A few weeks ago, I traveled to Beijing, China, to witness and participate in activities where the Chinese government would make good on an exciting promise to America's Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Last year on Capitol Hill, China Vice Premier Liu Yandong announced that the Chinese government was offering 1,000 student study scholarships (valued at $1.2 million and expected to increase to $5 million) to Black students from 105 HBCUs to study abroad in China.
I, along with Chinese government representatives, 13 presidents and senior administrators from Howard, Hampton, Bowie State, Tougaloo, Morgan State, Morehouse, Spelman and Xavier universities, met with representatives from Chinese universities to foster potential partnerships between the two groups. As the liaison representative for the China-United States Exchange Foundation and the international consultant to the HBCU delegation, my company, Wilson Global Communications, facilitated this successful trip, and now the scholarships are a reality.
At the annual U.S.-China Consultation on People-to-People Exchange, the HBCU Delegation leader of the founding group of HBCUs, Morgan State University President, Dr. David Wilson (no relation), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the China Education Association for International Exchange, China’s nationwide nonprofit organization handling international educational exchanges on behalf of China’s Ministry of Education. Effective this year, with availability over the next four years, 1,000 students from historically Black institutions can study in China for a minimum of four weeks up to two years.
Looking on and listening intently during the final high-level meeting was America’s highest-ranking diplomat, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. We all sat proudly in the Great Hall of the People, China’s equivalent to the U.S. Capitol, as China’s highest ranking government official in charge of education and its Vice Minister of Education praised our precious Black academic institutions and the importance of the upcoming educational opportunity. Hopefully, through these partnerships, our HBCU students will be empowered to see the global, and limitless possibilities for their future.
Below are some tips for students interested in studying in China:
1. Contact your HBCU: Express your interest in studying in China to your HBCU counselors, faculty and administrators responsible for international study abroad programs, and ask them to find out more information for you.
2. Study China: Go online and begin to learn about China, its 5,000 year history, its diverse cultures and its peoples. You may be surprised by some of the similarities between Chinese and African American history. When you decide where you want to go in China, focus your study to that city or region to prepare yourself.
3. Learn some Chinese language: To get you started, the software program Rosetta Stone, is a good way to start learning some Mandarin greetings, words, and phrases, even before taking a full-on language course.
4. Share African American culture: When you visit China, be open to giving as much as you receive from the experience. Don’t be afraid to share your African American heritage and culture with the people you meet there and those with whom you feel comfortable exchanging ideas.
–Until next time:
“May the curiosity of life keep you aware,
The power of love push you forward,
And may the love of life,
Keep you living in the Spirit of "Fearless Living!” – Julia
Julia A. Wilson is the CEO and Founder of Wilson Global Communications, an international public affairs consulting firm founded in South Africa in 1994, headquartered in Washington, D.C., and serving as a liaison representative between the U.S. and China since 2010. A U.S. Department of State Fulbright Grant recipient and international lecturer. Wilson has lived, studied and/or worked in more than 13 countries. Follow her on Twitter @JuliaWilson_dc.