The White House invited alumni and staff from The Experiment in International Living, a program of World Learning, to attend an event Wednesday at which First Lady Michelle Obama highlighted the importance of strengthening US-Chinese ties through exchange. Obama focused on the importance of encouraging young people to study abroad in China.
The event at Howard University in Washington reaffirmed President Obama’s “100,000 Strong Initiative” which aims to dramatically increase the number and diversity of US students studying in China. The First Lady announced more than $2.25 million in private sector pledges in support of the presidential initiative. Scholarships provided by GreenPoint Group and the Friends of Charitable Education Trust to The Experiment in International Living’s China programs were cited as efforts in support of the president’s goal. Read the White House press release.
The First Lady said that studying in countries like China not only makes the United States stronger, but it also makes the world stronger. She stressed the importance of building strong interpersonal relationships, experiencing deep cultural immersion, and building meaningful connections across national, linguistic and cultural borders, key features of The Experiment and other World Learning programs. Watch a video of the event.
“It’s about the friendships you make, the bonds of trust you establish, and the image of America that you project to the rest of the world,” said Obama. “That’s why it is so important for more of our young people to live and study in each other’s countries – because that’s how you develop that habit of cooperation. By immersing yourself in someone else’s culture, by sharing your stories and letting them share theirs, by taking the time to get past the stereotypes and misperceptions that too often divide us.”
Five former Experimenter alumni and group leaders to China attended the event, including Chris Frantz, The Experiment deputy director and China group leader 1997-2002; Jose De Jesus, China group leader 2007; Clifford Emmanuel, China alumnus 2000 and China group leader 2007; Liam Regan, China alumnus 2008; and Margaret Weinberg, China alumna 2010.
Frantz said Obama’s message resonated loudly with the group who knew first-hand the beauty of China, the challenges of overcoming stereotypes and preconceptions, and the enduring power of the friendships that grew between the Chinese and Americans.
“The Experiment is excited to be part of the ‘100,000 Strong Initiative’ and will continue to work hard to increase the number and diversity of participants on our programs to China,” said Frantz.
World Learning is proud to support the presidential initiative by offering several different programs in China. Experience one of our China summer programs through a student video.
The Experiment in International Living programs in China:
- China: The North and East: Cultural Adventure and Discovery
- China: The South and West: Mountains, Minority Cultures, and Modern China
SIT Study Abroad programs in China:
- China: Chinese Culture and Ethnic Minorities
- China: Community Health and Traditional Chinese Medicine — Summer
International Development and Exchange Programs for Chinese students: