One World International School recently had the opportunity to send five students to attend “An Evening with Michelle Obama” at Singapore Expo. Our students also got a chance to meet the former First Lady, Mrs Michelle Obama, personally at a VIP gathering before the event where they were able to ask her questions.
Read how meeting Michelle Obama had a deep impact on our OWIS students, Janelle Rego and Ajani De Roock. The following are their first-hand accounts.
Janelle Rego, Grade 11:
“At the gathering, Mrs Obama addressed questions on her experiences in the White House and raising her two children there. She also talked about her own adolescence and the injustice she faced from time to time, as well as what inspired her to write her memoirs.
Mrs Obama mentioned that living in the White House gave her a chance to make real change in the world but constantly being in the public eye was a strain to her mental and emotional wellbeing, as there was a lot of pressure on her. Being the first African-American First Lady, she received a lot of backlash and hate; raising two girls in that kind of atmosphere wasn’t the easiest task for her.
Mrs Obama released her memoir 'Becoming' to share her complete and unfiltered story, in hopes of inspiring others to share theirs. She felt it was important to be true to herself and her life, and to not make it appear to be a “picture-perfect” experience. With her iconic phrase, “When they go low, we go high”, she urged us to keep pushing and striving to be at our best no matter what is thrown at us because then we can grow as individuals. Mrs Obama also said “Compassion, empathy, kindness, decency, truth, and honesty: all of that really matters. Even when it feels like we’re in a world where it doesn’t, it absolutely does. That’s what it means to go high. I want our young people to practise that.”
She also said that the world’s young people will make a huge impact that will lead to positive change, which was very inspiring to me, personally. Another thing she mentioned that stood out to me was “to stay authentic and never feel that your individual stories are inferior to others”.
After hearing Mrs Obama in person, I have started to look at several issues differently. Particularly, mental and emotional health issues - especially after listening to it from the perspective of a person who has lived in the public eye for several years. I am very happy that I got this opportunity to meet and listen to her. It was a memorable experience that will stay with me for a lifetime.”
Ajani De Roock, Grade 9:
“On December 14th, I had the honour of meeting one of the most inspiring women of our time, former First Lady, Mrs Michelle Obama, along with 4 other students from OWIS. Since she started speaking for her husband’s presidential campaign in 2007 and her moving speech at the 2008 DNC, she has been a huge inspiration to me as an American person of colour, and especially to my parents who were disadvantaged at birth, simply because of the colour of their skin.
Waiting in line to reach the stage for a photo opportunity, I was filled with apprehension. But, when we saw Mrs Obama, I felt less nervous. When my turn came, I shook her hand, and she gave me a hug. She asked me what we were doing there, I responded, "Well, my school invited me to this event!”, not knowing what else to say. The photographer gestured for us to get ready for the picture, she put her hand over my shoulder and we took the picture (which I’m keeping for the rest of my life!).
Later, during the main event, Mrs Obama shared how she tried to create a normal life for her two daughters living in the White House, pointing out how she still made them do chores in order to teach them discipline and responsibility. She also talked about how the tendency towards ‘box-checking’ and blindly following a particular career path that is considered safe, usually gets in the way of real success.
At the end of the event, I walked out of the venue with my perspective on life slightly altered. It even opened up more opportunities for me, causing a domino effect, partially contributing to me being invited by a Singapore MP to participate in his workshop. I find that now, when I have to do something that I don’t want to do, such as doing chores or homework, I tend to just do it to get it out of the way, instead of procrastinating. This great opportunity that One World International School provided me as a student, has inspired me a lot, and made me reflect on my day-to-day behaviour and actions.”