Thursday, December 31, 2009

Saying Goodbye to 2009, Hoping for a Better 2010

ESL 5 Students from Milpitas Adult School

VOANews: Saying Goodbye to 2009, Hoping for a Better 2010
We ask some Americans what they will be doing to celebrate the New Year.

VOAVideo: World's Citizens Express Concerns, Hopes for New Year

As the new year approaches, VOA interviewed people around the world to find out about their hopes and concerns.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Nancy Fichtner's SAVE Award Story

USCIS 96:91. Name one benefit of being a citizen of the United States.



WH.gov: Nancy Fichtner's SAVE Award Story

Join Nancy Fichtner on a trip to deliver her SAVE Award winning idea to President Obama at the White House. The SAVE Award was held for the first time this year, it is a contest for federal employees to come up with the best ideas to save taxpayer dollars and make the government perform more effectively and efficiently.

USCIS 96:91. Name one benefit of being a citizen of the United States.

  • to obtain Federal government jobs
  • to travel with a U.S. passport
  • to petition for close relatives to come to the United States to live

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Mixed Reviews for Obama's First Year



VOAVideo: Mixed Reviews for Obama's First Year

Barack Obama's election victory in November 2008 was greeted with enormous enthusiasm around much of the world. Most Europeans looked to the new president to restore the transatlantic partnership, to work for peace and to spearhead the fight against global warming. In the Middle East, people hoped he would focus on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But as VOA's Sonja Pace reports from London, the enthusiasm has faded

Monday, December 28, 2009

US Buddhists Join In Christmas Celebration



VOANews: US Buddhists Join In Christmas Celebration

It has long been true that Christmas is not just for Christians any more. Many people, of many different religious persuasions or of no persuasion at all, celebrate the day and the season. Followers of Buddhism in the Washington area are among the groups celebrating the tradition.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Letting Religion Into the Classroom, but Setting Limits

USCIS 100:10. What is freedom of religion?

A Holiday display in the ESL 6 classroom

VOANews: Letting Religion Into the Classroom, but Setting Limits
U.S. public schools must be neutral about religion. But the Constitution protects the rights of students who wish to express their faith. A first-grade teacher explains how she handles the subject at Christmastime.

USCIS 100:10. What is freedom of religion?

  • You can practice any religion, or not practice a religion.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Kwanzaa: A Cultural Celebration

VOANews: Kwanzaa: A Cultural Celebration
African-Americans as well as Africans throughout the world celebrate Kwanzaa. Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa (Dec 26-Jan 1) is dedicated to one of the following principles, as follows:

Unity
Self-Determination
Collective Work and Responsibility
Cooperative Economics
Purpose
Creativity
Faith

Watch: Kwanzaa Windows Media
Print This Article

Friday, December 25, 2009

Celebrating Christmas and Honoring Those Who Serve

100. Name two national U.S. holidays.

WH.gov: Celebrating Christmas and Honoring Those Who Serve

For the first time in a weekly address, the President is joined by the First Lady as they celebrate Christmas. They both honor those serving overseas, those who have sacrificed for their country, and the families that stand by them. December 24, 2009. (Public Domain)

VOANews: Obama Delivers Christmas Message (added 12/27/09)

100. Name two national U.S. holidays.

  • New Year’s Day
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • Presidents’ Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Columbus Day
  • Veterans Day
  • Thanksgiving
  • Christmas

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Communal Giving

55. What are two ways that Americans can participate in their democracy?

VOAVideo: Marines Collect Toys for Children's Holidays

Christmas is a time for giving in the United States, especially to young children who look forward to getting presents. But some families don't have money to buy gifts. One program, sponsored by the U.S. Marines, collects donated toys that are distributed to underprivileged children during the holiday season. VOA's Deborah Block tells us about Toys for Tots.


55. What are two ways that Americans can participate in their democracy?

  • vote
  • join a political party
  • help with a campaign
  • join a civic group
  • join a community group
  • give an elected official your opinion on an issue
  • call Senators and Representatives
  • publicly support or oppose an issue or policy
  • run for office
  • write to a newspaper

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Gingerbread White House

USCIS 96:94. What is the White House?



WH.gov: The Gingerbread White House

Each year, the White House Pastry Team comes together with other members of the White House staff to work on a favorite holiday tradition: The White House Gingerbread House. December 2, 2009 (Public domain)

USCIS 96:94. What is the White House?

  • The White House is the President’s official home.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Inside the White House: The Cabinet

USCIS 100:36. What are two Cabinet-level positions?

36. What are two Cabinet-level positions?

▪ Secretary of Agriculture
▪ Secretary of Commerce
▪ Secretary of Defense
▪ Secretary of Education
▪ Secretary of Energy
▪ Secretary of Health and Human Services
▪ Secretary of Homeland Security
▪ Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
▪ Secretary of the Interior
▪ Secretary of Labor
▪ Secretary of State
▪ Secretary of Transportation
▪ Secretary of the Treasury
▪ Secretary of Veterans Affairs
▪ Attorney General
▪ Vice President

Friday, December 18, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

USCIS 100:07 Quick Civics Lessons and N-400 Practice

USCIS 100:07 mp3

Today we start a new series based on the USCIS Quick Civics Lessons (M638). This episode, we will review only one question plus liten to an exerpt of USCitizenPod's Easy Interview--15 question based on the N-400. Let's begin!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

Obama Accepts Nobel Peace Prize

VOAVideo: Obama Accepts Nobel Peace Prize

U.S. President Barack Obama has formally accepted the Nobel Peace Prize at a ceremony in Oslo, Norway. VOA White House correspondent Paula Wolfson reports the president spoke at length about the circumstances that push nations to war, and prompt them to seek peace.

VOA Special Report: The 2009 Nobel Peace Prize

Many VOA stories about the awarding of Nobel Peace Prize to President Barack Obama.

Kudos to VOANews for gathering and disseminating differing responses from domestic and international sources!

