Chicago, IL — November 2, 2015 — Wanxiang America and the 100,000 Strong Foundation co-hosted a lunch event on November 2, 2015 at the Waldorf Astoria Chicago Hotel to showcase the importance of Mandarin language learning and China study abroad for American students, specifically those in the greater Chicago region.
The purpose of the lunch was to promote the mission of the 100,000 Strong Foundation to the Chicago business community. The event was attended by former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and Chinese Consul General Zhao Weiping. Representatives from Wanxiang’s 100,000 Strong partner schools in the area including Northwestern University, University of Chicago, and Chicago Public Schools, as well as from the Mayor’s office, World Business Chicago, and the Paulson Institute also attended. Additionally, around 20 leaders from the US and Chinese business communities in the Chicago area participated.
Carola McGiffert, President and CEO of the 100,000 Strong Foundation opened the event by introducing the mission of the 100,000 Strong Foundation, and specifically highlighted the new 1 Million Strong initiative announced and endorsed by President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping. 1 Million Strong calls for one million American K-12 students to study Mandarin by 2020.
Other speakers included Consul General Zhao who expressed gratitude for Wanxiang’s continued support for 100,000 Strong. He encouraged other Chinese businesses to join the movement and also support the Foundation. Sadie Stockdale Jefferson, the City of Chicago Mayor’s Associate Director of Education and Karen Garibay-Mulattieri, the Chicago Public Schools’ Chief Officer of the Office of Language and Cultural Education, both expressed appreciation for Wanxiang’s continued support for Chicago area students, noting without Wanxiang’s support how few students would ever receive the transformative opportunity to study abroad in China. Ms. Garbay-Mulattier read aloud several student quotes highlighting their positive experiences learning Chinese and studying abroad in China.
Wanxiang America President Pin Ni also shared remarks. He thanked Mayor Daley for his key role in support of the 100,000 Strong Initiative, noting Wanxiang would not be involved, if Mayor Daley had not invited President Hu Jintao to Chicago during his State Visit in 2011, or brought such a large delegation to Hangzhou for the first signing ceremony. He said the Initiative is very important to Wanxiang, as it helps build strong US-China relations, which strengthens Wanxiang’s business. He noted that Wanxiang has paid careful attention to students’ feedback throughout the years, in order to continually improve the program. He also highlighted that a key part of the Wanxiang program is promoting clean energy, which is relevant on this day, noting as it was early November, but the temperature was still in the 70s. He finished by encouraging others in the room to support the 100,000 Strong Initiative too.
Ed Rogers, 100,000 Strong Foundation board member, concluded by sharing highlights from his first trips to China in the 1980s and early 1990s, when he was working in the administrations of Presidents Reagan and Bush. He said the 100,000 Strong Initiative is definitely a worthy cause to support, and encouraged the audience to do so.