Unfortunately, our last days in Shanghai are approaching, but fortunately, the US-China Student Summit is just beginning. Our first day of the summit included speeches from four speakers: Gao Tian [FDU Youth Federation Chairman], Hanscom Smith [US Consulate General, Shanghai], Carola McGiffert [100,000 Strong Foundation, President], and Kaiser Kuo [Director of International Communications, Baidu.com].
One speech that spoke to me above them all was Kaiser Kuo’s podcast reflecting on the United States and China.
In my first blog I briefly touched on being an ABC (American Born Chinese). From listening to Kaiser, I felt both understood, but conflicted. He discusses how the cultures and values of the two countries are radically different. He summarized that the only few things that seem similar are our country's size, population, and work ethic.
It’s interesting how the summit has given me a new perspective. Throughout the speeches and exercises done with both westerners and easterners, the main goal was to come together as one under the 100,000 strong initiative, which seeks to realize president Barrack Obama’s vision: to enhance cross-cultural understanding, strengthen friendship, spark interest among US students to explore China, to encourage young people to study in china and engage in academic and cultural exchange.
“The goal was to close the gap between the US and China.”
As simple a task as to put groups of college students from both China and the United States in one room, then would students began to see eye to eye and understand the many thought processes which come from growing up in different backgrounds. I, however, didn't see it as that simple. I felt as though it was, well, rather difficult. I was caught in an in-between. When proctors asked for a Chinese or American view, I felt entitled to speak for both. I came out of the summit with an experience different than most. Unlike most students, I am accustom to both cultures, languages, and environments; though I am a born and raised American, my parents hold their Chinese culture dearly, I have a personal yet misplaced pride in China. Like in Kaiser Kuo’s speech, I felt “caught between two worlds”. I was a foreigner in China because I am an American, but also an outsider in America because I look and feel Chinese. I felt as though I was my own ethnicity/race. The mission, which isn’t easy, is to build a bridge between the two countries…when will being an outsider in someone else's country become easier? I do believe that this is a necessary first step, and am very happy I had the change to participate!
Discussions included: global leadership, cultural intelligence, problem solving/collaboration, waste management, etc