2018 EducationUSA Expo held in Beijing
Photos: in courtesy of the Tsinghua University High School International (THSI) and US Embassy in China
The annual EducationUSA Expo, a college fair sponsored by the US Embassy in China, was held in Beijing last Saturday. Co-hosted by the Tsinghua University High School International (THSI), the event was attended by 79 well-established US colleges and universities which provided counseling and promotional materials to over 500 visitors.

Frank Witaker, Minister Counselor for Public Affairs at the Embassy attended the event. In his keynote speech, he advised Chinese parents and students to find the best fit for themselves instead of big-name programs from all the 4,000 plus American higher education institutions.

Wang Dianjun, a respected educator and principal of the Tsinghua University High School, one of the top-ranking high schools in China, encouraged young kids to blend strengths of Chinese and Western elements, while developing capabilities to innovate and keep alive entrepreneurial spirit.

The event was hosted at the contemporary-style classroom building of THSI inside the Olympic Green's National Tennis Center, with 50 students of the school working as volunteers. According to Wang, the newly-established international school has helped its first batch of 40 graduates to gain over 70 offers from renowned foreign universities this year, with scholarship grants amounting to over $700,000.
Besides the opportunities to engage with admission officers, alumni and current students of the 70 American institutions, the event also featured 14 information seminars covering a variety of related topics, including introduction of STEM majors, business studies, application procedures for art majors, comparison of state university systems, international student services, and intern opportunities.

Frank Witaker later told a press roundtable the participating institutions represent a broad range of American education from two-year community colleges to four-year research universities and liberal arts schools. He used personal experiences as an example, suggesting Chinese families to choose the best fit for their kids.

“I can tell you that (American) universities look for diversity. We're encouraging Chinese students to think about institutions where there aren't large numbers of Chinese students studying. Chinese students are competitive wherever they go. But they're going to have better options at schools that don't have as many Chinese students—because the schools want them.”

When asked to compare higher education in the two countries, Witaker said Chinese students will especially benefit from the different teaching process in the US. “In Chinese system, the teachers and professors are regarded as the smartest and not really questioned. So, Chinese students learn a lot of facts. With those facts, they have solid foundation to translate them into ideas, be challenged and pushed to grow their thinking (by American professors). They're going to be encouraged to think critically,” he said.

Finally, the minister counselor expressed his hope for increased exchange of students between China and the US. “The most consequential relationship in the world is the China-US relationship. The more we have Chinese students in the US and the more American students in China, it's the best. We don't always agree but we could talk with each other.”

For Chinese middle and high school education, Principal Wang Dianjun advocated for a course arrangement that could blend Chinese and Western elements. “We intend to cultivate talents who identify with traditional Chinese culture—who are Chinese from the bottom of the heart. Meanwhile, we hope them to be fluent in English, know well Western culture and possess innovative thinking,” he said.

Wang proposed to reform the current educational and appraisal system under which he believes, students toil themselves but gain little. “I've engaged myself in a program to overhaul the current student appraisal system for years. There is some progress but we still need more time.” The educator predicted the future Chinese society to be even more encouraging for young entrepreneurs capable of innovating.

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