Students from Yu Ying Public Charter School perform at the ‘Raising Global Leaders Fundraiser’ on February 17.
(WASHINGTON) – They may be America’s youngest and most diminutive group of aspiring global diplomats, but what they lack in age and physical stature, they make up for in heart, curiosity, talent and academic acuity.
And on Saturday, February 17th, at the Confucius Institute U.S. Center (CIUS Center), a “Raising Global Leaders” fundraiser was held to benefit 10- and 11-year old students of the renowned Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School. The event was timed at the beginning of the Chinese Lunar New Year – the ‘Year of the Dog,’ and Black History Month.
Proceeds will fund the students’ July full immersion cultural exchange to China to further their educational and linguistic skills in Mandarin. The event was a cross-cultural celebration featuring music and food from China and the African diaspora, and included performances by the students’ band, the “Red Hot China Peppers.” During the students’ time in China, they will stay with host families, and will be interviewed by CCTV, China’s equivalent of CNN.
Speaking and studying in Mandarin has become almost second nature to these students. Since the tender age of 4, they have been learning the Chinese language, and have been representing their school as public speakers and scholars at various events including the Confucius Institute, U.S. Chamber of Commerce China Center, the Kennedy Center, the National Zoo and the White House.
The keynote speaker for the event was former U.S. Ambassador to Brunei, Sylvia Stanfield, who also served as Chinese language specialist with the U.S. State Department. The emcee was Julia Wilson, CEO and founder of the international public relations and marketing communications firm Wilson Global Communications.
Parents of these special students have expressed a desire for their children to learn, speak and read not only English, but also Mandarin, both languages spoken by about 20 percent of the world’s population, respectively. They also have encouraged their children to participate in various volunteer activities such as helping Libraries Without Borders.
Cheyenne Boyce, program associate at the Confucius Institute U.S. Center, which donated space for the event, says she is inspired by these students’ work ethic and success. “Studying Mandarin is a strategic skill that will make these students more knowledgeable and skilled as they mature into global citizens, as well as help them build personal bridges to their counterparts in China.”
Kysseline Cherestal, a parent of one of the students traveling, says that “our children have
spent the better part of their lives immersing themselves, from afar, in the ancient and
rich Chinese culture and language. The experience of traveling and living in China,
engaging with their peers at school and in their homes, is an important milestone to make
all that they have learned more concrete, and give it impetus for the rest of their academic
career. We are committed to nurturing our children’s potential to become leaders in this
increasingly global world.”
Please contact Amanda Littlejohn for more information, or to make individual, corporate or philanthropic contributions. Please contact Cheyenne Boyce for more information on the event and the Confucius Institute U.S. Center.