Guest Speech | Ryan Casey, Ambassador, China-Europe-America Youth Program


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Today's youth play an important role in the mutual understanding between nations. Young people help provide new perspectives by absorbing information about their current environment, proceeding to challenge norms and learn from their mistakes.

Because of this, the human race is able to advance generation after generation, as young children quickly absorb information about their surroundings in the world as we know it and form a new perspective, and then push for change and improvement.

Young people are agents of change, and they provide a good incentive for our world leaders to work together. In order for our nations to work together, they must first be able to communicate effectively. People who don't study foreign language think that it's all about rote memorization, sentence and word structure. That's really only a part of the equation. Any message can be portrayed in many ways, to say the same thing, get your point across.

While technology is helping to bridge the communication gap, Google Translate and Baidu Fanyi can really only go so far. These programs can't read between the lines and pick up the hidden message behind what someone's saying. They can't read emotions or tone, they can't put language into context when considering world history or current events.

So in the end, only a human can really fully digest communication and make a decision on how to react. But the importance of multilingualism and cross-cultural cooperation goes further than just being able to talk to one another. We have to truly understand the other side's point of view. And that requires a better understanding of their background, culture and education.

It takes years of constant practice from both sides in order to gain any significant level of integration with another nation or culture. The keywords there are "constant" and "both sides". If you're start trying to learn a new language, but don't study consistently over time, then you'll never learn the language. And in order to get any significant results in any goal, both sides need to be on board. So integration takes a lot of time and effort.

In order to further integrate our societies, the US, China and Europe will have to embark on a journey to try to create one-world culture. We need to start thinking of the world as one human race instead of individual nations with individual wants and needs.

Because in reality, our most important wants and needs are all the same, regardless of where we come from. If we set aside the fact that we have different systems of belief regarding governance and economics, and focus on what's left, the similarities between the US, China and Europe will definitely start to emerge. We'll start to realize that there are common goals and experiences shared by all people regardless of their backgrounds.

For example, the feeling of excitement when a newborn baby is born, regardless of what country or culture that baby was born into, that's exciting. When families and friends sit down to have a meal together, we feel a sense of happiness from conversation and being part of a community. In terms of the environment, every nation agrees that we need to take care of our planet. The earth has limited resources. We need to share those resources in a responsible and sustainable manner to ensure that the future generations are able to survive.

So while every nation is different, we all share common trial, tribulations and experiences. I think this generation of young people is finally starting to understand that we're really not that different. And all of us are in the same boat. So it benefits everyone to try and increase cross-cultural cooperation. After COVID and all the crazy world events over the past few years, it's very important for our youth to take the time now to reflect what's happened over the past couple of years, understand how it has changed us and think about how we want to change and improve for the future.

We need to start that dialogue now, build relationships across borders, focus on what makes us the same, instead of what makes us different, figure out the problems which are gonna impede the next generation after us, figure those problems out and then work together to solve them. So I think the China-Europe-America Youth Program is a really good way to start this discussion. Thank you all for listening today.


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