Michelle Obama reunited once again with students from two London-based schools; Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School in Islington and Mulberry School for Girls in Tower Hamlets, to celebrate the younger readers edition of her bestselling memoir Becoming.
The former First Lady of America chatted to current and former students of both schools via Zoom on 1 April. During the conversation, Michelle Obama discussed mentorship, sisterhood, motivation and leadership, as well as the impact of COVID and the last year, with the young women. She told the girls:
“Conversations like these keep me optimistic. Meeting all of you, watching your growth…, you all give me hope. Listening to how thoughtful and insightful you are, how resilient and determined you’ve been, how strong and capable you are.”
Michelle Obama has a lasting relationship with both schools. She first visited Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School in 2009 and has stayed in touch with the school ever since – in 2011, she took a group of the school’s pupils to Oxford University when she gave a talk to Christ Church College, and in 2012 she welcomed 12 EGA pupils to the White House.
“They were me, as I’d once been. And I was them, as they could be.”
She wrote about the effect visiting the school had on her in Becoming. Of her 2009 visit to the school, she said: “I wasn’t fully prepared, though, to feel what I did when I set foot inside Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School…They were me, as I’d once been. And I was them, as they could be. The energy I felt thrumming in the school had nothing to do with obstacles. It was the power of nine hundred girls striving…Looking up at the girls, I just began to talk, explaining though I had come from far away, carrying this strange title of First Lady of the United States, I was more like them than they knew.”
The pupils at Mulberry School had a similar impact on our forever First Lady. Mrs Obama first visited Mulberry School for Girls in 2015 to launch her ‘Let Girls Learn’ campaign, which was about the importance of girls’ education globally. In 2015 she welcomed pupils from the school to the White House after the pupils established Global Girl Leading. Since then, Mulberry School has stayed connected with Mrs Obama in many different ways, and is proud to continue its relationship with Mrs Obama’s work for girls’ education through the Girls’ Opportunity Alliance.
A video of the full conversation between Michelle Obama and the students will be shared with schools across the country by Penguin Talks, a programme of free, creative talks and curriculum packs for young people, which give them the opportunity to hear from a world-renowned thinker, writer or influential figure from Penguin’s family of authors.
“Since 2009 she has stayed true to her word, continuing to connect with us in multiple ways…”
Of the event, Sarah Beagley, Headteacher at EGA School said: “Mrs Obama has been a part of EGA since her first visit 12 years ago, before our year seven students today were born. Since 2009 she has stayed true to her word, continuing to connect with us in multiple ways and remains a truly inspirational figure for generations of EGA students. Her story, her passion and her determination to make a difference to the lives of others resonates completely with the values of EGA and we are proud and delighted that she values her relationship with us as much as we do with her.”
And Dr Vanessa Ogden, CEO and Headteacher of Mulberry School for Girls, said: “At Mulberry School for Girls, students past and present are so excited about the launch of Michelle Obama’s book Becoming, especially adapted for young readers. Childhood and adolescence are such a formative period. Learning from Mrs Obama – one of the greatest, most inspiring women of our time – could not be more important.”
Watch Michelle Obama in conversation with the London schoolgirls