In her introduction of the President to the youth of Northern Ireland, First Lady Michelle Obama explained that they always made a point of visiting with young people, because in only a few decades, they will be the ones whose ideas and creative energy will shape the future for the world and they are in a powerful position to make some imaginative choices for peace and prosperity, with what she described as “the freedom of an open mind,” in order to explore fresh perspectives:
“Let me tell you, when I was your age, I never dreamed that I’d be standing here as First Lady of the United States. And I know that my husband never thought he’d be President, either. Neither of us grew up with much money. Neither of my parents went to university. Barack’s father left his family when Barack was just two years old. He was raised by a single mom.
And all along the way, there were plenty of people who doubted that kids like us had what it took to succeed — people who told us not to hope for too much or set our sights too high. But Barack and I refused to let other people define us. Instead, we held tight to those values we were raised with — things like honesty, hard work, a commitment to our education.
We did our best to be open to others; to give everyone we met a fair shake, no matter who they were or where they came from. And we soon realized that the more we lived by those values, the more we’d see them from other people in return. We saw that when we reached out and listened to somebody else’s perspective, that person was more likely to listen to us. If we treated a classmate with respect, they’d treat us well in return.
And that’s sort of how we became who we are today. That’s how we learned what leadership really means. It’s about stepping outside of your comfort zone to explore new ideas. It’s about rising above old divisions. It’s about treating people the way you want to be treated in return.”
The Belfast Telegraph also reported yesterday that Malia and Sasha Obama learned a few more details about their family’s Irish ancestry, as they toured Trinity College and were presented certificates of Irish heritage.
Certificates of the Obama family genealogy shows President Barack Obama’s ancestry from Falmouth Kearney, his second great-grandfather to his seventh great-grandfather, Joseph Kearney.
It identified John Kearney, whom college researchers described as a distant cousin of the US president, who went on to become the provost of Trinity, and later Church of Ireland Bishop of Ossory, a diocese in Kilkenny, Laois and Offaly.
The family were also shown an original 19th century map held by the National Library of Ireland which shows lands of Gorthgreen from where some of the family originated.