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Category: International

Last month, Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe and his wife, First Lady Akie Abe, came to DC for a state visit with the Obamas.

While the President and Prime Minister were meeting, the First Lady spent time with the Prime Minister’s wife, First Lady Akie Abe, at Great Falls Elementary School in Great Falls, Virginia. There, the two First Ladies spoke with a group of students who are learning Japanese and studying Japanese culture. Great Falls Elementary has a Japanese immersion program in which many students learn several of their subjects in Japanese.

First Lady Michelle Obama and First Lady Akie Abe of Japan greet students who lined the hallways at Great Falls Elementary School in Great Falls, Virginia, April 28, 2015.

First Lady Michelle Obama and First Lady Akie Abe of Japan greet students who lined the hallways at Great Falls Elementary School in Great Falls, Virginia, April 28, 2015.

My wish for all of you and for young people across America is that you have the chance to engage with kids from other parts of the world, that you learn about each other’s lives, that you understand one another’s hopes and dreams so that you can truly see for yourselves firsthand just how much we all have in common around the world.

—First Lady Michelle Obama at Great Falls Elementary School, on the Japan State Visit

First Lady Akie Abe also got to meet the First Dogs, Bo and Sunny, in a surprise visit!

First Lady Michelle Obama and First Lady Akie Abe of Japan are greeted by Bo and Sunny in the Ground Floor Corridor of the White House, April 28, 2015.

First Lady Michelle Obama and First Lady Akie Abe of Japan are greeted by Bo and Sunny in the Ground Floor Corridor of the White House, April 28, 2015.

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First Ladies Michelle Obama and Akie Abe of Japan at Great Falls Elementary School:
First Ladies Michelle Obama and Akie Abe of Japan with First Dogs Sunny and Bo:
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So... we usually post pictures of First Lady Michelle Obama and her family, but I figured I'd make an exception for the one and only Oprah Winfrey.

Oprah Winfrey at Nelson Mandela's Funeral

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Oprah Winfrey at Nelson Mandela’s Funeral:

The Government of South Africa posted some photos of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama's trip to South Africa for Nelson Mandela's memorial service.

French President Hollande and USA President Obama share a light moment.

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President Barack Obama Speaking at Nelson Mandela’s Memorial Service:
President Barack Obama Speaking at Nelson Mandela’s Memorial Service 2:
President Barack Obama Speaking at Nelson Mandela’s Memorial Service 3:
President Barack Obama at Nelson Mandela’s Memorial Service:
President Barack Obama Greets Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba at Nelson Mandela’s Memorial Service:
President Barack Obama at Nelson Mandela’s Memorial Service:
President Barack Obama Chats with South African Businessman Patrice Motsepe and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete at Nelson Mandela’s Memorial Service:
President Barack Obama Takes a Picture with Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at Nelson Mandela’s Memorial:
Barack Obama at Nelson Mandela’s Memorial Service:
French President Hollande and USA President Obama share a light moment.:
President Barack Obama and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Chat at Nelson Mandela’s Memorial Service:
President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Former President George W Bush Arrive in South Africa for Nelson Mandela’s Memorial Service:
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama Arrive in South Africa for Nelson Mandela’s Memorial Service:
President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Former President George W Bush Arrive in South Africa for Nelson Mandela’s Memorial Service 2:

Barack and Michelle travelled to South Africa for Nelson Mandela's memorial service with former President George Bush, former First Lady Laura Bush, former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and other members of President Obama's administration. President Obama was given the privilege of speaking at the memorial for the beloved leader.

President Obama speaks at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela in Soweto, South Africa, Dec. 10, 2013.

President Obama speaks at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela in Soweto, South Africa, Dec. 10, 2013.

