Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Former Mayor of Chicago Richard M. Daley, and Former Senator Chuck Hagel at the Inaugural Meeting of the Advisory Committee for the 100,000 Strong Initiative.
Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton and Secretary Tim Geithner hosted the U.S.-China Strategic & Economic Dialogue (S&ED) on May 8-10. In addition to discussing some of the most pressing global challenges facing our two nations, Secretary Clinton took time out of her S&ED schedule to speak at the inaugural meeting of the Advisory Committee for the 100,000 Strong Initiative. The Advisory Committee, co-chaired by then Mayor of Chicago Richard Daley and former Senator Chuck Hagel, was established to provide the State Department with expert advice on the implementation of the Initiative in the private sector. Secretary Clinton thanked Committee members for their leadership and commitment, encouraging them to serve as ambassadors for this important national effort.
We are also delighted to report that this year’s White House Fellows are currently serving as ambassadors for the 100,000 Strong Initiative on their visit to China, where they are promoting people-to-people ties between our two countries.
At the Advisory Committee meeting, we announced additional private sector pledges in support of the 100,000 Strong Initiative, bringing the total since January 2011 to over $7 million. We also announced the launch of Zinch Study in China and Project Pengyou, which are designed, respectively, to share practical information about how to study in China, and to connect young Americans who have studied or lived in China to a broader community in the United States through social and professional networking. We are deeply grateful to Zinch, Golden Bridges Foundation, and the Ford Foundation for their support of the 100,000 Strong Initiative through these innovative, independent websites, which will help build a cadre of Americans who enhance their understanding of China through study abroad. Both websites are profiled below, and we encourage everyone to check them out.
You will also find links below to other items of interest related to the 100,000 Strong Initiative, as well as profiles of two remarkable young Americans whose time in China had a deep impact on their lives. We hope many more Americans will follow their example and study in China in the months and years ahead!
Carola McGiffert is Director of the 100,000 Strong Initiative and senior advisor to the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific.
May 2011: Secretary Clinton Remarks 100,000 Strong Advisory Committee Meeting
New! May 2011: Fact Sheet on the 100,000 Strong Initiative Advisory Committee
APR 2011: Secretary Clinton Remarks at the US-China Consultation for People-to-People Exchange
APR 2011: U.S.-China CPE Cooperation on 100,000 Strong
FEB 2011: Secretary Clinton HBCU Foreign Policy Briefing Remarks
OCT 2010: Secretary Clinton Honolulu Remarks
MAY 2010: Secretary Clinton Remarks at Signing Ceremony
NOV 2009: President Obama Announcement
Citing the strategic importance of the U.S.-China relationship, in November 2009, President Barack Obama announced his goal of seeing 100,000 Americans study in China over four years. This represents a significant increase over current numbers and signals a major investment in the future of U.S.-China relations. In addition, a central objective of the Initiative is to expand access to study abroad programs in China to underrepresented groups, including students from high schools, community colleges and minority-serving institutions.
The Initiative was officially launched in May 2010 by Secretary Hillary Clinton and is strongly supported by the Chinese government. In January 2011, on the occasion of the state visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao to Washington, the two nations reaffirmed their commitment to enhancing people-to-people engagement through educational exchanges.
ZINCH STUDY IN CHINA
On many U.S. college campuses, Chinese is now one of the most popular foreign languages to study. Unfortunately, it is hard to get reliable information about the many available China programs which makes it a challenge to decide where to study and how to get the most out of the experience.
Zinch Study in China is a free, interactive community that solves this problem by providing a one-stop online destination of information about studying in China, including peer reviews. The site connects American students interested in learning Chinese with China-based language programs, recent alumni of these programs, and experts on studying Chinese and living in China. Built and operated without government funding, the site is an example of the public-private partnerships that support the 100,000 Strong Initiative.
At launch, the site includes profiles of more than 25 major programs. Each program has independent reviews from recent student alumni, who share their personal opinions about the program. The site also features expert advice about choosing the best Chinese language program.
In addition, Zinch Study in China features comprehensive advice about preparing to go to China, and how to make the most of time spent studying there. Health care issues are addressed by United Family Hospitals, the leading health care provider for expats in China; options to travel within China are discussed by WildChina and the China Culture Center; and internship and volunteer opportunities are described by NorCap China Internships, Red Collars and Teach for China.
Zinch was founded in 2007 to put prospective college students in direct contact with college admissions officers, and now has more than 3,000,000 registered users in the United States alone. In 2010, the company entered the Chinese market in an effort to reduce the information gap between Chinese students and American universities.
