The “100,000 Strong Initiative" is a program through which American students are sponsored on scholarships to study in China. As a national effort that started in November 2009, this initiative’s goals are to:
- dramatically increase the number and diversify the composition of American students studying in China
- educate the next generation of American experts on China who will ultimately manage the political, economic and cultural ties between the two countries
- and address the growing need for the United States to understand China as a nation.
Perhaps the last point is the most significant, because the fact is:
Ten times more Chinese students come to the United States for educational programs than Americans who study in China, and 600 times more Chinese study the English language than Americans study Mandarin. This imbalance in knowledge can undermine strategic trust between the two countries. Redressing this imbalance in knowledge is essential to ensuring that Americans have the cultural understanding and language skills that underpin effective diplomacy and foreign policy. It will also enhance our students’ ability to succeed academically and professionally in the global economy.
There has been a substantial growth in students studying abroad in China. However, this government initiative has been trying to rally increasing support in order to fund these scholarships. Americans Promoting Study Abroad, a U.S. nonprofit organization that funds scholarships for high-school students for language study in China, has organized a concert to gather further support. According to the Wall Street Journal, Will.i.am of Black Eyed Peas has been recruited to put on this Benefit Concert in Beijing to support this program, alongside possible Asian-American acts Shunza and Wang Leehom.
While this concert has yet to gain approval from the Chinese Ministry of Culture, I certainly hope that this Benefit Concert educates the public on the growing significant relationship between China and the United States. I further believe that this concert is a great opportunity to educate both the Chinese and the Americans on the music from both nations, and hope that the artists performing will recognize the substantial influence they have on intertwining music education initiatives as well.