Sixteen-year-old Nicole Uzlaner from Beersheba was on a day trip with her
classmates last week when she received a phone call from the President’s
Residence in Jerusalem. On the line was one of the producers of the event held
at the residence on Wednesday in honor of the arrival of US President Barack
“She said she got my number from my school and she asked me if I
was interested in coming and saying a few words to Obama,” she told The
Jerusalem Post on Thursday, “I told her of course I’m interested! I was in
Click here for full JPost coverage of Obama's visit to Israel
At the event Uzlaner, along with four other young people,
introduced herself to the American president in flawless English and told him
about her school, the AMIT High School in Beersheba, which operates an advanced
As part of the science courses she takes, she is also
enrolled in a program at the Ilan Ramon Youth Physics Center, hosted by
Ben-Gurion University, which offers a range of excellence programs for teen
pupils interested in physics.
In front of Obama, Uzlaner was asked to
emphasize the scientific relationship between the US and Israel in a few words,
which she prepared for intensively in the few days she was given.
stress of before was the strongest. It is a huge event, and rehearsal really
felt like a movie set,” she told the Post
“The second I saw him I
thought to myself, it’s the first time he is not on a screen and all I could
think about is make sure I don’t mess up the words and he understands what I
say,” she added. “But he is so smiley in person, I wasn’t as stressed [when] I
Although her moment to shine went by quite fast – 18
seconds, according to her girlfriends’ count – Uzlaner said she was happy to
have had the chance to address the president and speak about a subject she
believes is central to the relationship between Israel and the United
“I think we must advance our link in science. Not just for the
countries, but for the people,” she explained. “When I left the event and went
downstairs I passed a picture that Rona Ramon gave Peres and it had Ilan Ramon
on it with the American team [of astronauts from the ill-fated Columbia space
shuttle] there. I think this shows an important cooperation in the physics
Uzlaner’s father, Pavel, accompanied his daughter to the event
and said he was “very proud” of her.
“I think it’s the peak of a father’s
career to see your daughter do something like that,” he said.
explained that since his daughter was a child he and his wife had pushed her to
learn science and English through private tutors.
“She is a very bright
and intelligent young woman, and I think that we’ve seen the results of our
investment,” he added.