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October 3, 2023

Responding To: Georgetown Students Share Thoughts on Spring 2023 Student Dialogue Experience with Peking University

Building Bridges of Understanding

Sarah Iskander

Participating in the U.S.-China Student-to-Student Dialogue proved to be a transformative experience, providing valuable insights into the complexities of global development and shedding light on the divergent approaches taken by China and the United States. The dialogue sessions centered around three key themes: United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the challenge of poverty alleviation, China's Global Development Initiative and clean energy, and the U.S. approach to development and the challenges of natural disasters. Engaging in thoughtful discussions with Georgetown University and Peking University students enabled us to explore these topics from different perspectives and recognize our shared responsibilities as global leaders.

In one session, we discussed the SDGs and decided that they are a valuable development framework that encourages a comprehensive and integrated approach to global challenges. However, the ambitious and complex nature of the goals and issues related to prioritization, resources, and monitoring present significant challenges to their successful implementation. My group also concluded that the United States and China, two of the world's largest economies, have significant roles to play in supporting the goal of poverty alleviation worldwide through various means, including financial assistance, capacity building, and fostering innovation.

Another notable aspect of the dialogue was the openness, constructive nature, and mutual respect that characterized the conversations between the students. Participants freely expressed their opinions, engaging in productive debates even when confronted with opposing viewpoints or controversial statements. The participants developed a sense of familiarity and comfort as the sessions progressed, facilitating more fluid and dynamic exchanges. These diverse viewpoints added depth and richness to the discussions, expanding our understanding of the American and Chinese initiatives in the context of other nations' approaches.

Amidst the varying topics discussed, there was a resounding emphasis on the necessity for leadership and collaboration between the United States and China. Despite the recent strains in the bilateral relationship, the dialogue underscored the importance of future leaders working together to foster understanding and cultivate relationships. Recognizing the interconnected nature of global development, it became evident that both nations must assume their collective responsibilities and embrace cooperation to effectively address our pressing challenges.

The U.S.-China Student-to-Student Dialogue proved to be a valuable platform for building bridges of understanding and fostering bilateral cooperation in the realm of global development. It became clear that while the United States and China may have different approaches and priorities, cooperation can achieve common goals. As future leaders, we must bridge the gaps, overcome political differences, and work towards shared objectives such as poverty alleviation, sustainable development, and effective disaster response. By engaging in open and respectful conversations, we can foster a more harmonious relationship between our nations and contribute to a brighter future for global development. The U.S.-China Student-to-Student Dialogue has broadened my knowledge and inspired me to actively seek cross-cultural exchange and collaboration opportunities in my future endeavors.

Sarah Iskander (G'24) is a Boren scholar and global ambassador of sustainability, who is currently pursuing a master of science in foreign service degree with a focus on science, technology, and international affairs.

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