Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

5 reasons why Michelle Obama nailed it in China

By Sheena McKenzie, for CNN
March 27, 2014 -- Updated 1358 GMT (2158 HKT)
The U.S. First Lady has been promoting educational exchange between the two countries -- and charming citizens with her easy-going manner. The U.S. First Lady has been promoting educational exchange between the two countries -- and charming citizens with her easy-going manner.
HIDE CAPTION
Lady in red
Leading women
Step ahead
Education first
Jumping for joy
Spot the Michelle
Michelle in China
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • How the U.S. First Lady won over China
  • Week-long tour promoting educational exchange between countries
  • Trip included 'First Granny' and daughters Sasha and Malia
  • Charmed citizens with warm and open manner

Editor's note: Sheena McKenzie is a contributor to CNN's Leading Women. The opinions expressed in this piece are hers. Leading Women connects you to extraordinary women of our time. Each month, we meet two women at the top of their field, exploring their careers, lives and ideas.

(CNN) -- U.S. President Barack Obama's secret weapon in China? Michelle.

Forget diplomatic meetings. It seems the quickest way to a country's heart is by skipping rope in the playground, giggling with high school students, and trying your hand at everything from tai chi to table tennis -- even if you sometimes look a bit silly in the process.

But hey, at least she's enjoying herself right? And in a country where it's rare to see leaders' spouses or children in public, Mrs Obama seems to have charmed its citizens with her approachable manner -- and snappy style.

As her week-long trip promoting educational exchange wraps up, here are five reasons why the U.S. First Lady absolutely nailed it.

Hands up if you think Michelle Obama rocks.
Getty Images

1. She's got sound advice. Michelle Obama had some words of wisdom for young American students traveling abroad for the first time: "You're probably going to make a lot of mistakes. But you know what? That's life. And other parts of the world will appreciate your effort and your energy, as long as you come into the experience respecting the people and the culture," she told CNN's iReport.

2. She took her 76-year-old mom, Marian Robinson. And her daughters, Malia, 15, and Sasha, 12. That's three generations of women, which makes a nice change from the usual line up of male delegates. A little background for you: Robinson is the White House's first live-in grandmother since the 1950s, earning the nickname "First Granny."

3. She's down with the kids. From skipping rope in the playground, to throwing some interesting tai chi shapes, and kicking a jianzi (that's a weighted shuttlecock to the rest of us), it seems there's not much Obama won't try. And she genuinely seems to enjoy it.

4. She's a cyber champion. Access to information -- including the internet -- should be a universal right, declared Obama during a speech at Peking University's Stanford Center. It's quite a ballsy statement, considering China's "Firewall" blocks all websites deemed sensitive. But the U.S. First Lady trod a fine line, stopping short of directly criticizing her hosts.

5. She's such a charmer. Barack who? Mrs Obama proved she can hold her own on an international tour, charming people with her warm and open style. Turns out you don't need a president by your side to be a number one woman...

Watch: Michelle Obama: the iReport Interview

See: U.S. First Lady visits Beijing high school

Inspire: Why Michelle Obama dances with veggies

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 23, 2014 -- Updated 1032 GMT (1832 HKT)
When it comes to buildings, they don't come much different than a mosque and a nightclub.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1320 GMT (2120 HKT)
If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen -- or so the saying goes.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1533 GMT (2333 HKT)
These 12 fashion experts have millions of followers, but who is the most social woman in fashion?
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1507 GMT (2307 HKT)
Mindy Grossman has been the driving force behind making the Home Shopping Network both hip and profitable, but she still makes time for herself.
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1318 GMT (2118 HKT)
Nelly Ben Hayoun speaking at NASA Ames research center
Nelly Ben Hayoun is on a mission to convince the world to take threats such as asteroid strikes more seriously.
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 0233 GMT (1033 HKT)
Shenan Chuang turned Ogilvy China into the world's third biggest ad agency, CNN's Kristie Lu Stout asks how she did it.
August 18, 2014 -- Updated 1045 GMT (1845 HKT)
Imagine a gadget that knows your mind better than you do.
August 5, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
When your grandmother is one of the most famous cosmetics moguls in history, it might put a little pressure on you to succeed.
July 15, 2014 -- Updated 2041 GMT (0441 HKT)
bbf
When Bobbi Brown set out to create her eponymous makeup line in 1991, she had one thing to her mind -- to make a lipstick that looked like lips.
July 15, 2014 -- Updated 0914 GMT (1714 HKT)
The Cornell educated executive, who is hotly tipped as the successor to magnate Steve Wynn, is about to unveil the latest Wynn Palace in Macau.
July 3, 2014 -- Updated 1154 GMT (1954 HKT)
From Coco Chanel to DVF, CNN takes a look at celebrated fashion designers and the iconic pieces which launched their careers.
June 17, 2014 -- Updated 1349 GMT (2149 HKT)
2 Caption:Avignon, FRANCE: Serb artist Marina Abramovic performs in 'The Biography Remix' directed by Michael Laub from Netherlands, 10 July 2005 at the Benoix-XII house during the Theater Festival held in Avignon southern France. AFP PHOTO ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT (Photo credit should read ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP/Getty Images)
CNN meets Serbian-born New-York based performance artist Marina Abramovic, as she embarks on the most controversial show of her career.
June 10, 2014 -- Updated 1506 GMT (2306 HKT)
She turned her bohemian beach style and love of ballet shoes into a billion-dollar brand. This week on Leading Women, fashion designer Tory Burch reveals her ultimate style guru.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1623 GMT (0023 HKT)
Meet Mo Abudu, the talk show host portraying a very different Africa. As a glamorous presenter, she also heads up Ebony Life TV network, based in Nigeria.
ADVERTISEMENT