News World News

Saturday 20 January 2018

Obama offers advice to young people at first public event since leaving office

Former president Barack Obama listens to Max Freedman during a conversation on civic engagement and community organising at the University of Chicago (AP)
Former president Barack Obama listens to Max Freedman during a conversation on civic engagement and community organising at the University of Chicago (AP)

Former US president Barack Obama has used his first public appearance since leaving office to dole out advice to young people on leadership, managing social media and even marriage.

At a forum for students at the University of Chicago, adjacent to where his presidential library will stand, Mr Obama talked about his formative experiences as a community organiser and as a young politician running for office in Illinois.

However, for much of the panel event, he listened.

"Although there are all kinds of issues that I care about and all kinds of issues that I intend to work on, the single most important thing I can do is to help in any way I can to prepare the next generation of leadership to take up the baton and take their own crack at changing the world," Mr Obama said during the event, which was invite-only and streamed live online.

He told the hundreds of area students in the audience that his focus after holding the nation's highest office will be civic engagement with young people, and he that he hopes his presidential library, which will stand near the edge of campus, will be part of that mission.

Since delivering his farewell address in his home town of Chicago in January, Mr Obama has kept a low profile.

He met privately with a group of at-risk young men on Sunday, talking about gang violence and opportunities for jobs.

His first public engagement on Monday came as President Donald Trump neared his 100-day mark in office.

However, Mr Obama shied away from addressing specific policies or his own two terms as president.

When it came to current events, like immigration, he stuck to generalities.

He also gave advice.

When a college student panellist asked how to conduct a project involving interviewing day labourers, Mr Obama told him to ditch the clipboard.

When others asked about being young in the age of social media, Mr Obama advised them to limit photos posted online, including being "more circumspect about your selfies".

He also dropped in a marital tidbit, saying it's best to "listen to understand" instead of listening "to respond".

"I learned that in marriage," he said to laughs from the audience. "That'll save you a lot of heartache and grief."

He encouraged students to talk to people who have opposing viewpoints, asking a college Republican panellist to discuss his campus experiences.

Mr Obama said his work as a young organiser, which included meeting with Chicago public housing residents, laid the foundation for his time in office.

He said he has been reflecting as he works on a book about his political career.

"This community gave me a lot more than I was able to give in return," he said.

"This community taught me that everybody has a story to tell that is important."


Press Association

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editors Choice

Also in World News