Michelle Obama played hopscotch, danced and sang with 33 disadvantaged children from the Indian charity Make a Difference Saturday at the University of Mumbai. Almost immediately after arriving at the university’s library, she kicked off her flats and joined in a game of vocabulary-building hopscotch with the eight to 13-year-old orphans and runaways who receive English language instruction from Make a Difference volunteers.
“I love dancing! Oh that was fun!” Michelle Obama said after dancing to the theme song from the Bollywood movie Rang de Basanti. She also joined a drum and tambourine circle with the children, banging on a tambourine while the kids pounded on drums. After dancing, she spoke to the children about the importance of having an education. “I didn’t grow up with a lot of money, I never even imagined being the first lady of the United States. But because I had an education, when the time came to do this, I was ready,” she told them. The kids fell silent after one girl asked a question, so the first lady urged another round of dancing. “Let’s dance some more! One more dance!” she said, and was quickly surrounded by a bouncing circle of girls throwing their arms in the air while the boys nearby jumped up and down.
Before leaving, the first lady sent each child home with a tote bag stuffed with educational materials — notebooks, pencils, pens and White House M&Ms. Jithin Nedumala, 23, who forsook an MBA to help found Make a Difference in 2006, said he hoped the first lady’s visit would inspire the children he works with. “We are here to tell the children to dream big, they’re in orphanages and street shelters where they don’t have their parents to push them. Not many people believe in these kids,” he explained.