First lady Melania Trump is planning her first big solo international trip with a visit to several African countries in October.
“This will be my first time traveling to Africa, and I am excited to educate myself on the issues facing children throughout the continent, while also learning about its rich culture and history,” Trump said in a statement released Monday.
President Donald Trump, who has not visited Africa since taking office, will not accompany the first lady, according to The Associated Press, which first reported news of the trip.
The president created a global outcry when he reportedly used the term “s—hole countries” when speaking about immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African nations. He has since denied making the remarks.
Melania Trump’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, said the first lady chose Africa for her first major solo international trip after she learned about some of the development programs that are under way in many of its countries, especially in children’s health and education.
“We are a global society, and I believe it is through open dialogue and the exchanging of ideas that we have a real opportunity to learn from one another,” the statement said.
Additional details about the first lady’s trip were not available.
U.S. first ladies visiting Africa to promote various issues is nothing new.
During President George W. Bush’s second term, Laura Bush made five goodwill trips to Africa to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and malaria.
But not all trips were about work. In 2007, Laura Bush took her daughters, Jenna and Barbara, on a safari.
Michelle Obama also visited Africa at the end of her husband’s first term. She traveled to South Africa and Botswana with her daughters, Malia and Sasha, and her mother, Marian Robinson, a niece and a nephew. During the visit, the first daughters accompanied their mother on a visit with South African leader Nelson Mandela at his home.
Michelle Obama and her daughters returned to Africa in 2016, with stops in Liberia and Morocco, as part of the Let Girls Learn initiative, a program that encouraged developing nations to educate girls.