: Sino-American Friendship Association vice president and Sino-American Culture and Arts Foundation president Ms. Li Li poses for pictures with Staten Island high school leaders and students.
With the goal of broadening the horizons of Chinese students, deepening mutual understanding between the United States and China, and promoting youth education and cultural exchanges between the two nations, the Sino-American Culture and Arts Foundation (SACAF) hosted "The US-China Youth International Culture Festival," a two week long series of events from August 1 to August 10. The event was sponsored by the Sino-American Friendship Association (SAFA). On the evening of August 4, Tottenville High School in Staten Island, New York and SACAF jointly organised a multi-faceted cultural and artistic exchange with Chinese students visiting Tottenville High School and interacting with American students.
SAFA executive vice president and SAFCA president Ms. Li Li explained that the activities served as a richly educational and entertaining platform for young people of the two nations to mutually learn about each other's cultures. American students, especially those who have not travelled to China, are provided with a rare opportunity to learn about Chinese culture. Overall, these cultural exchanges are conducted in the hope of profoundly furthering Chinese cultural promotion in the United States and in American schools so as to encourage mutual understanding and friendship between the youth of both China and the US.
Tottenville High School students shared a marching band and flag dance performance with the Chinese students.
On that night, the Tottenville high school student marching band played the national anthems of China and the United States in order to welcome the Chinese students. Subsequently, the students formed teams according to shared interest and learned flag dancing. Following this, the Chinese high school students presented a traditional Chinese dance and flute performances. The Tottenville high school assistant principal expressed a warm welcome to the Chinese students, sharing his view that this cultural exchange is a rare opportunity and a wonderful event. The evening was a warm and welcoming experience for all the students.
Students perform traditional Chinese dance.
In March 2014, American First Lady Michelle Obama met with the Peng Liyuan, the wife of the Chinese President, in order to promote the further development of Sino-American relations, and to maintain friendly relations between the two nations. Michelle Obama emphasized the importance of educational and cultural exchange. In a speech at Peking University, she pointed out that studying abroad is not only a fun way to spend a semester - it is quickly becoming the key to success in a global economy. Studying abroad not only improves the future of individual students, but also shapes their countries and the future of our shared world. Michelle Obama articulated hopes that the US and China can reach a consensus to work together in order to build core capabilities of education systems for the youth, so that young people from both nations are able to be competitive in the global economy.
In order to further promote the development of Sino-US relations, President Barack Obama announced the "100,000 Strong" initiative in 2009, wherein he proposed to send 100,000 American students to study in China over the next four years. The proposal also included a promise to receive more Chinese students and provide them with visas. This aims at deepening US-China interaction and cooperation in education, science, technology, sports and other fields. Today, it is a pleasure to report that by the end of 2014, the number of American students studying in China will actually exceed the original goal of 100,000.
American students demonstrate for Chinese students orchestra etiquette and performance.
Ms. Li Li remarked, "'The 100,000 Strong' Educational Exchange Initiative is just the beginning. We hope to continue to build bridges through various exchange programs for youth in the United States, as the "Youth International Culture Festival." With the continuous development of Sino-US relations, the importance of cultural exchanges between the two countries becomes more and more prominent. Today, over a hundred Chinese students are visiting New York, meeting with more than a hundred American students. This is the starting point of mutual China-US education initiatives, as the students learn from each other and explore each other's cultures, developing appreciation of the arts and education in the other's country, and thus enhancing the friendship between them. Giving opportunities for Chinese teenagers to experience the life of American students and explore American culture and education will deepen cultural understanding between youth of the two nations, and promote non-governmental exchanges between the people of US and China."
The Chinese student teacher in charge of the delegation, commented that long after the night's events, Chinese and American students will continue their interaction and communication with each other. After returning to China, the students will share the experience with their schoolmates. American students were also encouraged to visit China for further cultural exchange.
In hindsight, many Chinese students affirmed that the experience of meeting American friends their own age was very valuable to them. SACAF has set up many Chinese Culture Clubs in cities throughout the US in order to help Chinese culture flourish and promote cultural exchanges in US youth education. We believe that the Chinese students' visit to New York received a high level of enthusiastic response, which will play a big role in consolidating and enhancing the friendship between Chinese and Americans.