Michelle Obama on the Let Girls Learn Initiative and What She Misses Most About Civilian Life
Only "Extra" was with First Lady Michelle Obama as she made a historic trip to the Middle East. The First Lady traveled to Doha as part of her Let Girls Learn initiative, and talked with us about her getting the word out about girls' education, getting candid about life in the White House in the process.
Mrs. Obama, who is in the Middle East on her first solo trip, said, "I'm here to speak about something that's near and dear to my heart, and that's girls' education, specifically adolescent girls' education, and what we can do to get those 62 million girls worldwide that are currently not in school, in school."
Speaking at the WISE Summit in Qatar, Mrs. Obama — the mother of two teenage girls herself — said her mission is personal. "I see myself, I see my daughters in these girls. I've had the opportunity to travel the world and everywhere I go I meet these amazing young girls who are hungry for an education, and they are doing everything in their power to get to the school that they have whether it's dirt-floor or they have to travel for hours."
As for education in the United States, the First Lady said she does not want to see children take their education for granted. Reflecting on growing up in Chicago, she said, "My own education opened doors and windows, opportunities that I could never have imagined. I grew up in a working-class family that valued education, and there are millions of girls and families like that — they are doing whatever it takes."
She is doing whatever it takes to get her message out. "If we don't learn to value girls in every part of the world, we are missing out on an investment in 50 percent of the population… the world can't afford to lose that energy, that promise."
The First Lady also opened up to "Extra" about life in the White House, saying she still looks back at day one in disbelief. "It was so surreal… One minute you're standing next to your spouse taking the oath, and then you're in the White House and your head is spinning and you don't know where your shoes are and you don't know what door is the bathroom." She continued, "We were doing that while trying to get the kids started in school and making sure they were getting the homework down, so it really took a couple of months, even, to breathe deeply and realize, 'My God, we're in the White House.'"
Now, seven years later, she reveals what she misses about civilian life. "It's the little things — going into a grocery store and picking my own apple and checking it out and reaching into my wallet and pulling out my wallet… I don't even know where my wallet is right now, I don't think I've seen it all day." Laughing, she said, "I'm just trying to keep my regular-life mojo up."
As for her time in the White House, Mrs. Obama said it still hash't sunk in. "I think it will be a few years after we leave to really reflect and think about this time… It's been a gift for me and my family… it's been an honor to serve."
Tune in next week for our full interview! Check your local listings here to find out when to watch.