First Lady Michelle Obama’s Event
at Howard University
January 19, 2011
SIDNEY A. RIBEAU, President, Howard University: Our University takes pride in our historic preparation of students for involvement in the world community. Today we’re building on more than 142 years of commitment to our international connections and working vigorously to ensure that we expand our international footprint so that every, I say, every Howard student has an international experience. [applause & cheering] Let’s hear it for that.
This is one of our institutional priorities and one that we will fulfill. Many of our students have traveled or are studying abroad through programs sponsored by their units and departments. In addition, our Ralph J. Bunche International Affairs Center remains the hub for a variety of academic and public affairs programs.
I am happy to report that last year, 17 of our Howard MBA students spent two weeks studying in China as a part of their global business environment course. This is only one of several programs connecting our student and faculty to their Chinese counterparts.
We want to build on these successes. We are delighted therefore that we are joined today by the Ambassador Chen, the wife of the People’s Republic of China Ambassador to the United States. We at Howard are happy that we can play a small part in helping the President and First Lady host China for this state visit. Ladies and gentlemen please give a warm Howard University welcome to Ambassador Chen [applause & cheering]
CHEN NAIQING, Wife of Chinese Ambassador to the United States: Thank you. Thank you very much. Honorable Michelle Obama, the First Lady. Mr. President Sidney Ribeau, Assistant Secretary Ann Stock, ladies and gentlemen, friends, it’s my great honor to join the first lady and others in today’s panel discussion.
Let me first extend my sincere thanks to the First Lady and Howard University for hosting this important event during President Hu Jintao’s state visit to the United States. It highlights the gratifying progress we have achieved in the cultural and people to people contact between our two nations. It also shows and reassures all of us that the torch of friendship is in good hands and will be handed down to younger generations like you. [applause]
The educational exchanges between China and the United States have a long history. In 1854 the first Chinese student came to Yale University to study. Subsequently quite a large number of Chinese youth followed his footsteps. They later returned to China and became the pioneers and trailblazers in their respective field of studies.
As early as in 1870 Harvard University opened the Chinese course and has since produced many prominent scholars on China studies.
In October 1978, the two countries signed, MOU, on educational exchanges, just before the establishment of formal diplomatic relations.
In December the same year as a result, the first group of 52 Chinese students arrived in Washington, D.C. and educational exchanges began to flourish.
Since then, educational exchanges have grown and made some really remarkable progress.
In 1989, China for the first time became the number one source of foreign students in the United States and has stayed within the top two ever since. In 2010 there will be in total some 127,000 Chinese students in the United States. And the number of American students in China has also been increasing very rapidly. It reached almost 20,000 in 2009. The second largest in foreign students in China. At present we face some great opportunities to bring our educational collaboration to greater depth.
When President Obama visited China in November 2009, he announced the initiative that the United States will send 100,000 students to China in the following four years.
This initiative has been written into the joint statement. In May 2010 the first meeting of China, US high level consultation mechanism for people to people exchanges was held in Beijing.
The two sides launched a series of educational programs.
For example China will send 10,000 students here for doctorate studies in the next four years. And about 10,000 American students will go to China for training courses under the Chinese Bridge program. We look forward to working closely with the United States to make sure that these programs are implemented smoothly as expected and bring our educational exchanges to a higher level. [applause]
Ladies and gentlemen to take forward the 21st Century China - US partnership that features mutual respect and mutual benefit would not be possible without the involvement and support from our people, particularly the young people. I sincerely hope that your experience of studying or working in China will stay with you long after you return home. And you will continue to reach out to China as much as you can. And engage in efforts and deeper understanding and friendship between our two great nations. The Chinese Embassy is always more than ready and happy to assist you in this.
Thank you so much. Thank you. [applause] Thank you. Thank you.
RIBEAU: Thank you very much Ambassador. Now it is my distinct pleasure to introduce someone else to you. Visionary, compassionate, culturally conscious, we could offer hundreds of accolades that would describe our First Lady. [applause & cheers]
Some have called her the people’s person because she is committed to ensuring that every American youth has opportunities to learn about the world.
