President Obama meets Indian-American Spelling bee champs

Ansun Sujoe from Fort Worth, Texas and Sriram Hathwar from Painted Post, New York

WASHINGTON (TIP): US President Barack Obama might be one of the world’s most powerful man but he is no spelling champion as he failed to spell two words correctly given to him by this year’s Indian-American cochampions of the prestigious Spelling Bee contest. “He (the President) is very humble. I think he (Obama) is appropriate for the job,” Sriram Hathway from New York told PTI in an interview, moments after he and co-champion of Scripps National Spelling Bee Ansun Sujoe from Texas met the US President at his Oval Office, Monday, September 15. The two co-champions were accompanied by their proud parents in their interaction with Obama, who had invited them to the White House.

Soon after Sriram, 14, and Ansun, 13, were declared co-champions of this year’s Spelling Bee, Obama had tweeted, “Congrats to Ansun and Sriram, the incredible co-champs of the #ScrippsNationalSpellingBee. You make us all proud!”. This was for the first time since 1962 that the annual spelling contest had ended in a tie. “The President greeted us. He is very nice. He talked to us little bit. He gave us some advice. He also spelled a couple of words for us. Like the two words we misspelled — corpsbruder and antigropelos. He did not spell them correctly.

But it was quite fun to hear it and to talk with the President and interact,” Ansun told PTI outside the White House after his memorable meeting with Obama. During the spelling bee competition this year both Sriram and Ansun stumbled one time with the words “Corpsbruder (a close comrade)” and “Antigropelos (waterproof leggings)” respectively. And both passed on these words to Obama for spelling. For the Spelling bee champions, this was not a surprise. “He (tried) to spell those two words. We got to shake hands with him. He greeted us very humbly…very welcoming. It was an honor to meet him,” Sriram said.

Obama presented the two young Indian- Americans a book of constitutional amendments in which he wrote “Dream, Big Dreams.” For the past several years, Indian Americans have dominated the annual spelling bee contest. “Just try to give your best. Do not give up your passion,” Sriram said when asked about his message to other young Indian- Americans. “Without hard work, you can’t succeed. If anybody is interested in spelling or any other competition, I would just tell them to persuade. Do not give up. Work hard at it and try the best,” said Ansun, who wants to become a computer engineer like his father. Sriram said he wants to become an ophthalmologist. “I have always been interested in the eye,” he said.


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