The White House Blog: The First Lady

  • Get Out and #FindYourPark

    "For a century, rangers, and interpreters, and volunteers and visitors have kept alive what the writer Wallace Stegner once called 'the best idea we ever had' — our belief that the country’s most special places should belong not just to the rich, not just to the powerful, but belong to everybody — not just now, but for all time."

    — President Obama

    Next year, the National Park Service celebrates its 100th birthday. That marks 100 years of preserving, restoring, and sharing some of America's most special places — from gorgeous, iconic landscapes like Yellowstone and Yosemite to the sites across the country that tell the stories of people and events that have shaped our history. Our parks are an essential part of our heritage and a source of great pride. And, most importantly, our parks belong to all of us.

    That’s a lot to celebrate, so we’re starting now. Last month, President Obama kicked things off when he launched Every Kid in a Park — an initiative that will give every fourth-grade student and their families a free pass to National Parks and all other federal lands and waters for a full year.

    And today, the National Park Service and National Park Foundation are continuing the celebration with the launch of #FindYourPark, a new campaign to encourage Americans to connect to our astounding network of parks and public lands — whether it’s for the first time or the hundredth.


  • President Obama Helps Dedicate the New Edward M. Kennedy Institute

    President Obama, Vice President Biden, and the First Lady traveled to Boston today to celebrate the opening of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. The building — complete with a full-scale replica of the United States Senate chamber — honors the life and legacy of Edward "Ted" Kennedy, who served as a U.S. Senator from 1962 to 2009.

    Located adjacent to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, the Institute offers interactive exhibits, a replica of Sen. Kennedy’s D.C. office, and historic documents and memorabilia from the Senator’s life.

    “The John F. Kennedy Library next door is a symbol of our American idealism. The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate is a living example of the hard, frustrating, never-ending, but critical work required to make that idealism real,” President Obama said today.

    President Obama Speaks at the New Edward M. Kennedy Institute in Boston

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the dedication of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate in Boston, Mass., March 30, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)


  • West Wing Week: 03/27/2015 or, “The Magic Page”

    This week, the President welcomed to the White House both student filmmakers and student scientists, hosted the Afghan president, and honored the five year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, while the First Lady championed the Let Girls Learn initiative in Japan and Cambodia. That's March 20th to March 26th or, "The Magic Page."

    Don't forget to tune in next week for a special, 5th-anniversary edition of West Wing Week:


  • In Pictures: The First Lady’s Trip to Japan and Cambodia

    Eigen Onishi thanks the First Lady for her visit to Kiyomizu-dera Buddhist temple

    Eigen Onishi thanks the First Lady for her visit to Kiyomizu-dera Buddhist temple. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

    As part of the “Let Girls Learn” initiative to open the doors of education for girls around the world, First Lady Michelle Obama traveled to Tokyo, Japan; Kyoto, Japan; and Siem Reap, Cambodia from March 18 to March 22, 2015. Take a look at her trip in pictures:

    “Educating girls is the best investment we can make, not just in their future, but in the future of their families, their communities, and their countries.” — The First Lady in Tokyo, Japan


  • The First Lady’s Travel Journal: Make Your Own Mark on Our World

    This post is part of a series authored by First Lady Michelle Obama to share her visit to Japan and Cambodia and the Let Girls Learn initiative with young people in the U.S. Find out how you can get involved at letgirlslearn.peacecorps.gov.

    On this trip, I had the pleasure of standing with leaders who are making historic investments in girls’ education — and I had the privilege of meeting extraordinary girls and the community leaders, volunteers and teachers who are working so hard to help them go to school and pursue their dreams. Along the way, I experienced the rich culture and history of two fascinating countries.

    First Lady Michelle waves upon departure from Siem Reap Airport in Siem, Reap

    First Lady Michelle waves upon departure from Siem Reap Airport in Siem, Reap Cambodia on March 22, 2015. The First Lady traveled to Japan and Cambodia as part of the “Let Girls Learn” initiative. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)


  • The First Lady’s Travel Journal: Touring Angkor Wat

    This post is part of a series authored by First Lady Michelle Obama to share her visit to Japan and Cambodia and the Let Girls Learn initiative with young people in the U.S.

    After visiting the Let Girls Learn training, I traveled to Angkor Wat, a massive, ancient temple located just outside of Siem Reap. Angkor Wat was built in the early twelfth century, and it still stands as the largest religious monument on earth. It has become known as a national symbol for Cambodia — it’s even on Cambodia’s flag. Angkor Wat was originally built to celebrate the Hindu god Vishnu and then later became a Buddhist temple site. It is located in what was the capital of the ancient Khmer Empire here in Cambodia. Back then, temples, homes and farms stretched for miles around, and people created elaborate irrigation structures to bring water from rivers to farmers’ fields.

