Michelle Obama photo

Remarks by the First Lady During Discussion with South African Students And Google+ Hangout at Connecting Continents Event in Johannesburg, South Africa

June 29, 2013

MR. DHOLOMO: Thank you very much, Mrs. Obama, for joining us. That was a very inspirational speech. We're joined by a lot of students from across the world -- we're crossing over to New York City, we're crossing over to L.A., we're crossing over to Kansas City, we're crossing over to Texas as well.

MRS. OBAMA: Houston.

MR. DHOLOMO: Houston, yes, yes. So it's going to be great. And we're also joined by Mr. John Legend, as you can see, as well as -- (applause ) -- as well as Victoria Justice.

MRS. OBAMA: Hey, John!

MR. DHOLOMO: That's going to be great.

MR. LEGEND: Hello.

MRS. OBAMA: Hi, Victoria. Thank you, guys. (Applause.)

MR. DHOLOMO: Now, ma'am, I was thinking, just as an icebreaker, I'd teach you a South African greeting -- I'm Zulu myself -- so are you willing to try this?

MRS. OBAMA: I'm game. (Laughter.)

MR. DHOLOMO: Okay, cool. Let's try this -- say "Sawubona."

MRS. OBAMA: Sawubona.


MRS. OBAMA: Yebo. I like that. (Laughter.)

MR. DHOLOMO: "Ninjani."

MRS. OBAMA: Ninjani.

AUDIENCE: Si yaphila.

MRS. OBAMA: All right.

MR. DHOLOMO: All right, now we're going to get started.

MRS. OBAMA: Okay, we're ready.

MR. DHOLOMO: Now, on a serious note, why was this project important to you?

MRS. OBAMA: First of all, you all, as young people, inspire me -- not just because I'm First Lady, but I'm a mom. And I know that kids are our future.

And one of the things that I think is so important that I want to have happen or begin to happen here is that young people all across the world, you guys start to talk to each other and share with each other and start inspiring one another across the globe. That is the beauty of technology. That's what we should be using Twitter and all that stuff for -- for you -- (laughter) -- yes, I'm still working on it -- (laughter) -- for you guys to begin to talk to each other and realize that you have so much in common -- whether you are in Soweto or Houston or anywhere in the world, there's so much that you all can do together.

And I want you all to start thinking about being citizens of the world. And in order to do that, you've got to start reaching out, and this is just the beginning.

MR. DHOLOMO: Absolutely. I mean, I like the point you brought up about Twitter and social networks, so I'm actually going to cross over to Kansas right now -- I don't know if you guys can hear me. Can you guys hear me?


MR. DHOLOMO: Excellent. (Laughter.) I was speaking to them, but you guys, too. (Laughter.) It's all good. There we go. Okay, guys. So my question to you guys is, how do you think social networks and technology of today can help improve education? Anybody can answer that question.

MRS. OBAMA: Anyone? Don't be shy.

MR. DHOLOMO: It's a Google Hangout, so sometimes we have technological difficulties. I don't know if these guys can hear us now.

KANSAS CITY AUDIENCE: Can you repeat the question please?

MR. DHOLOMO: Okay, we'll repeat the question. How can social networks, and I guess connections that we have today, technology as a whole, improve education?

MRS. OBAMA: Did you get that?


MRS. OBAMA: Okay. All right, don't be shy.

MR. DHOLOMO: Anybody can answer.

MRS. OBAMA: It's just the First Lady and all of South Africa watching you. (Laughter.) Just smile and wave.

MR. DHOLOMO: They are passing that mic all the way back. (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA: All right, the mic is moving back. Do we have a taker?

KANSAS CITY STUDENT: Yes. Well, it's just a lot easier to access information and share it around the world, and it's easier to communicate with others. So also, when you have, like, group projects, you're able to communicate with each other face-to-face, like, over Google Hangout or Skype or something like that. So it's easier to collaborate and also just share information.

MR. DHOLOMO: Okay, good.

MRS. OBAMA: Awesome.

MR. DHOLOMO: I like that answer. How do you feel about that, Mrs. Obama?

