Michelle Obama Took A Presidential Approach To Prepare Sasha And Malia Obama For Their First Trip To Africa

When you grow up with a mom and dad who are the First Lady and President of the United States, facets of your childhood are bound to change — including how your family prepares for traveling. And according to a People Q&A with the then-First Lady Michelle Obama, daughters Malia and Sasha Obama were given the presidential briefing treatment ahead of their family trips overseas. 

The former First Lady recalled the experience of preparing for the Obamas' 2013 trip to Africa, saying, "We brief them like I'm briefed and the President is briefed. They get a little packet of material so they understand the history of the country." During the trip to Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania, Sasha and Malia were 12 and 14, respectively. 

The author, philanthropist, and mom of two said she had her daughters dutifully prepare for their trip abroad so that their international adventure would be as educational and productive as possible.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama stayed busy during the trip

There are plenty of things presidents' children can't do while their parents are in office, and assuming a trip abroad will be easy, breezy, and relaxing is no exception. Malia and Sasha Obama were still young teens at the time of their trip, but this was certainly no family vacation. Their parents had a full docket on the trip, from meeting world leaders to attending summits to giving presentations to African youth. 

Similarly, the girls had work to do ahead of the trip, too. Michelle Obama explained to People that her daughters' briefing process was meant to mentally prepare the girls before they arrived in the three third-world countries. "I want my girls to get the entire feel of what it means to be in countries that are not the United States [and] to be educated and have as much information as they can about the countries they're visiting."

The Obama daughters didn't attend every event their parents did, but they did travel as a family to Robben Island Prison in Cape Town, South Africa, and toured former South African President Nelson Mandela's prison cell.

The Obamas' trip to Africa was one part of a largely exceptional childhood

When the two sisters first moved into the White House with their parents in 2009, they were only 10 and 7 years old, meaning the majority of Malia and Sasha Obama's childhood was spent living before a presidential backdrop — a reality that wasn't lost on parents Barack and Michelle Obama. Per mom Michelle, even something as innocent as a sleepover had to become a top-level security affair. 

The former First Lady shared her tongue-in-cheek description of Sasha and Malia's White House playdates with CBS News, saying, "It's like, 'Hello. Okay, we're going to need your Social Security number, and we're going to need your date of birth. There are going to be men coming to sweep your house." In that same interview, Michelle praised her daughters for forging meaningful connections with their peers despite their extraordinary home life. 

Indeed, it seems that Malia and Sasha's presidential upbringing helped them become the independent, motivated women they are today — and helped create the sisters' deep and unique bond. As their dad, former President Barack Obama, said in an interview with People, Malia and Sasha have "become these marvelous young women — there's been no greater joy than that."