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New Foundation Promotes China Exchanges

Chinese students gather outside a school to take an annual college entrance examinations in Beijing, China June 7, 2012.
Chinese students gather outside a school to take an annual college entrance examinations in Beijing, China June 7, 2012.

United States helps students learn about different cultures through the 100,000 Strong Foundation.

“It is better to travel ten thousand miles than to read ten thousand books.” So goes the Chinese proverb, taken to heart by the United States as it works to help students experience this learning about a different culture through immersion with the launch of the 100,000 Strong Foundation.

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This independent nonprofit organization and the 2010 initiative that inspired it, aim to increase the number of American students studying in China to 100,000 by 2014. The exchanges, said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, are a key part of an architecture of diplomatic engagement between the U.S. and China that focuses on citizens as well as the two governments.

“Those people-to-people ties … are going to determine the quality of the relationship for the future,” she said:

“We want to see Chinese youngsters here, American youngsters in China, and we want to see them breaking down the barriers that exist between any peoples from different cultures and experiences and histories and backgrounds.”

Secretary Clinton noted that much progress toward this goal has been made since the 2010 initiative. Expanded study abroad programs, support for scholarship funds and partnerships to provide Chinese students with tools and resources to help them study in the U.S. have helped. The Chinese government has also helped, offering 20,000 scholarships for Americans to study in China.

“The number of students coming between our two countries continues to grow,” she said. The expansion of the initiative into a foundation will help leverage the unique power of public-private partnerships, where the U.S. government partners with colleges and universities, foundations and philanthropies, and other individual efforts to reach a goal:

“We have a long tradition of understanding that we have to have both government action and government involvement. But where most of life takes place in our country is not there; it’s outside of government.”

The 100,000 Strong Foundation is governed by an 11-member board of US-China experts, scholars, philanthropists and business executives.

“There’s nothing more important,” said Secretary Clinton, “Than trying to build a structure of exchanges between us when it comes to students and other young people.”