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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Southern California

Mayor Villaraigosa, will.i.am Promote Studying Abroad

Los Angeles mayor and will.i.am announced a partnership with 100,000 Strong.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and will.i.am wait to announce a benefits concert in Beijing.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and will.i.am wait to announce a benefits concert in Beijing.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and will.i.am joined together Monday morning to announce a special benefits concert in Beijing in a push to get more students to study abroad.

L.A. is the latest advocate for the U.S. State Department's 100,000 Strong Initiative.  President Barack Obama announced the program in 2009 with the intent to greatly diversify and increase the number of Americans who study abroad in China over the next four years. The goal is to foster the U.S.-China relationship and better equip Americans who may work closely with Chinese men and women in the future, according to the 100,000 Strong mission statement

In July, will.i.am met with Hillary Clinton to acknowledge his support for 100,000 Strong and his role as goodwill embassador for the program. The award-winning musician describes why he favors the unique initiative.

“Having come from the Los Angeles area, I know first-hand how important programs like 100,000 Strong can be," he said. "The opportunity to study abroad in China would be a dream realized for so many young people who may not otherwise have had the chance to see what else the world has to offer.”

will.i.am will spearhead the Dec. 17 concert in Beijing and will be joined by stars such as John Legend. The show will raise support and awareness for 100,000 Strong.

"Coming here, not going to a party after the AMAs, to remind the kids how important it is, and the opportunity they have in front of them to change their lives, [Boyle Heights'] lives, LA, California, and America is important," said will.i.am.  "That's why I'm here."

China's goverment is on board with the program and has agreed to fund 20,000 scholarships for Americans, especially those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. 

Michelle Obama powerfully expressed the value of studying abroad when she addressed Howard University earlier this year. 

"The fact is, with every friendship you make, and every bond of trust you establish, you are shaping the image of America projected to the rest of the world. That is so important. So when you study abroad, you’re actually helping to make America stronger."

Seattle and Washington, D.C. have also recently announced their support for the program. The initiative is a public-private partnership and has raised approximately $7 million in donations. 

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