Michelle Obama Tells Young South Africans They Are 'Really Cool'

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Getty Images

Throughout first lady Michelle Obama's trip to Africa, The Root will be running selected press pool reports.



At the University of Cape Town, the first lady began her conversation with girls and boys selected from nearby townships at about 2 p.m. The 55 students all attend high school. There were more girls than boys selected. They wore school uniforms. FLOTUS wore navy blue pants and a leather jacket.

She told the students, "Whenever I travel as first lady, my priority is to meet with young people like all of you because number one: you are beautiful and handsome and really cool. Every time I visit with young people I come away inspired." (They giggled.)

"I can see the same promise in all of you, as I do in my own girls. When I see them, I see you. When I see you,  I see them."

Obama also told the students not to look at the university as a foreign place. "You can fit in here too. This is a place for you," she said. "Getting into a school like this isn't some kind of magical process. There is no magic dust that helps students succeed. Nowadays it is really about how hard you are willing to work."

Then she told them her story. "I grew up in a little bitty apartment in the second floor of a house."


She talked about her realization that "success isn't about where you come from."

"It's about working hard and believing that you can do it," she said.

She then turned to a Q&A with the students, who asked how she defined success, whether she felt pressure being first lady, who her hero was and how she met her husband.


Before she came into the room, there was operatic singing from a trio.

In addition to the time with FLOTUS, the daylong program also included a welcome from the vice chancellor, tour of the campus, meetings with student mentors and faculty in science, health science, commerce and engineering.

Speaking directly before FLOTUS was Dr. Mamphela Ramphele, former vice chancellor of UCT, and Vice Chancellor Dr. Max Price.

FLOTUS gave hug after hug to the students after her presentation.



In other news: Michelle Obama Reflects on Apartheid.

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