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Moves to promote greater cultural ties

Reporter: Roee Ruttenberg 丨 CCTV.com

06-07-2016 05:42 BJT

Full coverage: 8th China-U.S. S&ED & 7th CPE

Aside from economic and climate cooperation between China and the US, cultural ties between both countries are becoming tighter and closer than ever. More and more people from the United States are excited to visit China, learn Mandarin, and taste Chinese cuisine.

This cocktail reception has become an annual Washington event. It aims to promote greater cultural ties between the US and China by encouraging more Americans to learn Mandarin, and to travel East. 

"There isn't a better example of the long game than the human-to-human exchanges. Learning languages, studying cultures, living in our respective countries. And gaining the kind of experience that one can only get on the ground," Former US ambassador to China Jon Huntsman said.

Among the attendees are former US government officials, and current members of Congress. They're all being asked to support - and even advocate for - such exchanges.
The organization behind the event is called 100K Strong, a name derived from its original mission of sending 100-thousand US students to China.

It was quickly accomplished. The new goal: getting one million American youth to learn Mandarin right here in the U.S..

"We focus on dramatic expansion of Mandarin-language learning and cultural exposure at the youngest age; we focus on increasing opportunities for students of all backgrounds to study abroad in China, and we want them to stay engaged in China for the long-term: professionally, intellectually, as global citizens, through a variety of different networks that we are creating," Carola McGiffert, president of 100K Strong Foundation, said.

Juanique McNeill, she says, is the perfect example. At age 23, the Washington, D.C. resident moved to Hangzhou to teach English, and to learn Mandarin. 

She's now a 100K Strong Ambassador, urging others to follow in her footsteps.

"I think we have a misperception of China based off of television. Like, most of what we get from other countries comes from movies. And, when you go to China and you get this magical experience, you meet this wonderful Chinese friend who teaches you all about her history and where she comes from, and how we're pretty much the same people, but just on opposite sides of the world. It's the most amazing experience that anyone could experience," Juanique McNeill, ambassador of of 100K Strong Foundation, said.

There are currently more than two million people living in the U.S. who were born in China. Another two million visit each year - a number that's expected to grow. And another quarter of a million Chinese students are studying here. But for many Americans, their only sample of China may be Chinese restaurants, and so-called Chinatowns across the U.S..

Most will never visit the country, much less learn the language. Which is why - organizers say - people like McNeill are crucial.

"It just makes me feel like a part of the bridge."

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