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Gallaudet has joined a national effort launched by the U.S. Department of State (DOS) to significantly increase the number of American students who study in China.

The “100,000 Strong: U.S. Students in China” initiative was announced by President Obama during his trip to China in November 2009. The goal is to send at least 100,000 American students (high school, undergraduate, graduate, and professionals) to China during the next four years for study experiences of varying lengths and types.

The First Lady explained, “Studying abroad isn’t just an important part of a well-rounded educational experience. It’s also becoming increasingly important for success in the modern global economy. Getting ahead in today’s workplaces isn’t just about the skills you bring from the classroom. It’s also about the experience you have with the world beyond our borders–with people, and languages, and cultures that are very different from our own.”

Undergraduate Rian Norris was thrilled to be in the same room as Mrs. Obama. She called it a reaffirming “I have been given the capability to do anything I want” kind of experience. The speech reminded the history major to recognize and take advantage of opportunities. “It seems that we easily isolate and place limitations on ourselves,” said Norris.

“[Michelle Obama] gives me a big dream, which is to establish a sister deaf school relationship between China and America, and to become an international deaf ambassador,” said Jiayi Zhou, a graduate student in the International Development Program. “I believe with the 100,000 Strong project, we deaf people can build a better international deaf community, as Michelle Obama said.”

Gallaudet honors the president’s pledge

Study abroad programs have long been a part of Gallaudet’s commitment to global citizenship, said Dr. Asiah Mason, director of the Center for International Programs and Services, adding that deaf students are often underrepresented in study abroad programs at other universities, and this needs to change.

“We (at Gallaudet) have a positive working relationship with the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and its EducationUSA staff,” said Mason. “We are going to remain actively engaged with the leaders of the 100,000 Strong Initiative and will work hard to get our students funding to participate in the 100,000 Strong Initiative.”

Gallaudet takes the message home

The dinner at Reedy Hines’ home was an extended invitation to the Chinese representatives to see the American way of life by having American food in an American home before their visit at Gallaudet began. Reedy Hines made the offer because she was moved by China’s strong desire to provide educational opportunities for its deaf and hard of hearing students and form a partnership between the two universities.

The idea for a Gallaudet visit was planted last September, when Reedy Hines and Mason undertook a week-long trip to China through the Department of State’s Education USA program. The two went to learn more about helping Chinese students make informed decisions about studying in the U.S., finding out more about educational opportunities in China, and supporting accredited U.S. and Chinese education institutions with international partnership efforts.

After meeting with several prominent leaders during the excursion, Mason and Reedy Hines experienced first hand the Chinese saying: “The first time we meet we are strangers, the second time we meet we are good friends, the third time we meet we will be old friends. Gallaudet and BUU have achieved the second level in their relationship, and members of each school look forward to becoming old friends.

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