President Barack Obama spoke with Refugee Olympic Team swimmer Yusra Mardini at the Leaders’ Summit on the Global Refugee Crisis at the United Nations in New York on Tuesday.
Mardini delivered a 2 minute, 43 second speech introducing Obama to the General Assembly.
“This [Olympic] experience has also given me a voice and an opportunity to be heard,” she said in her speech.
Obama then opened his remarks by thanking Mardini, who swam the 100m butterfly (VIDEO) and 100m freestyle in Rio.
“Yusra, we could not be prouder of you — not just for the great introduction, but more importantly, for your courage and your resilience and the great example that you’re setting for children everywhere, including your eight-year-old sister, who I know must look up to you,” Obama said in his speech (TRANSCRIPT).
Obama is expected to host members of the U.S. Olympic Team next week at the White House.
Mardini’s story was depicted in an emotional Visa ad during the Olympics. While escaping the violence of the Syrian war in 2015, the engine in Mardini’s boat died and she had to jump into the water to help pull her fellow refugees to safety.
“I want to help change people’s perceptions of what a refugee is,” she said in her speech. “For everyone to understand it is not a choice to flee from your home. Refugees are normal people who can achieve great things if given the opportunity.”Follow @srubinroit