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–by Steve Livengood

Professor Cao Lingjuan, Professor of English Language and Literature at the College of Foreign Languages of Hainan University in China, invited Steve Livengood, Chief Guide and Public Programs Director of the U.S. Capitol Historical Society, to speak to classes at her university. So in December 2011 Steve went to Hainan Island in China where he spoke to classes at the University and at the Hainan College of Vocation and Technique, School of International Business Management.

Steve Livengood and Professor Cao Lingjuan at Hainan University College of Foreign Languages

China has made a national commitment to teach English to students starting from pre-school, and is steadily on its way to becoming the largest English-speaking country in the world. Hainan University is a relatively new school with some 30,000 students, including about 1,000 English majors.

Being in a tropical climate, the school has large open buildings of recent construction, very airy with open halls. Students live in large dormitories on the campus with each room having its own balcony.

English language students at Hainan University

Steve talked with English language and American studies students at both schools about the concept of a sovereign legislature and how the idea had developed out of our history in the United States. He discussed the unique nature of the English immigrants to America – not losers in a competition to govern but refugees from governmental power itself. He explained the unique structure of the Congress as a sovereign body, and answered questions from the students and faculty members. He also met over lunch with university faculty members to talk about China and the students.

Seteve with students

Hainan University students showed interest in the structure of American government

Steve found the students to be eager and interested, and he enjoyed the chance to meet them and talk about American history. One student doubted that the president has as little power as the structure of American government decreed. Steve described several recent instances where the president has tried to lead by making deals with the majority in the House of Representatives, but was thwarted by the members of his own party in the House and by the Senate controlled by his own party.

Steve Livengood speaks to English language students at Hainan College of Vocation and Technique, School of International Business Management.

Students at Hainan College of Vocation and Technique asked more questions about American society, such as whether America will continue to be the world leader in popular culture; Steve replied that the US will continue to lead only as long as the rest of the world follows. He noted that he was amazed to find so much Christmas decoration in Hainan, which has a small Christian population and little Western tourism, and he noticed how many students wear blue jeans and other Western clothing styles. He said he feels it is up to Chinese people to decide whom and when to follow, and he looks forward to following Chinese leadership when the other people of the world choose to follow the Chinese lead.

Stayed tuned for Part II of this report on Steve’s trip to China! It’ll be coming up next week…