When our President Barack Obama advanced the idea of the US-China strategic and economic dialogue, she embraced it. She knows that such dialogue promotes understanding, expands common ground and is the basis for developing solutions.
She is a problem solver, who encourages us with her enthusiasm and inspires us by her example. She is an extraordinary woman, with a big heart and a commitment to serve. Ladies and gentlemen the First Lady of the United States of America Michelle Obama. [applause & cheering]
Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States: [applause & cheering] Well, it is wonderful to be here. Thank you. Thank you so much. I am very excited.
I want to start by thanking President Ribeau, for that very kind introduction but more importantly for his leadership here at one of my favorite universities. [applause & cheering]
And I also want to acknowledge my counterpart here at Howard, your First Lady, [applause & cheering] Dr. Paula Whetsel-Ribeau, it is always nice to see her and she is looking pretty good today too I might say. [laughter]
I also want to recognize Ambassador Chen and thank her for those wonderful remarks, the history of educational exchange between our countries it’s important to know. And I would also like to acknowledge Mary Kaye Huntsman, the wife of our Ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, for taking the time to join us here today. Let’s give them both a wonderful round of applause. [applause]
And finally, I want to thank all the folks here from the Ralph J. Bunche International Affairs Center [applause] for all their work to promote international study and exchange here at Howard. So thank you all for the work you are doing, you are setting a tremendous example.
So we had a pretty busy morning at the White House. As you know, we welcomed President Hu - the President of China – for an official state visit. We are so very pleased to have this chance to return the hospitality that President Hu showed my husband during his trip to China a little over a year ago.
Visits like these provide an important opportunity to strengthen ties, and to deepen bonds of understanding, between our countries and our leaders. But as you all know, that work doesn’t just happen at the White House or within the walls of the U.N.
It isn’t just about relationships between our governments and our presidents.
It’s also about relationships between our people – between our business leaders, our scientists, our educators…and particularly between our young people.
That’s why, when we travel abroad, my husband and I just don’t visit palaces and parliaments, we always visit schools and universities and we meet with students just like all of you. [applause]
Because we believe strongly that young people like you can play a vital role in strengthening ties between people and nations all around the world. So the topic of today’s panel – which is the importance of studying abroad, particularly in China –you have to understand is a key component of this Administration’s foreign policy agenda.
Through the wonders of modern technology, our world has grown increasingly interconnected.
Ideas can cross oceans with the click of a button.
We can speak, and text, and email, and Skype and all that other stuff you guys do with people in every corner of the globe.
Companies here in America can do business – and compete with – companies all over the world.
And as a consequence, studying abroad isn’t just an important part of a well-rounded educational experience. It’s also becoming increasingly important for success in the modern global economy.
Getting ahead in today’s workplaces isn’t just about the skills you bring from the classroom.
It’s also about the experience you have with the world beyond our borders…with people, and languages, and cultures that are very different from our own.
But let’s be clear: studying in countries like China is about so much more than just improving your own prospects in the global marketplace. The fact is, with every friendship you make, and every bond of trust you establish, you are shaping the image of America projected to the rest of the world. That is so important. So when you study abroad, you’re actually helping to make America stronger.
And these experiences also set the stage for young people all over the world to come together, and work together, to make our world stronger.
Because make no mistake about it, whether it’s climate change or terrorism…economic recovery or the spread of nuclear weapons…for the U.S. and China, the defining challenges of our time are shared challenges.
Neither of our countries can confront these alone. The only way forward…the only way to solve these problems…is by working together. That’s why it’s so important for more of our young people to live and study in each other’s countries.
That’s how, student by student, we 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.
That’s how you build that familiarity that melts away mistrust. That’s how you begin to see yourselves in one another and realize how much we all share, no matter where we live. So the question today is, how do we provide that opportunity for more of our young people?
Now, the good news is that we’re headed in the right direction. In recent years, we’ve seen a fifty percent increase in students studying in China. And today, the highest number of exchange students in the U.S. are in China, are from China.
But still, there are too many students here in the United States who don’t have that chance. And some that do are reluctant to seize it.
Maybe they feel like study abroad is something that only rich kids do…or maybe kids who go to certain colleges, there the only ones who do that. They may hear those voices of doubt in their heads. You know, the ones that say: “Kids like me don’t do things like that”…or “How will this really be relevant in my life?”
