Oprah Wants to Go Beyond 'Nice, Good Things'

Talk show host and American icon Oprah Winfrey made a splash in South Africa this week with the opening of her $40 million leadership school for girls. She sat down with "Good Morning America" anchor Diane Sawyer in South Africa for an exclusive interview.

Oprah Winfrey: In the world, there are 100 million girls. And people say, why girls? Well, I was a girl. I know what girls want, and how a girl feels and what it's like to be a girl. I feel still that I'm a girl at heart, because I so connect to these girls.

Diane Sawyer: You talked a lot about what you had tried to do in the United States, and some of it had mixed results. What is the lesson of that?

Winfrey: First of all, I'm doing a lot in the United States. I just don't talk about it. … I'm doing a lot in the United States. So far I've put 100 men through college at Morehouse. And what I learned is if you don't have the opportunity to try to shape the values, going on outings, and picnics, and plays, and taking children to a concert, and spending time with them or--

Sawyer: Or offering money for college--

Winfrey: Offering money for college is a nice thing to do. But I don't want to just do nice, good things. What I want to do is to change the opportunity level -- not just for these girls. But what is going to happen in this country because of this school? This school is not just the bricks and mortar, the cushions, the walls, the paintings. What it is, is a symbol of leadership. What's going to happen is this school is going to serve as an inspiration for what is possible for education in this country. …

When you take these children, who have come from nothing -- no running water, no electricity, many of them. Many of them are studying by candlelight … and they still are the best in their class. But now I have a lot of responsibility. I feel it. I said to the mothers, the family members, the aunts, the grannies -- 'cause most of these girls have lost their families, their parents -- I said to them, "Your daughters are now my daughters, and I promise you I'm going to take care of your daughters. I promise you."