Inspired by the Obama administration’s call to discover and engage the world, 24 members of the Howard University Freshmen Leadership Academy will travel to Beijing this summer from July 25 to Aug. 2.

The students will visit Chinese universities, Tiananmen Square and several other cultural and historic sites. They will explore global trends and business practices and learn about Chinese history, education and leadership through lectures and cultural immersion. The Beijing experiences are expected to broaden students’ appreciation of world cultures and languages, improve their intercultural communication skills and awaken an awareness of what it means to be a global citizen.

“This inaugural cultural exchange by the Freshman Leadership Academy is a significant step towards achieving President Ribeau’s vision for an expanded international footprint and responding to President Obama’s 100,000 Strong Initiative,” said Barbara Griffin, Ph.D., vice president for Student Affairs. “In today’s increasingly interconnected and internationalized world, we must prepare globally competent graduates.”

The schedule includes a stop at Beijing Normal University (BNC), where they will attend a lecture on the transition of Chinese society, with special emphasis on women’s and civil development. The lecture will be presented by Xiao Suowei, assistant professor of Sociology and Public Policy at the BNC. She earned a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California at Berkeley and a Bachelors of Arts in Chinese literature from Peking University.

Julie Chang Andrist, a Chinese lecturer and Preprofessional Advisor in the College of Arts and Sciences, will travel with the group. Andrist will lead intense Mandarin sessions and mini-seminars on Chinese culture and education system prior to and during the visit. The 31-member delegation also includes four staff members.

By traveling to China, the Freshmen Leadership Academy is answering a challenge from President Obama to increase the number and diversity of Americans studying in China, the goal of his administration’s “100,000 Strong” initiative. First Lady Michelle Obama visited Howard on January 19, 2011, one day after Chinese President Hu Jintao arrived in the U.S. for an official state visit, and stressed to hundreds of Howard students the importance of foreign engagement by young people.

“Studying in countries like China is about so much more than just improving your own prospects in the global marketplace,” Mrs. Obama said. “The fact is, with every friendship you make and every bond of trust you establish, you are shaping the image of America projected to the rest of the world.”

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