Now, I say this because I understand these feelings. I felt that same way when I was back in college. I grew up in a blue-collar neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago, and the idea of spending time abroad just never registered with me. My brother and I were among the first in our families to go to college. So trust me we were way more focused on getting in, getting through, and getting out. [laughter & applause] then we were with finding opportunities that would broaden our horizons.
And the truth is with the high cost of college these days, many young people are struggling just afford a regular semester of school…[applause] let alone pay for airline tickets and living expenses to go halfway around the world.
So we know that it’s not enough for us to simply encourage more people to study abroad.
We also need to make sure that they can actually afford it. And that’s why, during this visit, his visit to China, my husband announced the 100,000 Strong Initiative.
This is a new initiative to increase both the number – and the diversity – of young people from the U.S. studying in China. And today, we’re pleased to announce a series of new efforts that will bring us even closer to that goal.
To start, Secretary Clinton, who’s been a tireless champion for this program, has just launched a “Double the Numbers Challenge.” She’s asking college and university presidents to double the number of students who study in China. And we’re placing a special emphasis on reaching Hispanic Serving Institutions and Historically Black Colleges and Universities like Howard. [cheering & applause]
To make it easier for students to meet this challenge, we’re launching a new Community College Mini-mester program, providing shorter-term, more affordable study abroad opportunities.
And the Chinese government is offering, listen to this 10,000 scholarships to cover all in-country costs for American students and teachers who study in China. [applause]
To give more high school students the opportunity, right here the DC Center of Global Education and Leadership is creating weekend and after-school Mandarin classes for DC public school students. And they’ll be offering new opportunities for these same students to study in China during the summer. That’s wonderful. [applause]
And finally, to help oversee all these new programs and all these wonderful outreach efforts, the State Department has created a high level federal advisory committee composed of prominent China experts, and leaders in business, academic, and non-profit worlds.
So we’re making some very good progress. And I’m proud of what we’re doing here. Because I know, I know because of what I missed. The impact an opportunity like this can have on a young person’s life. I know the growth it can spur…the passion it can spark…the sense of direction and purpose it can provide.
When reflecting on his time in China, Jason Williams, a graduate of Seattle Pacific University, said, and this is a quote: “I’ve come to understand the world as more complex, more interconnected, and more beautiful than I ever could of imagined.”
Nina Robinson, who attended ‘School without Walls’ right here in D.C., described the sense of independence she gained from learning a new language and navigating a new city all on her own.
And she concluded, simply – and this is her quote: “Not only was this trip an educational experience, but it was a life experience.”
And I can guarantee all of you that when you study abroad, you won’t just change your own life.
You’ll change the lives of every single person you come in contact with.
President Kennedy once said about young people who come to study in the U.S., he said: “I think they teach more than they learn.”
And I think that’s true as well for young Americans who study abroad.
As my husband once put it, “America has no better ambassadors to offer than our young people.”
You all are America’s true face to the world.
You show the world our energy and our optimism…you show the world our decency, and our openness and our compassion.
So we need you, we need you out there taking some risk and doing some really hard things.
And that is certainly true for the four ambassadors that we have on today’s panel.
These impressive young people have each spent time studying in China…and they’ve generously agreed to share their experiences with us today.
So with that, I’ll will happily turn things over to Ann Stock, our Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, who will be leading our discussion.
So I want to thank you all. As always I love coming to Howard. [cheering] I love seeing you all. [cheering & applause]
I am proud of every single one of you who have stepped outside of this comfort zone into another country. Keep it up.
I want to thank our panelist for joining us.
And I look forward to seeing many of you follow in their footsteps in the years ahead. So keep working hard. Thank you all so much. [applause & cheering]
ANN STOCK, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs: Good morning. I want to make sure my microphone is on. Good morning.
Thank you, Mrs. Obama for your leadership on education issues and especially study abroad and the President’s 100,000 Strong Initiative. Ambassador Chen; Mrs. Huntsman; President Ribeau; Ladies and Gentlemen:
I have the distinct privilege of joining a panel of four incredible young American students who have recently studied in the People’s Republic of China. There are over a 100 more in the audience, and I know you are not shy so let us know exactly where you are. [applause & cheering] Ok, come on!
