As part of the Let Girls Learn initiative and following her recent visits to Japan and Cambodia, the First Lady will meet with students and educators at the Mulberry School in London to discuss how the UK and the U.S. are working together to expand access to girls education around the world – supporting adolescent girls in completing their education.
Will post photos & full video of discussion when available.
“..It was not a good day to be sitting your history GCSE at the Mulberry school for girls in east London.
While the rest of school took a break from studying to welcome their celebrity guest, Michelle Obama, girls in year 11 were opening their papers and starting to write. As cheers from their fellow students resonated around the school, they remained locked away in the school gym doing the exams they had been working towards for two years.
But this was exactly the reason why Obama had chosen to visit Mulberry. The US first lady is in London as part of her Let Girls Learn initiative, which aims to remove the barriers that keep 62 million girls out of education around the world.
She had chosen this particular school – an all-girls comprehensive in Tower Hamlets, one of the most deprived boroughs in the country where more than 70% of students are on free school meals – because of the quality of the education on offer and the importance attached to it.
Ananya Chowdhury was one of the many students who lined up on balconies, peeped through windows and gathered in courtyards to meet the first lady. “I’m a 15-year-old teenager, and she’s the first lady!” she declared, her eyes wide in disbelief after emerging from a chat and a hug with Obama.
The visit, which began formally with flags, flowers, a song from the school choir (Something Inside So Strong) and a dance performed to Maya Angelou’s poem Still I Rise, ended with cheers, hugs, tears and a warm invitation back to the US.
But it was her account of her own upbringing as a young black girl in a working-class neighbourhood on the south side of Chicago, and her insight into the challenges facing the girls growing up in Tower Hamlets, that struck a chord.
Tower Hamlets is one of the most deprived areas of the country, where much soul searching has recently taken place following the departure of three teenage girls to go to Syria.
Almost all of the pupils at Mulberry are Muslim and of Bangladeshi origin, with English as an additional language, three quarters are on free school meals and many face a climate of Islamophobia, yet their results outstrip national averages and 83% go to university. Obama did not shy from the difficult issues.
Bushra Hussein, 18, was impressed: “She was so down to earth. When you see her speeches on TV, you think she’s not reachable. But when she was giving her speech I got teary.”
Tahira Miah, 18, agreed: “I think it was when she was talking about her upbringing and that she’d had a difficult time. It shows how hard work can go a long way and result in amazing things. Her passion got to us all because she understands the struggles we face.”
As questions in the hall closed and Obama stood up to leave, a mass of young women gathered to see her off, pressing in to get a glimpse – hoping for a hug. It took ages for her to leave. The girls looked thrilled. Ogden looked exhausted.
Sasha and #10
So beautiful & poised.
These two gorgeous girls are a hauntingly perfect mix of their mum and dad! It’s so beautiful..
At different times, you see a resemblance of each parent so powerful, and then, it’s of the other parent.
I think I figured it out; Sasha has FLOTUS’ rounder face shape, but POTUS’ features: nose, lips, eyes; And Malia has POTUS’ longer face shape, but FLOTUS’ features: nose, lips, eyes.
I was dropping by to quickly post the video of FLOTUS’ awesome visit/speech with the young girls in East London.
Even with the inevitable jet lag, she’s still phenomenal! You feel her heart and you feel those hugs, and she’s able to connect with these kids from mostly immigrant families that have been pretty much ostracized and relegated to these communities.
What Mrs Obama did in this short visit will have such a positive impact for many years to come.
David Cameron and the elite/political class need to come to Mrs Obama bearing gifts of gratitude.
Agreed! There will NEVER be another FLOTUS like Michelle Obama, EVER.
Our FLOTUS is WELL LOVED abroad, no DENYING it.
Now this is REAL, HONEST, AUTHENTIC NEWS right HERE.