Andrea Su | August 30, 2019
Flying Reflections on the U.S.-China Student Fellows Program
Time flies. I remember last July when I recorded my application video, I was at a summer school at Christ Church, Oxford. And right now I am writing this final blog, which marks the end of this one-year long program, on a flight to Greece, with several other students from Tsinghua to conduct a survey on Greece’s perspectives on Belt and Road Initiative. Both the United Kingdom and Greece used to be the leaders of the world, but today, there is no doubt that it is China and the United States that matter the most on global affairs. Traveling on an international flight is the perfect time to reflect, so let’s get started.
From broadening my horizons to making lifelong friends, my experience in the U.S.-China Student Fellows program was truly enriching and amazing. It was the perfect stepping stone for me to pursue my short- and long-term goals. In the short-term, the program was an invaluable opportunity for me to gain insight from other delegates and leading experts on U.S.-China relations. In the long-term, it provides me with great friends and a young but growing alumni network that will surely support and collaborate with each other to constructively address environmental, social, economic and political aspects in both regions, and come up with creative and innovative ways to solve many of the current challenges that both countries are facing today.
U.S.-China Student Fellows program is definitely a great opportunity for we student fellows to get a deeper understanding about current development of the U.S.-China relationship, its challenges and opportunities, which is the vision of this program. By meeting for two weeks, one week in the United States and one week in China, we got to know we are really involved in these panels. I think that really is the way to go.
However, I believe the most valuable part of this program goes beyond the knowledge acquired throughout the speeches and seminars addressed by renowned senior scholars and practitioner from the United States and China. The program is, in its most essence, about the person-to-person interaction. People. After all, the program is all about the people you meet. Frankly speaking, we can read about all the news on televisions or in books, but to really have that level of interaction, to connect, to really realize “hey, we have some common ground here, and there is still a lot for us to learn from each other,” I think that is the most remarkable part of the program. Students from two sides of the Pacific Ocean with diverse and distinctive backgrounds and stories mean that we have so many opportunities to connect in very memorable ways. The fellows I have met here are smart, enthusiastic and passionate. And they are eager to share their personal opinions and sometimes debate for their stances. This is so important because only through enriching the exchange of ideas, even though some differences are reserved at the moment, can we build trust and eliminate misperception between the two nations. Often times, cross-national relationship among politicians is based in flat narrative that reinforce stereotypes. I hold the same belief with Walter Benjamin argued in “The Storyteller,” that the role of the storyteller is falling at a correlated rate to the rise of information in the modern world. In times of uncertainty, the world needs competent storytellers who can convince people that only when there is understanding, there is trust.
I think that the program really forces us into a different perspective, and it makes me think about both the constraints and the different images that the U.S. side and the Chinese side, and even within those two governments, different parties or government departments, have to take into account.
The present and future of global peace and development depend on promoting cooperation and development. The U.S.-China Student Fellows program serves as a great platform to put ideas and knowledge into execution and most importantly, meeting wonderful people. As an aspiring student majoring in International Relations, I will always be thankful to the program for enabling me to meet people with strong personal, academic and professional backgrounds and encouraging me to continue the journey that I choose to take.
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Yihong Shi | August 30, 2019
Zhaoqing Li | August 30, 2019
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