A Cause for Hope

First Lady Michelle Obama and First Lady Svetlana Medvedeva of Russia attend a performance

First Lady Michelle Obama and First Lady Svetlana Medvedeva of Russia attend a performance at the Duke Ellington School for the Arts in Washington, D.C. June 24, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

“Just in this performance, you have strengthened the bond between two great nations. Imagine that,” said Mrs. Obama following a music and dance program at the Duke Ellington School for the Arts in Washington, DC. First Lady Michelle Obama was joined by the First Lady of Russia, Mrs. Svetlana Medvedev.

Arts education and engaging young people around the world are priorities for both First Ladies. During the President and First Lady’s visit to Russia last summer, Mrs. Medvedev and Mrs. Obama attended a performance by the Moiseyev Dance Company with an audience of Russian youth.

Mrs. Obama spoke to the students about the potential of the arts:

So you know how the arts can enrich all of us in this nation as individuals. You know how the arts can enrich all of our communities and the country. And you know how the arts can connect us to each other like nothing else can. You know how people who come from completely different cultures and backgrounds, people who might not even speak a single word of the same language, they might still be drawn together when their hearts are lifted by the notes of a song, or a vision on a canvas, or the graceful arc of a dance.

And I think that should give us all cause for hope, all around the world, because we know that ultimately, relationships between nations aren’t just about relationships between presidents and prime ministers, or first ladies, for that matter. The real foundation of these relationships are about the connections between ordinary citizens, particularly between young people. You all are leading the way in this movement.

She spoke about their shared priority to engage youth:

That’s why engaging young people across the globe is such a priority for me, and I know it is for Mrs. Medvedev as well, because her country, like ours, is a place that cares deeply about culture and about the young people who carry it forward...And as I travel around the world, I want young people everywhere to know that the United States believes in them and cares about their future. It is so important for us to continue to lift up the next generation, not just here in this country but your peers around the world.

“It’s up to you,” said Mrs. Medvedev, “Up to the young people of both countries, to build the world that will be a world of friendship and cooperation between our states and between our governments.”

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