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Michelle Obama's Speech at Peking University - First Lady's Travel in China


On March 22, 2014, Beijing. Before visiting to the Summer Palace, a world heritage site of China, Michelle Obama gave her first speech at Peking University, and the official name released by the White House is The Remarks of First Lady of The United States Michelle Obama Stanford Center at Peking University.This is a highlight of Michelle Obama's visit in China, which is a classic Beijing, Xian and Chengdu family tour. The speech draft as below, thanks to the sharing of

speech at university

Ni hao. It is such a pleasant and an honor to be here with all of you at this great university…Thank you so much for having me.

And before I get started today, on behalf of myself and my husband, I just want to say a few very brief words above Malaysian(sic) Airline Flight 370.

As my husband has said, theUnited Statesis offering as many resources as possible to assist in the search.

And please know that we are keeping all the families and loved ones of those on this flight in our thoughts and prayers at this very difficult time.

And with that, I want to start by recognizing our news Ambassador toChinaAmbassador Baucus…President Wang…Chairman Zhu…Vice President Li. Director Cueller, Professor Oi and the Stanford center…President Sexton from New York University which has an excellent study abroad program in Shanghai…and John Thorton, Director of the Global Leadership Program at Tsinghua University…thank you all so much for joining us.

And most of all, I want to thank all of the student for being here today…and I particulary want to thank Eric Schafer and Zhu Xuanbao for that extraordinary English and Chinese introduction.

That was such a powerful symbol of everything I want to talk with you about today.

You see, by learning each other's languages - and by showing such curiosity and respect for each other's cultures - Mr. Schafer and Ms. Zhu and all of you are building bridges of understanding that lead to so much more.

And I'm here today because I know that our future depends on connections like these among your people like you across the globe.

That's why when my husband and I travel abroad, we don't just visit palaces and parliament and meet with heads of state.

We also come to schools like this one to meet with students like you.

Because we believe that relationships between nations are not just about relationship between governments or leaders…they're about relationships between people, particularly our young people.

So we view study abroad programs not just as an educational opportunity f or students…but also as a vital part ofAmerica's foreign policy.

You see, through the wonders of modern technology, our world is more connected than ever before.

Ideas can cross ocean with the click of a button.

Companies can do business and complete with companies across the globe.

And we can text, email and skype with people on every continent.

So studying abroad isn't just a fun way to spend a semester-it's quickly becoming the key to success in our global economy.

Because getting ahead in today's workplaces isn't just about getting good grades or test scores in school…it's also about having real experience with the world beyond your borders - experience with languages, cultures and societies very different from your own.

Or, as the Chinese saying goes: “It is better to travel ten thousand miles than to read ten thousand books.”

But let's be clear, studying abroad is about so much more than improving your own future - it's also about shaping the future of your countries and of the world we all share.

Because when it comes to the defining challenges of our time - whether it's climate change, or economic opportunity, or the spread of nuclear weapons...these are shared challenges.

No one country can confront them alone...the only way forward is together.

That's why it's so important for young people like you to live and study in each other's countries.

Because that's how you develop that habit of cooperation - you do it by improving yourself in someone's culture…by learning each other's stories…and by getting past the stereotypes and misconceptions that too often divide us.

That's how you come to understand how much we all share.

And that's how you realize that we all have a stake in each other's success - that cures discovered here in Beijing could save lives in America…the clean energy technologies from Silicon Valley in California could improve the environment here in China…that the architecture of an ancient temple in Xi'an could inspire the design of new buildings in Dallas or Detroit.

And that's when the connections you make as classmates or labmates can blossom into something more.

That's what happened when Abigail Coplin became an American Fulbright Scholar here at Peking University.

She and her colleagues published papers together in top science journals…and they both research partnerships that lasted long after they returned to their home countries.

Professor Niu Ke fromPekingUniversitywas Fulbright Scholar in theU. S.last year…and he reported, and I quote, “the most memorable experience were with my American friends. ”

These lasting bonds represent the true value of studying abroad…and I am thrilled that more and more students are getting this opportunity.

Chinais currently the fifth most popular destination for Americans studying abroad.

And today, the highest number of exchange students in theU.S.are fromChina.

But still, too many students never have this chance…and some that do are hesitant to take it.

They may feel like study abroad is only for wealthy students, or students from certain kinds of universities.

Or they may think to themselves: “Well, that sounds fun, but how will it really be useful in my life?”

I understand where these young people are coming from, because I felt the same way when I was in college.

You see, I came from a working class family… and it never even occurred to me to study abroad.

