At high school cultural event, First Ladies encourage students to follow their dreams...
First Lady Michelle Obama on Thursday urged high school students to work hard and find their passion as she visited a northern Virginia high school with South Korean First Lady Kim Yoon-ok, a special field trip on the sidelines of President Lee Myung-bak's State Visit to President Obama.
“Explore new classes. Audition for the school play. Write for the school paper," Mrs. Obama said. "Take some risks. Try something new. And when you find something you like, then invest in it.”
Hundreds of students in the gym at Annandale High School hung on Mrs. Obama's words. She pointed to her husband and to President Lee as examples for the kids to follow.
"My husband didn't start out at the top, but he worked hard and followed his passions to get where he is today. Madam Kim’s husband, President Lee, grew up in very difficult economic circumstances," Mrs. Obama said. “Push yourself and commit to your own success."
More than ten percent of the school’s 2,500 students are of Korean descent, the White House said, because the school is in one of the largest Korean-American communities in the DC Metro area. Students also speak several dozen languages. They whooped and applauded, excited for the First Ladies' visit.
In her own remarks to the students, spoken through a translator, Mrs. Kim said she hoped they had “a life that is full of dreams and passion.” Like Mrs. Obama, food is one of Mrs. Kim's passions; she also runs an international food campaign. (Above: Mrs. Obama listens as Mrs. Kim speaks)
Mrs. Kim is "an accomplished cook," according to the Blue House, and recently published Hansik: Stories of Korean Food, a Korean cookbook for English speakers. She is the culinary ambassador for her government's Korean Cuisine to the World campaign, which has an official goal of quadrupling the number of Korean restaurants abroad.
"Positive mind and courage will be the greatest asset that will guide and lead you throughout your life," Mrs. Kim advised. "I hope that all of the students here and the students in Korea will be able to live a life that is full of dreams and passion."
Mrs. Obama will join her counterpart as an author in April of 2012, when she publishes a book about one of her own passions, her Kitchen Garden.
Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Kim were surrounded by Student Council members as they sat on folding chairs and watched performances by students that included a trio of Ethiopian folk dancers, a children’s choir, and a harpist and drummer who performed a traditional Korean melody. Korean-American Jennifer Koh, a Grammy-award nominated violinist, gave the show-stopping last performance, playing a technically complicated piece that lasted close to seven minutes. Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Kim clapped enthusiastically between each performance. (Above: Koh in performance)
"Whether it’s President Lee or President Obama, whether it’s Jennifer Koh, or anyone else who’s achieved any level of success, you will see the same qualities: Passion, perseverance, and, most importantly, hard work," Mrs. Obama said.
The First Ladies were back at the White House by 1:00 PM. In the evening, they will attend the State Dinner with their husbands and several hundred guests. (Above: Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Kim with the Student Council)
*The full transcript of the First Ladies' remarks is here.
*Top three photos by Eddie Gehman Kohan/Obama Foodorama; last by Chuck Kennedy/White House