Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Michelle Obama says all of America's students should interact with kids from other countries

No surprises:  GAPP is right on target!

April 28, 2015 | 12:50 p.m. EDT
The Associated Press

First Lady Michelle Obama and Akie Abe, wife of the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, are welcomed by student at Great Falls Elementary School in Great Falls, Va., Tuesday, April 28, 2015, during a vist to the school and its Japanese immersion classes. The Japanese immersion is part of Virginia’s Fairfax County Public School’s World Languages Immersion Program, where elementary students learn math, science, and health through a foreign language. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)


GREAT FALLS, Va. (AP) — Michelle Obama said Tuesday that all of America's students should have the opportunity to interact with kids from other countries so they can learn about each other and realize what they have in common, instead of focusing on their differences.

The first lady told a group of Northern Virginia elementary school students who are learning Japanese and studying some of their subjects in the language that Japanese students like the same things they do: hanging out with their friends, having fun, playing sports, listening to music and reading.

"My wish for all of you and for young people across America is that you have the chance to engage with kids from other parts of the world, that you learn about each other's lives, that you understand one another's hopes and dreams so that you can truly see for yourselves, first hand, just how much we all have in common around the world," she said at Great Falls Elementary School.

The school has a long-running Japanese immersion program in which some students learn science, math and health in Japanese.

And, according to Karen Garza, the superintendent of Fairfax County schools, about half of all students graduate with competency in at least two languages.

"That is truly the model that we all should be living up to in educating our kids here in the United States," Mrs. Obama said.

Mrs. Obama, who made an official visit to Japan in March, was accompanied on the school visit by Japanese first lady Akie Abe. Abe's husband, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, was meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House. A state dinner also was planned for Abe Tuesday.

Mrs. Obama said the students are doing important work.

"You guys are playing an important role in bringing our two countries even closer together," the first lady said after she and Mrs. Abe listened to students sing "It's a Small World" in Japanese. They also took in a thunderous taiko drum performance.

Mrs. Abe, who spoke through a translator, commended the students for their interest in Japan and its culture.


  1. I agree that we should be interacting with kids from other countries and seeing what we have in common but I don't think we should ignore our differences all together. I think we should recognize the differences and respect/appreciate them and learn from them.

  2. I think it is so important to introduce culture along with a language. You learn the little quirks that make you like the language even more and keep you inspired to stick with it. Finding out what we have in common with other culture is important, for it is a comfort to know that you aren't the only one, especially if you were going to visit that country. I also feel it is as equally as important to be aware of the differences to truly understand and appreciate that culture. As long as you are not disrespecting another culture, it is alright to point out the differences and compare it to your own culture or country.