Thursday, June 2, 2011

100,000 Strong Initiative: US and China Study Abroad

In 2009 President Obama announced that we would have 100,000 students from the USA studying in China in the next four years. Secretary Clinton announced the program directed by the State Department --"100,000 Strong"-- in Shanghai last December. This program is now moving forward at slow but steady speed. No money is available from Congress and this program will move forward by private donors only. With over 7 million dollars already pledged since January of this year toward a goal of almost $70 million, the idea is gaining momentum from both United States and China. I learned today that the Chinese government has promised 30,000 full scholarships to USA students for short term study abroad experiences, full master, and doctoral level degree programs for US students willing to study in China. Chinese universities are building new dorms and expanding English language programs to accomodate newly arriving American students. This new goal will be a challenge for us. Traditionally, we have had more Chinese students studying here in the USA than American students studying in China. More Chinese can speak English than Americans can speak Chinese. But this goal is an important one for us at this moment. Our knowledge of China needs to increase. Our US students need to learn to speak more than one language and Mandarin is the language spoken by over a billion people around the world. In addition, Secretary Clinton underscores the point that the US/China relationship is the most important relationship that we have at the moment because any issue moving forward will require that US and China sit down and talk together as the top two powerful countries in the world. In other words, we need to make friends with China. And students can do that better than any other population. Every friendship we make, said Michele Obama, makes our country stronger.

And so we all work to help make this happen for the sake of our great grandchildren! Wake Forest University, let us consider China!


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