February 12, 2015, 5:18 pm
By Yawei Liu
Yawei Liu is director of the Carter Center’s China Program.
The relationship between the U.S. and China is an incredibly important one.
In the 36 years since former U.S. President Jimmy Carter normalized relations between the two superpowers, the countries have developed a productive and mutually beneficial relationship. But suspicion and mistrust still exist. Much of the Carter Center’s work in China in the last few years has involved advancing U.S.-China relations, in part by nurturing the next generation of leaders in both nations.
As such, the Carter Center’s China Program held its first-ever U.S.-China Perception Monitor Video Essay Contest for young scholars. We believed it would give students a chance to dig into the U.S.-China relationship by researching past and current events, or interviewing their professors and peers. We felt that not only would this give students a way to learn by doing, it would also enhance the discussion of important issues.
College students in China and the U.S. were invited to participate, but the contest proved especially popular in China.
The first place winner was Heidi Song, a senior at Communication University of China. Song’s three-minute video, “Lovers Separated by the Ocean,” blends U.S. film footage with an original script about a Chinese husband and an American wife who split up because of cultural differences, but find their way back together as they write a series of letters.
After deciding to enter the contest, Song told us, “I began to search for some information about the China-U.S. relationship. In a news report someone said, ‘China-U.S. relationship is just likes a marriage that’s not so bad, but it’s still a good relationship from the political angle.’ It inspired me… So I tried to write a love story of a Chinese man and an American woman, which is easy to understand. And the book “The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently… and Why,” written by sociologist Richard Nisbett, helped me a lot.”
Song’s win earned her an invitation to the Carter Center’s U.S.-China Young Scholars Forum in October, airfare included.
It will be her first trip to the United States, and she said she’s looking forward to “asking a lot of interesting questions, making friends with some nice people, [and] visiting the Coca-Cola Museum.”
The aspiring filmmaker said her studies have shown her the importance of contests like these: “The ability to communicate effectively with people from diverse cultures benefit all of us as individuals and has the potential to improve the lives of everyone who inhabits this planet.”
The panel of six judges who named Song the winner (with input from online voters) also named two second-place and three third-place winners.
A team comprised of Zhenzhen Zhang, Yuanhao Ma, Chenxi Zhang, and Huan Ma won both second-place prizes for their videos “How Chinese Youth Perceive America” and “Comparing Chinese and American Smartphones.”
Third place prizes went to:
For more information on the video essay contest, see http://www.uscnpm.org.