An Evening with Michelle Obama: Perspectives of OWIS students (Part 2)

Luna Deller
Updated on
September 2, 2020

One World International School recently had the opportunity to send five students to attend “An Evening with Michelle Obama” at Singapore Expo. Our students also got a chance to meet the former First Lady of the United States of America, Mrs Michelle Obama, personally at a VIP gathering before the event, where they were able to ask her questions. 

Read how meeting Michelle Obama influenced our OWIS students Sarah Pegg, Rehan Hariyani, and Ruby Lim in different ways. Below are their individual perspectives.

Sarah Pegg, Grade 10:

"Meeting my all-time role model, Mrs Michelle Obama, was truly a dream come true for me. I am eternally grateful to One World International School for giving me this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet her. I think she is one of the most influential and inspiring women today and is someone who taught me to never give up on my dreams.

While we were lining up waiting to meet Mrs Obama, I vividly recall the five of us feeling both anxious and excited. When it was my turn to meet her, she gave me a tight hug and it struck me that she was one of the most lovely and down-to-earth people I have ever met.

As we spoke, I asked Mrs Obama: “What advice would you give to younger girls who struggle with their self-confidence on a daily basis?”. She quickly replied: “You should constantly put yourself in challenging situations. Never say no even if people around you are always telling you to give up. Use their doubts and motivation to do better.” She hugged me again and told me to keep working hard. The entire moment from when I entered, then exited the room felt completely surreal (in a good way).

During Mrs Obama’s talk, she addressed various topics such as miscarriages, her childhood and self-doubt. Regarding miscarriages and IVF treatment, she shared how she felt lonely during her experience. However, after speaking up about it, she regained her strength when she realised she was not alone. Mrs Obama believes that the reason women encounter loneliness is due to society making people think it is not okay to talk about these things.

Mrs Obama also talked about how one factor that contributed to her self-doubt was the racism she experienced whilst growing up. Most of the white families began fleeing Chicago just because more black families were moving in.

Another topic she spoke on was her self-confidence. When asked about her confidence, she brought up the question I asked her backstage, which made me feel absolutely ecstatic, as she had remembered me. She repeated the same advice she gave me and reminded the audience, “when they go low, we go high”. I would like to reiterate my thanks to OWIS for giving me this opportunity which I will always treasure."

Rehan Hariyani, Grade 10:

"On December 14, 2019, I was honoured to meet Mrs Michelle Obama. During her talk, Mrs Obama addressed many critical topics about physical, social and mental well-being. This was very motivating to me as she constantly reiterated that young adults should push themselves to strive for the best. She linked and substantiated many of these statements with personal life examples to demonstrate that no matter how difficult the route is, the final destination is always a fruitful result if we put in the effort.

Prior to the event, to prepare myself to meet Mrs Obama, I read her book “Becoming”, which touched on her early life and her journey to becoming the First Lady of the United States of America. The book helped me comprehend her beliefs and principles, and understand her inspiration and her motive towards her work.

In conclusion, meeting her has definitely motivated me to do my best and to push myself and not give up on my goals. Something that resonated with me was her outlook towards life through her statement “when they go low, we go high”, which is about facing your challenges and overcoming them. This certainly inspired her audience to become the best possible versions of themselves and to always be assiduous in everything we undertake."

Ruby Lim, Grade 9:

"I was extremely fortunate and honoured to be selected by One World International School to meet and listen to Mrs Michelle Obama. December 14 2019 was a very inspiring and insightful evening to me. When I finally met Mrs Obama, she greeted me with the biggest smile and gave me the warmest hug. She had an amazing presence and was very down-to-earth during my short conversation with her. She gave me genuine advice and told me to “keep up the good work you are doing and always work hard for what you want to achieve.” Mrs Obama’s words have truly become a huge motivation for me and made me look back at the things I have achieved in my life so far.

One of the topics Mrs Obama broached was “Impostor Syndrome”, a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and thinks that they have only succeeded due to luck, and not because of their talent or qualifications. I was genuinely intrigued when she mentioned this topic. I felt that it related to me because I tend to set high expectations for myself and almost always over-prepare or work much harder than necessary to make sure that I met my expectations. She added, “Don’t let self-doubt limit your possibilities. If I stopped once to listen to doubters, I wouldn’t be here.”

Mrs Obama also spoke about box-checkers, people who mindlessly follow the path of certainty. She said that she was following the only path she knew in life to settle for a safe steady career, rather than following her passion before she met Barack Obama, who was not a box-checker. I think that box-checking is especially more evident in today’s society, where there are such high expectations for a list of achievements to showcase what success should look like. This puts pressure on people who want to take a different path.

Mrs Obama narrated her personal story of the time when she had to convince her parents that she was going to leave her well-paying job in law to do up-lifting work in a Non-Government Organisation. This was her transition from box-checking to passion. She explained that you have to be strategic, thoughtful, and have a plan if you want to transition to a career off-the-beaten-path.

I loved how Mrs Obama was so humble and deeply connected with the audience and me; it felt as if she was speaking almost directly to me. It was indeed a privilege to be seated in the front section of the auditorium listening to her insightful words."

At OWIS we strive to ensure that our students engage in a range of exciting opportunities and events. Being able to offer our students the chance to meet their idols, attend lectures on a range of topics and take part in worldwide events is something that we are extremely proud of. If you'd like to know more about OWIS and how we nurture our students to be life-long learners and global citizens, please get in touch with us.

About Author

Luna Deller

Senior Coordinator - Secondary (Academic-Whole School), French Teacher

Luna is originally from Wales, UK. She holds a Master's Degree in Educational Leadership, a PGCE in Modern Languages and a Bachelor's Degree in French Studies and Italian Studies from University of Birmingham.

Luna has lived in various countries and has been teaching for many years. Prior to teaching, she was also a linguist in business. She has taught all age ranges in schools. Luna joined OWIS as the Senior Coordinator for the Early Childhood team and now leads OWIS' Secondary team as the Senior Coordinator. She is also the academic coordinator for the whole school.

Luna is driven by the desire to provide an inclusive and stimulating learning experience for all pupils. She values inquiry-led, creative, interactive and trans-disciplinary education; ensuring that curriculum is engaging and thought-provoking, and that students are supported and challenged in order to realise their potential. She believes that children learn best when provided with opportunities to discover the world around them and formulate their own lines of inquiry.

Luna is a massive cheese lover. She likes all cheeses, but most of all boursin, halloumi, cheddar, brie, feta and chevre. "Just cheese please", as she says. She also enjoys reading, running, dancing and painting (when not over-dosing on cheese!)

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