You can change the world, Michelle Obama tells Mexican youth


Mexico City : US first lady Michelle Obama told Mexican students here that “responsibility for meeting the defining challenges of our time will soon fall” to the world’s young people.

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At an auditorium filled with nearly 3,000 invited high school and college students, she gave a motivating speech, similar to the ones given by her husband Barack Obama during his presidential campaign, mentioning people such as Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa.

“We have seen time and again that potential can be found in some of the most unlikely places,” Michelle Obama said Wednesday at Mexico City’s Ibero-American University. “My husband and I are living proof of that.”

Noting that the current generation of young people is the biggest in history, she said: “We’ll be looking to your generation to seize the promise of clean energy to power our economies and preserve our planet for your kids and grandkids.”

The first lady made reference to the efforts of her husband and Mexican President Felipe Calderon to revamp the educational systems in their respective countries, as well as to revitalise the economy and create new job opportunities.

Mexico, a country with 107 million citizens in which some 48 million are poor, is experiencing severe social inequality that translates – among other things – into the fact that a large part of the population do not have the possibility to get good educations or do not have the necessary means to do so.

Michelle emphasised the importance of access to education at an early age for leaders like Abraham Lincoln and Mexico’s first indigenous head of state, Benito Juarez.

She used as examples the stories of several Mexican students and a female worker at the US Embassy in Haiti to motivate the young people not to focus exclusively on their own success and dedicate themselves to others.

During her address, she also cited the Bible and mentioned the “God-given potential” of each member of the audience.

Michelle said that it was the ties shared by the US and Mexico that motivated her to select this country for her first solo journey abroad.

“We’ll need you to work as hard as you can, and do as much good as you can, driven by that belief that has always summed up the spirit of our youth – three simple words: Si, se puede – Yes, we can. Yes, we can,” the US first lady told the students.