Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The First Tweens' Excellent Summer Adventure

First Tweens Malia and Sasha Obama will certainly have a lot to say when asked "What did you do over the summer?" The girls return to Sidwell Friends School tomorrow, entering 6th and 3rd grades respectively. They spent their summer traveling to countries on four continents and took in a few American sites as well.

They began their summer in June in Paris, visiting the Eiffel Tower, the Pompidou Center, the Louvre and Notre Dame Cathedral. Then they hopped over the Channel to London where Sasha celebrated her 8th birthday on June 10th. This amazing birthday celebration was held on the set of the final Harry Potter movie and was attended by cast and crew, including J.K. Rowling! In London, the Obama ladies toured Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and the Tower of London and even met the Queen! Part of the birthday celebration included taking in a show (a must-do in the London's vibrant theatre district) - The Lion King.

Malia Obama celebrated her 11th birthday on July 4th here in Washington (there's nothing like a fireworks for one's birthday!). The First Family then went to Moscow on July 6th where the First Tweens toured the Kremlin, took in a concert and met with Russia's First Lady. Then it was off to Rome where the girls learned to make gelato at one of Italy's most famous gelaterias - Giolitti, met the Pope, and toured the Parthenon and the Colosseum.

The girls visited their fourth continent, Africa, on a visit to Ghana. In addition to seeing Ghana's vibrant culture and dance traditions, the First Family spent some solemn moments at Cape Coast Castle in Accra where Africans used to be imprisoned before being shipped into slavery. The President said he hoped that seeing the former slave fortress would help his daughters, "who are growing up in such a blessed way," to understand their obligation to fight oppression and cruelty.

The First Tweens spent the rest of their summer holiday State-side. They visited sites local to the Washington area in late July: Luray Caverns in West Virginia and Monticello and Charlottesville in Virginia (we blogged about those trip details here). The Obama ladies also took a day trip to Philadelphia in early August to tour a few historical sites including Betsy Ross' house (we blogged about those trip details here). Mid-August saw the First Family at Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Canyon (more details here), and by late August the girls were on the beach on Martha's Vineyard.

Their scrapbooks must be full! The First Tweens met the Pope, the Queen of England, and dined with the Presidents of France and Russia - all in one summer. Those dignitaries are no Jonas Brothers, but what an amazing opportunity to see the world and learn for these young ladies.

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