December 10, 2019

Michelle Obama and Julia Roberts Reportedly Had an Emotional Talk with Schoolgirls While in Vietnam

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During at event in Malaysia for the Girls Opportunity Alliance, Michelle Obama and Julia Roberts were left emotional after a young teacher shares her story about the obstacles she overcame to get her education.

On Monday, Julia Roberts joined Michelle Obama to support her in Vietnam for the "Girls Opportunity Alliance at the Obama Foundation." The work focuses on helping to educate girls around the world.

Robert's tells PEOPLE, she had never been involved with anything that focuses on addressing the issues around girl's education, and she jumped at the invitation to join Obama.


Arriving at Cần Giuộc High School, the two women sat down with Tay Thi Nguyen, who shared her story of how, at seven-years-old, she stood up against her parents in pursuit of her dream to go to school.

She shared the harrowing story of how her parents burned her books and tried to force her to give up school and instead work in the fields to help support her six siblings. 


With the support of a program called "Room to Read," she eventually went to school and achieved her dream of becoming a teacher, Tay Thi said:

"They helped me not only in financial support, but in spiritual support. Finally, my mom understood me and loved me more."


Roberts and Obama were both left in tears after hearing Tay Thi's story of sheer determination to pursue her dreams. Commenting on the young teacher's "humanity and will," Robert’s said:

"It's such a beautiful thing: She just never gave up. I will never recover from that story, really."

Michelle Obama addresses her guests from a stage at the Obama Foundation Summit, on October 29, 2019, in Chicago, Illinois | Source: Scott Olson/Getty Images


Roberts says she is in awe of how determined Tay Thi was at only seven-years-old. The "Pretty Woman" star admits, at that age she was more concerned about things like cotton candy and Archie comics.


Feeling the impact of all the stories the young girls shared with them, she says she didn't have to think twice about participating and knew in her heart that making the trip too Vietnam was the right thing to do. 

Bringing along more star power, Obama and Roberts were also joined by "Today”"co-host, Jenna Bush Hager, and other guests to participate in the "Leaders: Asia-Pacific program."