First Lady and President Obama support increased exchanges with China, promote 100,000 Strong Initiative

[UPDATE 1/20/11: Full video of the First Lady's remarks is now available below. Also see President Hu's remarks on exchanges: "It is extremely important to increase exchanges between young people in China and the U.S."]

On the occasion of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s state visit to Washington, DC, and to promote the 100,000 Strong Initiative, First Lady Michelle Obama today addressed students at Howard University to highlight the importance of studying abroad and increasing exchanges with China. Later in the day, President Obama also stressed “the extraordinary possibilities of partnership between our citizens.”

In her remarks at Howard University, the First Lady underlined the impact study abroad has not only on students themselves but also on other people in their lives, and their countries at large:

“You all are America’s true face to the world … We need you out there, taking some risks and doing some really hard things.”

“Studying in countries like China isn’t only about your prospects in the global marketspace. It’s not just about whether you can compete with your peers in other countries to make America stronger. It’s also about whether you can come together, and work together with them to make our world stronger. It’s about the friendships you make, the bonds of trust you establish, and the image of America that you project to the rest of the world.”

Addressing the issue of how to provide study abroad opportunities for more young people, the First Lady said,

“We know it’s not enough for us to simply encourage people to go abroad. We need to make sure they can actually afford it.”

Mrs. Obama also talked about various programs to increase exchanges between the U.S. and China to support the 100,000 Strong Initiative, including Mandarin classes for DC high school students, an inter-semester China program specifically for community college students, and 10,000 scholarships by the Chinese government targeted at U.S. high school and college students and teachers to cover their in-country costs while studying in China. She commended Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s strong support of the 100,000 Strong Initiative and her efforts to encourage colleges and universities to double the number of students going to China.

Subsequent to Mrs. Obama’s remarks, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Ann Stock engaged in a panel discussion with four college and high school students, including two Gilman program alumni, who spoke about their experiences studying Chinese at home and spending time abroad in China.

First Lady Michelle Obama's "100,000 Strong" China Study Abroad Initiative Event from oliver Mertz on Vimeo.