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Feature: A New Yorker in Beijing

English.news.cn   2012-12-10 19:29:32            

by Xinhua Writer Liu Xin

BEIJING, Dec. 10 (Xinhua) -- In a 20-square-meter office in downtown Beijing, a 23-year-old American is studying current developments in Chinese education. The documents he is reading were updated during the recently held 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

Gavin Newton-Tanzer, a Columbia University graduate majoring in political science, is the board manager of the Compass International Education Group (CIEG), which helps Chinese students prepare to study abroad.

"As an education practitioner in China, I have to know new policies and trends happening to the country's education," said Newton-Tanzer.

He can speak fluent Mandarin in Beijing dialect. It has been even hard to distinguish his oral Chinese from the local residents.

When asked whether he plans to take part in any competition of foreigners singing Chinese songs which is popular in China, he said he hopes to build a career here rather than being an idol or doll.

"My honeymoon with Beijing has passed away," Newton-Tanzer said. "But our relation has stepped into the period of staying with each other for a long time."

Dating back to 2007, Gavin started his first-ever China trip and studied Chinese in Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU) by realizing the importance of China.

"More Americans have admitted the influence brought by rising China to the world no matter in the fields of military, economy or politics," Newton-Tanzer said. So he suspended his study in Columbia University for one and a half years and went to Beijing.

Newton-Tanzer's mother was reluctant to send him to the remote country at first. But his father gave him steady support.

"My father was vice president of General Electric Co. (GE). He encouraged me to meet different people and touch different culture," Gavin said.

U.S. President Richard Nixon's visit to China in 1972 is just a history paragraph for Newton-Tanzer and his peers. But he said the limitless opportunities had been born in the developing Sino-U.S. relations.

Newton-Tanzer said he believes in a practical approach to bilateral relations. "Relations based on mutual interests is most stable," Newton-Tanzer said. "The two countries will rely on each other more deeply although they see frictions from time to time."

"There have been so many Chinese people in the U.S. while many Americans in China," Newton-Tanzer explained. "So who is willing to see any conflict between us?"

He did not hesitate to integrate Beijingers' life as soon as he arrived in the remote eastern metropolis and flung himself into Chinese study.

After arriving in Beijing, he urged himself to communicate with more local Beijingers and join different student unions in BLCU. "I imitate the most original Chinese only among the local people."

At one point, Newton-Tanzer usually spent eight hours per day on studying Chinese. "Sometimes, I thought I was out of control since I even mumbled Chinese words when I got up for toilet at deep night."

In the following 2008, Newton-Tanzer became an volunteer serving for the Beijing Olympic Games. During this period, he got acquainted with more social contacts including more university students, local Beijingers and government officials.

"These resources helped a lot later when I was engaged in promoting college students exchange between China and U.S.," Newton-Tanzer noted.

During his stay in Beijing, he found that there are still misunderstanding between two countries' people and even younger generation.

"As world's two largest economies that have many differences no matter in ideology or ways of thinking, it is acceptable for both sides having misunderstanding," Newton-Tanzer said.

But he hopes to reduce the misunderstanding to minimum before the students in top universities grow up. "It's in order to avoid influencing more people when they are mature and have the rights to make decision in any field."

Holding the great passion on building a bridge between the two countries' young people, Gavin went back to America and established a non-profit organization Global China Connect (GCC) in 2008.

"GCC connects future leaders from all nations and assists them in developing the skills and friendships necessary to succeed both in China and internationally," the founder said.

GCC is a student-run organization while free for members.

"Whether attending events, hosting delegations, writing research papers, or having a heated discussion over coffee, every interaction among GCC members connects China and the world, building a network of leaders who will shape the future," Gavin said.

At first, Gavin and his three colleges got lost because they had to deal with limited experience and social resources. They used to send thousands of emails and tell others what they were engaged in.

After three months of hard work without enough sleep, they finally organized the first event and built the relations with the universities like Harvard and Princeton

Now, GCC has its branches in over 80 colleges all over the U.S. while also distributes in Canada, Australia, Britain, France and Germany.

It also built sound relations with the student unions of China's two topic universities of Tsinghua and Peking.

Firms like Microsoft Corporation and American Airlines have been its sponsors.

Some of GCC's members later have gone on to work in government organs, banks or large enterprises.

The experience in GCC helps Newton-Tanzer learn how to lead a teamwork and communicate and cooperate with two countries' enterprises and people.

Since that, he have not stopped flying between China and U.S. once for two months. Thus he understood the needs and motivations of students of both sides.

"Generally speaking, U.S. students are not afraid of failure while their Chinese peers worry too much," Gavin said, "but Chinese students master in examination strategy."

No matter what they are good at, GCC highlights the necessity of beef up the exchange between two countries' elite groups.

Beside GCC, Gavin said there are also some other student-run non-profit groups engaging in promoting Chinese and American students communication. But GCC has stuck around longer than others.

Zhang Kai, Board Member and Vice President of CIEG, appreciates the American's passion and determination.

"Gavin has a clear perspective on Sino-U.S. relations,"Zhang said. "After careful analysis about the future and rich accumulation of China's situation, he made the decision of doing his own business in Beijing now."

Rather than being mapped out by his parents, the decision was made by himself. "From the story of Gavin, we can witness the general difference between Chinese and American Young people."

Meanwhile, Zhang suggested Gavin keep in low profile in China and continuously know the country's culture and discipline.

"Even if he has the background of brilliant education and affluent family, he has to be modest and respectful if he hopes more succeed here," Zhang said.

Now, Newton-Tanzer is busy with CIEG and seldom intervenes GCC's affair. But he does not stop his efforts to know more about this eastern country. When he goes back to his hometown New York City, his friends, neighbors and family members still always ask him China's current situation.

"I told them China is a fast-developing country with a long history," Gavin said. "Chinese people pursue the same better life of sound medical treatment and housing conditions. They hope children can receive better education and better employment. They still hope elderly can be properly looked after."

Editor: Yang Lina
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