A new way of producing “China Experts” may soon become a reality. After learning about Chinese language and culture at the Confucius Institute, American students may be able to join the Ameson Year in China program to become Education Ambassadors, and then later continue studies at the Johns Hopkins University - Nanjing University’s joint center to complete postgraduate degrees to become “China Experts.”
On August 13, about 60 people attended the farewell reception held at the Confucius Institute US Center to wish well participants in the Ameson Year in China (AYC) program, sponsored by the Ameson Foundation.
The Ameson Foundation’s program’s goal is similar to those of the Hopkins-Nanjing program and the Confucius institute – to educate students about China and provide them an opportunity to live abroad. The AYC program, however, also provides an immersive work experience that places students in schools to teach English to Chinese students. The AYC program gives recent college graduates a competitive edge in career development. Stephen Smith, Executive Director of the Ameson Foundation, said that he believes education is the best way for American students to understand the cultures of both China and the United States. He continued, “The Ameson Year in China (AYC) program is a great opportunity. Through teaching, learning, and living in China for a year, I believe these American college students will improve their self-esteem, expand their horizons and enhance their competitiveness.”
The Chinese Embassy in the United States also sent its First Secretary Sun Feng from its Education Office to attend the farewell party that day.
Gao Qing, Director of the Confucius Institute U.S. Center, personally drove to a restaurant that morning to bring back Hong Kong-style dim sum for the party. While people enjoyed the refreshments, Gao Qing made the humorous comment that he went all the way to take back such delicious dishes only with hope that all the education ambassadors will contribute to Sino-American cultural exchanges and more Americans will come to study at the Confucius Institute.
During the meeting, Franklin Eneh, representative for the Hopkins-Nanjing Center for Chinese and American Studies, introduced the Master's degree program jointly sponsored by Hopkins University and Nanjing University. He said that working or living in China is a very interesting process and he shared his experience in China with students who are interested in the program. Several previous ambassadors also expressed the hope that there will be an opportunity for them to go to China to teach again while continuing their own education.
Rachel Cohen, an ambassador who taught in Wenzhou last year, said she was very fond of China and gave herself the Chinese name "瑞秋" (Ruiqiu). She especially enjoyed the food in Wenzhou and teaching English to the children there. Even though she was a little bit homesick while she was living in China, she still has plans to return.
David Watkis-Lawrence, who began teaching in Wenzhou in September, said that for him Wenzhou was only a name on a map; however, he chose it and was excited but a little bit apprehensive about arriving there in person. He graduated with a major in International Politics from American University, and during his time in college, had the opportunity to study abroad at Peking University for a semester. He said he hopes that his upcoming experience in China teaching English will provide him a more in-depth experience and will give him a role in the area of U.S.-China relations.
Zhu Xiao Di, Deputy Director of the Ameson Foundation, expressed his thanks for the warm hospitality of the Confucius Institute U.S. Center. The mission of Ameson and the Confucius Institute is to promote cultural exchanges between China and the United States, maintain world peace and open up the world to learning about China. The joint hosting of the Education Ambassadors event was very meaningful toward establishing a partnership. The students at the Confucius Institute are all very interested in Chinese culture and have spent time learning Chinese in the United States. Their next stop is to join the AYC program, so they can teach English and learn Chinese in China.
In order to promote further development of the education ambassadors, Zhu Xiao Di especially invited the representative from the Hopkins-Nanjing Center for Chinese and American Studies to attend the reception to talk with the AYC ambassadors about continuing their studies in D.C. or Nanjing. He hopes that through the new "one-stop" model, the AYC program will attract more American youth to teach in China, and promote the understanding of Chinese culture.