MRS. OBAMA: That works. That's a -- I'm sure your parents would agree that that's a better use of social networking. (Laughter.) As a mother, I agree. So start having some conversations -- do some homework on Google, or whatever it is -- (laughter) -- the social networking thing.

MR. DHOLOMO: Anybody here want to answer me? You guys?

STUDENT: Yes, I would like to say that --

MR. DHOLOMO: He's got his own mic, it's cool. (Laughter.)

MR. BALOYI: With Internet, it's a virtual world. There are so many things that you learn. Compared to a teacher -- a teacher gives you facts that are things that he knows, and then he just teaches you what he knows. But with the Internet, you get so -- different opinions from different people, and you can (inaudible) and take what you want. It's like it's open for everyone. You learn so many things.

MR. DHOLOMO: And, by the way, guys, Aubrey works at an Internet café, so he knows a little bit about this. (Laughter.)


MR. DHOLOMO: Okay, now, Mrs. Obama --

MRS. OBAMA: Often, the Internet is used against me by my children, because they can get on the Internet quickly and prove us wrong in split seconds, record time. (Laughter.)

MR. DHOLOMO: Instead of just -- the house, yes?

MRS. OBAMA: Exactly. (Laughter.)

MR. DHOLOMO: That's the best way to do it. You were speaking in your speech about the importance of overcoming doubters, and I took that away from your speech. Aubrey, I'm going to come back to you because in a way, you've kind of lived what Mrs. Obama was alluding to -- you go to a school -- or you used to go to a school that wasn't as good as the one you go to now. You pretty much pulled yourself up by your bootstraps, and you go to a good school. So you want to tell us a story?

MR. BALOYI: What I really liked with your speech, Mrs. Obama, is that -- (laughter) -- sorry -- is that your background doesn't determine where you're going. Your background is just there to -- you were born there, but your dreams is what will take you to a better future. Because, like, with my background, it's mostly -- but there was a time when I said, you know what, I want to work hard. And I worked hard. Believe you me, things that I -- then, I still know them by heart because I really worked hard. And then, with a bit of luck and through my hard work, I got a sponsor that's -- a private sponsor. He's sponsored me to be to a better school.

Now, in that better school, I learn so many things, different things. Then you also say that we have to teach other -- learning, and teaching each other. So what I did -- what I always do -- I'm still doing that -- what I get from that school, I bring it back to my community. I teach my friends that I've left in the community not just how -- not to teach them only, but I teach them to also teach their next people, because I believe as we learn, we are better than our teachers, because we understand each other. We learn better.

So your background really -- also my background won't determine where I'm going.

MR. DHOLOMO: Absolutely.

MRS. OBAMA: Absolutely. And I'm so proud of the fact that you're doing one of the most important things -- that once you achieve, you're reaching back. You're reaching out, always. That's one of our obligations, when you -- to whom much is given, much is expected. And that's how, I know, that the President and I, we live our lives.

But I have a question for you guys around the doubters, is how do you deal with that, especially as you're achieving? Do you have friends that are a little bit -- a little hatin' -- (laughter) -- are they trying to pull you back, and what do you do? I mean, I know that there are kids out there who are listening to us who struggle with that. How do you guys handle that?

MR. DHOLOMO: You want to take this one?

MR. TENYANE: Okay. The first and foremost thing, when someone comes to you and say, you can't do this, just use it -- and say, I can do this. Prove that person that what you just said now, it's so wrong. Just prove them wrong.

MRS. OBAMA: That's clear, straightforward. (Laughter.)

MR. DHOLOMO: Ma'am, as a parent, do any of your daughters ever back home and go, you know what, mom, actually, I had to deal with this today, I had to deal with that today, and how would you deal with that?

MRS. OBAMA: It's the same thing, haters are everywhere. They're right there -- (laughter) -- completely embarrassed by this situation. But that's one of the things that I tell them -- it's more important what they think about themselves than what other people do. I don't want young people to be guided and influenced by other 12, 13 and 14 year olds. You want to be reaching far beyond your peer group in terms of determining excellence.

So find your role models. That's what I tell my kids. And hopefully, I serve as a role model for them.

MR. DHOLOMO: Absolutely. And speaking of role models, I actually want to cross over to L.A. right now. We've got Mr. John Legend.


