More students to study in China
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- In an effort to strengthen United States-China ties, Michigan State University is the only institution in the Midwest - and one of six in the nation - to receive a grant from the Coca-Cola Foundation in support of the U.S. State Department's "100,000 Strong Initiative."
MSU received $200,000 to send 30 students to China to participate in programs focused on Chinese language, business and culture. In total, the foundation awarded $1 million for about 160 students nationwide.
The initiative was inspired by President Barack Obama's vision to see 100,000 American students study abroad in China. Specifically, the program targets the areas of education, culture, sports, science and technology and women's issues.
"This grant will make opportunities to study in China more accessible to MSU students, who may not have otherwise considered a study abroad program," said Brett Berquist, executive director of the Office of Study Abroad. "Through the richness and diversity found within Chinese cultures, our students will learn how cultural traditions, history and language affect global business practices within the United States and Michigan."
Dan Redford, an alumnus of MSU's James Madison College, agreed. He is now director of China operations at RCI FirstPathway Partners, a global business program that helps foreign investors become U.S. citizens.
"What is most important to me is that, through interaction with Chinese people, I understand that I am never going to have all the answers, and it will be up to me to forge relationships with people that can show me the way," he said. "Behind every difference there lies a chance to learn a new perspective, a chance to become familiarized with a different solution to a common problem."
In working with MSU, Coca-Cola expressed a wish to support scholarships that would benefit multi-cultural students and those with a business interest.
"The company's goals made the Multicultural Business Program at the MSU Eli Broad College of Business a natural match for this grant program," Berquist said.
The grant will provide scholarships for MBP students who have enrolled in an intensive summer of study in China focused on Chinese cultures and languages.
MSU offers more than 270 programs on all continents and in more than 60 countries. It ranks No. 1 among public institutions for study abroad participation.
Other universities receiving Coca-Cola Foundation grants are Columbia University, Georgia Institute of Technology; Morehouse College; University of California-Los Angeles; and University of Texas, Austin.
"We are very appreciative of Coca-Cola's support of our efforts to enhance relations between the U.S. and China," said Kurt Campbell, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs for the U.S. State Department. "We share the goal of building the next generation of Americans who will manage the growing strategic, economic and cultural ties between the United States and China."
The Coca-Cola Foundation is the philanthropic arm of The Coca-Cola Co. In 2010, it awarded more than $23 million to support programs that offer scholarships, school drop-out prevention and access to educational programming.