    After meeting with these remarkable young women, I dropped by one of the very first Let Girls Learn trainings for Peace Corps Volunteers and the local leaders, educators and students they’re working with here in Cambodia. Together, they are doing such amazing work. They’re running girls’ leadership camps and girls’ sports teams and learning about health and nutrition, and this training will give them even more skills and tools to educate and empower girls. The Peace Corps will eventually be conducting these girls’ education trainings for all of its nearly 7,000 volunteers, and I cannot wait to see what they do with everything they learn!


  • The First Lady’s Travel Journal: Educating and Empowering Girls in Cambodia

    This post is part of a series authored by First Lady Michelle Obama to share her visit to Japan and Cambodia and the Let Girls Learn initiative with young people in the U.S.

    First Lady Michelle Obama and Mrs. Bun Rany Hun, First Lady of Cambodia, are greeted by students

    First Lady Michelle Obama and Mrs. Bun Rany Hun, First Lady of Cambodia, are greeted by students while visiting the Room to Read program at Hun Sen Bakorng High School in Siem Reap, Cambodia as part of the “Let Girls Learn” initiative on March 21, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

    I started the day with a visit to the Hun Sen Bakorng High School which has nearly 1,600 hundred students in grades seven through twelve. I was joined by the First Lady of Cambodia, Mrs. Bun Rany, who also cares deeply about girls’ education.

    At this school, an organization called Room to Read runs a special scholarship program for girls who live in areas far from the school. Girls in remote parts of Cambodia often wind up dropping out of school because it’s too dangerous to travel to and from school each day or they just can’t afford the costs of transportation. But Room to Read provides girls with scholarships that cover the cost of housing, food and books, so they can live at the school and get their education.

    I had the pleasure of meeting with these girls, and they were absolutely amazing — so passionate about their education and so determined to pursue their dreams. Two of these students — young women named Sohang Vean and Lorn Phounam — shared their stories with me, and I want to share them with you:


  • Week in Review: A Royal Visit, Leading on Climate, and The First Lady's Travel Journal

    This week, the President announced a new executive order that will allow America to lead on climate, traveled to Ohio to answer a few questions at The City Club of Cleveland, hosted the the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, and celebrated St. Patrick's day with the Prime Minister of Ireland. The First Lady also had a busy week, heading to Japan and Cambodia to launch key partnerships for the Let Girls Learn initiative. 

    Find out more about the past week in our latest weekly wrap-up.


    Leading by Example

    President Obama signed an executive order on Thursday that will help us cut greenhouse gas emissions and set a bold example to other nations. This week’s order positions the federal government to cut their carbon pollution emissions by 40% over 10 years. This would save taxpayers up to $18 billion in energy costs and increase the share of electricity the federal government uses from renewable sources to 30%.

    Learn more about the President’s recent actions and how it sets a global example.


  • The First Lady’s Travel Journal: Experiencing Kyoto’s Beauty and History

    First Lady Michelle Obama is keeping a travel journal while promoting the Let Girls Learn initiative in Japan and Cambodia. Her third post appeared on Medium today. 


    Today we traveled to the beautiful Japanese city of Kyoto.

    Tucked into a valley and surrounded by mountains on three sides, Kyoto was the imperial capital of Japan for over 1,000 years. Because of its majestic mountain scenery, some people called the Japanese nobility who lived there “cloud dwellers.”

    First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a centennial tree planting ceremony during the National Cherry Blossom Festival (March 27, 2012)

    First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a centennial tree planting ceremony during the National Cherry Blossom Festival at the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C., March 27, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

     


  • The First Lady's Travel Journal: Coming Together on Girl's Education

    First Lady Michelle Obama is keeping a travel journal while promoting the Let Girls Learn initiative in Japan and Cambodia. Her second post appeared on Medium today. 


    I arrived in Tokyo, Japan last night, and this morning, I was proud to stand with Mrs. Akie Abe, the wife of Japan’s Prime Minister, as we announced a new partnership between Japan and the United States that will help girls around the world go to school.

    It’s not surprising that America and Japan are coming together on this issue.

    Mrs. Abe and I are both passionate about girls’ education — as are our husbands — and Japan is one of America’s strongest and most important allies. Japan and the United States also share so many values. We are both democracies and believe strongly in freedom of speech and religion and protecting the basic rights of all our citizens. Both our countries care deeply about education. And both America and Japan believe in helping other countries that have fewer resources — countries where people struggle with poverty and disease and where many young people, particularly girls, don’t have the chance to attend school.

    As part of our new partnership, both Japan and the U.S. will be investing in programs that will help girls around the world get an education. As I mentioned in my opening post, here in the U.S., this effort is called Let Girls Learn, and it features a new girls’ education initiative run by the Peace Corps.

    First Lady Michelle Obama In Japan for Let Girls Learn_1

    First Lady Michelle Obama is joined by Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and Akie Abe, the First Lady of Japan, during a “Let GIrls Learn” announcement held at the Iikura Guest House in Tokyo, Japan on March 19, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)