MR. DHOLOMO: I don't know if you guys know this, but more than making good music --

MR. LEGEND: How is everybody?

MR. DHOLOMO: -- John Legend actually started through a scholarship himself. He's got his own foundation. How's it going, sir?

MR. LEGEND: I'm doing very well. It's good to see everybody. I miss South Africa; I want to get over there soon.

MR. DHOLOMO: You need to come back soon. (Laughter and applause.)

MRS. OBAMA: You hear that?

MR. DHOLOMO: Okay. So now tell us why you're so passionate about education. And obviously, your foundation, it works with South Africa, most importantly -- or Africa as a whole.

MR. LEGEND: Well, I think education is so important. And just like the First Lady said, I didn't come from much money. I came from a humble background; neither of my parents went to college, as well. And I was able to get a scholarship to go the University of Pennsylvania, which is one of our best schools in the U.S., and education was such an important thing for me.

And I know from my community and I know from my neighborhood that a lot of kids in my neighborhood and a lot of kids in my community didn't have that opportunity. And so many kids around the country and around the world don't have that opportunity. And as much as people like President Obama, President Mandela, and all these people have led the way for all of us and made a difference in our lives and inspired us, it's important for us to take advantage of all the opportunities that these great leaders have created for us.

We have to go out there and seize those opportunities, but we also have to make sure, as we've been blessed and as we've gotten all these opportunities, that we make sure that we create an environment where there are more opportunities for more kids.

We still don't have enough great schools in America. We still don't have enough schools that are doing the best things they can do to make sure our kids are doing a great job. And that issue exists all around the world. And we can talk about justice, we can talk about equality, but if we're not making sure kids get a great education, then that promise of equality, that promise of opportunity can't be completely fulfilled.

So I think kids have a responsibility to take advantage of every opportunity they get, and we as adults, we have a responsibility to make sure that all kids actually get opportunity, get those tools that they need to succeed.

MR. DHOLOMO: Thank you very much, Mr. Legend. I mean, for me, right, he mentioned Nelson Mandela -- we've been privileged to live in that lifetime, where are able to witness his life and his progression. For me, there's no greater icon, actually, than Nelson Mandela.

Teboho, I don't know how you feel about this. Like, what are your thoughts on Nelson Mandela? Mrs. Obama even mentioned him in her speech.

MR. TENYANE: Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was a true and faithful servant to his nation and to us. And it reminds me of one of the best quotes he ever made, that Mrs. Obama mentioned in her speech. It says, "Education is the best weapon you can use to change the world."

So that quote actually impacted my life in such a way that I also want to give back to my community. By saying that is that, I volunteer at the YMCA in Soweto. I volunteer by teaching primary school learners after school. And doing that, I feel great after that. (Laughter.)

And the other thing is that -- and after school, definitely I want to become a teacher, because I know that teachers are there first and foremost to inspire. Teachers are there to encourage us -- not to settle for the bare minimum that some of us have set for us.

For instance, in South Africa, 30 percent has been made as the pass rate for us to achieve. But I tend to disagree because they make us feel, I think, dumb. (Laughter.)

MR. DHOLOMO: Yes. You can definitely do better, yes? (Laughter.)

MR. TENYANE: Because when I come to the teaching game, I will be there to inspire and encourage my learners to do more. And there are some organizations such as the YMCA, as I mentioned, and there is an organization called Guiding Africa's Next Generation, which is there to be the solution to such problems we have in our educational system.

And one thing I've learned in life is that, if I win, I will teach you, and if I lost, I will learn from you. Thank you. (Applause.)

MR. DHOLOMO: Wow. (Applause.) That's very inspirational stuff. See, I always knew you were good -- I didn't know you were this good. (Laughter.) We did rehearsals and everything -- Teboho didn't bring his A game until right now. (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA: I want to go to your school. (Laughter.)

MR. DHOLOMO: You should.

MRS. OBAMA: That's outstanding.

MR. DHOLOMO: I'm actually going to cross over to New York City right now with the YMCA, because you mentioned the YMCA. And these guys, they've got a program -- somebody from the YMCA in the audience. (Laughter.) We've got a program -- these guys have got a program that's going on right now where they're going to bring over some students to South Africa; it's happening in July. So let's hear about that, guys. Please tell us more about that.

