Jenna Bush Raises Profile with Mom in Africa

07/15/2005 at 08:00 AM EDT

Jenna Bush Raises Profile with Mom in Africa
Jenna Bush in Zanzibar, Tanzania
Charles Dharapak/AP
The once press-shy Jenna Bush has emerged as a prominent, if quiet, partner in the African goodwill tour undertaken this week by her mother, first lady Laura Bush.

"She thinks that her presence is ... important to let American kids her age, young people her age – as well as African girls her age – know that her generation is also committed," the first lady told reporters on the plane that brought her and her daughter from Cape Town to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania – where Jenna's twin, Barbara, is volunteering at a hospital for young AIDS patients.

For her part, Jenna handed out gifts of pens, postcards of her pets, bookmarks and spiral notebooks to several children at a Catholic-run AIDS prevention and treatment center, the Associated Press reports.

Later, at a social services organization for the rural poor, Jenna snapped up beaded jewelry – two necklaces and a bracelet – made by Tanzanian women trying to support their families. She also mingled among children dancing, singing and Hula-Hooping for the first lady's entourage and passed out more of her trinkets.

The first lady said both her 23-year-old daughters, who graduated from college last year – Barbara from Yale and Jenna from the University of Texas – feel strongly about helping others.

"It is certainly part of the age. They're idealistic and they wanted to help," Mrs. Bush said. "But it's a particularly American character and I admire that very much in my own girls and in the young people I've met around the country."

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