MEXICO CITY — “These are the movers and shakers here in Mexico,” first lady Michelle Obama said as she sat down Thursday morning with a dozen student leaders from all parts of the nation at a former colonial-era hacienda here.
Most of the group had some extraordinary accomplishment in helping the underserved or the unfortunate, whether in education, health or the environment.
Billed as a roundtable discussion, there was no cross talk as Mrs. Obama worked her way around the rectangular table as the six men and six women each explained their special projects. Mrs. Obama’s offering for the group was her recounting of how, when she was coming up, during meetings, she would often find herself as the only African American at the table.
Maritza Aurora Morales Casanova — an environmental educator — told Mrs. Obama how hard it was to get attention for environmental issues and commented on gender roles.
“Behind a great man, there’s a great woman. I don’t believe that, I believe beside every great man there is a great woman,” she said.
“What would have happened to Diego Rivera without Frida Kahlo?” she asked, speaking of the famous Mexican artists. Or Pierre Currie without Marie, she said of the French physicists. Or, turning to the U.S., Bill Clinton “without Hillary?”
Mrs. Obama seemed touched. “What you have to know is you are the voices of inspiration,” she said. “You don’t need Bill Gates or Michelle Obama, although that’s nice sometimes. Young people in your communities are relating to you.”
This was Mrs. Obama’s last public event of her first solo official international swing that started Tuesday with her stop in Haiti. Mrs. Obama lifted off from Mexico City at noon en route to San Diego.