MS. DOAZARIO (PH): So, hello. My name is Suzanne Doazario (ph) and I am a YMCA Global Teen. And Global Teen is basically a program that students just like me go domestic or international to solve issue and engage with other people to solve global issues such as poverty, education, and youth empowerment. And I actually have the privilege to go to South Africa this summer with my Global Teens, and we're going to places such as --

MR. DHOLOMO: They're out there waving to you. (Laughter.)

MS. DOAZARIO: And we're actually going to do a mini conference in South Africa with the South African teens, and we're going to talk about many issues that face us as students and them as well. And together, we're going to try to solve solutions, because we can't do this on our own.

And for me personally, it is the best thing to know that our world is much bigger than down the block, than the west side Y, and then even everything else. So as students, we will come together and learn about many things that we may not learn just in New York City. And for me, it's going to give me an altering perspective that not only television or books or anything like that can give me. And as I go there, I will realize and get inspired.

And Nelson Mandela is not only South Africa's leader and hero, but my hero as well. And for me to -- direct to Mrs. Obama herself, I would like to know that, since Nelson Mandela was an inspiration for the world, how did he inspire you?

MRS. OBAMA: In endless ways. First of all, thank you guys. Welcome. Well done. I'm so proud that you are branching out into the world -- very proud of you all.

But Nelson Mandela laid the foundation for all of us. I mean, I remember being in law school when he finally was released from prison, and that was one of the most powerful moments in the history of civilization. And to think about the fact that he is alive today to watch all this transpire. Just imagine what he has seen. And I just am so happy that he's lived this long to see the realization of his sacrifice.

And that's one of the reasons, as I said in my speech, why I work so hard -- because I think about President Mandela when I think about how I carry myself and what I do and how I contribute to the world. I think about him, I think about Martin Luther King, and, as I said, I think about my father. Because there is greatness under our noses in so many way. Role models are in our backyards; they're right in front of us. They don't have to be presidents and prime ministers. They're the people who are working hard every day to make sure that we get just a few more opportunities, and it's up to us to uphold their legacies.

So what about you guys?

MR. DHOLOMO: Who are your role models, guys? Anybody? Kamo, we'll go with you.

MS. RAKGOADI: I'd have to say that my role model is my mom, as cliché has that may sound.

MRS. OBAMA: It's not. (Laughter.) Absolutely. My children feel the same way. (Laughter.)

MR. DHOLOMO: We can hope so.

MS. RAKGOADI: Yes, my mom sacrificed quite a lot to ensure that I get a really good education and that I live a very comfortable life. So I'd definitely have to say that she's my role model.

MRS. OBAMA: And you've done some pretty good things with the opportunities she's given. Why don't you talk a bit about the work that you're doing.

MS. RAKGOADI: At the moment, I'm helping with fundraising as well as volunteering at a safe house called Home of Hope, which basically -- it aids girls who have been sexually exploited through prostitution and human trafficking. They're as young as 6 years old. So basic -- we'd like to -- with the group -- with the volunteering and fundraising. And we would like to be part of the their recovery as well as watching them actually grow as people, despite the fact that they've been some through some really tough --

MR. DHOLOMO: You were actually saying yesterday that some of the girls are now, what, doing second, third year in -- am I correct?

MS. RAKGOADI: Quite a few girls have already reached their third year of university, and one of them is actually studying her second year of law at one of South Africa's best universities.

MRS. OBAMA: Outstanding.

MR. DHOLOMO: It's always inspiring to see young people getting involved in their community and serving their country. And Mirriam, you are one such young person. You do something in your community as well, am I correct?

MS. KGOKANE: Yes, I do. I've joined an organization called the Clouddog, and this organization believes that caring for the planet is a universal responsibility. Regardless of your background, you shouldn't make excuses of who you are or where you come from. You can change the world.

We work with people from London, so to me, that is very important because it shows that unity is very important. As young people as we are, if we start uniting as -- now, as young as we are, we can actually make a huge difference in the world, and we can make this world a better place for everyone.

MRS. OBAMA: Absolutely.

