Mrs. Trump spoke with the students about “Be Best,” her signature campaign as first lady focused on children's wellbeing

By Adam Carlson
September 26, 2019 05:44 PM

While President Donald Trump spent much of the week in New York at the United Nations, First Lady Melania Trump met Monday at the New York Stock Exchange with a small group of students from the United Nations’ school.

But one student let slip that not everyone was happy about the event.

According to reporters in attendance, a boy from the United Nations International School said before Mrs. Trump, 49, arrived at the stock exchange that “someone else was supposed to be here but their parents didn’t want them.”

A girl in the group of students quickly elbowed him.

Mrs. Trump was greeted by a group of 10 students from UNIS, the pre-K-to-12th grade school associated with the United Nations. The students, all in either third or fourth grade, were chosen by lottery from a larger pool of kids who wanted to go, school officials said.

As New York magazine’s The Cut detailed, however, not everyone at UNIS was pleased by the possibility. “Instead of enlisting some photogenic kids as UNIS PR props, might I suggest we offer to the U.S. Mission that they could invite some children from the cages in Mexicali?” one parent wrote to the school’s junior principal.

At the stock exchange on Monday, Mrs. Trump spoke with the students about “Be Best,” her signature campaign as first lady focused on children’s well-being — including curbing online bullying and the opioid epidemic.

Earlier this year, she said she had even discussed it with son Barron. “I teach him,” she said at a March event in Las Vegas. “I try to explain how drugs are dangerous and it will mess up your head, it will mess up your body and nothing comes positive out of it.”

RELATED: Melania Trump Has Talked to Son Barron About the Dangers of Drugs — ‘It Will Mess Up Your Head’

First Lady Melania Trump with students from the United Nations International School at the New York Stock Exchange
First Lady Melania Trump (left) at the NYSE on Monday
Seth Wenig/AP/Shutterstock

On Monday, Mrs. Trump encouraged the gathered students to “follow your dreams and be best at what you do.”

She was also joined by Stacey Cunningham, the NYSE’s first female president.

Mrs. Trump was presented with a plaque from UNIS with the school’s mission printed on it, and one of the students read her a letter (a bit nervously).

“Mrs. Trump, I would like to tell you our school is honored to meet you,” the student said. “UNIS stands for peace in the world and to make the world a better place. We are very opened-minded and like to listen to new ideas. We like our ideas to be heard too. We like to tell people to be kind. Please help UNIS spread the love around the world.”

The students received a “Be Best”-branded bag with a hat, mousepad and T-shirt.

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The first lady has faced regular criticism for “Be Best” from critics of her husband who dismiss her work as little more than a hypocritical mask — given the president’s own attacks on Twitter and other divisive behavior seemingly antithetical to her message.

Of the controversy Mrs. Trump’s event had stirred, the school’s junior principal said Monday, “I think the big thing for us to hear today is not about political opinion, it is from to stand for our mission. And our mission is based on the diplomacy, which is the essence of the United Nation. And we believe that we need to sit with everyone at the table.”

“We have a show some example where people sometime are going to sit at the table with the people with whom they disagree,” he said.