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Unique Cultural Exchange To Take Place As Chinese Youth Visit Missouri

(via Wikimedia Commons)

The relationship between the United States and China is important, as demonstrated by recent meetings between President Barack Obama and his counterpart, Xi Jinping.

A group of 37 Chinese students will begin arriving in St. Louis this week to attend Missouri Boys and Girls State, youth leadership programs held at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg. 

The 21 girls and 16 boys are part of the newly formed US-China Youth Leadership Exchange, an initiative of the MidWest US-China Association to create understanding and positive relationships between the two countries.  The students will join 1,400 Missouri teens during the weeklong campus experience.

Former Missouri Governor Bob Holden is Chairman of the MidWest US-China Association.  He told St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh that he hopes the new program encourages American and Chinese youth to try and understand each other - their differences and similarities.

“The key is for these people to get to know each other,” Holden said. “When you build relationships and you have a difference of opinion, you figure out a way to solve it peacefully. If you don't have a relationship and you have a difference, then sometimes another course of action is taken.”

While the focus of this month’s cultural exchanges is to foster better understanding between U.S. and Chinese youth, the Association stresses the importance of economic cooperation and development.  Such business cooperation can be a byproduct of cultural exchanges.

"When we get people to come and see what the Midwest has to offer, we have a much better chance of them picking the Midwest and staying here because of our lifestyle,” Holden said.  “Particularly for a Chinese family, they can look at the Midwest and say 'that mirrors our lifestyle and what we want for our children better than many other places in the United States.'"

Marsh also spoke with Joel Glassman, Director of the Center for International Studies at the University of Missouri – St. Louis, and Zoey Wang, a Chinese student at Webster University and former St. Louis Public Radio intern.

The Chinese students will sightsee in St. Louis, Kansas City, Columbia and Jefferson City in addition to their time in Warrensburg. Boys State takes place June 15-22, and Girls State is June 23-29.

A discussion with Chinese citizen and former St. Louis Public Radio intern Zoey Wang

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Alex is the executive producer of "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.
Mary Edwards came to St. Louis Public Radio in 1974, just after finishing her Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She has served the station in a number of capacities over the years. From 1988-2014 she also taught an undergraduate class in radio production at Webster University. Mary was inducted into the St. Louis Media History Foundation Media Hall of Fame in April, 2017 and received the Gateway Media Literacy Partners' Charles Klotzer Media Literacy Award in 2012. Mary retired from St. Louis Public Radio in 2018, but still serves the station as a St. Louis Symphony Producer.
Don Marsh served as host of St. Louis Public Radio’s “St. Louis on the Air" from 2005 to 2019, bringing discussions of significant topics to listeners' ears at noon Monday through Friday. Don has been an active journalist for 58 years in print, radio and television. He has won 12 Regional Emmy Awards for writing, reporting, and producing. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, was inducted into the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame in 2013, and named “Media Person of the Year” by the St. Louis Press Club in 2015. He has published three books: his most recent, “Coming of Age, Liver Spots and All: A Humorous Look at the Wonders of Getting Old,” “Flash Frames: Journey of a Journeyman Journalist” and “How to be Rude (Politely).” He holds an honorary Doctor of Arts and Letters degree from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

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