Somebody had definitely done their homework on the first lady. The lunch included organic ingredients from the garden, which Obama was sure to appreciate since the White House chefs use fresh ingredients from the kitchen garden that she and local schoolchildren have planted on the South Lawn.
Quoting a Botswanan proverb, “We are people because of other people,” the first lady said, “All of our journeys are shaped in part, by people in our lives who love us, who believe in us, who invest in us.”
She said that the women’s relatives had been purposefully invited to attend the luncheon because education is a family affair, especially when it comes to ensuring that young women are given equal opportunities to pursue educational opportunities and, ultimately, their dreams. As she did earlier in the week in Soweto, Obama spoke about her own modest background, the sacrifices her parents made for her and her brother and the high standards the two were expected to meet.
The first lady also recounted how when she was applying to the most elite universities in the U.S., some people doubted that a person with her background could be successful at such institutions. And, even after she was accepted by Princeton, where she earned her undergraduate degree, she had her own doubts.
“But once I started attending classes, I soon realized that I could do just as well, if not better, than many of my classmates,” Obama said. “I realized that success is not about where you come from or about how much money your family has. Success is about how passionately you believe in your own potential and, more important, how hard you’re willing to achieve it.”
The first lady added that her parents’ faith and support lit her path and guided her on her journey. She also shared with the relatives some advice her mother has shared with her.
“You don’t have to have achieved what your children have achieved to push them to be successful. All they need is your constant love and support. That is it,” Obama said. “So keep being what they say—that wind beneath their wings—and they will be brilliant.”
(Photo: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, Pool)