Michelle Obama's China Initiative

ABC's Daniel Steinberger reports: While President Obama was meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintau, his wife Michelle Obama spoke to a mostly full auditorium at Howard University this morning. Citing the need to prepare young people to succeed in the modern global economy, Mrs. Obama encouraged students to study in China and work together with their Chinese peers.

The First Lady spelled out the “100,000 Strong Initiative,” a plan that President unveiled during his 2009 visit to China. The program aims to increase significantly the number of Americans who have the opportunity to study in China. She also announced that 10,000 students will get Chinese government scholarships to study in China.

The First Lady told the audience “when you study abroad you are actually helping to make America stronger” and that “America has no better ambassador to offer the world than our young people” She also quipped that when she was in college she was “more focused on getting in, getting thru, and getting out” than broadening her horizons and exploring the world and that this program was designed to spur passion and impact students’ lives.

Following her remarks, four students, sitting at a panel table who had studied abroad in China, told the audience their experiences and how studying in China had influenced their lives.

David Marzban, a student at Pepperdine University, studied abroad during the 2008-2009 academic semester. He told the audience that he was impressed with the fact that the Chinese people were so encouraging to him as he tried to learn the language. He related a story of singing “California Dreaming” with a Chinese man he met a restaurant there.

Valery Lavigne, a student at the College of New Jersey, told the audience that because of her experience “I am not just an American citizen, I am a citizen of the world”.

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