First Lady Michelle Obama Praises Seattle-based OneWorld Now! Student in Peking Univ. Speech

First Lady Michelle Obama highlighted the experience of Seattle-based OneWorld Now! (OWN) student Philmon Haile in her speech at Peking University in Beijing about the importance of studying abroad.

As a young child, Haile’s family immigrated to the U.S. as refugees from Eritrea. At age 15, he joined OWN, a Seattle-based global leadership program for underserved youth, where he chose to study Mandarin Chinese. His success earned him an OWN scholarship to spend his senior year of high school in China. He subsequently returned to China several times thanks to scholarships and an internship at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. Now a student at the University of Washington, he was recently awarded the Charles B. Rangel Fellowship, which paves the way for eventual entry into the U.S. Foreign Service.

Earlier this month, Haile represented OneWorld Now! at a Washington, D.C. event for President Obama’s “100,000 Strong” initiative. As a 100,000 Strong Student Ambassador, he presented an award to former U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke. Mrs. Obama quoted Philmon’s speech from that event, in which he said, “Study abroad is a powerful vehicle for people-to-people exchange as we move into a new era of citizen diplomacy.”

Haile says of his OWN experience, “Investing in youth and giving them an international perspective is the only way to inspire youth to take action and make change globally.” He continues,“I never even imagined that I could study abroad or learn Chinese. It was so far from my experience growing up as an East African immigrant in Seattle. OneWorld Now! changed the whole trajectory of my life.”

See CNN on First Lady’s speech: CNN: Michelle Obama lauds study abroad as ‘citizen diplomacy’

See Philmon’s CNN iReport: “How Study Abroad Inspired Me to Make a Difference”

OneWorld Now! has been recognized as “one of the nation’s most innovative after-school programs.” OneWorld Now! is developing the next generation of global leaders by providing Chinese and Arabic language studies, leadership training, and study abroad scholarships to underserved high school youth. For more information,

CONTACT: Kristin Hayden, OWN Founder and Executive Director | (206) 223-7703 |

Translate »