Daniel Tedesco speech in Chinese to Hillary Clinton
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Published on May 8, 2012
I'm a 2011 Fulbrighter in China and President of the student-run nonprofit Global China Connection. On May 4, 2012, I gave a speech in Chinese to a Plenary Session of the U.S.-China Consultation on People-to-People Exchange (CPE). Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, State Councillor Liu Yandong, U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke, and a host of other high-level diplomats were in attendance. I had five minutes of everyone's attention to tell my story and make a point about student exchange.
Secretary Clinton, Counselor Liu, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentleman,
My name is Daniel Tedesco. I'm a Fulbright Scholar researching China's Student Village Officials Program*. It's a very great honor for me to speak with you today.
I was a Student Ambassador at the Shanghai World Expo USA National Pavilion. My brain was numb from speaking Chinese all day. We averaged 40,000 visitors per day. I was hot. I was tired. I missed home.
My American friends were going out and asked me to join them. It would be comfortable, fun, relaxing. We would speak English and discuss our favorite sports teams.
Should I go? Every day, American students in China and Chinese students in America face similar choices. And too many of us spend time mostly with our country-mates. It's easy for a Chinese student in the U.S. to eat Chinese food and go karaoke. It's comfortable for an American in China to eat pizza and hang out in cafes.
Spending time with local people throws us into a world of potential misunderstanding. We struggle to explain simple things. We don't know when to laugh at jokes. It's often hard just to keep up with the conversation. We might look silly and get laughed out.
There is no quick fix. Building real, trusting relationships takes time. So instead of going out with the Americans that night, I met Chinese friends for dinner.
Over time, I realized these friendships developed into something more. Many of us work together on Global China Connection, a four-year-old nonprofit devoted to building leadership skills and deep, trusting relationships between Chinese and non-Chinese college students around the world. We work together, attend lectures together, plan events together, build friendships that last a lifetime. As part of the leadership team, I've seen the organization grow to 50 university chapters and 2,000 student members.
Those friends also supported me in applying for a Fulbright Scholarship. During my research, I work with Chinese graduate students and professors across the country.
So, I'm in China celebrating Spring Festival and eating hotpot. Meanwhile, many Chinese friends are in the U.S. celebrating Thanksgiving and watching football.
Chinese and Americans abroad are putting aside what's comfortable in order to do what's meaningful. And we've reaped big rewards for doing so. We've seen how lives are enriched through exchange programs like those supported by 100,000 Strong.
Secretary Clinton and Madame Liu, imagine if you met in college and have already been friends for decades. Well, the next generation of Hillary Clintons and Liu Yandongs are students right now. Connecting them is one of the most important endeavors our countries can undertake today.
A single friend can change an experience abroad. A few more can change a life. But a great many can fortify and enrich U.S.-China relations for decades to come.
It was followed by remarks from Secretary Clinton and Councillor Liu. You can read Secretary Clinton's remarks here: http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/201.... Also, you can find a Chinese transcript of the speech on my blog: http://www.tedescodaniel.blogspot.com.
* A Chinese government program that prepares young Chinese to be the next generation of local political leaders.
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