WhiteHoue.gov: Remarks by the President at the Acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize (text)

News English Lessons: World Split Over Obama Nobel Prize

Monday, December 7, 2009

Sunday, December 6, 2009

President Obama Lights the National Christmas Tree



White House: President Obama Lights the National Christmas Tree

The President, joined by the First Family and Vice President and Dr. Biden, hosts the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on the Ellipse. December 3, 2009.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

UN Climate Change Conference



VOA Special Report: UN Climate Change Conference

U.N. officials, climate experts, environmental activists, and leaders of more than 100 nations gather in Copenhagen, Denmark for a two-week conference on climate change beginning 7 December.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

USCIS 100:05-06 Quick Civics Lessons and N-400 Practice

USCIS 100:05-06 mp3

Today we continue our series based on the USCIS Quick Civics Lessons (M638). Each episode, we will review two questions plus practice a section from the N-400 related to the USCIS questions. Lets begin!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

USCIS 100:03-04 Quick Civics Lessons and N-400 Practice

USCIS 100:03-04 mp3

Today we continue our series based on the USCIS Quick Civics Lessons (M638). Each episode, we will review two questions plus practice a section from the N-400 related to the USCIS questions. Lets begin!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

USCIS 100:01-02 Quick Civics Lessons and N-400 Practice

USCIS 100:01-02 mp3

Today we start a new series based on the USCIS Quick Civics Lessons (M638). Each episode, we will review two questions plus practices a section from the N-400 related to the USCIS questions. Lets begin!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

President Obama's Thanksgiving Greeting



President Obama Delivers Thanksgiving Greeting
From: whitehouse

President Obama calls to our attention the men and women in uniform who are away from home sacrificing time with family to protect our safety and freedom. He also talks about the progress of health care reform, the Recovery Act, and job creation to ensure that next Thanksgiving will be a brighter day. November 25, 2009 (Public Domain)

Milpitas Adult School Citizenship Class Thanksgiving Feast



Happy Thanksgiving from the Milpitas Adult School Citizenship Class!

I am thankful . . .

I am thankful for my students!--Teacher Jennifer



Mai Anh Thi Dai's Thanksgiving Essay




Huong Ho's Thanksgiving Video

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

US, China Vow Cooperation


VOAVideo: US, China Vow Cooperation

A Sino-American summit in Beijing has produced no breakthroughs but vows of cooperation from the leaders of China and the United States. VOA's Paula Wolfson reports from the Chinese capital, where President Barack Obama spent several hours in closed door talks with his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Obama Holds Town Hall in Shanghai



VOAVideo: Obama Holds Town Hall in Shanghai

VOA News Special Report: President Obama in Asia

All VOA News stories and videos related to the President Barack Obama's first Asia trip began November 12, taking him to Japan, Singapore, China and South Korea. The historic 10-day journey includes bilateral and multilateral meetings, a town hall-style meeting in China and a visit with U.S. troops stationed in South Korea.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Obama's Town Hall Meeting in Shanghai


Remarks by President Obama at Town Hall Meeting in Shanghai (by question)


VOA News Special Report:

President Obama in Asia

All VOA News stories and videos related to the President Barack Obama's first Asia trip began November 12, taking him to Japan, Singapore, China and South Korea. The historic 10-day journey includes bilateral and multilateral meetings, a town hall-style meeting in China and a visit with U.S. troops stationed in South Korea.

Related Links

Obama's Town Hall Meeting: Question 8--Terrorism and Afghanistan

PRESIDENT OBAMA: All right? All right, this is going to be the last question, unfortunately. We've run out of time so quickly. Our last Internet question, because I want to make sure that we got all three of our fine students here.

Q Mr. President, it's a great honor for the last question. And I'm a college student from Fudan University, and today I'm also the representative of China's Youth (inaudible.) And this question I think is from Beijing: Paid great attention to your Afghanistan policies, and he would like to know whether terrorism is still the greatest security concern for the United States? And how do you assess the military actions in Afghanistan, or whether it will turn into another Iraqi war? Thank you very much.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I think that's an excellent question. Well, first of all, I do continue to believe that the greatest threat to United States' security are the terrorist networks like al Qaeda. And the reason is, is because even though they are small in number, what they have shown is, is that they have no conscience when it comes to the destruction of innocent civilians. And because of technology today, if an organization like that got a weapon of mass destruction on its hands -- a nuclear or a chemical or a biological weapon -- and they used it in a city, whether it's in Shanghai or New York, just a few individuals could potentially kill tens of thousands of people, maybe hundreds of thousands. So it really does pose an extraordinary threat.

Now, the reason we originally went into Afghanistan was because al Qaeda was in Afghanistan, being hosted by the Taliban. They have now moved over the border of Afghanistan and they are in Pakistan now, but they continue to have networks with other extremist organizations in that region. And I do believe that it is important for us to stabilize Afghanistan so that the people of Afghanistan can protect themselves, but they can also be a partner in reducing the power of these extremist networks.

Now, obviously it is a very difficult thing -- one of the hardest things about my job is ordering young men and women into the battlefield. I often have to meet with the mothers and fathers of the fallen, those who do not come home. And it is a great weight on me. It gives me a heavy heart.

Fortunately, our Armed Services is -- the young men and women who participate, they believe so strongly in their service to their country that they are willing to go. And I think that it is possible -- working in a broader coalition with our allies in NATO and others that are contributing like Australia -- to help train the Afghans so that they have a functioning government, that they have their own security forces, and then slowly we can begin to pull our troops out because there's no longer that vacuum that existed after the Taliban left.

But it's a difficult task. It's not easy. And ultimately I think in trying to defeat these terrorist extremists, it's important to understand it's not just a military exercise. We also have to think about what motivates young people to become terrorists, why would they become suicide bombers. And although there are obviously a lot of different reasons, including I think the perversion of religion, in thinking that somehow these kinds of violent acts are appropriate, part of what's happened in places like Pakistan and Afghanistan is these young people have no education, they have no opportunities, and so they see no way for them to move forward in life, and that leads them into thinking that this is their only option.

