According to the Washington Post, the family outing came after Mrs. Obama held a roundtable discussion on education at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. Prior to the discussion, Mrs. Obama acknowledged the weather as she admitted to putting her husband, president Barack Obama, on to Mother Nature’s work with the weather overseas.
“When he was here, it was freezing,” Mrs. Obama said. “I’m calling him and talking about how warm and sunny it is.”
Mrs. Obama’s roundtable discussion, which was held Sunday morning, included eight Chinese educators, students and parents who spoke off-the-record to allow for a frank exchange, officials stated. Among those sitting in for the event were Max Baucus, the newly installed U.S. ambassador to China and Tina Tchen, the first lady’s chief of staff.
“One of the reasons I have come to China is to learn more about education around the world,” Mrs. Obama said. “It’s personal, because I wouldn’t be where I am today without my parents investing and pushing me to get a good education.”
During the discussion, topics included a critique of standardized testing, which is rigidly applied in China’s educational system and has been a source of debate in U.S. schools.
The group, which included the first lady, ultimately agreed that tests track only one measure of a student’s potential, according to a senior White House official spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the discussion. Regarding challenges that ethnic minorities face in China, one roundtable participant told Obama of a predominantly minority province in China that is home to 2 million school-age children and only two high schools.
Up next for Mrs. Obama and her family is Xian, where she and her family will visit the site of the ancient terra-cotta warriors and Chengdu, home to a giant-panda research facility.
“I’m going to be able to speak with more high school students there, really to see another region of the country and to speak to the students there, as well,” Obama said at the roundtable. “So I’m very excited.”