My parent didn't get to attend college, and I was focused on getting into a university and earning my degree so I could get a job and support myself.

And for a lot of young people like me who are struggling to afford a regular semester of school paying for plane tickets or living expense halfway around the world just isn't possible.

And that's not acceptable, because study abroad shouldn't just for student from certain backgrounds.

Our hope is to build connections between people of all races and socioeconomic backgrounds because it is that diversity that makes our country so vibrant and strong…and our study abroad programs should reflect the true spirit of America to the world.

That's why, when my husband visitedChinaback in 2009, he announced our 100,000 Strong initiative to increase the number and diversity of American students studying inChina.

And this year, as we mark the thirty-fifth anniversary of the normaliztaion of relations between our countries…the U.S. Government actually supports more American students inChinathan in any other country in the world.

We're sending high school, colleges and graduate students here to study Chinese…we're inviting teachers from China to teach Mandarin in American schools...we're providing free online advising fro students in China who want to study in the U.S…and the U.S.-China Fulbright program is still going strong with more than 3,000 alumni.

The private sector is stepping up as well.

For example, Steve Schwarzman, the head of an American company called Blackstone, is funding a new program at Tsinghua University modeled on the Rhodes Scholarship.

And today, students from all kinds of backgrounds are studying here inChina.

Take the example of Royale Nicholson fromCleveland,Ohiowho attendsNew YorkUniversity's program inShanghai.

Like me, Royale is a first generation college student…and her mother worked two fulltime jobs while her father worked nights to support their family.

Of her experience inShanghai, she said, “This city oozes persistence and inspires me to accomplish all that I can.”

And then there's Philmon Haile from the University of Washington whose family came to theU.S. as refugee from Eritrea when he was a child.

Of his experience studying inChina, he said, “study abroad is a powerful vehicle for people-to-people exchange as we move into a new era of citizen diplomacy.”

“a new era of citizen diplomacy ”- I couldn't have said it better myself, because that's really what I'm talking about...I'm talking about ordinary citizen reaching out to the world.

And as I always tell young people back inAmerica, you don't need to get on a plane to by a citizen diplomacy.

I tell them that if you have an internet in your home, school, or library, within seconds, you can be transported anywhere in the world and meet people on every continent.

That's why I'm posting a daily travel blog with videos and photos of my experiences in china - because I want young people inAmericato be part of this visit.

That's really the power of technology - how it can open up the entire world and expose us to ideas and innovations we never could have imagined.

And that's why it is so important for information and ideas to flow freely over the internet and through the media.

Because that's how we discover the truth...that's how we learn what's really happening in our communities, our country and our world.

And that's how we decide which values and ideas we think are best - by questioning and debating them vigorously…by listening to all sides of every argument...and by judging for ourselves.

And believe me, I know this can be a messy and frustrating process.

My husband and I are on the receiving and of plenty of questioning and criticizing from our media and our fellow citizens...and it's not always easy...but we wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.

Because time and again, we have seen that countries are stronger and more prosperous when the voices and opinions of all their citizens can be heard.

And as my husband said, we respect the uniqueness of other cultures and societies.

But when it comes to expressing yourself freely, and worshipping as your choose, and having open access to information – we believe those are universal rights that are the birthright of every person on this planet.

We believe that all people deserve the opportunity to fulfill their highest potential as I was able to do in theUnited States.

And as you learn about new cultures and form new friendships during your time here in China and in the United States, all of you are the living, breathing embodiment of those values.

So I guarantee you that in studying abroad, you're not just changing your own life…you're changing the lives of everyone you meet.

As the great American President John F. Kennedy once said about foreign students studying in theU.S., “I think they teach more than they learn.”

And that is just as true of young Americans who study abroad.

All of you are America's best face, and China's best face, to the world.

Every day, you show the world your countries' energy, creativity, optimism and unwavering belief in the future.

And every day, you remind us of just how much we can achieve if we reach across borders…and learn to see ourselves in each other…and confront our shared challenges with shared resolve.

So I hope you will keep seeking these kinds of experiences.

And I hope you'll keep teaching each other…and learning from each other…and building bonds of friendship that will enrich your lives and enrich our world for decades to come.

You all have so much to offer, and I cannot wait to see all that you achieve together in the years ahead.

Thank you so much. Xie Xie.
(The remarks of Michelle sourced from
Related Reading - 
                          Michelle Obama's Trip to China 
                          Beijing, Xian and Chengdu Family Tour that Michelle Obama Has 
                          Michelle's Family Trip Picture Gallery in Beijing
                          Barack Obama tours the Forbidden City
                          USA First Ladies' China Trip in History  
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