On Thursday, June 23 the First Lady spent the day in Cape Town, South Africa — where she toured a local museum, talked with students at the University of Cape Town, and met with Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Because of inclement weather the First Lady was unable to visit Robben Island, and while we were all hoping to see this historic prison we were fortunate to visit the District Six Museum instead. The museum offers insight into the racial segregation during the 1970s, chronicles Cape Town's complex history, and celebrates the diverse culture of the area. After touring the exhibits, the First Lady and her family met with Ahmed Kathrada, an anti-apartheid icon and former Member of Parliament, who brought to life many of the exhibits and illuminated what life during apartheid was like for those striving for freedom. Mr. Kathrada’s story was so inspiring, and all of us were touched by his courage and determination to strengthen his country.
The First Lady then visited the University of Cape Town where she spoke with high school students from nearby townships. She talked with them about the importance of working hard in school, knowing they each have the ability to achieve their dreams, and how each of us is connected. She said, “I can see the same promise in all of you as I do in my own girls. That's what keeps me motivated. When I see you, I see them. When I see them, I see you. And I see it in the students that I’ve met all across my country in America, and in all of the young men and women I see as I travel around the world.”
Later in the afternoon, the First Lady and her family met with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Mrs. Obama was briefed on HIV/AIDS education, prevention, and support programs. The briefing included a discussion on how grassroots organizations use soccer as a convening mechanism, to draw young people together to learn about making healthy choices. At Cape Town Stadium, Mrs. Obama and Archbishop Tutu spoke with young people about this, and the importance of staying healthy. They then got everyone up and moving by participating in soccer skill stations, and the First Lady and Archbishop Tutu even did push-ups together!
Watch the video of the First Lady and Archbishop Tutu doing push-ups here.
As we continue this journey, we are all continually inspired by the spirit and energy of the young Africans we are meeting with and we are looking forward to what tomorrow brings.
Kristina Schake is Special Assistant to the President and Director of Communications for the First Lady.