More information can be found at http://www.zinch.com/studyinchina.
Project Pengyou is a not-for-profit social networking site that caters to Americans who have lived and studied in China. The site was launched as a beta version on April 20, 2011 by the Golden Bridges Foundation, a nonprofit organization which promotes mutual understanding between America and China. The site will develop features to help members strengthen connections, forge new networks, develop career opportunities, share insights, expand knowledge, and enrich their China experiences. Later this year, the site plans to gather and highlight experiences and achievements by young Americans in China, and publish the top stories in a book to promote study abroad there. Over time, Project Pengyou plans to be a fully interactive website aiming to strengthen social and professional networking opportunities for American “China Alumni”.
Project Pengyou aims to serve the community of Americans that have lived and studied in China – which will include the alumni of the 100,000 Strong Initiative – and seeks to be a catalyst for strengthening people-to-people connections between the United States and China.
Earlier this year, the U.S.-based Ford Foundation provided a seed grant to Golden Bridges to create the Project Pengyou alumni network to help fuel momentum for the 100,000 Strong Initiative. In the future, Project Pengyou plans to evolve into social and professional networking opportunities for Chinese citizens who are studying or have studied in the United States.
More information can be found at http://www.projectpengyou.com/. You can check out the Project Pengyou video here: http://www.projectpengyou.com/our-story.
University of Oregon
I am named Ming Canaday, although that was not my name at birth. I am a sophomore at the University of Oregon majoring in Chinese and International Studies. I have always been passionate about China because I was born there. I was adopted by U.S. parents when I was eleven years old. I was told my Chinese parents probably abandoned me when I was a toddler, perhaps because I had polio. I lived in an orphanage for about eight years, unable to go to school because I could not walk. In 2001, I arrived in Sheridan, Oregon to the most wonderful family. Even though I did not speak English and was illiterate, my parents plopped me into the 5th grade. Somehow I learned English and managed to catch up with my peers. As a sophomore in high school, I heard about the Chinese Flagship Program, sponsored by the National Security Education Program. I started to teach myself how to read and write Chinese. My acceptance into this remarkable program has opened so many opportunities for me.
One of the doors it opened involved studying abroad in Shanghai, China for two months. This was the first time I had returned to China since my adoption. I was honored to be a participant in the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE). This is a wonderful program and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to study abroad in China or any other country. I studied in their Accelerated Chinese Program. Justin O’Jack, the person who was in charge in Shanghai told me I was their first disabled student. Although my time in Shanghai was sometimes riddled with obstacles because of my disability, the CIEE people worked diligently to make sure there were no hurdles I couldn't overcome. CIEE turned my dreams into a reality. I was thrilled to be able to go to school like
any other normal student. It not only allowed me to fulfill my goal of studying in China, but it also made me realize how important it is for Americans to understand the Chinese people since our futures are so economically and politically intertwined.
Seattle Pacific University
The time I spent studying in China was instrumental in reshaping my worldview from insular to open-minded, local to global. I’ve come to understand the world as more complex, more interconnected, and more beautiful than I ever could have imagined.
Traveling and studying in China was more than just a cultural experience; it was an opportunity for me to more clearly identify with the aspects of our human experience we all find so common (familial ties, hard work, aspirations) despite which country or continent we call "home." Regardless of the language we speak, food we consume, or national holidays we celebrate, we all desire to raise healthy, happy families, and to make a buck or two in the process. This revelation – that the human race has so much in common – is something students can only experience by going abroad.
Imagine the implications such knowledge has on the ways we learn to become global citizens. My hope is that every student – regardless of socioeconomic status or ethnic background – is afforded the same opportunity I’ve been given to study abroad.
Funny thing is that I actually ended up in the hospital for four days while studying in China, having fallen ill from eating bad street food. I think it’s telling that not even [that experience] could tarnish the time I spent studying in China. Simply put, I had a blast.
How my China study abroad experience changed my life: I became a confident leader among my peers at SPU and within the broader community; saw first-hand the role of American pop-culture around the world; made life-long friends from around the world; learned conversational Mandarin; retraced my own family history, as I grew up listening to stories about my grandfather’s childhood in Shanghai, where his father was a merchant marine and mother a dance instructor; and was motivated to serve after seeing first-hand what it means for the poor to live and work without a social safety net. I’ve since consulted for various NGOs and social ventures, mostly in the area of financial inclusion.