President Bill Clinton Honors Haben Girma

President Bill Clinton Honors Haben Girma at CGI U 2016

I met with President Bill Clinton before my keynote address at the 2016 Clinton Global Initiative University. Here’s what he said the following day:

President Bill Clinton: I don’t want to embarrass her, but sitting over here on the front row, is a young woman who graduated from Harvard Law School, without the ability to see or hear. (Applause)

Scene: The camera pulls back, revealing Chelsea Clinton and Conan O’Brien also sitting on stage with President Clinton. A blue background bearing the Clinton Foundation logo stands behind them.

President Bill Clinton: She speaks perfect English — (Continued Applause) — wait, she speaks perfect English; I have no idea how she learned how to do that. With the capacity of the technology, of an aide who is typing in what I’m saying, it goes to her through a machine which translates it into Braille. So, next time you think life is tough… She got out of Harvard, and you know what she’s doing? She is an advocate for opportunities for people with disabilities. Because in fact they have enormous ability, and all over the world that ability is going untapped, diminishing their lives and the rest of ours as well. So let’s give her a big round! (Applause) Stand up! Please stand up, stand up, stand up! (Applause)

Scene: In the front row of the auditorium, as the audience applauds, the interpreter types at lightning speed while Haben Girma reads next to her. Surprised and smiling, Haben hands her computer to her interpreter and stands. The camera turns back to the stage where President Bill Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, and Conan O’Brien are also applauding.

Excerpt from the Clinton Global Initiative University 2016 Closing Plenary.