Friday, January 06, 2006

Gettysburg Meets China

Daniel Ikenson writes about his (unique?) experience in China in a piece for National Review Online. He encounted a group of Chinese university students at an outdoor meeting where they were practicing their English language skills. One way they did this was by reciting the Gettysburg Address.
He ushered me to an area of the courtyard that was drawing the largest crowds and asked me to evaluate his performance before climbing atop a soapbox. He smiled and began:

"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal…"

From memory, the student recited the Gettysburg Address. The audience joined in enthusiastically for the final verse:

". . . that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

A few students then took turns delivering Lincoln's speech from the soapbox. Each time, the crowd shouted the final lines. Several students spoke about other subjects — whatever was on their minds. The audience smiled, cheered and was so obviously engaged, that it moved me deeply.

Given the large role that China is going to play in the future of the world, this is great to hear!

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