Scholarship Program, an educational exchange that allows Tunisian students to spend one year studying in the U.S. The program is designed to give students the chance to explore U.S. culture, communities and higher education,  ultimately helping build the Tunisian workforce and economy.1488038_10151939722836218_3801444662832545571_n.jpg

Late last week, Dhib (bottom row, 3rd from left) was told he’d be going to Washington, D.C. for program workshops and to meet with fellow Tunisian students.

After arriving in D.C. Thursday evening, Dhib and 10 other scholarship students prepped for an early Friday morning meeting with the Tunisian Education Minister. The resulting two-hour discussion with the minister focused on what student’s had learned during their time in the U.S., and how they could work together to build the Tunisian workforce.

 “We shared our experiences,” said Dhib. “We talked about how we can improve education [in Tunisia] based on what we saw here.”

The students then met with Department of State officials, before unexpectedly being whisked off to a visit of the White House. Following a brief tour, they sat down, and were told they’d said they’d meet with the Tunisian Prime Minister.  A staffer then took the students to the Rose Garden to continue the tour and talk. After a few minutes, they heard a familiar voice behind them.

“Hey, what’s up guys?”

President Obama welcomed the stunned group, shaking each of their hands and asking about their experiences in the states.

“He asked how I’ve been dealing with the cold in Green Bay,” said Dhib.

The students then met with Tunisian Prime Minister Jomaa, before listening to the Tunisian and U.S. heads of state discuss their shared commitment to U.S. – Tunisian relations, their plans to strengthen the Tunisian economy, and the continued efforts to stabilize the region. The unexpected meeting lasted about 15 minutes.

For Dhib, who in addition to studying Information Technology at NWTC, interns in the College’s Enterprise Application department, the experience was one of his most memorable since being in the U.S.

“It was great. I can’t believe I met the President. The entire meeting was amazing.”