YOKOHAMA, Japan – During three days in India, Michelle Obama danced with children and then danced some more. She played hopscotch and clasped hands with each of the 15 schoolgirls she joined for a museum field trip.
Images of her dancing with the children in Mumbai ran virtually nonstop on TV and were plastered across the newspapers.
For that, Mrs. Obama won glowing praise Saturday from administration officials who said the events she did on her own in India were among the most successful of President Barack Obama's 10-day, four-country tour of Asia.
"She clearly reached the Indian people through her direct interactions with young Indians," Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser to the president, told reporters Saturday.
Rhodes said events where the first lady engaged young people and spoke with them about their concerns sent "a very powerful message that we're not just speaking to the Indian elite. We're speaking to the broad Indian populace."
Before introducing Obama at a town hall last Sunday in Mumbai, Mrs. Obama told a gathering of college students that she never imagined, growing up in a working-class Chicago neighborhood, that she would serve her country as first lady.
She kicked off her flats to shake her hips with children, and after touring the crafts museum she sat with the girls beneath a canopy of trees, sharing mango juice and entertaining their questions.
She urged the girls to get an education and study hard.
"I think her star power and her ability to send a positive message about America to the world was a real key takeaway of the Indian trip," Rhodes said.
His boss, national security adviser Tom Donilon, concurred. He said the first lady had represented her country well.
Mrs. Obama joined the president on his stops in India and on an abbreviated visit to Indonesia, where he lived for several years as a child, before she returned to Washington.