Barack Obama ignores Trump in first appearance since presidency

Barack Obama has made his first official appearance since his presidency ended and while he spoke of preparing future leaders, there was one current leader he didn't speak of - Donald Trump.

Almost 100 days since leaving the White House, Mr Obama has come back into the frame leading a panel discussion with an audience of students at the University of Chicago, the site of his planned presidential library.

Throughout the entire event, Mr Obama didn't once mention his replacement, sticking to a tradition of former presidents not criticising current presidents at least in their opening days.

But as he sat down to chair the panel, he joked: "so, what's been going on while I've been gone?"

He said he'd spent his time in the political wilderness thinking about "my next job" and about increasing civic engagement.

"What I'm convinced of 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."

Mr Obama said there were still an array of problems the US faces including "economic inequality and lack of opportunity to a criminal justice system that too often is skewed in ways that are unproductive, to climate change to issues related to violence".

And he lamented the political obstacles standing in the way.

"It has to do with the fact that because of things like political gerrymandering our parties have moved further and further apart and it's harder and harder to find common ground because of money in politics. Special interests dominate the debates in Washington in ways that don't match up with what the broad majority of Americans feel."

He drew upon his roots as a community organiser, telling the students it's important to listen to what others feel is important -not to try and impose issues on them.

"One of the things that I learned when I was organising, and this is true for I think a lot of young would-be do-gooders, you know, you show up in a neighbourhood and your initial instinct is to tell people what they should be interested in, instead of spending the first six months listening and finding out what they actually are interested in.

"Just a tip for you young people, listening to understand, rather than listening to respond, that will save you a lot of heartache and grief.

"Sorry, just a little tip there," he laughed.

Since leaving office, Mr Obama and wife Michelle have been spotted holidaying around the world, including the Caribbean, Palm Springs and French Polynesia.

The appearance comes just days before Mr Trump's first 100 days in office.

Latest approval polls of Mr Trump are sitting around 40 percent, making him the least popular president at this point in a term since Dwight Eisenhower.