I am delighted to say that many of these young people participated in U.S. Government sponsored programs, including the Gilman and the Critical Language Scholarships, the National Security Language Initiative and the Fulbright Program. I must say that our goal, as the goal of the Obama Administration is to increase the number and diversity of young people who are studying internationally. If you haven’t planned to study abroad, I think the stories you hear today might make you absolutely re-consider. The “study abroad” term scarcely begins to capture the breadth of opportunities that this experience will bring.
Your university has a variety of programs that you can take a look at. Scholarships to study in China as Mrs. Obama just mentioned and other countries are offered through the State Department, as well as through colleges, universities and the private sector. And host institutions are a key part of any international study program.
They’re your home away from home. And Ambassador Chen, I want to take just a moment to thank the Chinese government for and various institutions for providing a warm welcome and a rich and rewarding experience for American students. Thank you very much. [applause]
Now let me introduce this extraordinary panel. I would like to start with Nicole Baden, who is right at home on the Howard Campus. Ok! [applause & cheering]
I was hoping they would do that and so did you. She’s a senior in the Johnson School of Communications, [applause & cheering] where she studies. And I want you to absolutely listen to this—she studies Chinese, Arabic and Spanish. [applause]
Last summer, her first trip to China was as an Critical Language Scholar, she studied in Beijing, lived with a Chinese host family and honed her language skills. She intends to pursue a career in International Relations as do a number of you in the audience I know.
David Marzban is a Senior at Pepperdine University. As a Gilman Scholar, he traveled to Shanghai to study at Fu-don University where he videotaped his experiences to show to high school and university students back home to encourage them to study abroad. Recently, the Chinese Ministry of Education invited him back to speak on behalf of America at a major education ceremony. He opened his marks, remarks in fluent Mandarin. [applause]
Valery Lavigne, is a Senior at the College of New Jersey, where she majors in Anthropology.
After taking an on-line Mandarin course, and she did learn Chinese on-line, she developed an interest in the Chinese language and their characters. As a Gilman Scholar, she studied at Peking University in Beijing. As an anthropologist, she believes that to truly understand other cultures, you must see their society and view the world through their own eyes. [applause]
Lyric Carter is a Junior at the Phelps Architecture, Construction and Engineering High School. [applause & cheering] Alright, let’s hear it for all the high school students cause I know there is a number of you in the audience. She traveled to Beijing last summer on a six week program which she describes took her out of her “comfort zone.” She now knows how important it is for people of different nations to spend time in each other’s countries.
After her trip, she believes that Americans must gain more firsthand knowledge of the Chinese language and its people. And today I must say she has her mid-term exam in Chinese and I think we can give her a good excuse, a written excuse [laughter] for missing her exam today. [applause] But she told me she is going to have to take it tomorrow so I think she’ll be prepared and she can have, if there is an essay where you can write something, you can write about today.
I just like to start with a couple of questions cause we have probably about 15-20 minutes but I know we have more questions than we could possibly ask of all the students. But what inspired you to study and learn Chinese? Who would like to go first? Why don’t you Nicole go first.
NICOLE BADEN, Student: Hello everyone. I started learning Chinese, about, well now it’s almost three years ago.
So you know, upon embarking on learning it, it was difficult. But once I mastered you know, my, the characters and everything. I always would talk with my professor, a Julie Andris, Mrs., Professor Julie Andris. I am pretty sure you all know her. She’s an excellent teacher. She would always tell me you know that it is good that I am mastering the language but I need to get to the, you know, actual country in order to you know, put it to use. So once, you know, I went abroad I totally understood what she meant. You have to experience the culture along, while learning the language in order to actually master it and understand why things are the way they are. And why you know these, how different these people are to, you know compared to your own culture and similar. But you realize people are more similar. But that is why I went abroad. I wanted to get the actual real experience. [applause]
STOCK: Valery can you describe learning Chinese on-line and how that transpired? Cause you started learning Chinese on-line in high school. Can you describe how that came about and was it difficult, was it easy, what made you fall in love with the language and then it’s people?
