Saturday morning I had one of the coolest experiences of my life: I hung out with First Lady Michelle Obama. Ok, it was through a Google hangout, but still! I got to sit next to Girl Up Champion Victoria Justice and was also joined by Breakthrough Houston at St. John’s School in Houston, TX. As if that wasn’t enough, I also got to hang out with John Legend and students from South Africa, Kansas City, New York City, and Los Angeles. Nerves were high as everyone perched on the edges of their seats anticipating the start of this conversation.
Mrs. Obama wanted to focus on education and started the conversation by expressing her concern for Nelson Mandela’s health and her appreciation for how he has impacted her life, and quoted his important words, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can change the world.”
When Victoria Justice asked what the First Lady tells her daughters about education, Mrs. Obama responded with, “I want them to be learners, not to focus on the grades but to focus on filling their brains with knowledge.” I had a new lesson to take away: despite what teachers or parents may say, learning is more important than just a good grade.
I was also inspired by the incredible students who joined the conversation from around the world. Like some of the stories I have heard from the girls Girl Up programs benefit, one student from South Africa originally attended a poorly run school but was lucky enough to be sponsored to go to a better school. As a result, he wants to become a teacher. Hearing from students who have such large dreams – a boy from L.A. wants to be a movie producer! – helped me realize that the youth is powerful and will use education to change the world.
I will never forget the amazing opportunity to discuss an issue I’m so passionate about with the First Lady, Victoria Justice, John Legend, and youth from around the world!