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The Bushes and the Obamas telling jokes en route to @SouthAfrica:
The Bushes and the Obamas chat aboard Air Force One:
President Obama chatting with Bill and @ChelseaClinton at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service.:
Barack and Michelle talk with Bono at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service.:
President Obama greets Graca Machel, Nelson Mandela’s widow.:
President Obama makes his way off the field following his remarks at Nelson Mandela’s memorial.:
President Obama shakes hands with the crowd at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service.:
President Obama greets security personnel at Nelson Mandela’s memorial.:
President Obama speaking at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service:
President Obama preparing to speak at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service.:
The Obamas talk w/ @ClintonNews @Rhodes44 & Capricia Marshall en route to @SouthAfrica for Madiba’s memorial:
Pres Bush shows off his paintings to 1st Lady Michelle @ClintonNews @AmbassadorRice AG Holder & @LauraWBush:
President Obama and @Rhodes44 prepare a speech for Nelson Mandela’s memorial service.:
The Obamas, Bushes, and @ClintonNews arrive in @SouthAfrica for Nelson Mandela’s memorial service.:
President Obama welcomed to Nelson Mandela’s memorial service by President Yayi Boni of Benin.:
President Obama with @PresidencyZA Jacob Zuma at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service.:
Barack and Michelle Obama sit with other world leaders at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service.:
A somber moment as the Obamas and the Bushes depart @SouthAfrica.:

"Prison, far from breaking our spirits, made us more determined to continue with this battle until victory was won." -Nelson Mandela

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Robben Island Thumbnail:

Obama Family in Nelson Mandela's Cell on Robben Island

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Obama Family in Nelson Mandela’s Cell on Robben Island:

First Lady Michelle Obama, along with daughters Sasha and Malia, listens to Foundation Director Uwe Neumarker during their visit to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, in Berlin, Germany, June 19, 2013. Sister-in-law Auma Obama, right, accompanies them during the tour. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

First Lady Michelle Obama, along with daughters Sasha and Malia, listens to Foundation...

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First Lady Michelle Obama, along with daughters Sasha and Malia, listens to Foundation…:

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet audience members following the President's remarks at the Belfast Waterfront Convention Center in Belfast, Northern Ireland, June 17, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet audience members following...

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President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet audience members following…:

Today, I had the pleasure and honor of ending our trip by attending an African First Ladies Summit entitled “Investing in Women: Strengthening Africa” which was co-sponsored by our former First Lady, Mrs. Laura Bush.  There are so few people in the world who know what it feels like to be married to the President of the United States, and Mrs. Bush has been so incredibly kind and welcoming to me and my family over the years.  So I was thrilled to have the chance to see her and her husband, President Bush, and to attend this very important event.

Upon arrival, I got to meet First Ladies from countries all across Africa who came here to Tanzania for this summit.  These women are doing extraordinary work in their home countries – from raising awareness about HIV/AIDS, to fighting violence against women, to working to end child hunger – and it was inspiring to learn about the difference they are making across this continent. 

I then had a lively discussion with Mrs. Bush about the impact that First Ladies can have on the important issues this conference is focused on: women’s health, women’s economic empowerment, and education for women and girls.  This last issue is particularly near and dear to my heart and has been part of my focus throughout this trip.

The fact is that too often, in developing countries, girls simply don’t get the chance to attend school.  In some parts of Africa, fewer than 20% of girls ever attend high school.

There are many reasons for this education gender gap.  Sometimes, girls’ families simply can’t afford the costs of sending them to school (for things like school fees, uniforms, or school supplies).  Or if parents don’t have enough money to send all their children to school, they’ll send their sons instead of their daughters.  In some parts of the world, girls are expected to get married when they’re very young – when they’re teenagers or even younger – or they have to work to help support their families, so they can’t go to school.  And in some places, a girl may have to walk many miles to attend the nearest school, and it may not be safe for her to do that by herself.

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First Lady Michelle Obama Participates in a Google + Hangout in Johannesburg

First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a Google + Hangout on education at the Sci Bono Discovery Center in Johannesburg, South Africa, June 29, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

After seven amazing days, we’re finally back home. I hope you enjoyed following our journey, and I hope that you’ll be inspired to continue learning about Africa.

We visited only three of this continent’s countries on our trip, but there are so many more, each with its own rich history and culture. In each of these countries, there are young people just like you who are working hard to get an education and dreaming about their futures just like you are. And I have to tell you, after meeting so many of these young people this past week, and seeing how passionate, determined and talented they are, I feel more confident than ever before about our future. 

As these young people — along with young people in the U.S. and around the world – step up to become the next generation of leaders, I’m convinced that you all will rise to the many challenges we face and move our countries and our world forward for generations to come.

Thank you again for joining me on this journey!

Michelle Obama is First Lady of the United States

The First Lady's Travel Journal from Africa

Kicking Off Our Trip to Africa
June 26, 2013 – Washington, D.C.

An Example to Follow
June 27, 2013 – Dakar, Senegal

Visiting Goree Island
June 27, 2013 – Goree Island, Senegal 

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