Sunday, October 29, 2006

I'm a proud parent

of FACES (Forum for American/Chinese Exchange at Stanford), which has continued to grow tremendously since I handed over the reins in 2003. Here's the Stanford Daily article about FACES that ran on Thursday:

Campus to host FACES conference
October 26, 2006
By Emma Vaughn

As U.S.-Sino relations grow in importance in the global community, the Forum for American/Chinese Exchange at Stanford (FACES) is actively working to promote diplomacy and friendship between the nations’ younger generations.

With three chapters in China and host more than 50 delegates from around the world, FACES is a student-run program dedicated to fostering grass-roots diplomacy and improving ties between Chinese and American students.

“It is basically like having an NGO based at Stanford,” said 2003 graduate Jessica Weiss, who founded FACES in 2001. “Yes, it’s run by students, but it has a strong air of professional organization.”

The capstone efforts of FACES are two projects that brings together American and Chinese student-delegates to discuss U.S.-Sino relations with some of the field’s leading experts.

Shanghai will host the first of these weeklong conferences Nov. 8, and Stanford will hold a second conference in April.

“The annual conferences are really what make FACES different,” said Xiaodong Chen, a graduate student in Management Science and Engineering and Chinese delegate to FACES. “They are of the highest quality in terms of the speaker’s credentials and international influence. They also include a highly selective application process, which guarantees the brightest minds from both countries. The staff are extremely dedicated, hardworking and helpful.”

Richard B. Levin, president of Yale University and a featured speaker at the Shanghai conference, said that organizations like FACES will have a large impact on the global community.

“The security of the planet will require that the future leaders of China and the United States have a bond of mutual understanding,” Levin told The Daily. “By bringing together college students from leading universities with a serious interest in U.S.-China relations, FACES is contributing in an important way to the education of future leaders and, thereby, to international security.”

Delegates to the conference are chosen from a pool of nearly 600 students and come from both American universities such as Harvard, Brown, Duke, Yale and also from Chinese universities like Peking, Tsinghua and the University of Hong Kong.

The goal of these conferences is to bring students in contact with business executives, policymakers and educational figures who can talk about China’s increasing economic and political influence. Previous conference speakers have included William Perry, President Bill Clinton’s defense secretary who also works at Stanford, Zbigniew Brzesinksi, President Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor, and Robert Kapp, former president of the U.S.-China Business Council.

“What differentiates FACES is its tight-knit and very active alumni network,” said FACES Co-president Kabir Chadha, a senior. “There are reunions in different continents literally happening every week, and email forums are awash with different threads of discussion, ranging from discussing the repercussions of North Korea’s nuclear tests to seeking advice when moving into a new city. The FACES experience gives you access to lifelong friends.”

In addition to the conferences, FACES holds several smaller projects throughout the year, including a student-initiated course, educational panels and an annual China Fair.

“FACES is not just organizing amazing conferences across the Pacific Ocean — it is bringing those talented people together and providing them with a fantastic platform to show their ideas,” said Christine Fung, President of the Fudan chapter of FACES. “It also welcomes students from countries other than the U. S. or China.”

The program first began in the fall of 2001 during a period of tension following the collision of a U.S. plane with a Chinese fighter jet. Weiss, a junior at the time, hoped to use this crisis as a backdrop to create greater Sino-American understanding on campus.

“I wanted to use this idea to promote open communication between both sides,” Weiss said. “I hoped to establish a sort of grass-roots for friendship that would be resilient to the politics of the time.”

In the last year, FACES, which used to be under the jurisdiction of the Office of Student Affairs (OSA), has moved into the Center for East Asian Studies (CEAS).

“The reason that they are affiliating with us now is that they need a greater programmatic structure for their fundraising,” said Lydia Chen, associate director of CEAS. “They want more than what the student organizations are allowed to do. We love them and are very proud of them.”

1 comment:

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