Reflections from Participants in the “Hefner Initiative – USA/China/Asia” 2017 Summer Program

August 17, 2017
By Lucy Carr

For this year’s Hefner Initiative, four American high school students and two adult chaperones traveled to Beijing and Suzhou. The students stayed with families from Beijing High School No. 4, learning about Chinese family life. While in Beijing, the group visited many historic sites including the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace, the Great Wall of China, and the Capital Museum. The group then took a bullet train to Suzhou, where they took a cruise on the ancient city canals and visited the Humble Administrator’s Garden, the Suzhou Museum, the Opera Museum, and learned about traditional silk spinning and embroidery.

“I had believed China to be very uniform, and that the government requires conformity to their own principles, but this was hardly the case … China today is far more diverse and multi-faceted than I would have believed from reading about it.”
-Anthony Villalobos, Hefner Scholar-Webb

“China’s senior citizens impressed me greatly and made me realize that regardless of the current political relationship of the two nations, the people of the two nations can always be enthusiastic towards each other and willing to turn a complete stranger into a friend.”
-Georgia Newman, Hefner Scholar-Webb

“As an American that went to China I plan on encouraging more people of different races to visit China because the country is beautiful and rich in an interesting history. I also hope to revisit the country again one day.”
-Chinwe Okere, Hefner Scholar-OSSM

“We had amazing home cooked meals while they told me about the actual life in China, not the general idea people tell tourists to satisfy them … I could not have asked for a better host family, and I am so very grateful that I was lucky enough to have been paired with Icey. Living with Icey showed me how welcoming Chinese families could be.”
-Shania Do, Hefner Scholar- OSSM

“After my Hefner Ambassador experience, as I reflect, I realize that I had a number of ideas of what I would find that were, to say the least, inaccurate. In my mind, this kind of realization is what is imperative to truly make the most change in the relations between the U.S. people and the Chinese people.”
-Sara Marie Bodenstein, Hefner Ambassador-OSSM

“I believe now more than ever that the next generation of Chinese and American leaders must find ways to recognize difference, appreciate each other’s rich cultures, beliefs and interests. To achieve this, it will be important to connect young leaders from both countries with established leaders on both sides to take on the responsibility of safeguarding peace and enhancing mutual growth in the future.”
-Neal Piper, Hefner Ambassador-Presidential Precinct