On November 21, the United States and China celebrated their 40th anniversary of academic exchange at the Embassy of China in D.C. The event was jointly organized by the Chinese Embassy and the Bureau of Culture and Education. Leaders of the Fulbright program, Gilman Scholars, and the China Scholarship Council presented at the commemoration. U.S. State Department officials were also in attendance to welcome Chinese students studying abroad in the States.
Speakers of the event included Caroline Casagrande, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Academic Programs, and H.E. Cui Tiankai, Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. In his speech, Tiankai announced the official launch of a new government scholarship program for American students studying abroad in China. He said that since diplomatic ties were established 40 years ago, the cooperation in education has enhanced the mutual understanding and friendship between the two countries, and promoted the overall development of China-U.S. relations. He stressed the importance of continuing to be willing to learn from one another.
In addition, IES Abroad and SAF celebrated an upcoming milestone of their own: 30 years of providing programming to American students. Amber Messier, SAF Vice President for Strategy, New Business Initiatives, and Analytics, along with Ms. Cancan Yang, the Second Secretary at the Education Office of the Embassy of China in D.C., were invited back to commemorate the occasion, where they shared the history of SAF and IES Abroad. They also reviewed the variety of programs offered, including standard, internship, and customized.
According to Messier, since 1990, IES Abroad has helped more than 4,200 American students realize their dream of visiting China, and the experience has had a positive and lasting impact. A survey conducted by the organization showed that 95 percent of students returned with improved awareness of China's current problems, 93 percent had a deeper understanding of China's history, and 91 percent gained a different perspective from their courses in China. Now, Chinese students are also able to experience a life-changing journey through SAF's study abroad programs in America.
During the event, different generations of Chinese and American students were able to share their overseas experiences. But the highlight of the event occurred when Dr. Yawei Liu, the Director of the China Program at the Carter Center, presented a letter of congratulations from former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.
"This has been a particularly exciting session," Liu said. "It has not only enabled us to see policy makers' recognition and encouragement of overseas exchange, but also helped us to reflect on the significance of SAF's work over the years.""