[China to US 35th Anniversary] Vivien Li: Third Time’s a Charm
I had the good fortune to be a delegate on ACYPL’s 30th Anniversary delegation to China in 2009, and two additional delegations in 1988 and 1999. All were extraordinary celebrations of our relationship with our Chinese counterparts, and as always, they treated us with great respect and kind hospitality.
During my visit in 2009, I shared stories with my Chinese hosts about my first ACYPL exchange to the country in 1988. At the time, I was on the senior staff of Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, who had been the Democratic nominee for President, and had recently lost to George W. H. Bush who was going to take office a few weeks after our return home. Betsy DeVos, a close Bush family friend and delegate on the trip, was my roommate for part of the exchange, and she and I had some spirited discussions which our Chinese hosts enjoyed observing. On our group’s visit to Nanjing University, we went to the office of the chairman of the English department, who proudly displayed a “Mike Dukakis for President” poster on his office wall and asked that I share with the Governor a photo of him in front of the poster. I still have that photo of him today.
For both delegations, we had the great opportunity to visit with party officials at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. During the 30th Anniversary trip, my counterparts asked me to recount stories of the same 1988 meeting. I told them we had the honor of meeting with Madame Lei Jieqiong, Vice Chair of the Standing Committee. She was very smart and quick, and at one point even corrected her translator. She was one of the highest ranking women in the Party, and with a twinkle in her eye, asked us about women leaders in the American political system. I later presented her with a Paul Revere-style bowl, and explained that not only was Paul Revere a famous US patriot during the American Revolutionary War but also a well-known silversmith from Boston.
On all the delegations, I also thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to see schools and educational facilities where children and young people were learning. Chinese students seemed inquisitive and motivated, and they will no doubt be leaders not only in China but internationally as the global community grapples with continuing issues such as global health, economic prosperity, and the environment.
ACYPL and the All-China Youth Federation are doing a remarkable job of fostering good will between our countries. During this 35th Anniversary celebration, I look forward to hearing about the visit from our Chinese counterparts, and wish them a very happy and productive trip, much like what I have had the privilege of experiencing in China.
Vivien Li is the president of The Boston Harbor Association
Click here for other photos from the US to China delegation in 1988, 1999 and 2009.