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Ivy China Update

09/02/2010

Ivy League Presidents and Student Leaders visit Beijing and Hunan in China

Beijing, PRC, August 28, 2010 — This August, the Ivy Council led 10 student leaders to Beijing and Hunan where they were given the opportunity to meet with top officials of Chinese Government and political party, share their thoughts about cultural exchange, and build meaningful connections with Chinese student leaders. The delegates who attended the trip were the following:

Melissa Ann Im (President, The Ivy Council) from Columbia University

Ben Brinkopf (Head Delegate, The Ivy Council) from Harvard University

Diane Mokoro (President, The Undergraduate Council of Students) from Brown University

Chris Elizondo (President, Engineering Student Council) from Columbia University

Vincent Andrews (President, The Student Assembly) from Cornell University

Brandon Aiono (Vice President, Dartmouth Student Assembly) from Dartmouth University

Johnny Bowman (President, Undergraduate Council) from Harvard University

Sean Pi (Vice President, The Ivy Council) from Princeton University

Jonathan Hu (Head Delegate, The Ivy Council) from University of Pennsylvania

Jon Wu (President, Yale College Council) from Yale University

The delegation started at Tsinghua University where they attend a private lecture by Dean of Economics, Professor Bai Chong-en on the effect of labor share on the Chinese economy. Leaders from the Tsinghua Student Union kindly showed the delegation around the campus, and joined the delegates for lunch. The delegation then met with a larger group of students including the Chinese University Media Union and the Tsinghua Student Union, where they gained many new insights and cultivated relationships through active debate and discussion on various topics specific to student life, as well as issues of censorship and freedom of speech.

After the dialog the delegates attended an exclusive meeting the Secretary of the Secretariat, Mrs. Wang Hongyan, at the All-China Youth Federation Headquarter. Mrs. Wang provided insightful comments on the responsibility of youth leaders and their ability to produce change. The delegates asked eloquent questions on U.S.-Chinese conceptions and the role of women in leadership.

The next day was filled with viewing China’s greatest sights including the Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China. The delegates returned from the tour and prepared to meet with the Director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Shao Zheng. The conversation was intellectually stimulating; a majority of the delegates asked difficult questions on the current state of China and its relation not only to the U.S. but in the global arena. Questions concerning healthcare, social media, China-Korea relations, intellectual security, foreign currency, and environmental sustainability, all topics that revealed the complexity of China. That evening the delegation joined the Secretary of the All-China Youth Federation, Mr. Wan Xuejun, for a traditional Beijing duck banquet and discussed the uniqueness of each of the delegate’s institutions, as well as the common struggle for both U.S. and Chinese gradates to find employment.

The second part of the trip was spent in the Hunan Province, where the students met with leaders of a rural community in Ge Tang and visited homes and community centers. The experience of going door-to-door greeted by friendly locals was the delegation’s favorite event. The next day was spent in Shaoshan paying respects to influential figure Mao Zedong, in visiting his birthplace. The delegation joined leaders of the Hunan Youth Federation for lunch and then toured one of the earliest universities, Yule Academy which was started in the late 900s, an institution that predates all of the delegates’ institutions. The evening was spent with Vice Chairman, Mr. Xiao and other Hunan government leaders in a press conference discussing the current state of Hunan Providence. The Chairman kindly extended his visit by joining the delegation for dinner. The banquet was exquisite and filled with intriguing conversation and a display of individual talents. Returning to the hotel, a few of the delegates were interviewed by Hunan media and were asked about their feelings on the trip thus far.

The final day of the program was spent at Hsiang-Ya Medical College where the delegates toured the facilities which were created and maintained through a partnership with Yale University. After a roundtable discussion with administrators and students on the activities that occurred on university campuses, the delegation was able to enjoy lunch with students both from the Yali Middle School and surrounding universities like Central South University and Hunan University. After the visit the delegation returned to Beijing and prepared for their safe departure back to the U.S.

Each delegate left China with an altered perspective on China – the complexity of the country’s issues has become real in the minds of the delegation. The knowledge gained extends beyond the delegates’ return home. The Ivy Council is proud of the success of this Ivy-China program and sends its deepest thanks to the All-China Students’ Federation who partnered with us to make these opportunities possible. The Ivy Council looks forward to its future Ivy-China programs this coming spring, when it will potentially host a Chinese delegation in the U.S. and on its universities’ campuses.

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