I am honored to be the founding president of the Global Committee for CCTF.
As an American who has lived and worked in China since 2005, I have experienced first-hand the increasing demands for connectivity and inclusion among the remote far-western and central regions; middle-class growth and commercialization of Inner Mongolia and Outer Mongolia to the north; interplay between industrial economic drivers and sustainable planning in the south; and new wealth creation and philanthropic drive in the wealthier capital-cultural eastern cities of Beijing, Shenzhen and Shanghai.
The accompanying social and environmental challenges are not merely “an opportunity.” They are an obligation. In all these places, the welfare of children and youth are beyond border and political differences. With my experience in China and my friendships with the people, I have witnessed a rapidly developing country with an increasing rich and poor gap.
In describing the depth of what can be accomplished, I turn to the great African-American Frederick Douglas (1818-1895), a slave-turned-statesman, who said “it is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” It is important to realize and remember that, as a slave, Frederick Douglas was illiterate and could not read or write. Through his own tenacity and self-learning, he eventually was able to master reading, speaking and communicating with such immense sincerity and effectiveness that he became the most influential African American of the nineteenth century for his firm beliefs in the equality of all peoples.
125 years later, what remains universal is the need for everyone to have real hope. Indeed, we have the advantage of living in an Age of Networks: technological innovation, and the unstoppable rise of network society. A networked society allows for people to connect to each other quicker, to engage more actively, and make audiences more inclusive.
A depth of history tells the story about collaboration and co-investment between Chinese and American investors, philanthropy and capital. In 1960, the East-West Center was established by the United States Congress as “a national educational institution to foster better relations and understanding among the peoples of the United States, Asia, and the Pacific islands through programs of cooperative study, training, and research.” Then-Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson conducted the groundbreaking at the University of Hawai‘i. Building on its legacy now, the East-West Philanthropists Summit – supported by China’s leading foundations, mentors and philanthropists – has moved the dial forward for new thinking, preparation, and a ready-to-act mindset.
Starting in 2017, the Global Committee for CCTF has established a US-based 501(c)3 nonprofit to implement children’s welfare programs through education, capital investment, environmental solutions, and global exchange.
My vision is for imagination and discovery to be returned to the process of learning. This includes access for all children and youth: those who can’t go to high school, as well as for those who can. In an inclusive, networked society, we are all learning.