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4th Rainbow Bridge program to enhance China-US educational exchanges

The launch ceremony of the 4th "Rainbow Bridge" education program, which is aimed at promoting all-wave exchanges between the younger generations of China and the United States, was held at the US Embassy in Beijing on Monday.

The "Rainbow Bridge" education program, which is jointly organized by the China Next Generation Education Foundation (CNGEF) and the Americans Promoting Study Abroad (APSA), is designed to give opportunities to Chinese university students and American public high school students with basic Chinese language skills to study in each other's country. The charitable program is subsidized by Bank of China.

This year's "Rainbow Bridge" education program screens out 31 American public high school students, who arrived in Beijing on July 7, and 20 Chinese college students, who will set off for the US on August 8.

"The 31 American students will stay in China for 30 days, during which they will learn Chinese martial art, calligraphy, seal engraving, folk dance and Beijing opera facial makeup," CNGEF official Chen Hao told, adding that they will visit historical and cultural spots, famous Chinese enterprises and American firms operating in China.

The American students will also establish friendship with their peers from schools for migrant workers' children and orphanages through get-togethers, Chen added.

During the 20-day stay in the US, the 20 Chinese university students will be arranged to visit top American universities including Harvard University, Yale University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology and have talks with political and business moguls on China-US relations, such as Robert Daly, director of the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States at the Wilson Center in Washington.

Chen stressed that many of the students taking part in the program preferred to stay and further their study in the visiting country, which he said is the great significance of the program. "I am proud of the students who broaden their visions and enlarge their knowledge (by participating in the program)," Chen said.

At the launch ceremony, Carols Serrano, an American senior high school student attending this year's "Rainbow Bridge" education program, told that he knew about Chinese culture and improved his Chinese language skills during the trip, which he said rectifies his long-held notion that China is "still outdated and backward".

"Actually, China is a very marvelous country," said the teenager, who has a plan to receive higher education in Beijing, Hong Kong or Macau.

In a short speech made at the launch ceremony, US Ambassador to China Max Baucus showed his support to the students who decided to walk out of their home and have a look at a foreign country instead of staying at home playing video games and watching TV programs. He hoped that such an exchange between the two countries' young people could contribute to the development of the US-China relationship, which is already on a good track.

Since 2012 when the 1st "Rainbow Bridge" education program was launched, a total of 156 students from China and the US have been given the opportunity to visit each other's country for a culture experiencing tour.

The "Rainbow Bridge" education program is a part of the 100,000 Strong Initiative, which was announced by US President Barack Obama in November 2009 and officially launched in May 2010. The initiative is a national effort designed to increase dramatically the number and diversify the composition of American students studying in China.

American colleges and universities enrolled 274,439 Chinese students during the 2013-2014 academic year, an increase of 16.5 percent from the previous year, according to the 2014 Open Doors Report on International Education Exchange published by the Institute of International Education (IIE) with support from the US Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Chinese students accounted for about one-third of the total 900,000 international students studying in the US in 2014, data from the US Embassy in Beijing shows.

In November 2014, China and the US signed an agreement to extend the validity of student visa to five years from one year.

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