Laogai Museum founder and director Harry Wu spoke on Thursday to students enrolled in American University’s Washington Semester program, giving his life story and an overview of the appalling human rights situation in China, before they received a tour of the Museum.
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Some of the student’s home universities were American, but most were European. For Washington Semester, they have temporarily moved to DC to “participate in intellectual, real-world discussions with professionals immersed in [their] field of study” – in this case, a seminar on U.S. foreign policy with Professor John Calabrese. Students also work in an internship and take an optional elective course or “in-depth research project using Washington DC as a laboratory of information and experience.”
Harry Wu was impressed by their questions, as they brought their international expertise and curiosity to the Museum. Several were incredulous that the U.S. government has turned a blind eye to prison-made imports from China.
As foreign exchange students themselves, they asked if Chinese students studying abroad return to their homeland with a new perspective on freedom and oppression. A UK Guardian article writes: “The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences revealed 1.06 million Chinese had gone to study overseas since 1978, but only 275,000 had returned” – only three out of ten. According to the International Herald Tribune, “while they really don’t fit in America, they have also developed habits and ways of thinking that don’t permit them to integrate back into Chinese society easily.’’ These “habits and ways of thinking” include the freedom of information available in almost every nation other than China, as well as the freedom to enjoy the rule of law, to have more than one child, to worship freely, to live in a safe and clean environment, and to use social media like Facebook and Twitter.
The Laogai Museum wishes the Washington Semester students well and hopes they can return to their home countries and universities with a new thirst for justice regarding Chinese human rights abuse and the Laogai system.
To arrange a group tour of the Laogai Museum and a talk with Harry Wu, please email email@example.com or call 202-730-9308. We look forward to hosting you!