Former US President Barack Obama made a decision to put a break on his extended vacations and reappeared in public Monday saying he is ready to take up the challenge of encouraging young people to take part in politics, while making no mention of his successor, Donald Trump, who is approaching the 100-day mark of his presidency.
Obama has largely stayed out of the public eye since leaving office in January despite efforts by Trump and the Republican-led Congress to undo much of his legacy, including on healthcare and the environment.
At a forum Monday for students at the University of Chicago, adjacent to where his presidential library will stand, Obama talked about his formative experiences as a community organizer and as a young politician running for office in IL.
"So, uh, what's been going on while I've been gone?"
The appearance in Obama's adopted hometown, at a university where he once taught constitutional law, took place as his successor approaches the 100-day mark of his presidency on Saturday. "And what I'm convinced is that - 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 prepare the next generation of leadership to take up the baton and to take their own crack at changing the world".
Former President Barack Obama gestures at a discussion with six Chicago-area students at the Logan Center for the Arts on the University of Chicago campus.
"The internet in some ways has accelerated this sense of people having entirely separate conversations", Obama said.
Obama added that changes in the way people use media allow them to converse just with those who agree with their own points of view. "I would advise all of you to be a little more circumspect about your selfies and what you take pictures of".
Two days before leaving power, Obama promised he would speak up if Trump's actions threatened the nation's key values, something that up to now he has only done through a spokesperson to criticize Trump for his anti-Muslim immigration order that was suspended by a judge. The participants were part of a community outreach program created by Arne Duncan, his longtime friend and former education secretary.
The Obamas are also busy working on their memoirs after landing a deal with Penguin Random House that could yield them tens of millions of dollars.
He met privately Sunday with a group of at risk young men, talking about gang violence and opportunities for jobs.
On 25 May, Obama is set to appear at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel for a discussion about shaping democracy. The couple plans to live in Washington until their younger daughter, Sasha, graduates high school in 2019.