And so part of what we want to do in Afghanistan is to find ways that we can train teachers and create schools and improve agriculture so that people have a greater sense of hope. That won't change the ideas of a Osama bin Laden who are very ideologically fixed on trying to strike at the West, but it will change the pool of young people who they can recruit from. And that is at least as important, if not more important over time, as whatever military actions that we can take. Okay?

All right, I have had a wonderful time. I am so grateful to all of you. First of all, let me say I'm very impressed with all of your English. Clearly you've been studying very hard. And having a chance to meet with all of you I think has given me great hope for the future of U.S.-China relations.

I hope that many of you have the opportunity to come and travel and visit the United States. You will be welcome. I think you will find that the American people feel very warmly towards the people of China. And I am very confident that, with young people like yourselves and the young people that I know in the United States, that our two great countries will continue to prosper and help to bring about a more peaceful and secure world.

So thank you very much everybody. Thank you. (Applause.)

END

From Whitehouse.gov

Obama's Town Hall Meeting: Question 7--Education and Success

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I'm going to take two more questions. And the next one is from a gentleman, I think. Right here, yes. Here's the microphone.

Q First, I would like to say that it is a great honor for me to stand here to ask you the questions. I think I am so lucky and just appreciate that your speech is so clear that I really do not need such kind of headset. (Laughter.)

And here comes my question. My name is (inaudible) from Fudan University School of Management. And I would like to ask you the question -- is that now that someone has asked you something about the Nobel Peace Prize, but I will not ask you in the same aspect. I want to ask you in the other aspect that since it is very hard for you to get such kind of an honorable prize, and I wonder and we all wonder that -- how you struggled to get it. And what's your university/college education that brings you to get such kind of prizes? We are very curious about it and we would like to invite you to share with us your campus education experiences so as to go on the road of success.


PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, let me tell you that I don't know if there's a curriculum or course of study that leads you to win the Nobel Peace Prize. (Laughter.) So I can't guarantee that. But I think the recipe for success is the one that you are already following. Obviously all of you are working very hard, you're studying very hard. You're curious. You're willing to think about new ideas and think for yourself. You know, the people who I meet now that I find most inspiring who are successful I think are people who are not only willing to work very hard but are constantly trying to improve themselves and to think in new ways, and not just accept the conventional wisdom.

Obviously there are many different paths to success, and some of you are going to be going into government service; some of you might want to be teachers or professors; some of you might want to be businesspeople. But I think that whatever field you go into, if you're constantly trying to improve and never satisfied with not having done your best, and constantly asking new questions -- "Are there things that I could be doing differently? Are there new approaches to problems that nobody has thought of before, whether it's in science or technology or in the arts? -- those are usually the people who I think are able to rise about the rest.

The one last piece of advice, though, that I would have that has been useful for me is the people who I admire the most and are most successful, they're not just thinking only about themselves but they're also thinking about something larger than themselves. So they want to make a contribution to society. They want to make a contribution to their country, their nation, their city. They are interested in having an impact beyond their own immediate lives.

I think so many of us, we get caught up with wanting to make money for ourselves and have a nice car and have a nice house and -- all those things are important, but the people who really make their mark on the world is because they have a bigger ambition. They say, how can I help feed hungry people? Or, how can I help to teach children who don't have an education? Or, how can I bring about peaceful resolution of conflicts? Those are the people I think who end up making such a big difference in the world. And I'm sure that young people like you are going to be able to make that kind of difference as long as you keep working the way you've been working.

All right?

From Whitehouse.gov

Obama's Town Hall Meeting: Question 6--The Firewall, Twitter, and Internet Freedom

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Okay. All right? Jon -- I'm going to call on my Ambassador because I think he has a question that was generated through the Web site of our embassy. This was selected, though, by I think one of the members of our U.S. press corps so that --

AMBASSADOR HUNTSMAN: That's right. And not surprisingly, "in a country with 350 million Internet users and 60 million bloggers, do you know of the firewall?" And second, "should we be able to use Twitter freely" -- is the question.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, let me say that I have never used Twitter. I noticed that young people -- they're very busy with all these electronics. My thumbs are too clumsy to type in things on the phone. But I am a big believer in technology and I'm a big believer in openness when it comes to the flow of information. I think that the more freely information flows, the stronger the society becomes, because then citizens of countries around the world can hold their own governments accountable. They can begin to think for themselves. That generates new ideas. It encourages creativity.

And so I've always been a strong supporter of open Internet use. I'm a big supporter of non-censorship. This is part of the tradition of the United States that I discussed before, and I recognize that different countries have different traditions. I can tell you that in the United States, the fact that we have free Internet -- or unrestricted Internet access is a source of strength, and I think should be encouraged.

Now, I should tell you, I should be honest, as President of the United States, there are times where I wish information didn't flow so freely because then I wouldn't have to listen to people criticizing me all the time. I think people naturally are -- when they're in positions of power sometimes thinks, oh, how could that person say that about me, or that's irresponsible, or -- but the truth is that because in the United States information is free, and I have a lot of critics in the United States who can say all kinds of things about me, I actually think that that makes our democracy stronger and it makes me a better leader because it forces me to hear opinions that I don't want to hear. It forces me to examine what I'm doing on a day-to-day basis to see, am I really doing the very best that I could be doing for the people of the United States.

And I think the Internet has become an even more powerful tool for that kind of citizen participation. In fact, one of the reasons that I won the presidency was because we were able to mobilize young people like yourself to get involved through the Internet. Initially, nobody thought we could win because we didn't have necessarily the most wealthy supporters; we didn't have the most powerful political brokers. But through the Internet, people became excited about our campaign and they started to organize and meet and set up campaign activities and events and rallies. And it really ended up creating the kind of bottom-up movement that allowed us to do very well.

