United States First Lady Michelle Obama has told Liberian girls at the GLOW (GIRLS LEADING OUR WORLD) Camp in Unification Town, Margibi County, that the most important asset a leader has is his or her word, trust.
“That’s where respect comes from. Because people know when you say you’re going to do something, you do it, and you do it with love and you do it with what we call authenticity, that people know that your heart is real. And I try to operate from that place every single day”, she told adolescent girls at the R.S. Caulfield School in Unification Town on Monday, 27 June during a stopover here to highlight girls’ education thru the U.S. Government’s Let Girls Learn, initiative.
Mrs. Obama companied to Liberia by her two daughters – Sasha and Malia and their grandmother Marian Robinson, said one of her strengths is the ability to just be herself, no matter where she is, adding “And I encourage all of you to do that.”
“In all seriousness, it’s always a privilege to travel with my mom and my daughters, because I want them to see the world. I want them to get to know your stories and understand what you go through and just how hard you’re working to get your education. And I want girls around the world to hear that story”, she noted.
She said one doesn’t have to be somebody different to be important as everyone is important in his or her own right. Mrs. Obama: People want and need to value you because of who you are, because of your story, because of your challenges. That’s what makes you unique. You want to be different. You want to be special. The fact that you’ve been able to overcome challenges — and this is what I always talk — that makes you smarter. That made me better, right? Because I had to overcome things that a lot of people who were in the same position never had to overcome.
As part of a three-nation tour to inspire adolescent girls to go to school and remain there, the U.S. First Lady visited the West African nation this week and pledged her support for young girls desirous of acquiring education to better themselves and become leaders in their communities.
The GLOW Camp in Liberia is run by U.S. Peace Corps volunteers, imparting basic academic knowledge and giving adolescent girls the confidence they need to face the world as future leaders. Mrs. Obama said leadership is important because nobody can do everything alone, noting “Most things you can’t do by yourself, no matter how smart you are, no matter how much you care. You have to have people with you who are going to help you along the way.”
She added that never get to the point where you’re so strong that you don’t have anybody helping you. Reflecting on her own days as a girl in school in America, Mrs. Obama disclosed she had to learn that it was okay to ask for help; to do things that were a little embarrassing; to not understand math, but to still keep trying and to ask questions even when she didn’t know the answer.
“We as women”, she emphasized, “We have to understand that we know more, just even instinctively, than we think we do. So we have to be brave enough to take that risk, and maybe fail at it, and be okay with failure. And I’ve had to learn how to be okay with failure. Because you don’t do anything great unless you’re willing to fail, and then overcome the things that happen when you fail.” She said while girls in Liberia were doing their best to get an education, there are 62 million girls around the world who don’t have these opportunities, adding that when women aren’t educated, when girls don’t get the chance to go to school and fulfill their potential, it hurts not just in this country, but around the world.
She said the U.S. Government will work with the Peace Corps to change the norms that say girls aren’t worthy of an education, adding that’s why the GLOW program is so important. “You are important. You are worthy of an education. You’re going to be mothers, and it’s so important for you to have the confidence and the intelligence and the knowledge to raise beautiful, healthy kids yourself. That’s how we change generations. That’s how we grow as nations and as a world”, she told the girls.
She said the girls have an important mission as women, and to do that well, they need to pursue their education. “So no matter what anybody tells you, I want you to keep fighting. Stay in school. Go to secondary school. Go to university if you can. And then, when you do all that, I want you to continue to be the leaders that you are and come back to your communities, and find other girls just like you who are working and striving.”
By Jonathan Browne