100,000 Strong student exchange picks first partners

Updated: 2013-10-24 08:16

By Amy He in New York (China Daily USA)

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The Yale-China Association has been selected as one of eight inaugural partners to work with the 100,000 Strong Foundation to establish US-China ties through study abroad programs.

The association, which is independent of Yale University and a non-profit organization, will send 10 students as ambassadors for 100,000 Strong, which was established in response to President Barack Obama's call in 2009 for 100,000 Americans to study in China by the end of 2014.

The inaugural partners were chosen based on their prior demonstration of international connections and "commitment to the diversification of study abroad," the Foundation's board said in a statement. "Each is a leader in the field of study abroad and can serve as a model for other programs around the country," said Carola McGiffert, president of the foundation.

Other signature partners include Asia Society's US-China Fells, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Americans Promoting Study Abroad and the China Institute. The organizations will work to expand Mandarin language studies as well as promote study in China.

Yale-China Association's 10 ambassadors are eight high school students and two students from Yale University. The high school students study at Metropolitan Business Academy and Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School, both located in New Haven, Connecticut. The Yale students serve as teaching fellows at Yali Middle School in Changsha, China.

"Yale-China sees the clear advantage in tapping into the youth of New Haven to find creative and thoughtful ways to increase understanding on both sides," said Nancy Yao Maasbach, executive director of the Yale-China Association, in a statement. "Yale-China could not be more excited to bridge this relationship as a 100,000 Strong Signature Partner."

Maasbach told China Daily that it's important for students to get a depiction of China "beyond what they see in headlines," and that a program like this will help with thoughtful exchange. When choosing the students, Yale-China, Maasbach said, considered, "‘Who can we empower? [Who can we] get really excited about studying the Chinese language?'"

The 100,000 Strong initiative was formally launched by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Beijing in 2010, and it became a non-profit organization in January 2013. According to the organization's website, the foundation is funded by private sector institutions and is housed at American University in Washington.

Contact the writer via amyhe@chinadailyusa.com