Now, that's not just true in -- for government and politics. It's also true for business. You think about a company like Google that only 20 years ago was -- less than 20 years ago was the idea of a couple of people not much older than you. It was a science project. And suddenly because of the Internet, they were able to create an industry that has revolutionized commerce all around the world. So if it had not been for the freedom and the openness that the Internet allows, Google wouldn't exist.

So I'm a big supporter of not restricting Internet use, Internet access, other information technologies like Twitter. The more open we are, the more we can communicate. And it also helps to draw the world together.

Think about -- when I think about my daughters, Malia and Sasha -- one is 11, one is 8 -- from their room, they can get on the Internet and they can travel to Shanghai. They can go anyplace in the world and they can learn about anything they want to learn about. And that's just an enormous power that they have. And that helps, I think, promote the kind of understanding that we talked about.

Now, as I said before, there's always a downside to technology. It also means that terrorists are able to organize on the Internet in ways that they might not have been able to do before. Extremists can mobilize. And so there's some price that you pay for openness, there's no denying that. But I think that the good outweighs the bad so much that it's better to maintain that openness. And that's part of why I'm so glad that the Internet was part of this forum. Okay?

From Whitehouse.gov

Obama's Town Hall Meeting: Question 5--The Nobel Peace Prize and World Peace

Let's see, it's a girl's turn now, right? Yes, right there. Yes. Hold on, let's get -- whoops, I'm sorry, they took the mic back here. I'll call on you next.

Go ahead, and then I'll go up here later. Go ahead.

Q Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I'll call on you later. But I'll on her first and then I'll call on you afterwards.

Go ahead.


Q Okay, thank you. Mr. President, I'm a student from Shanghai Jiao Tong University. I have a question concerning the Nobel Prize for Peace. In your opinion, what's the main reason that you were honored the Nobel Prize for Peace? And will it give you more responsibility and pressure to -- more pressure and the responsibility to promote world peace? And will it bring you -- will it influence your ideas while dealing with the international affairs? Thank you very much.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you. That was an excellent question. I have to say that nobody was more surprised than me about winning the Nobel Prize for Peace. Obviously it's a great honor. I don't believe necessarily that it's an honor I deserve, given the extraordinary history of people who have won the prize. All I can do is to, with great humility, accept the fact that I think the committee was inspired by the American people and the possibilities of changing not only America but also America's approach to the world. And so in some ways I think they gave me the prize but I was more just a symbol of the shift in our approach to world affairs that we are trying to promote.

In terms of the burden that I feel, I am extraordinarily honored to be put in the position of President. And as my wife always reminds me when I complain that I'm working too hard, she says, you volunteered for this job. (Laughter.) And so you -- there's a saying -- I don't know if there's a similar saying in China -- we have a saying: "You made your bed, now you have to sleep in it." And it basically means you have to be careful what you ask for because you might get it.

I think that all of us have obligations for trying to promote peace in the world. It's not always easy to do. There are still a lot of conflicts in the world that are -- date back for centuries. If you look at the Middle East, there are wars and conflict that are rooted in arguments going back a thousand years. In many parts of the world -- let's say, in the continent of Africa -- there are ethnic and tribal conflicts that are very hard to resolve.

And obviously, right now, as President of the United States, part of my job is to serve as Commander-in-Chief, and my first priority is to protect the American people. And because of the attacks on 9/11 and the terrorism that has been taking place around the world where innocent people are being killed, it is my obligation to make sure that we root out these terrorist organizations, and that we cooperate with other countries in terms of dealing with this kind of violence.

Nevertheless, although I don't think that we can ever completely eliminate violence between nations or between peoples, I think that we can definitely reduce the violence between peoples -- through dialogue, through the exchange of ideas, through greater understanding between peoples and between cultures.

And particularly now when just one individual can detonate a bomb that causes so much destruction, it is more important than ever that we pursue these strategies for peace. Technology is a powerful instrument for good, but it has also given the possibility for just a few people to cause enormous damage. And that's why I'm hopeful that in my meetings with President Hu and on an ongoing basis, both the United States and China can work together to try to reduce conflicts that are taking place.

We have to do so, though, also keeping in mind that when we use our military, because we're such big and strong countries, that we have to be self-reflective about what we do; that we have to examine our own motives and our own interests to make sure that we are not simply using our military forces because nobody can stop us. That's a burden that great countries, great powers, have, is to act responsibly in the community of nations. And my hope is, is that the United States and China together can help to create an international norms that reduce conflict around the world. (Applause.)

From Whitehouse.gov

Obama's Town Hall Meeting: Question 4--China and Taiwan

PRESIDENT OBAMA: We're going to take a question from the Internet.

Q Hello, Mr. President. It's a great honor to be here and meet you in person.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you.


Q I will be reading a question selected on the Internet to you, and this question is from somebody from Taiwan. In his question, he said: I come from Taiwan. Now I am doing business on the mainland. And due to improved cross-straits relations in recent years, my business in China is doing quite well. So when I heard the news that some people in America would like to propose -- continue selling arms and weapons to Taiwan, I begin to get pretty worried. I worry that this may make our cross-straits relations suffer. So I would like to know if, Mr. President, are you supportive of improved cross-straits relations? And although this question is from a businessman, actually, it's a question of keen concern to all of us young Chinese students, so we'd really like to know your position on this question. Thank you. (Applause.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you. Well, I have been clear in the past that my administration fully supports a one-China policy, as reflected in the three joint communiqu├ęs that date back several decades, in terms of our relations with Taiwan as well as our relations with the People's Republic of China. We don't want to change that policy and that approach.

I am very pleased with the reduction of tensions and the improvement in cross-straits relations, and it is my deep desire and hope that we will continue to see great improvement between Taiwan and the rest of -- and the People's Republic in resolving many of these issues.

