Page 3 of 3   <      

The age of youth: Traveling abroad, first lady Michelle Obama makes kids Topic 1

Obama arrived in Mexico City on Tuesday after making a surprise visit to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. In her travels, Obama is expected to launch an international campaign encouraging young people to become active in their communities.

Another group of children, dressed as Aztecs and wearing rainbow-colored headdresses, performed a traditional indigenous song and ceremony that included the cry of a conch-shell trumpet echoing across the courtyard.

After applauding the performers, Obama said, "That was beautiful, everything you did. I loved the singing. I loved the dancing. And I loved to see you all moving and exercising.

"Of all the things I do when I travel outside the United States," she said, what she most enjoys is "getting to see all the smart, bright young people like you."

* * *

Obama has embarked on an international agenda that views the world -- and its significant problems -- through the eyes of children. Before arriving in Mexico City, she made a five-hour stopover in Haiti -- something she has wanted to do since January.

"The minute the disaster struck, you're thinking, 'I need to go down there,' " she said during an interview with reporters. "Then you think, 'I'm the first lady. I'll just shut the whole country down.' "

This trip, three months in the making, allowed her to survey the earthquake damage, thank aid workers for their dedication to the country's rebuilding and draw attention to Haiti's continuing need for help. And Obama, once again, struck her familiar refrain: What about the children?

She spent time with displaced kids, touring a makeshift arts camp built to provide them with some semblance of normalcy as well as a creative and therapeutic outlet.

She listened to their songs. She drew a fish. And as always, she went in for the hugs.


<          3

© 2010 The Washington Post Company