Ambassador Waller, Dr. Hornig, Professor Messel, my young friends whom I am delighted to have here in the White House this morning:
This is a highly unusual meeting. Because today a great Australian university, the National Science Foundation, and distinguished officials of this Government join me to honor you 10 American high school students--because you have done your homework well.
That says a great deal about the high value the world puts on academic excellence today.
Just before I visited Australia last fall, Professor Harry Messel wrote me a letter. The great University of Sydney, he said, wanted to include 10 American high school students in its summer science program. These students would receive not only an opportunity to visit Australia--and we know that is a great privilege-but they would hear some of the world's great scholars. They would meet some of the most talented and interesting young people living today. They would receive scholarships which would literally take them around the world in 20 days.
It gave me pleasure to accept that generous offer and I did it quickly. I was grateful that these scholarships would be associated with me. But I also couldn't resist the idea of exposing more Americans to Australia's hospitality.
So tomorrow these 10 scholars, chosen from thousands throughout our land, will begin their journey.
I want to say to each of you that you give all of us great cause for pride, because of your application, your dedication, and your achievement.
You represent a great idea: the idea of international educational opportunity.
I have just been discussing that with one of the great, distinguished officials of this Government, Assistant Secretary of State, Mr. Lincoln Gordon. You will be hearing a great deal more about that in the days to come, as a result of the work that we are doing together.
In the next few weeks, through the generosity of the University of Sydney and the Australian people, you will go there to meet these students from other lands. You will be guests in their homes. You will share their experiences. And the journey that you will begin tomorrow will strengthen, I think, the friendship between our countries.
You may feel that it is an honor to receive these medals that mark your achievement today. But I want you to know that we feel honored in your presence. And, like your own parents, I feel a bit uncomfortable when I reflect that you can do the new math when I remember how much difficulty I had with the old math.
I hope all of you have a good trip to Australia. I just wish I were going with you.