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On her first foreign trip as America’s First Lady, Michelle Obama visited a girls’ school in London to speak about the importance of education and the role that those girls will play in society’s future.

“During my visit I’ve been especially honored to meet some of Britain’s most extraordinary women,” Michelle said to the assembly of girls, “women who are paving the way for all of you. And I’m honored to meet you, the future leaders of Great Britain and this world.”

Reiterating what she mentioned frequently during her husband’s presidential campaign, Michelle spoke of her first date with president Barack Obama, which took place at a community meeting. There, Barack said that too often people accept the distance between the idea of the world as it is and the idea of the world as it should be, and he urged the audience to close that gap.

Michelle gave that same challenge to the girls in her audience. “All of you in this school are very important parts of closing that gap. You are the women who will build the world as it should be. You’re going to write the next chapter in history, not just for yourselves, but for your generation and generations to come.”

And that, says Michelle, is why a good education is so important: “Because communities and countries and ultimately the world are only as strong as the health of their women. Part of that health includes an outstanding education. The difference between a struggling family and a healthy one is often the presence of an empowered woman…. This school, named after the UK’s first female doctor,… honors women who fought sexism, racism and ignorance to pursue their passions to feed their own souls…. By getting a good education, you too can control your own destiny.”

Nothing in Michelle’s humble beginnings predicted that she would ever be standing on the stage “as the first African American first lady of the United States of America.” It was education that got her there. “I hope in pursuing your dreams that you use your talents…to create the world as it should be, because we are counting on you.”

To see the speech in its entirety, click here

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