【from Global Times Online】The 2018 Beijing International Forum on People-to-People Friendship was scheduled to be kicked off on May 26th. The 5-day event, themed with “Promote and Strengthen People-to-People Friendship and Bonds”, is an exchange of both cultures and experiences of municipal governance. It encourages the young generation of each country to carry forward the cause of civil ties, and work together to solidify the foundation of People-to-People exchanges.
The following is a speech delivered by Edgar Snow at the forum on May 27th:
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, my name is Ray Wang. I am a board member of the Edgar Snow Memorial Foundation. It is great to be here today to meet so many new friends and I am honored to have the opportunity to share the stories of Edgar Snow and the foundation.
People of my age mostly learned about Edgar Snow from our history classes. We learned that Edgar Snow was an American journalist who interviewed many Communist party leaders including Chairman Mao during World War II, and published a book called ‘Red Star Over China’. That was the first time that people in the west had a chance to get to know the communist party in China in a non-bias way.
That is all history book. For a teenager, I had absolutely no idea what it means by the legacy of Edgar Snow… until one day, I went to the united states to continue with my graduate degree. On my first Thanksgiving in the country, I was invited by an old couple to celebrate the holiday at their house with their big family. They were really really nice people and it made me feel like home. During dinner one of their family member asked me “In China are you allowed to have a personal bank account?” I can see she was trying her best not to offend me but she was obviously so curious to know the answer… at the moment, I realized, to make people in different countries know each other better, we have a lot of work to do…
That’s part of the reason the legacy of Edgar Snow started to inspire me. In the 1930s, the general public of the western countries have so little knowledge and understanding of the communist party in China. Edgar Snow, who grew up in Missouri, has the typical mid-western spirit. They called it the “show me” spirit. He wants to seek the truth and share it with the world. It was not an easy journey travelling to the western part of China during the war time. When he met the communist party leaders, he said “show me”. That’s how you find the truth, yesterday, today and tomorrow. So whenever someone has misunderstanding about China, I’ll tell them “come to China yourself, we’ll show you”. And vice versa.
The Edgar Snow Memorial Foundation was founded in 1974, two years after Edgar Snow passed away. The founders, Dr. Diamond and his wife Mrs. Diamond, were good friends with Edgar Snow. They shared the same philosophy with Edgar Snow: “friendship is based on understanding”. They wanted to build a bridge between these two great countries based on Edgar Snow’s legacy. In the past 40 years the foundation has been dedicated to enhance the understanding and the exchange of culture, arts, education, medical sciences, etc. between China and United States.
Every two years, we hold an Edgar Snow Symposium either in Kansas City or in Beijing. This year we will have our 2018 Edgar Snow Symposium to be held in Kansas City. People from various backgrounds will get together to exchange their ideas and opinions on business, culture, arts, education, medical research as well as journalism between China and United States.
Our foundation has also funded a program called the Snow Scholars since 1980s. We invite and sponsor some of the most distinguished scholars to Kansas City. Usually they act as a faculty position in a university, continue with their research and educate the students about China. In the program, there were well-known actors, vocalist, doctors, scientists, members of the national academy, winner of the Nightingale medal, etc. Their effort and enthusiasm continues to inspire younger Americans to learn more about China and help to enrich the friendship between these two great countries.
Edgar Snow memorial foundation also co-sponsored many programs in the US to connect the people on both sides of the ocean. For example, the Kansas City dragon boat festival, the Chinese new year gala, travel delegation program to China, numerous Chinese arts exhibits in the US, etc.
In the recent years we entered a new era of the foundation. We are looking to have more presence in China and work together with other organizations to contribute more to the friendship between China and United States.
As the slogan of the Gong Ho society goes, which was co-founded by Edgar Snow, “Let’s work together”, the world will be a better place.
Thank you very much!