BEIJING, JUNE 7 – Asia Society and the US-China Strong Foundation today announced a new partnership to realize Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping’s call for 1 million American students to be learning Mandarin by 2020.
The two organizations made the announcement during the 7th Annual US-China Consultation on People-to-People Exchange (CPE), chaired by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong. Asia Society and US-China Strong share the goal of dramatically increasing the number of Americans proficient in Mandarin—an increasingly critical skill set given the strategic importance of the US-China relationship.
Asia Society has for more than ten years led a national effort to expand the number of Americans studying Chinese language and culture, creating a network of more than 40,000 Mandarin learners from 28 states. During this same period, the overall number of K-12 Mandarin learners has increased more than tenfold to approximately 200,000.
Still, as Josette Sheeran, President and CEO of Asia Society, put it: “More than 400 million Chinese are studying English, so we need to attract and encourage more Americans to take on their share of the responsibility of fostering mutual understanding for this critical bilateral relationship.”
“By dramatically increasing the number of US students studying Mandarin, we will ensure a greater understanding of China, create a pipeline of China-savvy employees and ensure that students from all walks of life have the skills and opportunities to compete in today’s workforce,” said Carola McGiffert, CEO of US-China Strong.
US-China Strong – formerly named the 100,000 Strong Foundation – is leading the 1 Million Strong initiative to grow the number of US K-12 students studying Mandarin fivefold in five years. Supported by a task force of education and technology experts, the Foundation is working to develop Mandarin language curriculum norms, increase Mandarin language teachers in the US and support the development of new technology platforms to enhance accessibility of language learning to remote and underserved communities.
“We are excited to be working closely with the US-China Strong Foundation, which has been instrumental in bringing important voices and resources to this cause,” remarked Sheeran.
McGiffert added: “The Foundation looks forward to working with Asia Society on this very meaningful effort that will not only benefit the next generation of Americans, but help build a more constructive US-China relationship for generations to come.”
About Asia Society
Asia Society is the leading educational organization dedicated to promoting mutual understanding and strengthening partnerships among peoples, leaders and institutions of Asia and the United States in a global context. Across the fields of arts, business, culture, education, and policy, the Society provides insight, generates ideas, and promotes collaboration to address present challenges and create a shared future. A nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, Asia Society is headquartered in New York with state-of-the-art cultural centers in Hong Kong and Houston, and offices in Los Angeles, Manila, Mumbai, San Francisco, Seoul, Shanghai, Sydney, and Zurich.
About the US-China Strong Foundation
The US-China Strong Foundation is a global nonprofit organization that seeks to strengthen US-China relations by investing in a new generation of leaders who have the knowledge and skills to engage with China. The Foundation leads a national movement to ensure the next generation of US leaders is equipped to engage effectively with China: a global strategic power, the second largest economy in the world and America’s fastest growing trade partner.