SAYA exchanges combine educational immersion with cultural learning to create a generation of youth with a global vision.
he Ameson Foundation is a non-profit entity committed to promoting mutual understanding between China and the west. As directed by our Honorary Chairman Dr. Boutros Boutros Ghali (former Secretary General of the U.N.), the key to future peace lies with our youth.
Ameson’s Sino-American Youth Ambassadors (SAYA) exchange program seeks to fulfill this message, drawing additional inspiration from a speech delivered by President Barack Obama during his first visit to China in 2009 calling for increased educational cooperation and closer academic ties between the two nations.
Open to both American and Chinese students, SAYA is designed to bring greater international awareness and cultural diversity to high school campuses, with students serving as cultural ambassadors in both countries. As Chinese schools internationalize, these exchanges will be more and more frequent.
Exchanges usually occur during holiday breaks, which fall at different places in the academic semester between China and the West. This allows both Chinese and American students to experience high school life abroad without missing any school days.
SAYA students receive a thorough orientation before leaving their home countries.
- Undergo training on American culture, society and history.
- Travel to the U.S. as Chinese Ambassadors.
- Immerse themselves in regular American high school classes for a week, giving presentations about Chinese culture.
- After leaving the schools, students enjoy a week of sight-seeing in the United States.
- Students then return to China as SAYA Ambassadors, where they give presentations to their peers on American education, enhancing American cultural awareness in China.
- Travel to China as American Ambassadors.
- Attend both U.S. Common Core classes in a Chinese high school and receive additional classes on language and culture.
- After leaving the schools, students enjoy a week of sight-seeing.
- Upon returning to the United States, students share what they have learned about China with their classmates, spreading Chinese cultural awareness in the U.S.
In 2012, SAYA students had the honor to meet Vice-President Joe Biden and then Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping during an exchange in Los Angeles.In July and August 2012, a group of nearly two dozen American students—over half of whom were U.S. Presidential Scholars—were invited to join a two week exchange program in China. The American SAYA students stayed in the dorms at Beijing No. 4 High School, received classes in the Chinese language and culture and interacted with their Chinese peers. After the Chinese students departed, the students embarked on several days of sight-seeing, including a trip to the Great Wall, a walking tour of Beijing’s hutongs, and a demonstration of Chinese wushu.
SAYA 2013 kicked off in February with nearly 100 Chinese students destined for schools such as Belmont HS, Thomas Jefferson HS, Providence Day School and more. As their arrival coincided with the most important Chinese holiday of the year, Chinese New Year, students took the opportunity to introduce their American classmates and host families to the festival’s traditions. After a week in the classroom environment, some students then visited the nation’s capital with other groups trekking to Boston’s university towns. Later in the year, students from Branson High School visited Shanghai Gezhi, and students from Providence Day School visited Jinling High School's Hexi campus in return exchanges.
American schools will...
- Select appropriate host families for participating Chinese students.
- Make necessary arrangements, such as ensuring students have transportation between the host home and the school.
- Test, screen and select qualified Chinese students (from different cultural backgrounds) to be the Youth Ambassadors. Chinese students’ English ability will be evaluated through PAST (Pre Ameson Scholastic Test), recognize by leading American universities for their own summer institutes and summer programs.
- Arrange travel and safety for Chinese students in the U.S., including comprehensive transportation and full insurance coverage.
- Coordinate Youth Ambassadors’ culture exchange activities before their leaving China.
- Educate Chinese students on US culture, history and politics prior to departure.
- Provide Chinese chaperones to accompany the students overseas.
- Help Youth Ambassadors to share their experience with their classmates upon returning to China.
- The SAYA program brings cultural diversity to high school campuses.International awareness: cultural presentations by the visiting students increase cultural understanding of the students’ host culture among local students and faculty. Upon returning to their home country, students also share what they learned abroad with their peers, spreading their understanding in their communities.
- Campus cultural diversity: in today’s globalizing world, campus diversity is increasingly important. With its bilateral exchanges, the SAYA program helps boost diversity on campus, as well as helping to create more open and well-rounded students.
- New partner school possibilities: Schools that participate in SAYA exchanges are also granted access to Ameson’s network of partner schools across China. Beyond physical student or faculty exchange, Ameson’s i-SmartStudy e-learning platform can help schools develop substantial partnerships with top Chinese high schools.
- New perspectives on education: the deep differences between the American and Chinese educational styles reflect the distinct origins and development of their educational philosophies. By immersing themselves in another academic system, students become more aware of the strengths and weaknesses of both systems, as well as learning new and beneficial study techniques.
- Professional exchange coordination: Ameson’s long experience in coordinating international exchanges has made us experts in the field. Schools enjoy the benefits of our exchanges without adding extra work for busy teachers and administrators.
What People are Saying
“It was a pleasure and wonderful learning experience for our community to these terrific kids and chaperone. You should be proud of not only how responsible they are but also of how kind and warm and engaging they are.”
—Sim Pearl, Headmaster, The Weber School (Atlanta)
“Our week with Emily was so enriching for everyone in our house, as well as for my daughter's friends. Emily brought us great stories from her life in China and her experiences of growing up in a different culture. In exchange, we were able to share with her a slice of our lives in Maryland. She was lively and fun and really bonded with all of us. We already miss her.”
—The Carrol Family, The Bullis School, (Washington DC)
“It was so lucky for me to be hosted by my American buddy, Lily and her family. They are the warmest and nicest people I have ever met. Staying with them gave me the best opportunity to have a taste of real American family life, and I learned the difference between American and Chinese high school life.”
—Zhu, Shanghai High School (hosted by Belmont HS, MA)