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Role of Cross-Cultural Understanding Stressed at Int’l Education Meeting in NYC

Speakers at an international education symposium in New York City highlighted the importance of cross-cultural understanding on Friday.

Scholars and attendees, mainly from the United States, China and Canada, joined the symposium to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the International Institute of Teachers College at Columbia University.

Much like the time when the International Institute of Teachers College was founded, “we now face a time of great uncertainty, (and) a time when international exchange, understanding and collaboration are critical to our future,” said Kerry Ann O’Meara, vice president for academic affairs, provost and dean of the Teachers College.

Given the current global situation, the best way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the International Institute is to continue and enlarge the scope of educational exchanges and to further promote ties between world educators and people in general, said Min Weifang, former party secretary of Peking University.

“This is probably more important and more urgent than 100 years ago since we are facing more serious, more global challenges than any time before in human history. We need more joint effort from our countries and our peoples,” said Min.

“Our conversations today and many of the remarks already delivered are about building connectedness and cross-cultural understanding for the common good,” said Amra Sabic-El-Rayess, associate professor of practice and founding director of International Interfaith Research Lab at Teachers College, Columbia University.

“We have much hard work ahead while recognizing the challenges we face in today’s U.S.-China relations. We must also look beyond the disruption we see around us,” said George Geh, CEO of China Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing understanding and deepening trust between the United States and China.

“For China-U.S. relations, education can help cement its foundation and boost its growth,” said Huang Ping, Chinese consul general in New York.

Huang stressed the need for closer partnerships to create a favorable environment for China-U.S. relations, focus on high-level research collaboration to achieve win-win results and two-way interaction between the countries to improve mutual understanding.

The symposium also included three panel discussions on bridging the gap of international education in higher education, the complexity of international education and global education practices from international organizations.