VALERY LAVIGNE, Student: Alright well, op, can everyone hear me? Hi [giggle] Good morning. As Ms. Stock said I speak it, I began studying Chinese in high school as a senior. It was the first time the program was offered and there were two students and we had our one on one with a teacher that was in Beijing. The program was called Hello Mandarin, I remember now. And, it just touched me in a way that I never studied such a challenging but interesting language and I got so fascinated with like, especially the writing of the Chinese characters. So I continued on in college and I have studied ever since. I went to Beijing in spring 09. I came back and I am still going strong. So hopefully I’ll be able to be a bit more fluent.
STOCK: Lyric can you describe your high school experience and describe your high school and what kinds of classes you’re taking and others people who are involved in your classes.
LYRIC CARTER, Student: Yes, definitely. As she said I go to Phelps Architecture, Construction and Engineering High School. There I major in architecture and, me taking Chinese really ties into my architectural studies, because of the architecture, in China and every, everything I learn at Phelps and every course ties in with each other. And especially Chinese. As I said my architecture and Chinese when I went to go visit China, I stayed not too far from the birds nest and while I was there I did a lot sketches and I brought it back to my architecture class and I have done a lot of models from buildings that I seen in China.
STOCK: David I know you study French for six years before you decided to try Chinese. How did that happen and what was, how did studying French help you learn another language.
DAVID MARZBAN, Student: Well we know that Chinese is not an Indo-European language. I went to China almost knowing nothing about the language. And if I can make it I guarantee [giggles] you can definitely make it.
It is a very exciting experience. One of the things I experienced was the encouragement that the people in China would give when you strive to learn their language. At times, for example in a taxi cab I would really struggle just to just give the name of the streets and they would say “你说得很好,你说得很好” (you speak well, you speak well) and really encourage you. It was a great experience. The people there definitely encourage you to embrace their culture.
STOCK: Describe the experience in the restaurant you told me about eating your dinner and the gentlemen, the young man with the laptop.
MARZBAN: Oh yeah, [giggle] as the First Lady of the United States indicated I personally experienced a deeper bond when I studied abroad in China. And there is one instance when I was at a restaurant near our housing facility.
I was minding my own business ordering a plate chicken fried noodle or “鸡肉炒面” [laughter and applause] Again I assure you, if I can do it, you can definitely do it.
Anyways, I was minding my own business and eating my own meal and I noticed that one of the chef’s at the restaurant was my own age. He was away typing at his laptop he turns and says “come here, come here”.
So I come, a little bit shy, I am a little bit of timid personality. Again for the outgoing people, this is your kind of experience. He pulls me aside and presses the play button the media player that he has. And then he starts signing California dreaming to me in English. [laughter] And wants me to sing along with him. [laughter] I
STOCK: We call that a true cross cultural exchange. [laughter]
MARSZBAN: At that time I knew that a great friendship would start during the first few weeks of my time in China. [applause]
STOCK: And Nicole you described to me going to China not really knowing or speaking the language. Can you describe that to us and the emersion that you had, and just describe that experience because I thought, when I heard you tell it to me before we came on stage it was really quite incredible and very brave.
BADEN: Yeah, well prior to going to China actually I, I did finish the Chinese curriculum but I wasn’t, I was apprehensive as far as you know going out and just talking to natives. So but when but when you go abroad I had no choice. I mean, there’s Chinese people, I have to use the language. Although I was in Beijing and there was English, you know in certain areas used among foreigners but basically you just, you were forced. I had a language pledge. So my professors they only spoke it with me, the only time we could use English was for emergencies. My homestay situation. I remember my mom she, we were just a, our first dinner. We were just looking at each other and [laughter] I just replay that in my head all the time.
Cause I really was just uncomfortable, I kinna see, you just smile. It is really interesting like, I was just smiling and just saying nothing. [laughter] So I felt like I was going nowhere fast. She, I remember her English wasn’t too good but I remember her saying “you know I have to speak Chinese with you” and I remember that was the last thing she said in English to me.[laughter] And ever since then we had a great bond and that, she helped me, she was also a professor as well. She would help me with my lessons. I had a tutor. So it was just, it was just an amazing experience and the people made it, the other students there made it, you know, made it great as well. So that was a good experience. [applause]
STOCK: My next question, and Valery I think I’ll direct this to you. What advice would you give young people in this audience who haven’t contemplated really studying to really think about what that might be and how they might envision that and what obstacles we might overcome in making sure that as many people can study abroad as humanly possible? Could you just discuss that a little bit?