One of the things that I think that the United States, in terms of its foreign policy and its policy with respect to China, is always seeking is ways that through dialogue and negotiations, problems can be solved. We always think that's the better course. And I think that economic ties and commercial ties that are taking place in this region are helping to lower a lot of the tensions that date back before you were born or even before I was born.

Now, there are some people who still look towards the past when it comes to these issues, as opposed to looking towards the future. I prefer to look towards the future. And as I said, I think the commercial ties that are taking place -- there's something about when people think that they can do business and make money that makes them think very clearly and not worry as much about ideology. And I think that that's starting to happen in this region, and we are very supportive of that process. Okay?

From Whitehouse.gov

Obama's Town Hall Meeting: Question 3--Harmony and Diversity

PRESIDENT OBAMA: All right, it's a -- I think it must be a boy's turn now. Right? So I'll call on this young man right here.

Q (As translated.) Mr. President, good afternoon. I'm from Tongji University. I want to cite a saying from Confucius: "It is always good to have a friend coming from afar." In Confucius books, there is a great saying which says that harmony is good, but also we uphold differences. China advocates a harmonious world. We know that the United States develops a culture that features diversity. I want to know, what will your government do to build a diversified world with different cultures? What would you do to respect the different cultures and histories of other countries? And what kinds of cooperation we can conduct in the future?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: This is an excellent point. The United States, one of our strengths is that we are a very diverse culture. We have people coming from all around the world. And so there's no one definition of what an American looks like. In my own family, I have a father who was from Kenya; I have a mother who was from Kansas, in the Midwest of the United States; my sister is half-Indonesian; she's married to a Chinese person from Canada. So when you see family gatherings in the Obama household, it looks like the United Nations. (Laughter.)

And that is a great strength of the United States, because it means that we learn from different cultures and different foods and different ideas, and that has made us a much more dynamic society.

Now, what is also true is that each country in this interconnected world has its own culture and its own history and its own traditions. And I think it's very important for the United States not to assume that what is good for us is automatically good for somebody else. And we have to have some modesty about our attitudes towards other countries.

I have to say, though, as I said in my opening remarks, that we do believe that there are certain fundamental principles that are common to all people, regardless of culture. So, for example, in the United Nations we are very active in trying to make sure that children all around the world are treated with certain basic rights -- that if children are being exploited, if there's forced labor for children, that despite the fact that that may have taken place in the past in many different countries, including the United States, that all countries of the world now should have developed to the point where we are treating children better than we did in the past. That's a universal value.

I believe, for example, the same thing holds true when it comes to the treatment of women. I had a very interesting discussion with the Mayor of Shanghai during lunch right before I came, and he informed me that in many professions now here in China, there are actually more women enrolled in college than there are men, and that they are doing very well. I think that is an excellent indicator of progress, because it turns out that if you look at development around the world, one of the best indicators of whether or not a country does well is how well it educates its girls and how it treats its women. And countries that are tapping into the talents and the energy of women and giving them educations typically do better economically than countries that don't.

So, now, obviously difficult cultures may have different attitudes about the relationship between men and women, but I think it is the view of the United States that it is important for us to affirm the rights of women all around the world. And if we see certain societies in which women are oppressed, or they are not getting opportunities, or there is violence towards women, we will speak out.

Now, there may be some people who disagree with us, and we can have a dialogue about that. But we think it's important, nevertheless, to be true to our ideals and our values. And we -- and when we do so, though, we will always do so with the humility and understanding that we are not perfect and that we still have much progress to make. If you talk to women in America, they will tell you that there are still men who have a lot of old-fashioned ideas about the role of women in society. And so we don't claim that we have solved all these problems, but we do think that it's important for us to speak out on behalf of these universal ideals and these universal values.

Okay? Alright.

From Whitehouse.gov

Obama's Town Hall Meeting: Question 2--Exchange Views

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Why don't we get one of the questions from the Internet? And introduce yourself, in case --

Q First shall I say it in Chinese, and then the English, okay?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Yes.


Q I want to pose a question from the Internet. I want to thank you, Mr. President, for visiting China in your first year in office, and exchange views with us in China. I want to know what are you bringing to China, your visit to China this time, and what will you bring back to the United States? (Applause.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: The main purpose of my trip is to deepen my understanding of China and its vision for the future. I have had several meetings now with President Hu. We participated together in the G20 that was dealing with the economic financial crisis. We have had consultations about a wide range of issues. But I think it's very important for the United States to continually deepen its understanding of China, just as it's important for China to continually deepen its understanding of the United States.

In terms of what I'd like to get out of this meeting, or this visit, in addition to having the wonderful opportunity to see the Forbidden City and the Great Wall, and to meet with all of you -- these are all highlights -- but in addition to that, the discussions that I intend to have with President Hu speak to the point that Ambassador Huntsman made earlier, which is there are very few global challenges that can be solved unless the United States and China agree.

So let me give you a specific example, and that is the issue we were just discussing of climate change. The United States and China are the world's two largest emitters of greenhouse gases, of carbon that is causing the planet to warm. Now, the United States, as a highly developed country, as I said before, per capita, consumes much more energy and emits much more greenhouse gases for each individual than does China. On the other hand, China is growing at a much faster pace and it has a much larger population. So unless both of our countries are willing to take critical steps in dealing with this issue, we will not be able to resolve it.

There's going to be a Copenhagen conference in December in which world leaders are trying to find a recipe so that we can all make commitments that are differentiated so each country would not have the same obligations -- obviously China, which has much more poverty, should not have to do exactly the same thing as the United States -- but all of us should have these certain obligations in terms of what our plan will be to reduce these greenhouse gases.

So that's an example of what I hope to get out of this meeting -- a meeting of the minds between myself and President Hu about how together the United States and China can show leadership. Because I will tell you, other countries around the world will be waiting for us. They will watch to see what we do. And if they say, ah, you know, the United States and China, they're not serious about this, then they won't be serious either. That is the burden of leadership that both of our countries now carry. And my hope is, is that the more discussion and dialogue that we have, the more we are able to show this leadership to the world on these many critical issues. Okay? (Applause.)

