Undergrads Travel to Beijing for U.S.-China Student Summit

RIC students and Professor of Management Shani Carter flew to Beijing, China, in May to participate in the first-ever U.S.-China Student Summit. Nearly 200 American and 200 Chinese students participated in the program.

Carter, who is also special assistant to the vice president for academic affairs for outcomes assessment, served as faculty delegate and was accompanied by Yury Cardona ’16 (elementary education), Stephanie Carpentieri ’15 (economics and finance), Corey Major ’14 (business management), Belanie Medina ’15 (accounting) and Carissa Ricciarelli ’15 (health care administration). A generous donation from Impco of East Providence partially funded the trip, which had as its purpose to strengthen U.S.-China relations.

Over the past decade, China has become the second-largest economy in the world and the United States’ fastest-growing trade partner. In answer to President Barack Obama’s call to deepen American understanding of China by promoting study abroad experiences for American students, the D.C.-based 100,000 Strong Foundation partnered with WorldStrides educational travel organization to create a study abroad experience, culminating in a U.S.-China Student Summit. 

Young ambassadors were exposed to the language, culture, politics, business, education and social life of China. In Shanghai and Beijing – centers of both culture and business – they experienced both old and new China, touring the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City and the Yuyuan Garden.

Students also explored China’s educational system at Tsinghua University Affiliated High School and Peking University and got an inside look at China’s multinational corporations. Carter said the students came away with a greater understanding of how to conduct international business and created a network of business contacts. They are more prepared now, she said, to provide leadership in Rhode Island companies that deal with international suppliers and associates.

The capstone of the trip was a two-day summit in Shanghai. Chinese government, business and academic leaders presented talks on topics important to future U.S.-China relations. U.S. Ambassador to China Max Baucus discussed the future leadership roles of American and Chinese students. Breakout discussions by the students covered such topics as Mandarin language study, student employment in China and summer internships. 

“What I've gained most from the trip was a new perspective on life and the chance to become a global citizen,” said Carpentieri. “I was able to immerse myself in a different culture and fully understand what it's like, and that's not something you can learn through a textbook. I not only learned from China, I am now able to see how my own country fits into global society.”

Carter added how critically important it is to prepare RIC students for the changing global economics. “More than 100 companies in Rhode Island are engaged in ever-increasing international trade,” she said. “It is more important than ever that Rhode Island College students be able to take their place on the world stage.”

At the Summer Palace in Beijing, from left, Belanie Medina, Professor Shani Carter, Stephanie Carpentieri, Cory Major, Carissa Ricciarelli and Yury Cardona.

The 100,000 Strong Foundation is an independent, bipartisan nonprofit organization established in 2013 by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to promote the expansion and diversification of Americans studying abroad in China and learning the Mandarin language.