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The First Lady’s First Solo International Visit Comes to a Close

The First Lady completes her first solo international official visit, which marks the kick-off of her international platform of youth engagement.

Today the First Lady completed her first solo international official visit, which marked the kick-off of her international platform of youth engagement. Over the past three days, the First Lady has reaffirmed America’s close relationship with Mexico and the enduring bonds between the American and Mexican people.

The First Lady’s time in Mexico was spent primarily focused on engaging with Mexico’s children and youth. On a visit to Los Pinos, Mrs. Obama and the First Lady of Mexico Margarita Zavala discussed a series of issues important to young people in both the United States and Mexico – issues including drug addiction and treatment, early intervention programs and the importance of the humane treatment of migrant children. At a Mexico City primary and secondary school, The First Lady joined students in the schoolyard for singing, dancing and other activities.

First Lady Michelle Obama in Mexico

Members of the audience listen as First Lady Michelle Obama delivers a speech at Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, Mexico April 14, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

In an address delivered at Universidad Iberoamericana before teenagers and young adults representing a cross section of Mexican society, Mrs. Obama spoke about the potential of young people around the world:
We’re going to be looking to your generation to seize the promise of clean energy to power our economies and preserve our planet for your children and your grandchildren. We’re going to be looking to your generation to find the courage and the patience to resolve the conflicts and to heal the divides that plague our world.
And I’m here today because I believe that all of you, and your peers around the world, are more ready than ever to meet these challenges.
More than any generation in history, you all are able to access information and connect with one another in ways that my generation could never have imagined. With the click of a button, you can exchange thoughts on any issue with people just about anywhere in the world. You have an unprecedented ability to organize and to mobilize to challenge old assumptions, and to bridge old divides, and to find new solutions to our toughest problems.
And it is because of this immense promise that I intend to focus my international work as First Lady on engaging young people just like you all around the world. My husband and I know all too well that meeting the challenges that we will face will depend on whether we effectively tap into your God-given potential –- whether we fully benefit from the industry and the energy and the perspectives of young people from every background and every nation. Because we know that ambition and ability are found in every corner of the globe.
In closing, the First Lady referenced her visit to Haiti with Dr. Jill Biden just a day earlier. Mrs. Obama discussed her inspiration for the trip, found in an e-mail from Sonia Kim, a young woman that works at the U.S. embassy in Port-au-Prince who has been working on the earthquake relief efforts:
I want to read you an e-mail that she sent me. This e-mail inspired my trip there. It’s inspired my trip here. She wrote: “We are exhausted, traumatized and heart-broken. But we choose to stay here and work. We choose to stay because we love Haiti and its people. We choose to stay because we believe in our duty to help the people here in their greatest hour of need. We choose to stay because we believe in our mission. We choose to stay because we still hold out hope… for recovery and renewal… and for a Haiti built back better than before.”
And I hope that every single one of you, and young people across the globe, will take up that work –- the work of helping others in need, the work of building stronger nations and a better world, because if we’re going to tackle the challenges of our time -– if we’re going to make our world safer and healthier and more prosperous and more free -– we are going to need the passion and the daring and the creativity of every last one of you.
We’ll need you to work as hard as you can, and do as much as you can, driven by the belief that has always summed up the spirit of our youth
-- three simple words: Si, se puede –- Yes, we can. Yes, we can.
First Lady Hosts Roundtable in Mexico

First Lady Michelle Obama holds a round table with young leaders in the Hacienda de los Morales in Mexico City, Mexico, April 15, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

On our last day in Mexico City, the First Lady met with young people who are leading social programs and community initiatives to solve challenges in their communities ranging from promoting education to protecting the environment to improving health and wellness and expanding opportunities. The young Mexican leaders spoke about their work, their commitment to social progress, and their commitment to working collectively for the common good.
The First Lady will engage American youth around similar themes when she addresses the graduating classes of the University of Arkansas, Pine Bluffs, George Washington University, and Anacostia High School.

Trooper Sanders is Deputy Director of Policy to the First Lady