FACES: Forum for American/Chinese Exchange at Stanford: On Common Grounds 2009 (Part II)

The second half of FACES (Forum for American/Chinese Exchange at Stanford) was excellent! We had great discussions among delegates and even had some top-notch keynote speakers! Here’s a taste of the last few days at FACES 2009.

Above: Condoleezza Rice (Former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor, Current Professor of Political Science and Senior Fellow, Stanford University)

Condoleezza Rice was our keynote speaker for the week. She spoke eloquently about Chinese and American relations, touching on four key topics:

1.) The need for Americans to fully recognize and promote the domestic transition that China is facing during a time of vast economic growth within the country.

2.) The need for regional cooperation between Asian countries and the United States. She made reference to the success of the Six-Party Talks (North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Russia, China and the U.S.) and Friends of Pakistan and said there was a need for progress in regards to China-Taiwan relations.

3.) The need for the world to fully recognize China as a global power. Citing the facts that China is a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a big player in many other organizations, she urged us to place China on the same level as other global powers.

4.) The importance of realizing that China makes a huge and necessary contribution to the world economy.

During the Q&A section, she said two things that really stuck with me:

On Taiwan’s political status of “Status Quo“:

“Status Quo” is a political device used to manage a problem so no one has to solve it.

On democracy:

The absence of democracy in countries is dangerous.

I was very surprised with her candidness to answer questions with real passion, feeling and bias. All too often, we get the political answer from current and past politicians. Yet, Rice told it like it was. Impressive.

Above: Christian Kaas and Alex Metelitsa sign the China-Taiwan agreement during our Paracel Islands simulation.

I had the chance to participate in a political crisis simulation, much like those that take place in Model UN. My group worked on the “Paracel Islands simulation”. The Paracel Islands are a chain of small islands and reefs in the South China Sea, off the coast of Hainan and Vietnam. These islands are claimed by China, Taiwan and Vietnam. During our simulation, control of the islands was being disbuted by China, Taiwan and Vietnam. The premise of interest in the islands was that the extraction of oil would begin in 5 years and last for decades. All three countries had particular interest in the oil, as natural resources are valuable, especially in this day of age.

I was a part of the Taiwanese delegation in the simulation and played the role of Chief of Energy Department. The simulation was eye-opening to what really goes on in politics! We had an extreme amount of information a-symmetry going on and were constantly making side-deals throughout the simulation. We had to play hardball to get the Chinese delegation to even consider Taiwan as a valid player, because we first had to get past the political issues. I really enjoyed it!

Above: Abby (Zhang Fuyang) played the role of a reporter from “The Vietnamese Times” (a ficticious newspaper) during our Mach Press Conference, where Christian and Alex (playing Chiefs of the Taiwanese and Chinese National Security Advisory Boards, respectively) announced and signed our agreement.

Towards the end of the day, the entire FACES delegation competed in “Iron Chef”. We were given an arrangement of foods, including ketchup, mustard, squash, avocado, Spam, hotdogs, fish, crabmeat, sourkraut, radishes, oatmeal, yogurt, tangerines, cheese, mushrooms and grapes. Each food had to be used in at least one of three dishes, and grapes had to be used in all three dishes. The catch? We had 45 minutes.

My team’s final menu was as follows:

Appetizer: Squash soup
Main dish: Sauteed fish over salad
Dessert: Oatmeal and yogurt mixed with freeze-squeezed grape juice and tangerines
(See below)

Above: My “Iron Chef” team created three amazing dishes!

Above: My teammates and I were quite proud of our creations!

Above: The FACES Executive Team were real sports for trying EVERYTHING! Yuck!

In the end, our team came in 3rd place (out of five teams). I guess that’s not too bad… We saw some crazy dishes, and I was amazed at the true bravery of the FACES Executive Team for trying every dish presented to them. I saw what went on in our kitchen, and it wasn’t pretty! I’m sending my best wishes to the execs in hope for survival after such trauma!!!

I want to thank all of the American and Chinese delegates, the entire FACES Executive Team, all of the speakers, and the entire Stanford campus for a great week at FACES 2009! I’m looking forward to the Beijing forum in November!

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