Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Michelle Obama's Speech at School in Chile March 21

Remarks by the First Lady to Renca School

Renca School, Santiago, Chile

2:45 P.M. Santiago Time

MRS. OBAMA: Thank you. Hola. Hello, everybody. Es un placer estar aquí con ustedes. (Applause.) Gracias. (Applause.)

Before I begin today, I just want to say that our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the people of Japan as they begin to rebuild after the devastating earthquake and tsunami over a week ago.

Here in Chile, you know the kind of damage these disasters can cause. You’ve experienced it many times yourselves. You know how difficult a time this is for so many families. And so my heart goes out to all those in Japan, here in Chile, in the United States and around the world for those who have lost loved ones.

But even with everything that’s going on in the world, it is a pleasure and an honor to be in this beautiful country, at this wonderful school, with all of you.

I want to start by thanking Camila for that very, very kind introduction.

We are honored today to be joined by the First Lady of Chile, Cecilia Morel.

I also want to recognize the Minister of Education, Joaquin Lavín, and the mayor here, Vicky Barahona, and your principal, Palmira Cosgrove.

And my husband and I, we are so grateful to everyone who has made us feel so welcome here.

I’m especially excited to be here at the Condor Summit Bicentennial School, because I know how special this place is. I know that this is the very first bicentennial high school of academic excellence in the country. It is a place where students like all of you can learn from the best teachers, where you can use the latest technology, where you can develop the skills you need to reach your potential. And I know that as the first graduating class, you all are breaking down barriers. You represent the future, not just of this school, but of your entire country.

So I’m here because I want to see all the amazing things that you’re doing. And I want to see the progress that you’re making.

But there is another reason why I love to visit schools like this and to talk with students like all of you when I travel. And that is because I see a little bit of myself in all of you.

You see, it wasn’t so long ago that my husband and I were young people just like all of you, dreaming the same dreams, facing the same challenges that all of you are.

I grew up in a working-class neighborhood in the city of Chicago. Chicago is the third largest city in America, and about half the size of Santiago. My father worked in the boiler room of a water treatment plant. And for most of my childhood, my mother stayed home to take care of my brother and me.

Our family did not have a lot of money. We did not live in a fancy neighborhood. We lived in a teeny, little apartment on the second floor of my great-aunt and uncle’s home, and my brother and I, we shared a bedroom for as long as I can remember.

But even though we didn’t have much, we always had a roof over our heads, we always had food in our stomachs. We had a strong family. Our house was filled with warmth and laughter and a lot of love. Read the rest