Boys and Girls State hosts first Ever US-China youth leadership exchange


ST. LOUIS – A group of 36 students from 11 Chinese provinces were in Missouri to take part along side the participants in Boys and Girls State last month.

The students flew into St. Louis where they toured St. Louis, along with brief sightseeing stops in Columbia, Kansas City and Jefferson City. They then spent the week with their American student colleagues on the University of Central Missouri campus in Warrensburg, Mo.

Former Gov. Bob Holden, right, with a student from Girls State.
Former Gov. Bob Holden, right, with a student from Girls State.

“This unprecedented cultural exchange, was made possible through the Missouri Boys State and Missouri Girls State programs, and serves as a vivid reminder that the youth of today are truly global citizens,” Bob Holden, former Missouri Governor and Chairman of the Midwest U.S.-China Association, said.

Holden also is an alumnus of Missouri Boys State and understands what the program does for high school students who are involved.

“The goal of the US-China Youth Leadership Exchange is to foster understanding between American and Chinese students about each other’s community, government and culture and to provide an opportunity for life-long friendships that have the potential to grow into business and government relationships for the future,” Holden added.

The Midwest U.S.-China Association encourages commerce between 12 states in the United States and China. The Association focuses on government-to-government outreach with corporate and academic support to expand trade and investment in both countries. Organizers of the US-China Youth Leadership Exchange assert that this international dialogue can begin with youth.

“Missouri Boys State is proud and excited to be the conduit for such a fascinating sharing of ideas and world perspective,” Mike Plunkett, Missouri Boys State Director, said. “One of our core beliefs is that the individual is the one with the power to change the world. Imagine what great things could come from any one of the individuals who take part in this timely meeting of youthful minds.”

In Missouri, about 1,400 students are hand picked each year to attend this summer leadership and citizenship experience between their junior and senior years of high school.

“It is our hope that this side-by-side leadership development, which is at the heart of the collective Boys State and Girls State mission, will inspire a lasting understanding and thirst for global connectedness and opportunity,” Natalie Holden Riley, Missouri Girls State Director, said.

Scott Faughn is the publisher of The Missouri Times, owner of the Clayton Times in Clayton, Mo; SEMO Times in Poplar Bluff, Mo.; and host of the only statewide political television show, This Week in Missouri Politics.