From Whitehouse.gov

Obama's Town Hall Meeting: Question 1--World Expo

Q My name is (inaudible) and I am a student from Fudan University. Shanghai and Chicago have been sister cities since 1985, and these two cities have conduct a wide range of economic, political, and cultural exchanges. So what measures will you take to deepen this close relationship between cities of the United States and China? And Shanghai will hold the World Exposition next year. Will you bring your family to visit the Expo? Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, thank you very much for the question. I was just having lunch before I came here with the Mayor of Shanghai, and he told me that he has had an excellent relationship with the city of Chicago -- my home town -- that he's visited there twice. And I think it's wonderful to have these exchanges between cities.

One of the things that I discussed with the Mayor is how both cities can learn from each other on strategies around clean energy, because one of the issues that ties China and America together is how, with an expanding population and a concern for climate change, that we're able to reduce our carbon footprint. And obviously in the United States and many developed countries, per capita, per individual, they are already using much more energy than each individual here in China. But as China grows and expands, it's going to be using more energy as well. So both countries have a great interest in finding new strategies.

We talked about mass transit and the excellent rail lines that are being developed in Shanghai. I think we can learn in Chicago and the United States some of the fine work that's being done on high-speed rail.

In the United States, I think we are learning how to develop buildings that use much less energy, that are much more energy-efficient. And I know that with Shanghai, as I traveled and I saw all the cranes and all the new buildings that are going up, it's very important for us to start incorporating these new technologies so that each building is energy-efficient when it comes to lighting, when it comes to heating. And so it's a terrific opportunity I think for us to learn from each other.

I know this is going to be a major focus of the Shanghai World Expo, is the issue of clean energy, as I learned from the Mayor. And so I would love to attend. I'm not sure yet what my schedule is going to be, but I'm very pleased that we're going to have an excellent U.S. pavilion at the Expo, and I understand that we expect as many as 70 million visitors here. So it's going to be very crowded and it's going to be very exciting.

Chicago has had two world expos in its history, and both of those expos ended up being tremendous boosts for the city. So I'm sure the same thing will happen here in Shanghai.

Thank you. (Applause.)

From Whitehouse.gov

Obama's Town Hall Meeting: Opening Remarks

Remarks by President Barack Obama at Town Hall Meeting with Future Chinese Leaders
Museum of Science and Technology, Shanghai, China
Transcript from The White House Office of the Press Secretary
Posted November 16, 2009 1:18 P.M. CST (Full Text)


PRESIDENT OBAMA: Good afternoon. It is a great honor for me to be here in Shanghai, and to have this opportunity to speak with all of you. I'd like to thank Fudan University's President Yang for his hospitality and his gracious welcome. I'd also like to thank our outstanding Ambassador, Jon Huntsman, who exemplifies the deep ties and respect between our nations. I don't know what he said, but I hope it was good. (Laughter.)

What I'd like to do is to make some opening comments, and then what I'm really looking forward to doing is taking questions, not only from students who are in the audience, but also we've received questions online, which will be asked by some of the students who are here in the audience, as well as by Ambassador Huntsman. And I am very sorry that my Chinese is not as good as your English, but I am looking forward to this chance to have a dialogue.

This is my first time traveling to China, and I'm excited to see this majestic country. Here, in Shanghai, we see the growth that has caught the attention of the world -- the soaring skyscrapers, the bustling streets and entrepreneurial activity. And just as I'm impressed by these signs of China's journey to the 21st century, I'm eager to see those ancient places that speak to us from China's distant past. Tomorrow and the next day I hope to have a chance when I'm in Beijing to see the majesty of the Forbidden City and the wonder of the Great Wall. Truly, this is a nation that encompasses both a rich history and a belief in the promise of the future.

The same can be said of the relationship between our two countries. Shanghai, of course, is a city that has great meaning in the history of the relationship between the United States and China. It was here, 37 years ago, that the Shanghai Communique opened the door to a new chapter of engagement between our governments and among our people. However, America's ties to this city -- and to this country -- stretch back further, to the earliest days of America's independence.

In 1784, our founding father, George Washington, commissioned the Empress of China, a ship that set sail for these shores so that it could pursue trade with the Qing Dynasty. Washington wanted to see the ship carry the flag around the globe, and to forge new ties with nations like China. This is a common American impulse -- the desire to reach for new horizons, and to forge new partnerships that are mutually beneficial.

Over the two centuries that have followed, the currents of history have steered the relationship between our countries in many directions. And even in the midst of tumultuous winds, our people had opportunities to forge deep and even dramatic ties. For instance, Americans will never forget the hospitality shown to our pilots who were shot down over your soil during World War II, and cared for by Chinese civilians who risked all that they had by doing so. And Chinese veterans of that war still warmly greet those American veterans who return to the sites where they fought to help liberate China from occupation.

A different kind of connection was made nearly 40 years ago when the frost between our countries began to thaw through the simple game of table tennis. The very unlikely nature of this engagement contributed to its success -- because for all our differences, both our common humanity and our shared curiosity were revealed. As one American player described his visit to China -- "[The]people are just like us…The country is very similar to America, but still very different."

Of course this small opening was followed by the achievement of the Shanghai Communique, and the eventual establishment of formal relations between the United States and China in 1979. And in three decades, just look at how far we have come.

In 1979, trade between the United States and China stood at roughly $5 billion -- today it tops over $400 billion each year. The commerce affects our people's lives in so many ways. America imports from China many of the computer parts we use, the clothes we wear; and we export to China machinery that helps power your industry. This trade could create even more jobs on both sides of the Pacific, while allowing our people to enjoy a better quality of life. And as demand becomes more balanced, it can lead to even broader prosperity.

