Feature: A university brings Chinese, U.S. youths closer

(Xinhua) 11:10, June 08, 2024

WENZHOU/NEW YORK, June 7 (Xinhua) -- "We are committed to being a model of China-U.S. educational cooperation," Lamont Repollet, president of Kean University in the United States, told Xinhua in the eastern Chinese city of Wenzhou.

Repollet is visiting Wenzhou to attend the graduation ceremony of Wenzhou-Kean University (WKU), an international province-state friendship project jointly established by Wenzhou University in China's Zhejiang Province and Kean University in the U.S. state of New Jersey.

Since its establishment in 2014, the WKU has exchanged more than 1,700 students with Kean University, providing opportunities for young people from both sides to explore cultural differences, break down silos and foster bilateral friendship.

"When you are in your silos, you don't really understand the culture. When you start to understand the culture, you start to appreciate the people," said Repollet.

Back in 2006, Xi Jinping, then secretary of the Communist Party of China Zhejiang Provincial Committee, witnessed the signing ceremony of China-U.S. cooperation in establishing the WKU, and facilitated its preparation.

In 1981, Zhejiang Province established a sister state-province relationship with New Jersey, and Wenzhou University's predecessor, Wenzhou Normal College, has had long-term exchanges and cooperation with Kean University in the United States.

Repollet recently wrote a letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping to expound on the situation and achievements of cooperative education, and voice readiness to actively promote communication between the younger generation of China and the United States. And to his surprise, Xi replied.

Xi hailed in his reply the university as a landmark project in bilateral educational cooperation and encouraged more U.S. students to come to China for exchange and study.

China-U.S. education exchanges and cooperation, a project for the future of bilateral relations, help promote mutual understanding and friendship between the two peoples, especially between the youths of the two countries, Xi wrote.

Repollet said he was excited to hear from Xi and vowed to do more to promote exchanges between young people from both countries. "As we start to understand and appreciate other cultures, we start to shrink the differences between us."

Xi also sent greetings in his reply to Dawood Farahi, former president of Kean University who initiated the plan to establish the WKU.

"This is a moment that I want to celebrate with him (Farahi)," said Repollet. "The blood, sweat, and tears he put into this project laid the foundation."

Calling Xi's mention in the letter an "honor," Farahi recalled his meeting with Xi in 2006 before the signing ceremony, when "Xi's vision defined and broadened the scope of what we were about to do."

"There is no difference in the dream of an American parent from that of a Chinese parent from what they want for their children: a better opportunity than they have had themselves," Farahi told Xinhua in a written interview.

"Higher education is one such vehicle that would allow them to achieve that dream. This is also important for the two societies to be able to understand each other, cooperate with each other and work together."

Recalling the year and a half as an exchange student at Kean University, Zhang Ying, who is graduating this summer, expressed gratitude for the warm welcome and support she received from her teachers and classmates, saying it helped her overcome her anxiety about a foreign culture and society.

"Starting this fall I will be studying for a Master's degree in the United States. I hope to serve as a friendship envoy between the two countries, and promote exchanges between Chinese and U.S. youths," she said.

Her sentiment was echoed by Baaba Eshun, a senior at Kean University who had planned to apply for an exchange program at the WKU.

"There is a lot of confusion and misunderstandings in the world. I think if we just come together and get to know each other, it will help promote mutual appreciation for sure," Eshun said.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Wu Chaolan)


Related Stories