Michelle Obama renews links with British school pupils
US First Lady Michelle Obama was Wednesday reunited with the British school pupils whom she took to her heart during a visit two years ago, urging them to make the most of their education.
Speaking in the grand surroundings of Oxford University, Obama implored pupils from London's Elizabeth Garrett Anderson school to dream of one day studying at the prestigious institution before revealing some relationship secrets.
"My visit to your school two years ago was my first solo international event as First Lady and from the minute that I walked into the door, I knew I had come to a very special place," said Obama.
"I wanted to visit with all of the students again and I knew that I wanted to visit with all of you in a place like this. This is a place for you," she told the young audience.
The First Lady visited the north London school, which educates girls from a largely poor catchment area, in 2009 and immediately identified with the pupils, she explained.
"I was inspired by your passion and your energy and I felt this strong sense of connection with all of you because in your stories I saw so much of my own story," explained Obama.
Recalling her own youth, the president's wife urged pupils to follow in her footsteps and aim for the top.
"I remember back when I was your age... how well meaning but misguided people sometimes questioned whether someone with my background could succeed at an elite university," she said.
"I want you to know that you have everything you need to succeed at a place like this," reasoned Obama. "You just have to work hard. That's it. You have to push yourselves. That's the only thing."
The First Lady's speech came as part of her husband's official two-day state visit to Britain and took place in Christ Church college's great hall, the inspiration for the Hogwarts' castle dining room from the Harry Potter saga.
After the talk, Obama exposed secrets of her relationship with husband Barack during a Q&A session with some of the 35 pupils.
When asked if she thought he would become president when they first met, she said: "Absolutely not!"
"I knew he was a special person," she continued. "It had nothing to do with his education, it was how he felt about his mother; the love that he felt for her and his relationship to women.
"We worked together in a firm," she explained. "He did his work, and he was good, and he was smart, and I liked that. He wasn't impressed with himself, he was funny and we joked a lot. And he loved his little sister.
"And when you couple that with talent, and he's cute, I always thought he would be useful," she concluded.
The Obamas leave Britain for France on Thursday and will return to the United States on Saturday.
© 2011 AFP