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In early July, ACYPL sent a seven-member delegation to China for a 13-day exchange. The delegates visited Beijing, Xi’an, and Chengdu. The delegation was geographically and professionally diverse, and included members of the Kansas and Florida State Senate, a member of the Mississippi House of Representatives, the Deputy Secretary of Health Care Financing for the state of Maryland, ACYPL’s Communications Manager, and representatives from Target and the American Beverage Association. The exchange was managed by the All-China Youth Federation (ACYF), which has been ACYPL’s incountry exchange partner for over 35 years.
In Beijing, the delegates learned about China’s foreign policy objectives, environmental regulations and focus on innovation and technology. Among the highlights was a discussion about US-China relations with experts from the China Institute of International Studies and a meeting with US Ambassador Terry Brandstad.
The delegation then traveled to the Xi’an where they were welcomed by Wei Zengjun, Vice Governor of Shanxi Province. The group’s meetings in Xi’an focused on economic development, infrastructure, and industry, which was highlighted by a visit to the site of a massive high-speed rail project followed by a meeting with the state-owned enterprise undertaking the project.
The exchange concluded with three days in Chengdu, where the topics covered included education, innovation, and research industries. One particularly noteworthy experience in Chengdu was a to visit a rural community where the government had resettled earthquake victims. After spending the majority of the time in heavily populated cities, the delegation welcomed the opportunity to experience a different environment. One delegate who was particularly affected by the experience described the visit as “engaging, real, and unscripted.”
Outside of their official meetings, the delegation had ample time for cultural activities. Some of the highlights in Beijing included hiking a portion of the Great Wall, touring the Forbidden City and visiting the National Stadium where the 2008 Summer Olympics were held. During their time in Xi’an, the group visited Museum of the Terracotta Army and, in Chengdu, they attended a Sichuan Opera performance.
After the exchange, one delegate commented, “Coming into this trip, I had very little understanding of the systems and complexities related to the Chinese government, their politics, and their culture. I learned a lot about the topics covered and just as much about what wasn’t said. I was fascinated to read between the lines and understand the direction that China is headed and where the U.S. fits into their plans.” ACYPL looks forward to continuing this longstanding partnership with ACYF.