Benjamin Manens | October 3, 2023
Incorporating Multiple Perspectives into a Global Agenda for Development
From the beginning of the series of discussions in the U.S.-China Student-to-Student Dialogue, I knew that this experience would be invaluable for my understanding of how our global agenda for certain key issues should be set in the future. Given that I have lived my entire life in the United States and been educated by the United States public education system exclusively until college, I knew that my own perspectives on global issues would likely be very different from those in other countries. Additionally, I knew that the recent COVID-19 pandemic in particular warrants different perspectives from people across the world due to its varying impact on people based on their class.
In one of our discussions, we looked at the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) approach to the global agenda. One of the main points we discussed was how within the USAID and Chinese Global Development Initiative (GDI) programs, cooperation is unlikely due to both programs being geared towards national interests. As a result, a trilateral approach, where a third party is brought in to help mend differences, was discussed as a potential solution. This is something that I believe should be applied in most global affairs scenarios, since it is extremely difficult to merge the goals of countries coming from different developmental perspectives and histories. Especially given that the United States is a Western country with Western culture and values, while China is an Eastern country with Eastern culture and values that has faced colonization from Western influences, it is very possible that these differences can never truly be bridged into one cohesive global agenda for the two global superpowers of the world. This is why it is important to have individuals who care for a greater global peace and cooperation, listen to differing opinions, and use them to reform solutions that help more people across the globe.
Additionally, I found that while our discussions with students from Georgetown University and Peking University were not necessarily free-flowing conversations without error, they were collaborative discussions where students from both universities actively listened to each other and worked along the same train of thought, leading to more developed ideas. Communication was facilitated very smoothly, and I look forward to a time when students from both universities may communicate in other languages such as Mandarin in addition to English. In the future, it’s crucial that countries proceed in a collaborative manner, such that they are not completely resolving their own interests but rather open to modifying their goals for the betterment of other nations. The cultural divide between dominant forces throughout history has long created tensions and conflicts, and if we want to avoid situations of the past, it is important to keep global efforts collaborative.
Ajay Nathan (SFS'25) is studying in the Walsh School of Foreign Service majoring in science, technology, and international affairs, concentrating in biotechnology and global health with minors in biology and government.
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