MR. DHOLOMO: Now, we've heard from two young ladies on stage about what inspired them. I'm just wondering, ma'am, was there a point maybe in your life where you decided --

MRS. OBAMA: So you're going to go to the old lady? (Laughter.)

MR. DHOLOMO: No, I didn't say that! The more experienced lady, let's put it that way. Was there a point in your life where you thought, okay, I need to actually focus now; this is what I want in my life? Or have you always been that way?

MRS. OBAMA: I've always been pretty focused. And maybe some of that has to do with the fact that I'm the youngest and I'm a girl. So I was always going to prove my brother wrong. I started out trying to prove him wrong. (Laughter.)

But I was always pretty focused. But as I mentioned to you, President Obama, my husband, was not. It wasn't until he -- because he struggled a bit, because he didn't know his father. And he was just working on things. (Laughter.) But it wasn't until he entered college that I think there was something in him that clicked that said, I've got more to offer the world than what I'm putting out. And that's when the light switch went on for him and he got very serious.

And one of the reasons I use him as an example is that, it is never too late. That's one of the things he tells young people. It's like, he made a lot of mistakes. We've all made mistakes -- I've made mistakes. He made big mistakes. (Laughter.) But you can overcome those things, and you can learn from them, and you can grow from them.

So it is never too late, but it does require hard work.

MR. DHOLOMO: Absolutely. Thank you very much -- that message. I actually want to cross back over to L.A. now and speak to some of the guys over there. John, I don't know if you maybe can pass the mic around -- who are some of your role models, guys?

MR. LEGEND: Yes, I'll pass the mic. Who are you guys' role models? Anybody want to answer that question? Come on, don't be shy. (Laughter.) Hold on, I've got to bring you the mic.

MRS. OBAMA: There he goes. John's going in. He's going deep, going to the back. (Laughter.)

ERIC: My name is Eric (ph), and then -- I would like to say, I guess, the biggest role model for me growing up would be my parents. I guess I could relate to Obama as in, like, I made a lot of mistakes, I guess, and my parents have always been there to back me up and help me out and everything.

And they always find a way to pick me back up, I guess, help me out, and look forward. The biggest advice I have gotten from them was, in my future, I could work hard and not get paid as much, but I could work smart and get paid much more than anyone else. That's one thing that always stuck to me, I guess. And I just want to finish high school and go to a good college.

MRS. OBAMA: Outstanding. (Applause.) Thank you for that.

MR. DHOLOMO: Absolutely. Mrs. Obama, you're an advocate for gender equality. We were speaking backstage, and you were saying, especially with women, when they come to a position of leadership, they can lead differently. You want to speak about that a bit?

MRS. OBAMA: We were talking about this a bit. I think one of the questions, Aubrey, was why do I advocate for women's issues? And I said, because I'm a woman and I have two daughters. But it's also because when women prosper and grow, their countries prosper and grow.

We are at the heart of civilization, so as women, it's important that we are healthy, that we are educated, that we invest in ourselves, because we're raising kids.

But when we reach those levels of leadership, it's important for us to bring everything that we are to the table -- and by that, I mean, you don't leave your womanhood at the door when you become a leader -- you bring those qualities with you. And I think that that's something that we as women have to embrace. We're not just -- it's not just about getting the education, it's about bringing our gifts and our sensibilities and our perspectives as women to the table.

It's also true when it comes to youth and minorities. You don't leave who you are at the door. One of the reasons I share my story so often when I talk to young people is that I'm proud of how I grew up. I'm proud of the challenges. I'm proud of the humble beginnings that I've come from, and I want -- I bring that to everything that I do.

And I hope that all of us -- all of you here, all of you listening across the United States as well -- that you remember that. It's not just about getting a seat at the table, it's about what you do with that seat, and do you bring others to the table. Do you add a unique perspective to the conversation. And I want women to really own that part of who they are.

MR. DHOLOMO: Actually, just keep that in mind, guys. Because later on I want to ask you, once you've got the education, what do you about it, and also, what sort of jobs you'd like, ideally. Everybody -- that goes for everybody. Just keep that -- keep thinking about it.

For now, we're going to cross over the Houston. We're going to speak to a lady who goes by the name of Victoria Justice. She's part of an organization called GirlUp.

