Michelle Obama Says Adios to Mexico

Apr 15, 2010 2:02pm

ABC News' Yunji de Nies reports: Throughout her time in Mexico, Michelle Obama made it clear that her focus was on the country’s youngest citizens.  On Wednesday, her one and only full day here, the First Lady visited an elementary school where she joined in morning exercise, and spent her afternoon giving a speech to high school and university students. At both events, Mrs. Obama was generous in her encouragement, smiles and hugs. Today was no different.  At her final public event, a round table exchange with a dozen Mexican student activists at La Hacienda de los Morales, the First Lady said that she and the President are counting on young people to foster more equal opportunity in changing the power dynamic, particularly for women and minorities. “My goal is to remind us all that we have to keep reaching up and bringing other young people to the table, particularly those of us who have opportunities, and are gonna have seats at the table,” she said. Mrs. Obama acknowledged that is not an easy task. “Trust me, I’ve served on boards, I’ve worked as a vice president, I’ve done everything and often times I’m the only African American, I’m the only person of color, and often times I’m the youngest person at the table – getting a little less young,” she said with a laugh. “But it continues to be a struggle to make sure that the representation of all that we are on this planet is possible.  And we’re counting on your generation to change the way we think about those possibilities.” The collective of mostly college students spoke to the First Lady about their work as activists in areas of health, education, women’s rights and the environment.  Many complimented Mrs. Obama.  Environmentalist Maritza Aurora Morales Casanova told the first lady that she was a great asset to her husband. “Behind a great man, there’s a great woman.  I don’t believe that, I believe beside every great man there is a great woman,” she said, “What would have happened to Diego Rivera without Frida Kahlo?" she asked as she smiled, continuing with the comparison of Marie and Pierre Currie, and Bill and Hillary Clinton.  Law student Olivetti Paredes Sacarias, who works at a center for teenagers, spoke through tears, thanking the First Lady for coming to Mexico to “share with us a desire to continue to build a better country.” Sacarias spoke about the challenges in her native Oaxaca, where she said young girls are traded for cattle.  She said she had been able to leave to study in the United States through an education grant program for indigenous people, created by President Obama.  She invited the First Lady to visit her home town, and asked that she bring the President along. “I have seen you dance through the Internet,” Sacarias said, “By the way, you make a beautiful couple. We would like to invite you to Oaxaca to dance.” She ended with a request. “I’d like to ask your permission to give you a hug to feel your strength,” Sacarias said. At the conclusion of the discussion, Mrs. Obama obliged. One by one, she hugged each student.  Before leaving, the First Lady reminded them to be patient. “We don’t focus on the long term investment enough, because we as a people, young people, those who come before us are so focused on the now” she said, noting that sometimes that attitude can block progress.  She said her hope was that they would bring a new level of patience and deliberation to the world. “When I went to Haiti the one thing you realize is that the only thing that happens in an instant is destruction,” she said,” It takes centuries to build anything meaningful.” FLOTUS Fashion Watch: Mrs. Obama wore a cream jacket with gray blouse, white pants, silver heels and three strands of pearls. — Yunji de Nies

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