MRS. OBAMA: (Applause.) Thank you. Well, ni-hao. (Laughter.) It is such a pleasure and an honor to be here with all of you at this great university, so thank you so much for having me.
Now, before I get started today, on behalf of myself and my husband, I just want to say a few very brief words about Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. As my husband has said, the United States is offering as many resources as possible to assist in the search. And please know that we are keeping all of the families and loved ones of those on this flight in our thoughts and prayers at this very difficult time.
Now with that, I want to start by recognizing our new Ambassador to China, Ambassador Baucus; President Wang; Chairman Zhu; Vice President Li; Director Cueller; Professor Oi, and the Stanford Center; President Sexton from New York University, which is an excellent study abroad program in Shanghai; and John Thornton, Director of the Global Leadership Program at Tsinghua University. Thank you all for joining us.
But most of all, I want to thank all of the students who are here today. And I particularly want to thank Eric Schaefer and Zhu Xuanhao for that extraordinary English and Chinese introduction. That was a powerful symbol of everything that I want to talk with you about today.
See, by learning each other’s languages, and by showing such curiosity and respect for each other’s cultures, Mr. Schafer and Ms. Zhu and all of you are building bridges of understanding that will lead to so much more. And I’m here today because I know that our future depends on connections like these among young people like you across the globe.
That’s why when my husband and I travel abroad, we don’t just visit palaces and parliaments and meet with heads of state. We also come to schools like this one to meet with students like you, because we believe that relationships between nations aren’t just about relationships between governments or leaders -- they’re about relationships between people, particularly young people. So we view study abroad programs not just as an educational opportunity for students, but also as a vital part of America’s foreign policy.
Through the wonders of modern technology, our world is more connected than ever before. Ideas can cross oceans with the click of a button. Companies can do business and compete with companies across the globe. And we can text, email, Skype with people on every continent.
So studying abroad isn’t just a fun way to spend a semester; it is quickly becoming the key to success in our global economy. Because getting ahead in today’s workplaces isn’t just about getting good grades or test scores in school, which are important. It’s also about having real experience with the world beyond your borders –- experience with languages, cultures and societies very different from your own. Or, as the Chinese saying goes: “It is better to travel ten thousand miles than to read ten thousand books.”
But let’s be clear, studying abroad is about so much more than improving your own future. It’s also about shaping the future of your countries and of the world we all share. Because when it comes to the defining challenges of our time -– whether it’s climate change or economic opportunity or the spread of nuclear weapons -- these are shared challenges. And no one country can confront them alone. The only way forward is together.
That’s why it is so important for young people like you to live and study in each other’s countries, because that’s how you develop that habit of cooperation. You do it by immersing yourself in one another’s culture, by learning each other’s stories, by getting past the stereotypes and misconceptions that too often divide us.
That’s how you come to understand how much we all share. That’s how you realize that we all have a stake in each other’s success -- that cures discovered here in Beijing could save lives in America, that clean energy technologies from Silicon Valley in California could improve the environment here in China, that the architecture of an ancient temple in Xi’an could inspire the design of new buildings in Dallas or Detroit.