First Lady Tells NATO Spouses in Chicago, 'Feels Good to Be Home'

CHICAGO - As NATO leaders launched two days of summit talks, first lady Michelle Obama hosted their spouses at a youth center in the neighborhood where she grew up, saying, "It really feels good to be home."

"I brought them here because I am so proud of where I grew up, and I wanted to show everyone some of the wonderful things that are happening here on the South Side," the first lady told the audience at the Gary Comer Youth Center on Chicago's South Side.

The first lady encouraged the students to work hard and aim high.

"I grew up just like you. Same background. My family didn't have a lot of money growing up. Neither of my parents had the opportunity to go to college, and most of the folks in my neighborhood didn't get a chance to go, either," she said. "But I decided to just focus, to push the haters out, to kick the doubters out of my head. And instead, what I did was I worked really hard. I focused all my energy on working hard.

"What I want you all to know is that with every acceptance letter I received, I realized that it didn't matter where I was from, didn't matter how much money my family had," she said.

The first lady and her guests, who hailed from such far-away places as Croatia, Turkey and France, toured the center's rooftop vegetable garden and watched the children show off their culinary skills. The students demonstrated how to prepare their original strawberry basil vinaigrette dressing.

The first ladies sampled the dressing and agreed that it was delicious, according to the pool report.

The students also showed off their moves, performing a hip hop aerobics routine to a Michael Jackson tune. The group also took in a performance by the South Side's Muntu Dance Theater, which did a traditional African dance accompanied by drums.

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