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Michelle Obama's reasons to study abroad

By CNN Staff | 3/25/2014, 11:38 a.m.

Although Michelle Obama's primary White House initiative has been conquering childhood obesity, the first lady is focusing on a new area during her first official trip to China: studying abroad.

Obama, who landed in China on Wednesday, is there to emphasize the importance of students learning from one another's cultures. She is making a week-long trip to visit children at several schools in three Chinese cities.

The first lady took time in Beijing to answer viewer-submitted questions about studying abroad in an exclusive CNN iReport Interview. More than 350 questions were submitted to CNN iReport from students, parents and avid travelers.

Several great questions made it into the final video interview, but for the questions that didn't make the cut, here is the transcript of the first lady's responses. The interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

What is your most memorable cultural and travel experience? -- Ovunuchi Ejiohuo, Port Harcourt, Nigeria

Michelle Obama: I'm blessed to have so many phenomenal cultural experiences, everything from traveling to so many parts of Africa to meeting with the Pope at the Vatican to being here at Peking University. Everywhere I go, I'm always struck by the reality that we have so much more in common throughout the world, regardless of where we're born, our race, our religious beliefs. We're all striving for the best for our communities and for our families. This is why study abroad is so important. The more young people get the opportunity to travel the world, live in other cultures and learn new languages, the more they will begin to understand our shared ideals and the shared opportunities to keep moving this world forward.

How can we, as students, help push our fellow students and the next generation abroad? How can we help you in your efforts to make the United States a more worldly and open-minded nation? -- Ethan Higgins, Prescott, Arizona

Obama: I think so many people in your generation already get it in ways that people in my generation didn't get it. One thing I shared during my speech here in Peking (University) was that when I was in college, I never took advantage of the opportunities to study abroad. Some of it was because I was afraid. Some of it was because I didn't know what opportunities existed. Some of it was because I though the best thing I could do was finish my degree, get out there in the world and make money as fast as I could. But now, more and more young people are coming to college with a broader sensibility. I think that has a lot to do with the fact that people have access to the Internet. You guys are seeing the world through eyes that I never had access to when I was your age.

I would just encourage you to continue to be a voice for the importance of travel and stepping outside of your comfort zones to the extent that you're mentoring other young people where you're from, going to schools, encouraging young people to learn new languages and not be afraid to try new things, even if it's as simple as going to another community and trying a different kind of food.