The First Lady Visits China

First Lady Michelle Obama returns from a weeklong trip to the world’s most populous nation

Mar 26, 2014 | By Cameron Keady
ANDY WONG—AP

First Lady Michelle Obama, her daughters Sasha and Malia, and her mother, Marian Robinson, stand with Madame Peng at the Forbidden City in Beijing, China, on Friday, March 21.

First Lady Michelle Obama returns this afternoon from a weeklong trip to China. Along with her mother, Mrs. Marian Robinson, and two daughters, Malia and Sasha, Mrs. Obama visited some of the East Asian nation’s most important historical and cultural sites.

Mrs. Obama sits in on an English class with Chinese students at Chengdu No.7 High School in Chengdu city, in southwest China's Sichuan province.
IMAGINECHINA/AP
Mrs. Obama sits in on an English class with Chinese students at Chengdu No.7 High School in Chengdu city, in southwest China's Sichuan province.

Touring China

The first stop on the trip was Beijing, China’s capital and one of the largest cities in the world. Madame Peng Liyuan, the wife of Chinese president Xi Jinping, greeted Mrs. Obama and her family. They went on to visit Beijing Normal School, where students talked about their classwork and their day-to-day school schedule. “This visit was a perfect opportunity to highlight the themes of my trip: the value of education and the importance of cultural exchanges between young people in different countries,” said Mrs. Obama in a blog post.

The First Lady went on to visit some of China’s most important landmarks and museums. While in Beijing, Mrs. Obama toured the Forbidden City, which for nearly 500 years served as the emperor’s home. Now, the ornate buildings and outdoor spaces serve as a museum open to the public.

She and her daughters also walked a section of the Great Wall of China, which is the longest man-made construction in the world. They reached this section of the wall by cable car but came back down the mountainside a different way— on toboggans down a long, curving slide.

The next day, they toured the Terracotta Warriors Museum. Discovered in 1976, the 6,000 life-size statues made of terra-cotta clay are remnants of Han dynasty, which ruled China from 206 B.C. to 220 A.D.

Mrs. Obama and her mother use a pole to feed apples to giant pandas at the Chengdu Giant Panda Research Base.
PETAR KUJUNDZIC—AFP/GETTY IMAGSE
Mrs. Obama and her mother use a pole to feed apples to giant pandas at the Chengdu Giant Panda Research Base.

The First Lady concluded her time in China at the Chengdu Panda Base. The base serves as a breeding and research center for Pandas, and spans nearly 600 miles of natural habitat for the bears.  Mrs. Obama even got the chance to meet some Panda cubs. “They were so tiny—like stuffed animals—and later, I got the chance to hold one of these little guys!” she wrote on her blog.

Global Classrooms

The entire trip was documented on various social media outlets. In addition to her travel blog on the White House site, Mrs. Obama shared photos on Instagram and answered questions from students on Twitter. Outside the Terracotta Warriors Museum, she replied to TIME For Kids readers from Lisa Debo’s First Grade Class at McAlpine Elementary School in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Mrs. Obama’s trip to China had a strong focus on education. Part of her mission was to emphasize the importance of cultural exchange, and how young people in different countries can learn from each another. She spoke about the importance of learning new languages, understanding and respecting different cultures, and how technology can make global connections for young students possible. 

The First Lady has made many trips around the world, advocating for young students and children. Her work continues to create understanding and acceptance between cultures, and bring together classrooms around the world.

The First Lady learns Tai Chi with students at Chengdu No.7 High School.
FENG LI—GETTY IMAGES
The First Lady learns Tai Chi with students at Chengdu No.7 High School.

A Focus on Education and Health

In addition to work for education, Mrs. Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign has been one of her main focuses as First Lady. The program encourages kids to eat well and exercise for a healthier lifestyle. This year, she is hosting a Kids' "State Dinner." The event is part of a contest that challenges kids ages 8 to 12 to create a healthy recipe. The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge will select one winner from each state, as well as Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. territories, to travel to Washington, D.C. and join the First Lady for the special celebration. Applicants have until April 5 to submit their recipes.

To learn more about China's land and culture, take a virtual journey to East Asia with Around the World: China.

To enter the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, go to recipechallenge.epicurious.com.

To hear the First Lady's response to a question from TIME For Kids readers, watch the video below.

To watch the video on a tablet or mobile device, click here