In 1854, Yung Wing became the first student from China to graduate from an American university.
In the mid-19th century, the history major probably could not have imagined that the number of Chinese students enrolled at Yale would rise to almost 800 in 2016, and that the total number of Chinese students at US institutions of higher education would reach 350,000.
“Educational exchange between China and the United States is essential,” said Peter Salovey, president of Yale University.
Salovey spoke on Monday at a dinner party at the Yale Club in Manhattan, hosted by the Chinese Cultural Foundation (CCF) to celebrate its 15th anniversary.
He said that Yale, an Ivy League university based in New Haven, Connecticut, has had a longer and deeper relationship with China than any other university in the West.
“This unique relationship has grown dramatically stronger over the years through joint educational and research projects, student- and faculty-exchange programs, and an ever-increasing number of Chinese students and scholars at Yale,” he said.
The student exchanges have developed cross-cultural understanding, and joint research has led to some groundbreaking discoveries, Salovey said.
Salovey said that “there is no problem in the world today that is going to be solved without the United States and China cooperating in some way”.
Zhang Qiyue, Chinese consul general in New York, who joined the discussion with Salovey, emphasized that educational exchange and collaboration, which serve as the foundation of social, cultural and people-to-people exchange, has been the most active and long-lasting force in China-US relations.
Zhang said that Yale, “an old friend” of China’s that paid close attention to the country’s development would deepen China-US educational cooperation in all areas with Chinese universities.
The foundation also presented this year’s Maurice R. Greenberg Global Leadership Award. Recipients were Salovey; Jiao Chengyue, general manager of the China Merchants Bank in New York; and Ellen Qiongzhao Schicktanz, an artist, poet and sculptor.
Maurice R. Greenberg, chairman and CEO of CV Starr & Co, who has played a significant role in advancing Sino-US relations for decades, started the award “to recognize those individuals and organizations whose achievements reflect his ideals and global vision”, according to the website.
“I believe with leaders like Hank (Greenberg), with universities like Yale and many of the organizations, I think we can be optimistic about our bilateral relationship as well as world peace and development,” Zhang said.
CCF is a New York-based non-profit organization, with a mission to share Chinese history and culture to the world.