LAVIGNE: Sure, first of all I would say I completely understand your situation because I was there. Even though I started learning Chinese in high school I was still a little hesitant about going abroad, mostly because my main obstacle like I imagine most students are financial.
So what got me thinking about it was I am part of the EOF program, which is the Educational Opportunity Fund at the College of New Jersey. And the summer before I started my freshman year there was a program about a student that came back from Oxford University and he was also from our program. He spoke to us about his experiences and I just sat there thinking. I have to get in this. How do I go abroad? And I am glad to say I got the opportunity through the Gilman International Scholarship program. Which, it provided everything I needed, not only did I get financial support but I also got a lot of encouragement from the staff and also other Gilman scholars that went along. And I am happy to say a part of the Gilman Scholarship is to do a follow on project. Which is to come back and do what I am doing today which is to encourage other students. And I am hoping I am doing my job right and you will all go to your study abroad offices tomorrow.
STOCK: She’s recruiting. [applause & laughter] and she does not have a goal, she is just passionate about China.
I think you also David had a follow on project. You want to just discuss a little bit about your follow on project with what you did while you were there and when you came back with the movie nights and the way you encourage students on your campus to think about studying abroad where they had not thought about it before.
MARZBAN: Sure, well as part of the application process for the Gilman Scholarship and I encourage you all to apply for it.
You fill out a follow out project assignment that follows your trip to China. What I did there was, I took over 80 hours of video footage , fun experiences, insightful moments and a put together a video program and took it to high school my local high schools, to show the students, you know who sat at the same desk I sat at this can be done.
Usually when we are sitting at our own desk in a classroom we wouldn’t imagine something like this but the video helped to make it real. They could see students just like them are studying abroad having amazing experiences, having fun abroad. And the video was also used at Pepperdine University to market international programs.
STOCK: Lyric can I ask you the same question, when did you think about trying to go to China, and a can you just describe that experience for the audience.
CARTER: Well, I never really thought of studying abroad or going to China or anything. To be honest I never really thought about studying Chinese as a language. My principal suggested that I take Chinese as a language. And he said “Lyric I have a plan for you, just trust me, study Chinese and trust me” So I said “ok, I’ll study it”
But after my first lesson I grew very fond of it. It’s very interesting and I really liked it.
Awhile later he called me into his office and he said “Lyric remember when I said I had a plan for you?” he said “I want you to fill out this application, you can go to China for six weeks completely free studying abroad” and I said “ok, I’ll do it” [laughter] I had two days to complete it. [laughter] And to be honest, I’m like I am not going to be chosen, like so many people are going to apply for this why me, why would they choose me? But, I did it anyway, I got it done within two days. About a couple weeks later I heard back through a e-mail saying that I had an interview. So ok, one step closer, ok. We’ll see. So, the interview went smooth and a week after the interview I got an e-mail saying you’ve been chosen. One out of six DCPS students and you have been chosen to go, so um [applause]
So, yeah that is how I got there.
STOCK: And when are you going back?
CARTER: Soon, very, very, very soon. [giggles]
STOCK: I think there is a resounding, when I asked this question back stage, I asked each of them “when are they going back?” Everybody said as soon as I can figure out [giggles] but I also asked the question of them: “studying abroad hasn’t made you look at differently at what you might want to be doing in the future, um how has that experience changed you, and what are you contemplating now that you are looking at well not yet you but I know your also looking high school and college goals, so you are looking at it. But what are you thinking about doing and how are thinking about using your Chinese language?
BADEN: Well after studying through CLS program, Critical Language Scholarship Program, it was all expensed paid so I was very grateful for that. And along, the other CLS students we would converse about different topics and after coming home, I kind of consider you know, going abroad and teaching English. That is something that I never thought I would do but you don’t even need to know any of the language but I think it would be even better that I am learned in the language to go back and teach English, maybe perhaps at the elementary school level, because my “may- may” which is my little Chinese sister, she would come to me with her homework and I would help her. So I enjoyed little things like so that, that’s one thing I never thought I would go into.
