First Lady Michelle Obama traveled to South Africa and Botswana during an official visit to Africa from June 20 – 26, focusing on youth leadership, education, health and wellness.

The trip was a continuation of Mrs. Obama’s work to engage young people, especially girls and young women, at home and abroad.

 Video: First Lady Michelle Obama Visits Nanga Vhuthilo Community Center

Video: First Lady Michelle Obama Arrives in Botswana

Video: On Board: First Lady Michelle Obama Visits Baylor Center

Video: On Board: First Day with The First Lady in South Africa

In South Africa:

By MacKenzie C. Babb | Staff Writer | 23 June 2011

Washington — U.S. first lady Michelle Obama told young South Africans June 23 that they will achieve their dreams through hard work, dedication and a strong belief in themselves.

“I can see the same promise in all of you as I do in my own girls. That’s what keeps me motivated,” the first lady said to students at the University of Cape Town. “And I want to make sure that you all see that promise in yourselves. It’s so clear to me and so many others. The challenge is to make sure you see it in yourselves.”

The White House said Obama spoke to 55 secondary students chosen from area schools in historically disadvantaged communities for a daylong “immersion experience” at the university, during which they took campus tours, met with university students and were exposed to studying on campus.

“I know that every single one of you can be successful at a university like this or anywhere in the world,” Obama told the students. “Nowadays, it is really about how hard you’re willing to work. It is about whether you’re willing to stay focused and be disciplined. And more importantly, it is about first believing in yourself every step of the way,” she said.

The first lady said the world is looking to South Africa to be a global leader in the 21st century. “And when we say we’re looking to South Africa, what we really mean is that we’re looking to all of you … because you guys are going to be the ones leading this nation in 10 years, in 20 years, in 30 years.”

Obama shared her story of growing up in a working-class neighborhood in Chicago. Although her family did not have much money, Obama said, her parents emphasized the importance of education and were determined to see their children go to college. She and her brother went on to graduate from Princeton University, one of the most prestigious schools in the United States.

The first lady’s remarks to students in Cape Town came as part of her weeklong visit to southern Africa. Since arriving June 21, she has met with former South African President Nelson Mandela, visited with Nompumelelo Ntuli-Zuma, wife of South African President Jacob Zuma, and addressed the U.S.-sponsored Young African Women Leaders Conference. She has also spent time with schoolchildren and toured national museums with daughters Sasha and Malia, her mother, Marian Robinson, and her niece and nephew, Leslie and Avery Robinson.

Obama is scheduled to travel June 24 to Gaborone, Botswana, where she will meet with President Ian Khama, visit a children’s clinic and take a private safari with her family before returning to Washington June 26.

(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/iipdigital-en/index.html)

 

In Botswana:

By MacKenzie C. Babb | Staff Writer | 24 June 2011

Washington — First lady Michelle Obama is stressing the importance of family and community in encouraging young women in Botswana to reach their goals.

“All of our journeys are shaped, in part, by people in our lives who love us, who believe in us, and who invest in us,” Obama said June 24 in remarks to a women’s leadership luncheon in Gaborone, Botswana.

The first lady said that in addition to the young women honored at the event, their family members, caregivers and mentors were also invited to take part. “We did this purposefully because we know that education is a family affair. It’s a community affair, particularly when it comes to educating young women.”

The event celebrated 23 students chosen for their success in secondary school and university. Obama said many of the young women were the first in their families to receive higher education, and commended them for overcoming “tremendous odds to do so.”

They were joined by 10 women leaders, each of whom Obama said “has carved out an extraordinary path in this world” and “broken all kinds of barriers” along the way. The group included the first woman chosen as a FIFA soccer referee, the first woman to serve on Botswana’s highest court and the country’s attorney general.

“Each of these women earned these honors. They spent thousands of hours studying, and practicing, and working. And in the end, their stories were possible because, along the way, each of them had someone in their lives who encouraged them and inspired them,” the first lady said.

Obama shared her own story of growing up in a working-class neighborhood in Chicago. Although her parents did not have much money and never had the chance to attend university, Obama said they emphasized the importance of education and were determined to see their children go to college. She and her brother went on to graduate from Princeton University, one of the most prestigious schools in the United States.

“Success is not about where you come from or how much money your family has. Success is about how passionately you believe in your own potential, and, more importantly, how hard you’re willing to work to achieve it,” Obama told the young women.

The first lady’s remarks came during her first day in Botswana. Before the luncheon, Obama stopped at the Botswana-Baylor Adolescent Centre of Excellence, which provides treatment for 4,000 children with HIV/AIDS and their families, according to White House pool reports. Later that afternoon, she was scheduled to meet with President Ian Khama and U.S. Ambassador to Botswana Michelle Gavin.

Since beginning her trip in South Africa June 21, the first lady has addressed student leaders, spent time with young schoolchildren and toured national museums with daughters Sasha and Malia, her mother, Marian Robinson, and her niece and nephew, Leslie and Avery Robinson. She has also met with former South African President Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nompumelelo Ntuli-Zuma, wife of South African President Jacob Zuma.

Obama is scheduled to take a private safari with her family before returning to Washington June 26.

(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/iipdigital-en/index.html)

 

Michelle Obama Biography
When people ask First Lady Michelle Obama to describe herself, she doesn’t hesitate to say that first and foremost, she is Malia and Sasha’s mom.

But before she was a mother — or a wife, lawyer or public servant — she was Fraser and Marian Robinson’s daughter.

The Robinsons lived in a brick bungalow on the South Side of Chicago. Fraser was a pump operator for the Chicago Water Department, and despite being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at a young age, he hardly ever missed a day of work. Marian stayed home to raise Michelle and her older brother Craig, skillfully managing a busy household filled with love, laughter, and important life lessons.

A product of Chicago public schools, Mrs. Obama studied sociology and African-American studies at Princeton University. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1988, she joined the Chicago law firm Sidley & Austin, where she later met the man who would become the love of her life.

After a few years, Mrs. Obama decided her true calling was working with people to serve their communities and their neighbors. She served as assistant commissioner of planning and development in Chicago’s City Hall before becoming the founding executive director of the Chicago chapter of Public Allies, an AmeriCorps program that prepares youth for public service.

In 1996, Mrs. Obama joined the University of Chicago with a vision of bringing campus and community together. As Associate Dean of Student Services, she developed the university’s first community service program, and under her leadership as Vice President of Community and External Affairs for the University of Chicago Medical Center, volunteerism skyrocketed.

Promoting Service and working with young people has remained a staple of her career and her interest. Continuing this effort now as First Lady, Mrs. Obama recently launched the Let’s Move! campaign  to bring together community leaders, teachers, doctors, nurses, moms and dads in a nationwide effort to tackle the challenge of childhood obesity. Let’s Move! has an ambitious but important goal: to solve the epidemic of childhood obesity within a generation.

Let’s Move! will give parents the support they need, provide healthier food in schools, help our kids to be more physically active, and make healthy, affordable food available in every part of our country.

As First Lady, Mrs. Obama looks forward to continuing her work on the issues close to her heart — supporting military families, helping working women balance career and family,  encouraging national service, promoting the arts and arts education, and fostering healthy eating and healthy living for children and families across the country.

Michelle and Barack Obama have two daughters: Malia, 13, and Sasha, 10. Like their mother, the girls were born on the South Side of Chicago.