Michelle Obama kicked off her sandals and danced to the beats of AR Rahman’s song from Rang de Basanti with 30 disadvantaged children part of the non-profit organisation, Make a Difference (MAD), on Saturday evening.
Interacting with the orphans and runaway children at Mumbai University’s heritage library hall, the US First Lady joined in a game of vocabulary-building hop-scotch.
She had to name the father of the nation, the capital of the US and spell words like “Washington DC” and “happiness” to hop to the next level and complete the game.
“She danced very well. She even did the jhatakas,” said Sagar Jadhav (12), showing off Michelle’s autograph on a small piece of paper torn from his notebook. “I am going to stick her autograph in my personal diary,” said Jadhav, who lives at the YMCA boys’ home in Chembur.
He added that the “wife of the US President” also told him to study hard.
Michelle, who had changed into a casual beige blouse and floral skirt for the informal interaction, totally charmed the children.
“She loved dancing with the kids so much that she asked for another dance,” said Tanmay Arora (20), president of MAD’s Mumbai chapter.
She even joined a drum and tambourine circle with the children and played a tambourine while the kids pounded on drums. Surrounded by a gaggle of girls dressed in bright salwar-kurtas and neatly dressed boys, Michelle stressed the importance of education.
“She recounted growing up without too much money. She said that she never dreamt of being first lady but could handle the role when the time came only because of her education,” said Jitin Nedulamala (23), who helped found MAD in 2006.
Michelle was welcomed to the university by vice-chancellor Rajan Welukar and a group of students, who had participated in the October 2 inter-college event, MUNIJAN (Mumbai University New Initiative for Joint Action).
“I was impressed by her down-to-earth nature. She was genuinely interested in our ideas,” said Akanksha Sharma of the Sydenham College of Management team, which had won MUNIJAN with its ‘Eco-binding’ project.
Encouraged by Michelle, the group wants to take the concept of recycling unused notebook paper, global. They gifted Michelle an eco-bound book, with Sanskrit shlokas, famous quotes and a picture of the Obama couple.
“Recounting her community service days Michelle Obama told us that our service is the rent which we pay for our living,” said Olivia D’mello, a Welingkar College student.