Curriculum Opinion

Education a Strategic Issue

By Anthony Jackson — February 22, 2012 1 min read
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China’s Vice President Xi Jinping, who will likely be named the new head of state next year, discussed international security, global economics, and U.S.-China bi-lateral issues as he toured the United States with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. The two vice presidents also visited one of Asia Society’s International Studies Schools (learn more). It symbolized another strategic issue for the two nations: preparing a rising generation to collaborate and compete effectively.

The United States and China arguably have the world’s most complex and high-stakes relationship. And yet, both nations recognize a so-called knowledge imbalance: Some 10 times more Chinese students come to the United States to study than Americans who study in China. Chinese students who study English outnumber Americans studying Chinese by 600 fold. The International Studies Learning Center is one school that is helping to close that gap through a global learning focus.

I’ve asked Antonia Guzman, a teacher at the school, to reflect on the visit.

On Friday, International Studies Learning Center had the honor of hosting a visit by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and China's Vice President Xi Jinping. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and LA Unified School District officials accompanied the senior state officials in a visit we hope will bring awareness to the importance of learning world languages and understanding different cultures. To give you a sense of the conversations, one of our seniors, Christian Chavez, spoke with Mr. Xi in Chinese. He asked, " How do you balance your job and your life? Vice President Xi expressed he is always busy attending meetings and making trips. "It's like Mission Impossible," he joked. Photos by the school's journalism students. On more serious matters, Vice President Biden shared that his meetings with Vice President Xi had been very open and frank about the economic and political dilemmas we face in China. "[Mr. Xi] is intensely interested in why we think the way we do and the need to broaden this kind of understanding," Mr. Biden told us. "I believe there are several concrete accomplishments and I predict the possibility of more, the deeper this relationship becomes." As a teacher at International Studies Learning Center, I feel honored that both vice presidents visited our school. Our students made all of us proud. As a journalism teacher, I am humbled by the responsibility my student reporters took on photo documenting and writing about the visit. This is what our school mission is about: to inspire and prepare global citizens.

As Mr. Biden left, he said, “You are an impressive group of students. Thank you for making America look so good.”

And that’s what we want to see for all students: a chance at an education that will prepare them for global citizenship. While not all students will have the chance to meet with vice presidents, students will have the opportunity to meet and work with people around the world with more frequency than any other generation before them. All of those interactions hold the opportunity to make America look good.

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