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100,000 Strong Newsletter: November 2011

Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
December 14, 2011


November 2011

Message from the Director

In less than two weeks, thousands of American and Chinese students will gather in Beijing’s National Stadium to celebrate the growing educational ties between our two countries at a major concert featuring Grammy Award-winners and John Legend, along with of The Black Eyed Peas and leading Chinese pop stars. The concert, organized by Americans Promoting Study Abroad (APSA), is called “Booey Lehoo”, an American phonetic spelling of a phrase that appears in the opening lines of the Analects of Confucius: “You can't help but be happy when friends come from afar.” That is the spirit behind the 100,000 Strong Initiative: making lifelong friendships that broaden minds and expand horizons.

In November, we announced partnerships with Los Angeles and Seattle, which along with Washington, D.C., will serve as official supporters of the 100,000 Strong Initiative. L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and announced L.A.’s participation at Mendez Learning Center in East L.A. on November 21. Mayor Mike McGinn announced his “Seattle Strong” effort at the annual luncheon hosted by One World Now!, a Seattle-based non-profit that offers Mandarin language and study abroad opportunities for underserved Seattle students.

Proceeds from the concert in Beijing will help fund scholarships to send high school students from underserved communities in these three cities to China for summer programs. We’ll have more on the concert and the students that will benefit from APSA’s efforts in next month’s newsletter.

Also in November, the State Department and the Institute of International Education (IIE) released the annual Open Doors Report, which showed another large increase (23 percent) of Chinese coming to study in the United States for a total of 158,000 in academic year 2010-2011. The Report also showed a very small increase (less than 2 percent) to just under 14,000 in Americans studying in China in the 2009-2010 academic year – just before the Initiative was formally launched. While we would welcome more foreign students studying in America, these numbers underscore the importance of creating more opportunities for our students to study abroad, particularly in China. Please see below for more details on the Open Doors Report. Please also see this op-ed [] by Ambassador Gary Locke, which makes the case for more Americans studying in China.

Finally, in November, we convened the second meeting of the 100,000 Strong Initiative’s Federal Advisory Committee, co-chaired by Richard M. Daley, former Mayor of Chicago, and Chuck Hagel, former Senator from Nebraska. Minutes from the meeting will be available to the public in a few weeks at

We wish you a happy holiday season!

- Carola McGiffert

Carola McGiffert is Director of the 100,000 Strong Initiative and Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.


The Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange was released at the start of International Education Week on November 14, 2011 by Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Ann Stock and International Institute of Education (IIE) President and CEO Allan Goodman. The Report, published annually by IIE in partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, described an increase of roughly four percent in U.S. students studying abroad – from 260,327 students in academic year 2008/2009 to 270,604 during 2009/2010. It also described an increase of nearly five percent in the number of foreign students studying in the United States – from 690,923 in academic year 2009/2010 to 723,277 during 2010/2011.

China remains the country that sends the most students to study in the United States. Chinese students studying in the U.S. increased by 23 percent, bringing the total to almost 158,000 Chinese students enrolled at accredited U.S. institutions. Furthermore, China continues to be the fifth most popular destination country for U.S. students studying abroad.

U.S. student enrollment in Chinese educational institutions experienced a slight increase at nearly two percent, with a total population of Americans studying in China at 13,910. While modest, this increase is still encouraging, given global economic conditions that present challenges to studying abroad.

Open Doors 2011 reports numbers for study abroad in academic year 2009/2010, which reflects the period right before the 100,000 Strong Initiative was launched in 2010; thus, the Report does not represent the impact of the Initiative. However, the Open Doors data illustrates the growth of interest in studying abroad in China over the past decade, climbing from less than 3,000 students in academic year 1999/2000 to almost 14,000 in 2009/2010.

To learn more about IIE and the Open Doors Report, please visit:


GreenPoint Group and Kiowa County Schools Fund New Program in Greensburg, Kansas

Greensburg, Kansas is a small Midwest town that, after being devastated by a tornado in May 2007, has earned international attention through a remarkable rebuilding effort using environmentally friendly methods. In December 2008, as part of the U.S.-China Strategic Economic Dialogue’s EcoPartnership Program, Greensburg began sharing its expertise and best practices in rebuilding to aid Mianzhu, a city that had been destroyed in Sichuan province’s May 2008 earthquake. Further adding to Greensburg’s unique connection to China, and as a contribution to the 100,000 Strong Initiative, the GreenPoint Group and the Kiowa County Schools Friends of Education and Superintendent office partnered to provide local high school student fellowships for multi-year summer study abroad in China.

Following an intensive application process and personal interview, Grace Sirois and Ty Schaef were selected as the Experiment in International Living’s (EIL) first GreenPoint/Greensburg student ambassadors. Grace Sirois participated in EIL’s Guizhou province-based China South and West program. She joined 11 other high school students from California, Iowa, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Morocco on a month long cultural exploration and immersion through Beijing, Henan, Shaanxi, Guizhou, Guangxi, and Shanghai.

Ty Schaef participated in EIL’s Guangxi province-based China South and West Program. He joined 11 other high school students on a month-long cultural exploration and immersion through Beijing, Shaanxi, Guangxi and Shanghai. Each student was matched with a family in both city and village settings to gain a deeper understanding of the differences between urban and rural China. They learned how to make tofu and dumplings, explored China’s minority cultures, and developed friendships with their Chinese host siblings.

According to an EIL report that incorporated input from Grace, Ty, and their accompanying supervisors, “Both students were curious, thoughtful, and active participants. They learned basic Mandarin language and communication skills, made friends from all over the United States, China and Morocco, gained new perspectives on China’s history and future and became members of Chinese host families.”

Grace herself shared: “This experience is a once in a lifetime opportunity that I feel honored to have shared with these amazing people I now call family. I have learned about a culture on the other side of the world. This experience was everything I hoped for and more. I will never forget my summer in China and the knowledge and understanding it has given me for the rest of my life.”

In his post-program essay, Ty wrote “the relationships I made with the host families and my groups will stay with me for a long time. I will never forget the kindness and hospitality these people showed to a complete stranger. The members of my group became family within the first day or two. We bonded perfectly and I could not have asked for a better group of people to spend this experience with.”

More details on the students’ travel and study program can be found here:

GreenPoint Group and Kiowa County School District plan to send another group of students in Summer 2012. Grace and Ty continue to make a tremendous impact in their schools and communities as they share their experiences and lessons learned abroad with others.

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