Behind the Lens: Photographing the President in 50 Countries

Today, President Obama visits Kenya — the 50th country he has visited during his Administration. It’s also my 50th country traveling with the President.

To mark the occasion, as I did when the President visited his 50th state, I chose one photograph from each country that we’ve visited.

Traveling abroad with the President is very different.

Often times, I am at the mercy of the host country for access. Some countries are more accommodating to me than others. I am lucky to have counterpart official photographers in many countries who are extremely helpful to me in this regard. I of course try to return the help to them when they visit the White House with their head of state.

We’re also rarely in any one country for more than a couple of days, which gives us only a partial glimpse of each place. And because of security, the sites we are able to visit are often limited too.

All that said, we’ve had the incredible opportunity to visit the Pyramids in Egypt, Stonehenge in the United Kingdom, the Great Wall in China, Petra in Jordan, and the Shwedagon Pagoda in Myanmar (Burma). (So I really shouldn’t complain too much.)

I hope you enjoy this gallery. And stay tuned — we’ll be adding a photograph from Kenya and additionally, Ethiopia, following his visit next week.

Afghanistan, 2012

Boarding Air Force One at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, May 1, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Join a Twitter Q&A on the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit

President Obama at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum

President Barack Obama takes the stage to deliver remarks at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum held at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel during the U.S. Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Update: Ned Price, Assistant Press Secretary and Director for Strategic Communications, will be answering questions on @NSCPress.

Over the past couple of weeks, there's been a lot of activity in Washington focused around strengthening our economic and diplomatic ties with Africa. Last week, President Obama took part in a town hall for the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, which is part of the President's Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). And this week, the President hosted the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, which brought 50 African leaders to Washington, making it the largest event any U.S. President has held with African heads of state and government.

During the summit, the President highlighted Africa's impressive economic growth, and made clear that America will be a partner in its success -- "a good partner, an equal partner, and a partner for the long term." He also announced a series of steps that the United States is taking to boost trade and investments with Africa -- commitments from the private and public sectors which total some $33 billion.

This is an important step for both the United States and Africa -- and we want to spend a little more time talking about it with you this week. So Assistant Press Secretary and Director for Strategic Communications Ned Price is taking to Twitter to answer your questions. Tomorrow, August 7 at 2 p.m. ET, join Ned Price and the ONE Campaign for a Twitter Q&A on YALI and this week's U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit.

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Connecting Continents: Join a Google+ Hangout with First Lady Michelle Obama from South Africa

This week, the First Lady is joining President Obama on an official visit to Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania. During the trip, Mrs. Obama will meet with young people across the continent and highlight the power of education.

On Saturday, June 29th, the First Lady is hosting a special event that will connect young people in South Africa with young people in the U.S. to discuss the importance of education and our shared future -- and you can be a part of it. Here's how:

During this event, in conjunction with MTV Base, an African youth and music TV channel, and Google+, the First Lady and MTV Base VJ Sizwe Dhlomo will join students in South Africa for a virtual discussion with young people in cities around the U.S., including:

  • Girl Up, a United Nations Foundation that unites girls to change the world, will join from Houston, Texas. In addition to the students joining the hangout, Girl Up is hosting dozens of watch parties around the country.
  • John Legend and students involved in his Show Me Campaign, a global campaign fighting for equal access to quality education, will join from Los Angeles, California.
  • Y Global Teens, a YMCA program that provides underprivileged youth with an international service learning experience, will join from New York City. Through the program, these students will visit the Cape Town YMCA.
  • From Google Fiber Space in Kansas City, participants will join that are part of the KC STEM Alliance to promote and inspire interest in science, technology, engineering and math education

This Google+ Hangout with the First Lady kicks off a series of global virtual field trips on Google+ that will launch in the school year. Stay tuned for opportunities to participate in events with the State Department, Global Nomads Group, a nonprofit organization that facilitates cultural exchanges, and others. Check out the Global Nomads Google+ Community to connect with peers around the world right now and stay engaged.

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Traveling to Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and members of the First Family are welcomed at Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport In Yoff, Senegal

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and members of the First Family are welcomed at Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport In Yoff, Senegal, June 26, 2013. Senegal President Macky Sall, left, and First Lady Marème Sall greeted the Obamas upon their arrival to Senegal. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Yesterday, President Obama, his family, and the U.S. delegation began our trip to Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania, as part of our commitment to invest in Africa’s development and its people. It is my first trip to these countries, and I look forward to meeting new faces from each country.

In 2010, President Obama hosted a forum with 115 young leaders from more than 40 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. They traveled more than 4,000 miles to discuss the continent’s future and promise at the White House and State Department. The young leaders embraced the challenge of leading sub-Saharan Africa for the next generation, and this week, we are excited to meet more young people who are taking up the mantle.

We all know that Africa is a new center of global growth, and is creating more opportunities for its people than ever before.  The challenge is to ensure these gains are expanded to benefit all Africans. 

As such, during this trip, President Obama will highlight three major themes:

First, increasing U.S. trade and investment.  We are redoubling our efforts to create an environment that enables greater trade, and investment, through encouraging regional integration, legal reforms that break down barriers to the free flow of goods, and services, greater transparency, and anti-corruption measures.

President Obama will also highlight the need to increase access to electricity, and expand trade, and investment. I will be participating in roundtables with United States Trade Representative Mike Froman to highlight business opportunities between the United States, and African countries. We will also discuss our effective partnerships on food security, and global health, which are delivering results by reducing hunger, and under-nutrition, improving child survival, and moving people out of poverty.

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FLOTUS Travel Journal: Kicking Off Our Trip to Africa

Today, my husband, President Obama, and I, along with our daughters, are heading to Africa – to Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania – and we want young people all across America to join us! This is such an important trip because Africa is s... Read more »

Change the World: Join the Foreign Service

Note: This post was originally published on the Department of State blog. To see the original post, please click here.

As a young woman growing up in Louisiana, a career in the Foreign Service was never really on my list of life dreams -- but all that changed, beginning with graduate school and a research project in Africa that opened my eyes to the possibilities of diplomatic life.

Since joining the Department of State 31 years ago, I have lived and worked on four continents, traveling the world from Afghanistan to South Africa. I have witnessed the horror of genocide in Rwanda; I've celebrated the joy of people coming out of 15 years of war to elect the first woman president in Africa. I've never regretted those first steps out of my comfort zone and into the world of diplomacy.

I've been the face of America abroad, and I've been blessed with the opportunity to make a difference in people's lives and to represent my nation. The State Department needs the energy and passion of Americans who want a career that matters.

And that's why we've made this video.

We want to highlight and share with you some of the faces and stories of the amazing people who have made their dreams to do good in the world a reality through their career in the Foreign Service.

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US Leadership to Advance Equality for LGBT People Abroad

During Human Rights Week, we reaffirm our commitment to upholding human rights and human dignity at home and abroad, and we recognize the need to build a world in which everyone can pursue their dreams free from violence and discrimination. Last week a... Read more »

Making It Easier for American Firms to Do Business in Africa

Editor’s Note: Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank and Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez on Wednesday announced the launch of the “Doing Business in Africa” campaign at an event in J... Read more »