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"Boys State was one of the best experiences in my life and I will always remember my week spent in Blair City."

-- Jonathan Bell '04
Jefferson City, MO

Press Release

June 6, 2013

For more Information Contact:
Jean Whatley


(ST. LOUIS, MO) –A group of 37 students from the the People's Republic of China will arrive in Missouri in mid-June to take part in a nationally acclaimed youth leadership program which has produced prominent leaders for more than 70 years. The American Legion Missouri Boys State and American Legion Auxiliary Missouri Girls State will host a delegation of Chinese students at Central Missouri University (UCM) in Warrensburg, Missouri. This groundbreaking international component to the Missouri Boys State and Missouri Girls State programs is called the US-China Youth Leadership Exchange and is being led by the MidWest US-China Association.

"This unprecedented cultural exchange, made possible through the Missouri Boys State and Missouri Girls State programs, serves as a vivid reminder that the youth of today are truly global citizens," said Bob Holden, former Missouri Governor and Chairman of the MidWest US-China Association. Holden is also an alumnus of Missouri Boys State.

The Chinese youth delegation will arrive in the United States in two groups: 16 boys on June 13th to attend Missouri Boys State, June 15-22; then 21 girls will arrive June 22nd, to participate in Missouri Girls State, June 23-29. The students will arrive in St. Louis and have the opportunity for brief sightseeing stops in Columbia, Kansas City and Jefferson City, in addition to their campus week with their American student colleagues at UCM in Warrensburg.

"The goal of the US-China Youth Leadership Exchange is to foster understanding between American and Chinese students about each other's community, government and culture and to provide an opportunity for life-long friendships that have the potential to grow into business and government relationships for the future," Holden added.

The MidWest US-China Association is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that encourages commerce between 12 states in the Midwestern United States and China. The association focuses on government-to-government outreach with corporate and academic support to expand trade and investment in both countries. Organizers of the US-China Youth Leadership Exchange assert that this international dialogue can begin with youth.

"Missouri Boys State is proud and excited to be the conduit for such a fascinating sharing of ideas and world perspective," said Mike Plunkett, Missouri Boys State Director. "One of our core beliefs is that the individual is the one with the power to change the world. Imagine what great things could come from any one of the individuals who take part in this timely meeting of youthful minds."

Throughout its 78-year history, Boys State and Girls State programs have shaped some of America's most remarkable leaders, from Presidents to astronauts, world famous athletes to internationally recognized journalists, entrepreneurs and military leaders.

In Missouri, some 1,400 students are hand-picked each year to attend this summer leadership and citizenship experience between their junior and senior years of high school. This summer, Missouri Boys State and Missouri Girls State will add a decidedly global dimension to the experience.

"It is our hope that this side-by-side leadership development, which is at the heart of the collective Boys State and Girls State mission, will inspire a lasting understanding and thirst for global connectedness and opportunity," said Natalie Holden Riley, Missouri Girls State Director.

The inaugural US-China Youth Leadership Exchange is the result of a strategic partnership between the Beijing Language and Culture University and the Missouri Boys State and Missouri Girls State programs under the direction of the MidWest US-China Association. The 2013 program is generously supported with principle sponsorships from the University of Central Missouri (UCM), Emerson, and American Airlines. Other financial support and in-kind contributions come from Missouri businesses, Missouri Boys State and Missouri Girls State alumni, educational resources including the Confucius Institutes of Webster University and the University of Missouri-Columbia (MU), the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) Bloch School of Management, The Edgar Snow Memorial Foundation, plus governnmental agencies including the U.S. Department of State and the American Embassy in China.

US-China Youth Leadership Exchange
Preliminary media availability:

  • June 13, St. Louis, 2:00 P.M. - Lambert Intl. Airport – Male Students Arrival News Conference
  • June 14, Kansas City, 5:30 P.M. - Reception, UMKC Bloch School of Management, Grand Hall 5110 Cherry St, Kansas City, MO 64110
  • June 15-22, Warrensburg - Male Chinese students attend Missouri Boys State, UCM
  • June 22, St. Louis, 2:00 P.M. - Lambert Intl. Airport – Female Students Arrival News Conference
  • June 23-29, Warrensburg - Female Chinese students attend Missouri Girls State, UCM


Editor's note: MidWest US-China Association welcomes interviews with organizers and students in St. Louis, Kansas City, Warrensburg and/or Jefferson City. Please contact Jean Whatley at 314.489.5990 or jeanellenwhatley@gmail.com for updates on locations and availability.

For more information about The American Legion Boys State of Missouri program, call 1-877-DIAL-MBS (1-877-342-5627) or visit www.moboysstate.org.


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