In 1979, the political cooperation between the United States and China was rooted largely in our shared rivalry with the Soviet Union. Today, we have a positive, constructive and comprehensive relationship that opens the door to partnership on the key global issues of our time -- economic recovery and the development of clean energy; stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and the scourge of climate change; the promotion of peace and security in Asia and around the globe. All of these issues will be on the agenda tomorrow when I meet with President Hu.

And in 1979, the connections among our people were limited. Today, we see the curiosity of those ping-pong players manifested in the ties that are being forged across many sectors. The second highest number of foreign students in the United States come from China, and we've seen a 50 percent increase in the study of Chinese among our own students. There are nearly 200 "friendship cities" drawing our communities together. American and Chinese scientists cooperate on new research and discovery. And of course, Yao Ming is just one signal of our shared love of basketball -- I'm only sorry that I won't be able to see a Shanghai Sharks game while I'm visiting.

It is no coincidence that the relationship between our countries has accompanied a period of positive change. China has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty -- an accomplishment unparalleled in human history -- while playing a larger role in global events. And the United States has seen our economy grow along with the standard of living enjoyed by our people, while bringing the Cold War to a successful conclusion.

There is a Chinese proverb: "Consider the past, and you shall know the future." Surely, we have known setbacks and challenges over the last 30 years. Our relationship has not been without disagreement and difficulty. But the notion that we must be adversaries is not predestined -- not when we consider the past. Indeed, because of our cooperation, both the United States and China are more prosperous and more secure. We have seen what is possible when we build upon our mutual interests, and engage on the basis of mutual respect.

And yet the success of that engagement depends upon understanding -- on sustaining an open dialogue, and learning about one another and from one another. For just as that American table tennis player pointed out -- we share much in common as human beings, but our countries are different in certain ways.

I believe that each country must chart its own course. China is an ancient nation, with a deeply rooted culture. The United States, by comparison, is a young nation, whose culture is determined by the many different immigrants who have come to our shores, and by the founding documents that guide our democracy.

Those documents put forward a simple vision of human affairs, and they enshrine several core principles -- that all men and women are created equal, and possess certain fundamental rights; that government should reflect the will of the people and respond to their wishes; that commerce should be open, information freely accessible; and that laws, and not simply men, should guarantee the administration of justice.

Of course, the story of our nation is not without its difficult chapters. In many ways -- over many years -- we have struggled to advance the promise of these principles to all of our people, and to forge a more perfect union. We fought a very painful civil war, and freed a portion of our population from slavery. It took time for women to be extended the right to vote, workers to win the right to organize, and for immigrants from different corners of the globe to be fully embraced. Even after they were freed, African Americans persevered through conditions that were separate and not equal, before winning full and equal rights.

None of this was easy. But we made progress because of our belief in those core principles, which have served as our compass through the darkest of storms. That is why Lincoln could stand up in the midst of civil war and declare it a struggle to see whether any nation, conceived in liberty, and "dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal" could long endure. That is why Dr. Martin Luther King could stand on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and ask that our nation live out the true meaning of its creed. That's why immigrants from China to Kenya could find a home on our shores; why opportunity is available to all who would work for it; and why someone like me, who less than 50 years ago would have had trouble voting in some parts of America, is now able to serve as its President.

And that is why America will always speak out for these core principles around the world. We do not seek to impose any system of government on any other nation, but we also don't believe that the principles that we stand for are unique to our nation. These freedoms of expression and worship -- of access to information and political participation -- we believe are universal rights. They should be available to all people, including ethnic and religious minorities -- whether they are in the United States, China, or any nation. Indeed, it is that respect for universal rights that guides America's openness to other countries; our respect for different cultures; our commitment to international law; and our faith in the future.

These are all things that you should know about America. I also know that we have much to learn about China. Looking around at this magnificent city -- and looking around this room -- I do believe that our nations hold something important in common, and that is a belief in the future. Neither the United States nor China is content to rest on our achievements. For while China is an ancient nation, you are also clearly looking ahead with confidence, ambition, and a commitment to see that tomorrow's generation can do better than today's.

In addition to your growing economy, we admire China's extraordinary commitment to science and research -- a commitment borne out in everything from the infrastructure you build to the technology you use. China is now the world's largest Internet user -- which is why we were so pleased to include the Internet as a part of today's event. This country now has the world's largest mobile phone network, and it is investing in the new forms of energy that can both sustain growth and combat climate change -- and I'm looking forward to deepening the partnership between the United States and China in this critical area tomorrow. But above all, I see China's future in you -- young people whose talent and dedication and dreams will do so much to help shape the 21st century.

I've said many times that I believe that our world is now fundamentally interconnected. The jobs we do, the prosperity we build, the environment we protect, the security that we seek -- all of these things are shared. And given that interconnection, power in the 21st century is no longer a zero-sum game; one country's success need not come at the expense of another. And that is why the United States insists we do not seek to contain China's rise. On the contrary, we welcome China as a strong and prosperous and successful member of the community of nations -- a China that draws on the rights, strengths, and creativity of individual Chinese like you.

To return to the proverb -- consider the past. We know that more is to be gained when great powers cooperate than when they collide. That is a lesson that human beings have learned time and again, and that is the example of the history between our nations. And I believe strongly that cooperation must go beyond our government. It must be rooted in our people -- in the studies we share, the business that we do, the knowledge that we gain, and even in the sports that we play. And these bridges must be built by young men and women just like you and your counterparts in America.

That's why I'm pleased to announce that the United States will dramatically expand the number of our students who study in China to 100,000. And these exchanges mark a clear commitment to build ties among our people, as surely as you will help determine the destiny of the 21st century. And I'm absolutely confident that America has no better ambassadors to offer than our young people. For they, just like you, are filled with talent and energy and optimism about the history that is yet to be written.

So let this be the next step in the steady pursuit of cooperation that will serve our nations, and the world. And if there's one thing that we can take from today's dialogue, I hope that it is a commitment to continue this dialogue going forward.

