WASHINGTON, June 22 (Xinhua) -- Study abroad programs are not only a chance for students to expand their cultural and linguistic horizons, but are important in promoting long-term international stability, according to U.S. State Department Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith McHale.
"From a public diplomacy perspective, we must work to maintain and expand our people-to-people connections in any way that we can, " she said during a speech in Washington on Wednesday at the Education USA Forum.
"Providing opportunities for education and exchange to young people creates lifelong ties that bolster our long term security and prosperity. Very often, students who study here return to become government officials or business leaders in their home countries. This helps solidify the relationship between our nations," she said.
Those sentiments are in line with U.S. President Barack Obama's "100,000 strong" initiative -- an effort to dramatically increase the number of U.S. students studying in China in a bid to strengthen strategic relations between the two countries.
Launched in 2009, the initiative aims to prepare the next generation of American experts on China who will be "charged with managing the growing political, economic and cultural ties between the United States and China," according to the State Department website.
The initiative is part of a broader strategy within the Obama administration to reach out to people worldwide, as well as their governments.