Michelle Obama recently made a visit to China’s Peking University. Well, it’s no doubt that her main prominence has always been regarding education and health. Thus, in her recent speech in Peking University, she addressed the importance of studying abroad and why experiencing different cultures was important.
The First Lady started off by saying, “Studying abroad is of vital importance for foreign policy.” Furthermore, she stated that, “Relationships between nations aren’t just about relationships between governments or leaders - they're about relationships between people, particularly young people.” I really love what she said here, because young people “the youths”, as I may say, are the future to every nation. Studying abroad promotes global leadership and ideas across boundaries, and helps people to build their own nation with global standards. This could be a useful way to develop a nation.
Moreover, she quotes a Chinese saying, "It is better to travel ten thousand miles than to read ten thousand books," to emphasize the fact that studying is not just about getting good grades or sitting in one corner of the world and studying intolerably. This will not help us to get ahead in today’s workplaces. She highlights the fact that academics are more than that. It is more of having “real” experiences with the world beyond our borders; experience with languages, cultures and societies that are different from ours. Thus, shaping a better future for us and the nation.
She also focused on hot issues like climate change, economic development and nuclear weapon; that these notions were shared by the world and the only possible way to move forward from these issues were that we share our ideas, technologies, cooperation to eradicate such problems . She noted, “That cures discovered here in Beijing could save lives in America, that clean energy technologies from Silicon Valley in California could improve the environment here in China, that the architecture of an ancient temple in Xian could inspire the design of new buildings in Dallas or Detroit.” This in fact is true-different technologies that the world makes or discovers could be useful in every which way.
Thus, by studying abroad we come to know about what other nations have been doing and developing so that we can implement that on our country as well. As, an architecture student myself, I love to explore different buildings. I studied one year in Thailand and transferred to South Korea. Well, it’s not particularly “studying abroad”, but knowing different cultures has been an overwhelming experience. It is like there is so much more to the world that I haven’t seen.
She also mentioned that President Obama has been taking a lot of initiative to promote education all around the world. She particularly acknowledged his endeavor when he visited China back in 2009 where he announced 100,000 strong initiative to increase the number and diversity of American students studying in China, and also it was the 35th anniversary of the normalization of relationships between the two countries. The U.S government thus supports more American students in China than in any other countries in the world.
She continued by saying that the world today needs to move on to “a new era of citizen diplomacy.”She quoted a student who conveyed the message that one does not necessarily have to study abroad or become a citizen diplomat. The world has become so advanced that all we can need is the internet, that if we have connection in our home, school or library, within seconds we can be transported anywhere in the world and meet people on every continent. I really agree with this stanza. I think that those people who have money problems could educate themselves through the internet or by meeting new people in their own country. For example, Michelle Obama, who then was in Chian, has been writing on blogs so that the world can see how beautiful China is and share her experiences. I also strongly believe that it is very important that ideas flow through the internet. For example, if I don’t know how to do something, or need some information about some particular subjects, all I need to do is search them on the net.
With all that said, she further stated that President Obama also received some criticisms regarding their new rules, but he respects the uniqueness of other cultures and societies, and that expressing oneself is a universal right; these rights are guaranteed from the time of birth. They believe that all people deserve the opportunity to fulfill their potential. Life is about “not letting fear be your guide,” she told the students who participated in a video conference between the Stanford campus in California and the campus in Beijing.
Hence, I believe that what the First Lady, Michelle Obama said was really inspirational and truly motivational. It is not only about studying abroad or getting into someone else’s space, it is so much more than that. We need to believe in a change that matters. A change that changes our own lives and the lives of everyone we meet. President John. F. Kennedy rightfully once said that, “I think they teach more than they learn.” That is true because we all contribute to the world a lot. There’s a reason why she focused particularly on the youth. It is because they are the sole developers of tomorrow. Studying abroad not only enriches lives and relationships but also provide a way of shaping the future.
Pooja Lama Singhdan firstname.lastname@example.org
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