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Posted at 12:18 PM ET, 01/19/2011

At Howard U., Michelle Obama urges students to study abroad, form bonds outside U.S.

By Nia-Malika Henderson

While President Obama met with Chinese leader Hu Jintao at the White House, first lady Michelle Obama used Hu's visit to encourage students to become part of the global community at a Howard University forum on studying abroad on Wednesday.

Recalling her own college years where she said her focus was on "getting in, getting through, and getting out," rather than studying abroad, Obama urged students to get out of their comfort zones and help to "develop that habit of cooperation."

"Studying in countries like China isn't only about your prospects in the global marketplace. It's not just about whether you can compete with your peers in other countries to make America stronger," Obama said. "It's also about whether you can come together and work together with them to make our world stronger. Its about the friendships you make, the bonds of trust you establish and the image of America that you project to the rest of the world."

China is among the top five host countries for American students studying abroad. During the forum, students shared their experiences in China on a panel moderated by Ann Stock, the assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs.

"I personally experienced a deeper bond," said David Marzban, who studied in Shanghai while a student at Pepperdine University. He related a story of having a sing-along of "California Dreaming" with a Chinese man he met at a restaurant there.

Nicole Baden, a senior at Howard who studied in Beijing, spoke of awkward exchanges over dinner with her host family that improved as Baden became more comfortable with the language.

"We look at ourselves differently, but we really are similar," she said.

In 2009, President Obama announced the "100,000 Strong Initiative" in China, a program aimed at increasing the number and diversity of American students who travel to and study in that nation.

On Wednesday, the first lady announced $2.25 million in private-sector money to support the initiative, which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton officially launched in May.

"We want you out there, taking some risks and doing some hard things," Michelle Obama said.

By Nia-Malika Henderson  | January 19, 2011; 12:18 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency, The First Lady  
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Comments

Ms obama is like obama. I wonder who studied under who. Oh well She evidently is as anti American as obama! Encouraging American to form bonds outside of America and studying abroad. Why?? We have a great educational system here if a student applies themselves. Does she and obama want the students to study with the Muslim groups that teach hatred of Americans and train them to kill?? The obamas need to be turned out of the White House ASAP. They are like a spreading disease.

Posted by: vageorge | January 19, 2011 8:09 PM | Report abuse

Clearly, a better approach to establishing (lucrative) bonds is to work in the administrative cadre of a large metropolitan hospital . . .

Posted by: rep15 | January 19, 2011 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Clearly, a better approach to establishing (lucrative) bonds is to work in the administrative cadre of a large metropolitan hospital . . .

Posted by: rep15 | January 19, 2011 5:14 PM | Report abuse

MME OBAMA DID NOT STUDY ABROAD. PROBABLY BECAUSE ONLY AMERICAN ELITE SCHOOLS LIKE PRINCETON WOULD GIVE HER ADMISSION UNDER AFFIRMATIVE ACTION. URGING STUDENTS TO STUDY ABROAd is to accept the progressive view that any benighted foreign country is better than the USA.

Posted by: ravitchn | January 19, 2011 4:49 PM | Report abuse

MME OBAMA DID NOT STUDY ABROAD. PROBABLY BECAUSE ONLY AMERICAN ELITE SCHOOLS LIKE PRINCETON WOULD GIVE HER ADMISSION UNDER AFFIRMATIVE ACTION. URGING STUDENTS TO STUDY ABROAd is to accept the progressive view that any benighted foreign country is better than the USA.

Posted by: ravitchn | January 19, 2011 4:49 PM | Report abuse

MME OBAMA DID NOT STUDY ABROAD. PROBABLY BECAUSE ONLY AMERICAN ELITE SCHOOLS LIKE PRINCETON WOULD GIVE HER ADMISSION UNDER AFFIRMATIVE ACTION. URGING STUDENTS TO STUDY ABROAd is to accept the progressive view that any benighted foreign country is better than the USA.

Posted by: ravitchn | January 19, 2011 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Due to financial reasons, I wasn't able to study abroad while in college -- and I regret it to this day. Too many reports have come out talking about how a majority of the US is in the dark about current events happening outside of their town/city border. Encouraging college students to study abroad, or even become involved with the Peace Corps, is extremely important. I'm glad to see that our First Lady is sharing her personal story and encouraging young students not to have the same regret she does.

Posted by: townhousekids | January 19, 2011 3:32 PM | Report abuse

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