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Obama Delivers Speech in Chicago University | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Former US president Barack Obama. Reuters

Washington- Barack Obama on Monday returned to the political stage with his first public appearance since stepping down from the US presidency in January.

Obama, who has spent the past three months on holiday and working on his book, hosted a panel of six students at the University of Chicago.

In a nearly 90-minute forum, Obama laid out lessons he learned as a young community organizer in Chicago decades ago and vowed to help bring up the next generation of leaders.

“I’m spending a lot of time thinking about what is the most important thing I can do for my next job?” Obama said on stage.

“The single most important thing I can do is to help in any way I can prepare the next generation of leadership, to take up the baton, and to take their own crack at changing the word.”

Obama, 55, reflected on the fact that when he came to Chicago more than 30 years ago as a 25-year-old, he was “filled with idealism and absolute certainty that somehow I was going to change the world.”

“But I had no idea how,” Obama said.

“I am the first to acknowledge that I did not set the world on fire. Nor did I transform these communities in any significant way.”

The former president chose the University of Chicago, where he served as a lecturer at the law school, to return to the spotlight.

Obama also waited several weeks longer than his two most recent predecessors to deliver his first post-presidency remarks.

For his part, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who served as Obama’s first White House chief of staff, said that he was proud that Obama picked Chicago to make his last speech as president and the first in his post-presidency.

“I think it reflects his emotional, as well as his intellectual, commitment to this city and seeing this city as his home,” he said.