This article is a part of the East-West Center - US-China Strong Foundation Guest Contributor Program, which shares the experiences of American students currently or previously studying in China.
By Natalie Dabkowski, first-year student, Harvard University. She is part of the US-China Strong Foundation Student Ambassador Program.
Note: this article originally appeared in the East-West Center’s Asia Matters for America/America Matters for Asia initiative on January 12, 2018.
November 1st marked the beginning of the intercollegiate program XWeek, through which approximately fifty Chinese high school students are given the opportunity to visit Harvard, Yale, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for a week of constructive educational activities and immersion in the American university environment.
The initiative is in its second year of operation, and it is a sister program to the Harvard Association for US-China Relations sponsored HWeek, during which one hundred top performing participants from the Harvard Summit for Young Leaders Conferences in China are invited to explore Harvard for one week in November. XWeek and HWeek consist of a variety of unique interactive opportunities for the Chinese students, with access to university classes, hand-picked student mentors, lunches with professors, and excursions into the historic Boston community. Chinese students are able to broaden their horizons through interaction with centuries of educational heritage and engaging student coordinators. XWeek and HWeek, however, are only one side of the coin. American universities maintain robust programs in China, hosting major research competitions like China Thinks Big, leadership conferences including the three-city Summit for Young Leaders, and countless study abroad programs that bring students together from across the Pacific.
The ever-increasing depth of US-China educational ties is a point of achievement for both nations. International educational interaction is no longer reserved to students at elite American and Chinese universities, but open to participants at the high school level, who are increasingly being exposed to unique opportunities that expand their educational foundations, sharpen their cross-cultural communication skills, and foster a strong US-China partnership.
XWeek and HWeek might only be two weeks of the school year, but the experiences they provide are cherished by their Chinese participants and American coordinators far beyond those few autumn days. With greater engagement between American and Chinese students at an earlier age, China and the United States ensure the growth of internationally-minded and open individuals who are willing to support each other in the mutual exploration of language, global issues, and communication. Through events like XWeek, China and the United States contribute to mutual national growth on a distinct individual level, cultivating a lifelong spirit of curiosity and learning skills in their participants and creating a baseline for broader community growth.