DURHAM, N.C. – Thirty participants in the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA) program for Chinese government officials celebrated their graduation at the University Club on Friday, Dec. 6. Participants have been at Duke University since the program began on Aug. 1.

“During our four months at Duke, we shared our personal experiences, were lectured by knowledgeable professors, and exchanged views on issues of common concern – face to face and heart to heart,” said Ma Feng, Division Chief of the General Office of the State Council, during his graduation speech. “We have enriched our knowledge in both basic theories and practical methods, especially in the realm of public policy. We have also learned many facets of American society, including its politics, culture and people, more deeply than ever before.”

The program, designed for mid- and senior-level officials from China’s central government, covers topics such as policy analysis, management, public finance, conflict resolution and environmental policy.

During the last 10 years, it has evolved to incorporate various topics that are of 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.”

This program marks the 10th year the Duke Center for International Development (DCID) has offered the SAFEA program. During that time, the program has trained approximately 330 government officials from ministries such as finance, foreign affairs and commerce. 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 visited various government agencies, businesses and organizations, including the North Carolina General Assembly, the state Supreme Court, the Salvation Army and the SAS Institute. They also traveled to Washington, D.C., in October to attend meetings at international organizations such as the World Bank.

They also enjoyed trips to popular landmarks and engaged in a variety of cultural activities, including Durham Bulls baseball games, the American Indian Heritage Festival and the N.C. Symphony.

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