*Studying abroad continues to be an intriguing idea for many. It’s an excellent opportunity to learn about different cultures, speak other languages and broaden perspectives overall. Unfortunately, the opportunity has not been one that many African American and other minority youth have experienced.
According to China’s education ministry, 21,975 American students studied in China in 2015.
Note the number is for “American,” we don’t how many African Americans are included. Before I get to the opportunity to change that (scroll down), let’s get some perspective from two African American students who have gone through the experience. Jeffrey Wood, now 25, is an African American Student and resident of Washington, D. C. and Destin Tucker, the 18-year-old son of actor-comedian-humanitarian, Chris Tucker, who recently moved to Atlanta to attend Morehouse College.
Wood initially saw a 12-hour flight, six weeks away from home, and the difficult characters of the Mandarin Chinese language as daunting obstacles. But he didn’t let that stop him and decided to take the trip for the opportunity to travel.
He ended up loving the experience for both its travel and content, and has traveled to China twice.
In an article on Global Affairs he says, “The program changed some of my long-held perspectives about China,” he said. “It educated me and helped me grow into the person I am now.”
He studied Mandarin for a year in Nanjing at Hopkins-Nanjing Center for Chinese American Studies and said his second visit to the country was much more user-friendly.
Wood, who visited China for the first time in 2009 to do a 6-week intensive training, spoke to National Public Radio (NPR) about his experiences; saying some of the Chinese people he met in the northeastern city of Harbin back then didn’t hold back at revealing their shock of seeing a Black person for the first time. He tells NPR…
“There was…culture shock of getting different stares and being treated differently. So I had people just randomly come up and touch my hair.”
Wood also says he never felt so scrutinized and forced to explain himself to others than he did in that 2009 visit. But he adds that the experience has given him a stronger awareness of his identity.
“Having people say, ‘I’ve never met someone like you before, never met a Black American before,’ that’s never happened. From that experience until today, I would say I know that I’m a lot more confident in myself. I know who I am.”
Wood, who is studying to be a diplomat, now encourages other African-American students to follow in his footsteps. He’s a student ambassador for the U.S. – China Strong Foundation, which promotes student exchanges, but he admits that it’s a hard sell because many African American students studying the culture and language tend to give up.
“They would say, ‘Oh no, like, I think I’m done with Chinese, you know, it was really difficult, I don’t think it’s for me, I have to spend a lot of time [on it],’ ” he explains.
“People just kind of give up.”
Tucker, on the other hand, has never studied in China but has visited the country at least twice with his father and has studied Mandarin for four years. He tells EURThisNthat that he finds the language a welcomed challenge and his reasons for a foray into Chinese culture has more to do with business.
“I started studying Chinese because I look at this language as a business opportunity to tap into a whole new market for different ideas.”
Tucker, who recently moved from southern California to Atlanta, where he begins his freshman year at Morehouse College in the Cinema, Technology and Emerging Media Studies program, adds…
“I also love Chinese culture. Its very elegant and different from the U. S. I aspire to be fluent and learn how to write most Chinese characters with ease.”
On being a Black man from the U.S. in China, Tucker says:
“Visiting China as a Black man was very interesting. Whether you are a famous Black person or not [the] people see you as ‘exotic.’ That was my experience in Beijing. The children may also try to sneak photos of you,” he chuckles.
Below, actor Jackie Chan hosts Destin and his famous dad. Being aware of young Tucker’s interest in film, Chan invited Destin and his dad to be his guests at the 2017 Chinese Film Festival in Budapest earlier this summer.
According to Carola McGiffert, the U.S. – China Strong Foundation president who has helped build relations between historically black colleges and universities and China’s government, “The typical American study-abroad student is Caucasian, female and from the upper socioeconomic classes.” She says the foundation is “…working very hard to broaden the community that has opportunities in China” because the Chinese now “understand how important diversity is in the American culture, and how important it is to U.S. businesses and government, and they’ve embraced it.”
Academically strong students ages 14 to 17 may now have another opportunity to travel to China and study through the nonprofit organization, On A Mission, Inc.
Students traveling to China with On A Mission, Inc. will visit the following sites:
**Beijing Capital Museum**
**2008 Olympic Games Sites**
**Great Wall of China**
**Kung Fu Show**
**Experience Culture & Language**and much more All students who wish to be considered must submit the following:
- Two Letters of Recommendation (Letterhead & Signed)
- Most Recent Student Report Card
- Successful Completion of an interview w/ OAM Chaperons
- Typed Essay (1 page) on Why you should be selected to attend this trip
The 1st Parent/Student Information Session takes place Saturday, September 16:
Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Mall
1st Floor Community Room
**Light Refreshments Will Be Served**
Price Includes: Roundtrip Airfare, Hotel Accommodations, Transportation, and All Meals
Learn About Sponsorship/Scholarship Opportunities for Students
For more information call us at (323) 298-4779
****Limited Space Available, Call to Register Today!****
**Payment Plans Available**
Hear What ABC 7 Says About Our Washington DC Trip Here
To Make a Tax Deductible Donation or to Sponsor On A Mission, Inc. Click Here
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