GARLAND, Texas – International Leadership of Texas teachers and staff filled the gym of ILTexas Garland High School on Tuesday, May 31, to welcome the Chinese Ambassador to the United States Qin Gang. A special luncheon was held in the school library for the Ambassador and ILTexas leadership. The luncheon was followed by a ceremony where ILTexas teachers, students, and headquarter staff honored the Ambassador’s visit. Senator Royce West and his wife, Carol West were also in attendance. 

ILTexas Superintendent Eddie Conger welcomed the Ambassador and his wife, Lin Yan, in his opening speech and highlighted the importance of learning another language. 

“Our relations between the United States and China have gone through several different transitions,” he said. “The more that we can speak in each other’s language, the better this world is going to be.”

Qadence Saulsberry, an incoming fourth grade student at ILTexas Garland K-8, recited the ILTexas pledge for the audience in Chinese and English. Following the pledge, Ambassador Gang and Mrs. Yan were presented with custom made cowboy hats in a symbol of unity between China and the U.S. Back in 1979, during a visit to Texas, China’s former Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping, was presented with a cowboy hat by two teenagers, Kitty and Kelly Van Dries. Forty-three years later, one of the teenagers, Kitty Van Dries was at the event to present the hats once more. 

Chinese Ambassador Qin Gang at ILTexas Garland High School.

The event featured a special performance from the ILTexas choir who sang ‘God Bless America’ for the guests. The Ambassador and Mrs. Yan later joined the choir to sing ‘Jasmine Flower,’ a popular Chinese folk song. 

ILTexas College Station K-8 second grade student, Tatum Howell, who won first place in her division at the Confucius Classroom Coordination Office (CCCO) Chinese Bridge Competition in April, greeted the Ambassador in Mandarin and mentioned how learning Chinese has helped expand her language skills. 

Student winners of the CCCO Chinese Bridge Competition played a Chinese word game and held a roundtable discussion with the Ambassador, each speaking in Mandarin throughout. 

The Ambassador later spoke to the audience during his speech, acknowledging the impact that ILTexas has created for its students with its emphasis on learning the Chinese language.

“Language learning is critical and fundamental to the mutual understanding and the trust between our two countries,” Ambassador Gang said. “We will do our best to support Chinese language education in America.”

After his speech, two ILTexas students presented Ambassador Gang with a photo from the event where he and Mrs. Yan sang with the choir. He then presented a Certificate of Recognition to ILTexas founder Eddie Conger for his “great contribution and accomplishment to the Chinese learning and teaching in Texas.”

The Ambassador also presented a gift to ILTexas Garland High School Principal Karen Marx. The gift had five bulls painted on it which he said symbolizes courage, power, and hard work.

We hope that Chinese and American students can learn together, improve together, become partners, and then companions in their future careers and the roads of life and make greater contributions to China-US relations,” Ambassador Gang told the audience. “Just as that little girl [Qadence] said in today’s function . . . by learning Chinese, you will change the world.”

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