The Duke Center for International Development (DCID) held a welcome reception yesterday for nearly 30 officials from China’s central government who are participating in the 10th year of the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA) executive education program. The participants have been attending classes since Monday, Aug. 5.

“So far I, like all my colleagues, have learned a lot from our professors, especially about public policy and the political system of this country,” said Wei Qiang, ambassador with China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “There is a lot of interaction between the students and teachers, both inside and outside the classroom.”

The four-month program, developed for mid- and senior-level officials from various ministries within China’s central government, covers topics such as public finance, policy analysis, management, conflict resolution and environmental policy. During the last 10 years, the program has evolved to incorporate various topics that are of growing interest to participants, such as the global financial crisis in 2008 and emergency management following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. 

“This program demonstrates DCID’s dedication to strengthening international development capacity one client at a time,” said Dr. Francis Lethem, the center’s director. “The program was specially designed on the basis of the clients’ priorities and our many years of experience in the field of international development. We are very touched by the long lasting bonds of friendship that we have established with our participants over the years.”

Since 2003, the annual program has trained approximately 330 government officials. The current program is the 11th that has been offered since the program’s inception; two programs were held in 2006.

In addition to their courses at Duke, SAFEA participants enjoy site visits to various government agencies, businesses and organizations in the Research Triangle. Participants have already visited the North Carolina General Assembly and toured the State Capitol. The group will also travel to Washington, D.C., in October to attend meetings at international organizations such as the World Bank.

“The field trips to government buildings and our conversations with the representatives of these agencies have been a great complement to what we have learned in our courses,” Qiang said.

During their time in the U.S., participants will also see popular landmarks, visit galleries and museums, and engage in a variety of cultural activities. On Tuesday, Aug. 20, they attended a Durham Bulls baseball game.

“It’s important for me not only to study, but also to enjoy this country,” Qiang said.

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