Along with international relations because you know as they, Ms. Stock stated, I am a communications major, but at the same time I find a love for linguistics. So I want to be able to utilize the languages I am pursuing so, international relations and teaching English.
CARTER: And can I say, I am sorry
STOCK: Yes, go ahead.
CARTER: What Nicole was saying, actually when I was in Beijing I spent the night at the Dandelion school, which is a school for Chinese little boys and girls. And I taught English for two days. I taught them English for two days and it was a wonderful experience. I taught them their animals and body parts. It was wonderful experience.
STOCK: David what about you? What are you thinking about doing in the future? How are you going to use your Chinese language?
MARZBAN: Well upon my return from China, I adopted a minor in Asian studies. Just to study the culture a little more and make it even more academic experience. When I graduate, like Nicole I am also interested in going abroad and in the short term, spending time teaching English and also I am very hopeful. I know, in the fut… I have plans of attending law school and I believe that in the future there will be opportunities and doors open that a maybe we don’t see today. And having studied in China and having the experience of studying the language will definitely help equip a people to handle this kind of opportunities.
LAVIGNE: Well it wasn’t until I studied abroad in China that I realized that I am not just an American citizen but I am a citizen of the world. And that my career and ya know goals don’t have to be limited to even one country, one region even one continent. So it inspired me to apply further to international programs. I am in the midst of submitting my peace corp. application [applause] to be hopefully placed in China. [applause] or somewhere in Asia and I know no matter where I’ll go my experience in China um will help me. Either personally, academically, professionally. It really inspired me to seek opportunities just beyond the borders. [applause]
STOCK: Name one thing that surprised you about your study abroad experience? Were there stereotypes that were dispelled; were there things, totally surprised you when you got on the ground in China. Even though you studied about the culture, you learned the language, what surprised you the most when you were actually on the ground in China.
BADEN: I can start. I would say I was more surprised that the younger generation, around my age were really similar to Americans. We often times we look at our differences and you know, we separate ourselves but we are really similar. Like our, you know, our extracurricular activities are the same. We enjoy going to the movies, you know, going out, you know night life. You know.
They're just students during the day and they have you know, their life at night. That was one thing that was really surprising because you know, there is the stereotype that the Chinese culture is very strict and although I had strict, you know, strict nature, they are very you know, embracing. The people are very hospitable. My, I had three generations in my home for example. I had a ni ni, grandmother and a ba ba, dad and a mama, she was the mother. So they really took care of me, they you know, wanted to, they just wanted to help.
And I think one thing that was interesting is I feel like when I’m in America home, my American home I was more independent and I became more dependent on them when I went abroad because they fixed my meals. You know, if I needed something they would go out and get it because they just so happy for me to be there. So it was kind of nice to kick back [laughter] kick back for that time and of course with respect. And I did things for them as well. But another example I got sick, I became a little ill when I was abroad and my mama she really took care of me like my real mom would so that really touched me, touched me in a different place. You know, so we’re all just regular people at the end of the day. So that’s one thing.
STOCK: I am afraid Nicole’s comment has to be our last one. Our time is up, I know we could go on with more and more questions and answers from our students.
Thank you to Mrs. Obama, Madame Chen, [applause] President Ribeau,[applause]
Thank you to our audience here and I particularly want to thank our on-line audience around the world who are listening to us today from many, many, many countries. If we haven’t done so I really do encourage all of you to study abroad. You have the chance to be the next generation of China experts who will address the political, social, economic, educational and cultural challenges of the future. Please consider doing so. Thank you very much. [applause]
RIBEAU: Well not much more needs to be said, the program speaks for itself. On behalf of Howard University I extend a special thank you our First Lady Mrs. Michelle Obama [cheers & applause]
Ambassador Chen, [applause] Mrs. Mary Kaye Huntsman, wife of US Ambassador to China [applause] All of you are extraordinary examples. Your gracious leadership reminds us of the beauty of being global neighbors. Thank you all so very much. The program has concluded. [applause]
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