MRS. OBAMA: Hey, Victoria.

MR. DHOLOMO: Hey, how's it going?

MS. JUSTICE: Hi, how are you guys?

MR. DHOLOMO: We're cool, thank you. So tell us about GirlUp. How did you get involved?

MS. JUSTICE: Definitely. I'm so excited to be part of GirlUp, and I'm actually on tour right now with Big Time Rush, and we've set up GirlUp booths at every concert date to get people involved and to spread the message. And I actually wrote a song for GirlUp and I filmed a music video, and it's just another way to get people -- to bring awareness to GirlUp.

And it's just about giving girls in developing countries a better future and more opportunities, and for them to be able to fulfill their full potential as future leaders.

And I'm here with Joi, who is a teen advisor for GirlUp. You want to say hi?


MRS. OBAMA: Hi, Joi.

MS. JUSTICE: And, Mrs. Obama, I just have a quick question for you. As a mother, what advice do you give to your daughters about their education?

MRS. OBAMA: One of the things we talk about all the time is that I want them to learn to love learning. I try to get them not to just focus on grades -- and I know that may sound like a contradictory message to some teachers and parents, but some of the times, we as adults, we sort of suck the life out of the fun of learning, with grades and tests. And it's so important for young people to learn to enjoy getting their education, to fall in love with books, to enjoy writing, to love the art of conversation and discussion, and to be able to do that freely without judgment -- because it's that kind of practice that gets you ready.

The only way you become a good writer is to write, and write often, write freely, to make mistakes, to have your work corrected. The only way you become a great orator is to speak, and to speak loudly. And that means you're going to mess up, you're going to say some things wrong, you're going to fall silent when the cameras come on -- it's happened to all of us.

But I don't want my daughters to be afraid of learning. I want them to be confident learners, and I want them to find the passion in education. And I hope that all of you young people listening start thinking about that -- don't think of school as a chore, think of it as a tool for your future, for growth, for opportunity, and try to embrace it as a wonderful gift.

MR. DHOLOMO: One person that I know definitely agrees with you is Aubrey. He's a tutor of some of his friends -- he's mentioned that -- but he was talking yesterday about how it's important to develop new teaching techniques, because not everyone learns the same way. You want to speak about that quickly, Aubrey?

MR. BALOYI: All right, thank you. Now, the person that I work with at the Internet café, the owner of the internet café, we came up with these two strategies that we think they should use in learning, in education.

The first one, we call it "conceptualization." With conceptualization, it's like, whatever you're teaching the person, make him or her understand how is it going to apply in real life, or how is it going to work -- maybe, let's say, for example, you're doing your maths or calculus, you need to explain the rate of change, everything -- the velocity, like how does it apply in real life.

And then the second term is "visualization." Whatever it is the person in -- try to bring it into the virtual mind. Use the special intelligence that the person has. The balls that you're talking about, the shape, the square that you're talking about, just make the person visualize it, because in that way it becomes more interesting.

So I think those two strategies can be used to broaden out their -- or to brave the frontiers of education.

MR. DHOLOMO: And in your opinion, Mrs. Obama, what would you say is needed maybe to improve education globally, just in general? What do we need to do more of?

MRS. OBAMA: We can't underestimate the power of resources. What I say in the U.S. all the time -- we know what good schools look like. They exist all over the country and all over the world, but we have to have the will and be willing to make the investment to make sure that these excellent schools are available for all students.

And we have to be committed -- as adults, as politicians, as teachers. And it takes an investment. When you look at what we care about, it's how much money we're willing to put towards it. Education, as we know, is not free. So it takes resources, and it also takes making sure that we have just a wealth of quality educators.

One of the most important functions, careers, professions out there is education, it's teachers. And other than my mother and my father, I've had teachers who have inspired me. I remember teachers from third grade and fifth grade, the things that they said to me, the conversations that we had today, like it was yesterday.

So teachers have a powerful impact, and we want to encourage more young people like you guys to go into education, and we as nations have to value teachers. Teachers should be far more exciting than rappers -- I'm sorry. (Laughter.) I love music -- John, you know I love you -- (laughter) -- but I mean, we -- (laughter) -- I would love it if young people were idolizing educators like they were ball players and singers and dancers. That would make a big difference.