So thank you very much. And I look forward now to taking some questions from all of you. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

So -- I just want to make sure this works. This is a tradition, by the way, that is very common in the United States at these town hall meetings. And what we're going to do is I will just -- if you are interested in asking a question, you can raise your hands. I will call on you. And then I will alternate between a question from the audience and an Internet question from one of the students who prepared the questions, as well as I think Ambassador Huntsman may have a question that we were able to obtain from the Web site of our embassy.

So let me begin, though, by seeing -- and then what I'll do is I'll call on a boy and then a girl and then -- so we'll go back and forth, so that you know it's fair. All right? So I'll start with this young lady right in the front. Why don't we wait for this microphone so everyone can hear you. And what's your name?

From Whitehouse.gov

Sunday, November 15, 2009

LIVE FROM SHANGHAI!

On the way to China!

Ben Rhodes Updates from Air Force 1

Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, already misses a Singaporean buffet and has high hopes for good Szechwan in Beijing. The President is headed to China where he'll hold a town hall with Chinese youth in Shanghai. Watch tonight at 11:40 ET at whitehouse.gov/live.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Preview of President Obama's Trip to Asia

89. What ocean is on the West Coast of the United States?



WH.gov: Preview of President Obama's Trip to Asia

Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, previews President Obama's first trip to Asia since taking office the day before everyone heads out. Hear about what's in store for the trip and what the President and staff are looking forward to. This is the first of several regular updates from the trip to come. November 12, 2009 (public domain)

VOANews: Obama Begins First Presidential Trip to Asia

US president on his way to Japan, first stop on Asian journey that will also take him to China, South Korea, and meeting of Pacific Rim leaders in Singapore.

Watch VOAVideo on YouTube:

89. What ocean is on the West Coast of the United States?

▪ Pacific (Ocean)

Friday, November 13, 2009

World War Two Museum Expansion Aims at Younger Generations

80. Who was President during the Great Depression and World War II?

81. Who did the United States fight in World War II?

82. Before he was President, Eisenhower was a general. What war was he in?



VOAVideo: World War Two Museum Expansion Aims at Younger Generations

The National World War Two Museum in New Orleans has opened a new $60 million-dollar building that houses a musical theater, a restaurant and a large movie theater for what is billed as a four-dimensional multimedia experience. The 35-minute cinematic presentation is titled "Beyond All Boundaries" and it is being shown exclusively at the museum. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from New Orleans, it is a presentation that brings Hollywood, high technology and history together.

80. Who was President during the Great Depression and World War II?
▪ (Franklin) Roosevelt

81. Who did the United States fight in World War II?
▪ Japan, Germany, and Italy

82. Before he was President, Eisenhower was a general. What war was he in?
▪ World War II

Thursday, November 12, 2009

U.S. Observes Veterans Day

USCIS N-400: Part 10 F: 29
Have you ever served in the U.S. Armed Forces?


VOAVideo: U.S. Observes Veterans Day

On the day when Americans in the military are remembered and honored, President Barack Obama attended the annual wreath laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. VOA's Elizabeth Lee has the details.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Obama, World Leaders Honor Veterans

100. Name two national U.S. holidays.

VOANews: Obama, World Leaders Honor Veterans

Allied powers of France, Britain and United States defeated Germany and her smaller allies in so-called 'war to end all wars', which shattered Europe
VOANews: Obama Pays Tribute to Fort Hood Shooting Victims

President tells each victim's story at a service held at massive Army post'

100. Name two national U.S. holidays.

▪ New Year’s Day
▪ Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
▪ Presidents’ Day
▪ Memorial Day
▪ Independence Day
▪ Labor Day
▪ Columbus Day
▪ Veterans Day
▪ Thanksgiving
▪ Christmas

North Carolina World War Two Veterans Honored

78. Name one war fought by the United States in the 1900s.*



VOANews: North Carolina World War Two Veterans Honored

November 11th is Veteran's Day, a day when veterans of the armed forces are honored and remembered for their service and sacrifice. This year VOA's Chris Simkins spent some time with an ageing group of veterans from the U.S. state of North Carolina, who came to Washington D.C., on a pilgrimage to honor their fallen comrades.

78. Name one war fought by the United States in the 1900s.*

▪ World War I
▪ World War II
▪ Korean War
▪ Vietnam War
▪ (Persian) Gulf War

Names Are Read to Mark 25th Anniversary of Vietnam Veterans Wall " (reposted from 11/11/07)

ARVN Veteran Do Ngoc Xuan
proudly displays his US Citizenship Papers

(reposted from 11/11/07)

Last night, I listened to the VOA's
Names Are Read to Mark 25th Anniversary of Vietnam Veterans Wall. All of a sudden I thought, "I wonder what happened to my POW/MIA?".

When I was freshman in high school, the Viet Nam war was coming to the end. A classmate, Molly Olds, who was an "army brat", convinced me, a Catholic "peacenik", to wear a POW/MIA memorial bracelet. The name on my bracelet: Richard R. Perricone. I never knew what happened to this POW, so I "googled" Perricone. There he was on the
POW Network--free and alive--living in New York with his wife. Wow! I hope he is in Washington DC this weekend with his fellow vets. I hope he knows peace.

(Update; many people wrote to say Stff Sgt. Richard Perricone is alive and well).

The VOA story also brings to mind one of my students, Nguyen Kiem Long, formerly of the South Viet Nam Air Force and the Milpitas Adult School Senior ESL Class. He is currently in New York attending to family business, and I and his classmates miss him so much. He is a living example of a free and prosperous Viet Nam.

I also honor Do Ngoc Xuan, a farmer forced to flee the South and join the army. After working the night shift, he comes to the Senior ESL class every day in preparation for US Citizenship--the ticket to freedom for his relatives still in Viet Nam. His goal is shared not only by the Vietnamese students at our school, but by the immigrant communty at large.

On Veterans Day, let us remember the US service men and women, and our allied commrade-in-arms, fighting for the freedom of their own country.

More Resources--