The "Rivers as Bridges" course, sponsored by the Environment and Public Health Network for Chinese Students and Scholars, along with the Iowa and Wisconsin Departments of Natural Resources, will bring more than 30 students from the top third of China's elite, "key" high schools to Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin from July 20, 2012 to August 6, 2012. The students who qualified will participate in the rigorous, academic goals-based curriculum. The purpose of the program will be to begin a 10-year relationship between the people of the Mississippi and Yangtze basins using culture, conservation and commerce as diplomatic tools that support a renewal of the Shanghai Communique in 2022.
Loras College will host the Rivers as Bridges Family Friendship dinner on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 6:30 pm in the Alumni Campus Center Café. Loras College will host Chinese High school students and their chaperones on a tour of the college followed by a dinner in the Loras College Café. Loras students and faculty will network, share cultural experiences and build relations as they participate this new initiative. A delegation of Loras College's international students will also share their experiences related to attending Loras, living in Dubuque and acclimating to life in the United States. Loras graduate Matt Moroney ('91), Deputy Secretary, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will be in attendance at the dinner.
The program was described as "a project with a great deal of promise and imagination" by former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger before he died last year. It also responds to Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping's call for innovative, people-to-people projects that emphasize mutual respect and win-win initiatives. Mr. Xi visited Muscatine, IA in February and made his comments to its residents who visited China in June.
"We are excited to be part of history in connecting the people of our countries, using rivers as bridges," said Xiaojun Lu, president of the Environment and Public Health Network for Chinese Students and Scholars, which is sponsoring the nearly three-week event along with the Iowa and Wisconsin Departments of Natural Resources.
The educational program is called Rivers as Bridges. Students will learn scientific procedures in field research, wet labs, and hands-on experiments in natural resources sciences with study about air, water, biology, soil, fisheries, wildlife and wetlands.
The students will tour colleges and universities, camp, fish, swim and do service projects in Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin. They will meet US students, attend a family friendship dinner and share culture with Ho Chunk youth and then join them at a water park. The students will make posters on science and friendship and earn a recommended credit from the Northland Pines High School in Eagle River, WI.
A Rivers as Bridges goal, Lu said, is to begin a youth-inspired relationship that can result in a renewal of the 1972 Shanghai Communiqué. That diplomatic document, signed by Premier Zhou Enlai and President Richard Nixon sought normalization of relations. The Rivers as Bridges concept and link to the Communique came from a 2010 "campfire diplomacy" college student event in Iowa and Wisconsin called the River Spirit Exchange.
Stops include Evanston, Chicago, Moline and Rock Island in Illinois; Davenport, Muscatine, Fairport, Pleasant Valley, Bellevue and Dubuque in Iowa; Platteville, Mineral Point, Madison, Columbus, Horicon, Ripon, Baraboo, Wisconsin Dells, Rhinelander, Eagle River, Appleton and Milwaukee in Wisconsin.