MR. DHOLOMO: And on that note, I told you guys I'd be coming back to you, so we're going to go straight to L.A. now. The question is once you've got the education, what do you do with it? So if you had an ideal job, what job would that be. L.A.? Your ideal job. Anything in the world.

MR. LEGEND: Come on, L.A.

MRS. OBAMA: It's rapid fire, rapid fire.

ZACH (PH): All right, well, my name is Zach. If I was to choose any job, I would want to be a movie director, because I like film. And, yes, it's very interesting to me. I know I'm stuttering because I'm shy right now. (Laughter.)

MR. DHOLOMO: No, it's okay. But you know what, we need to move quickly so we're going to move on to New York -- it's rapid fire. One sentence -- if I had the ideal job, it would be --

MRS. OBAMA: We got a filmmaker.

MR. DHOLOMO: New York, over to you guys.

MS. BUYAN (PH): My name is Sultana Buyan (ph). I'm 14 years old, and I'm from the YMCA in NYC. And my dream job is to study nursing and establish an international organization to help homeless children to get an education, find a new home, to have a better life.

MR. DHOLOMO: Okay, cool.

MRS. OBAMA: Outstanding.

MR. DHOLOMO: Thank you very much. (Applause.) We're going to move on to Kansas City. Kansas City, same question. Ideal job -- if you had your ideal job, what would that be?

MRS. OBAMA: Rapid fire!

KAYLA (PH): Hi, my name is Kayla (ph), and I am a part of the KC STEM Program. And with my education, I plan to pursue a teaching job to teach kids in third world countries. (Applause.)

MRS. OBAMA: Excellent.

MR. DHOLOMO: Okay, let's move on to Kansas City.

MRS. OBAMA: Or Houston.

MR. DHOLOMO: Oh, sorry, it's Houston. Sorry, my mistake.

MRS. OBAMA: Houston, are you there? (Laughter.)

MS. STEVENS: Hi, my name is Joi. I'm a GirlUp advocate, and when I grow up I want to be a patent lawyer, which does all the behind-the-scenes work making sure medicines are safe. And I want to do that because my mom has some illnesses that don't have treatments, and I want to make sure that her and other people around the world are healthy and live the lives they want to live. (Applause.)

MRS. OBAMA: Excellent.

MR. DHOLOMO: Okay, cool.

MR. TENYANE: With my education, I plan to be the universal president of education in order for the world to know the importance of education.

MRS. OBAMA: Dream big, dream big! (Applause.)

MR. DHOLOMO: Don't let the haters tell you anything else. Mirriam.

MS. KGOKANE: With my education, I plan on saving people by giving them a second chance in life.

MRS. OBAMA: Outstanding. Thanks, Mirriam. (Applause.)

MR. DHOLOMO: Kamo, what do you got for us?

MS. RAKGOADI: With my education, I'd like to become a journalist, just to make sure that people's stories are heard, especially those who don't get the opportunity. (Applause.)

MR. BALOYI: With my education, I'd like to be an investment analyst -- I love investment so much -- and from there, I'd like to be an inspirational leader, just to inspire others that cannot do what I do -- inspire them in that.


MRS. OBAMA: Wonderful. (Applause.)

MR. DHOLOMO: Yes, thank you very much for that. (Laughter.) If you just rewind back in time, how would your 15-year-old self answer this question?

MRS. OBAMA: Oh, see, that's the amazing thing about dreaming. I could have never dreamed of this -- not just of being First Lady, but sitting here in South Africa with hundreds and hundreds of kids across the globe talking about dreams.

So I could have never envisioned this, which -- to me, that's a lesson to you -- keep your big dreams -- your dreams big, because you probably can't even imagine what life has in store for you, you know what I'm saying? You probably can't even conceive of it. But if you are working towards excellence, if you are always thinking about reaching the highest heights, then no matter what you do in life, you'll be prepared.

The one thing that I can say is that I feel prepared for my life. I feel like I can do this. And I want you guys to be in that position too, and the only way you're going to do that is to be serious learners, and to take some risks. And if I were to do anything else differently in my 15-year-old self -- as my 15-year-old self, I would take more risks. I wouldn't as afraid as I was at that age to fail.

I would travel more. I would try different things. I would be okay with stumbling because I would realize that the mistakes you make when you're 15 and 17 and 19 are nothing. You recover from them. The biggest embarrassments go away. And if only I could have lived my life with more freedom then, and if I only knew then what I know now -- so I just want you guys to remember that.

Take some risks. Don't be afraid to mess up. Don't be afraid to mess up. Don't be afraid to embarrass yourselves. Don't be so shy that you don't ask the question, that you don't even try, that you take yourself out of the game before you even start. Because there's no telling what life has in store for you.

MR. DHOLOMO: I was going to ask you -- sorry, I keep interrupting you guys. Feel free to clap. (Applause.) I was going to ask you final thoughts, maybe we should wrap it up because I think we're running out of time.

But I'm actually going to change that question now, because you've got two daughters, so instead of speaking about yourself, what are your hopes for them? What are your hopes and dreams for them?

MRS. OBAMA: I want them to be decent people, first and foremost. I want them to be kind. I want them to be humble. I want them to be respectful. I want them to work hard at whatever they choose to do. And I want them to give back. I always want them to be thinking about, what am I going to do for somebody else? How am I going to help somebody else with my life? How am I going to use my life to inspire somebody in some way? And it doesn't have to be big, and it doesn't have to make money, and it doesn't have to land you on the front page of the paper, it just has to be something meaningful to somebody's life other than your own.

MR. DHOLOMO: Thank you very much for that, ma'am. Kamo, when it comes to you -- quickly -- after hearing what you've heard this afternoon, what are you going to change your life? What are you taking away from this discussion?

MS. RAKGOADI: Definitely what stood out for me was taking risks. I honestly think that as teenagers, we're very careful about what we do and whatnot. We're afraid to fail, like real worried about what others think about us. So I think that I'm definitely going to be taking a lot more risks.

MR. DHOLOMO: Teboho.


MR. DHOLOMO: Are you feeling inspired, first of all. Let's start there.

MR. TENYANE: I am inspired. I'm inspired in a way that now, if they said tomorrow I could become a teacher, I would become one tomorrow. (Laughter.)

MR. DHOLOMO: Mirriam?

MS. KGOKANE: I feel very inspired. What I've learned today is that believing in yourself is a very important thing. I'm going to take what I have and use it to the best I can.


MR. BALOYI: What I took, what -- really put in for me, it's like, your dreams -- keep on dreaming. Your dreams have to be big, because the more you dream, the bigger you get.

MR. DHOLOMO: Okay. Thank you very much, guys. Thanks to everybody across the world for actually tuning in. Thanks you guys, as well, for joining us here in the room -- 200 people that you guys didn't get to see, but trust me, they're here. Maybe they can scream so you can hear them. (Applause.) Absolutely. And before we go, Mrs. Obama, obviously you know -- we're exchanging ideas -- anything that you maybe learned from some young people?

MRS. OBAMA: I learn from young people every day, but what I hope for all of you here and out there and all the young people who are seeing this, that this is the beginning of a conversation that you are going to keep having with one another; that you keep sharing your ideas and your passions, and you find each other in the world. Try to find ways to find each other in the world.

So I hope this is the first of many of these kind of conversations that happen across the globe. And if that's the case, then I'm proud that we helped to get it started here.

And, Sizwe, thank you so much for your work. I want to thank John. First of all, I have to say -- shout out to John because it's like 6:00 in the morning in L.A. So to all you California people, way to go being up, being awake. Very proud of you, John. We'll see you soon. Love you. You are amazing.

And Victoria, thank you, hon. You are terrific. Keep doing what you're doing, keep inspiring young girls. And tell Big Time Rush I said hey.

Sizwe, thanks so much.

MR. DHOLOMO: Thank you very much, ma'am. So, yes, education -- that's what leads to success. And I think young people all over the world need to come together and just try and make change. So thank you very much for joining us, ma'am.

MRS. OBAMA: Thank you. (Applause.)

Michelle Obama, Remarks by the First Lady During Discussion with South African Students And Google+ Hangout at Connecting Continents Event in Johannesburg, South Africa Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/320177

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