Carrying on Edgar Snow’s legacy and working together toward a better future
Joining efforts
Published: Dec 18, 2023 10:12 PM
The venue of 2023 Invention Convention China Photo: VCG

The venue of 2023 Invention Convention China Photo: VCG

More people and partners from both the US and China can join the cause in promoting programs and dialogues in cultural, educational and business exchanges, which will certainly contribute to the development of one of the most important bilateral ties in the world, said Adam Foster, president of the Helen Foster Snow Foundation, during an exclusive interview with the Global Times. 

"It was a unique experience to meet President Xi in San Francisco, and my first time to meet any world leader. I'm grateful that President Xi took the time to meet with me and the other Americans involved in US-China people-to-people exchange during his recent trip to the US. To have President Xi and the Chinese government recognize the work of our foundation and the partners we have been engaged in to further rebuild and strengthen the relationships between the US and Chinese people is quite gratifying," said Foster when recalling his interaction with the Chinese leader during Xi's recent visit to San Francisco.

Passing on legacy

Foster is the descendant of Edgar Snow, the first Western journalist to introduce Red China to the world. Snow penned Red Star over China, which gave a rare and detailed account of the Chinese Revolution in the 1930s.

Adam Foster's great-aunt, Helen Foster Snow, together with Edgar Snow, who she met and married in China, championed the cause of making the Communist Party of China known to the world through their writings on the Party and the Chinese revolution.

The Helen Foster Snow Foundation, an organization named after the accomplished journalist and writer, is committed to creating a open platform for dialogue, engagement and practical cooperation, while focusing on exchanges in education, culture, and business, said Foster.

Foster decided to write to President Xi while taking stock of the foundation's accomplishments over recent years to "emphasize the spirit of international friendship, which Helen Foster Snow embodied." 

His letter was signed by 66 members of the Foster family, thanking the Chinese people for what they have done to celebrate Helen and honor her legacy. 

He then received President Xi's reply letter, which he regarded as an honorable acknowledgement of the foundation's dedication to enhancing exchanges between the two countries.

One of the most important parts of Helen Foster Snow's legacy from our perspective, is that despite ideological differences that may have existed between her Chinese friends and her, she was able to bridge those differences by remembering that we are all human beings worthy of respect. 

Despite any differences of opinion or belief, Helen was respectful to the Chinese people, Foster added. 

"While there is still much bridge-building work for the Helen Foster Snow Foundation to do in both China and the US, we hope this recognition of the role our foundation is playing in the bilateral relationship will lead to more people and partners from both sides joining our cause in promoting common-sense, non-controversial programs and dialogues in cultural, educational, and business exchanges," Foster said. 

Adam Foster Photo: Courtesy of Foster

Adam Foster Photo: Courtesy of Foster

 Carrying on hopes 

In today's US-China political climate, Foster hopes that people on both sides can focus on the fact that the people of the two countries have so much in common, and the  two countries can contribute so much more to the world by working together on important global issues.

"Cultural and educational exchanges play a huge role in bridging differences and fostering a deeper understanding between the two nations. We've seen this throughout the history of the US-China relationship," noted Foster. 

"We saw great examples of how cultural diplomacy can overcome political and ideological differences", said Foster as he pointed to the national finals of the 2023 Invention Convention China (ICC) held in Zhengzhou, Central China's Henan Province in July as an example.

The Invention Convention Worldwide (ICW) is one of the largest K-12 invention educational activities in the world. Every year, more than 140,000 K-12 students from around the globe take part in this extraordinary program hosted by the Invention Convention Worldwide Affiliate initiated by The Henry Ford Museum. 

The Helen Foster Snow Foundation has been supporting ICW China for a long time, which has since become an opportunity to promote non-governmental educational exchanges.

With more than 3,000 young people across China participated in the 2023 ICC, Foster, along with other international guests including ambassadors to China from various countries, was able to enjoy face-to-face communication with the young amateur Chinese inventors and see how these bright young minds establish a connection to, learn about and communicate with outstanding amateur inventors from around the world.   

"As part of this event, we were able to visit the Shaolin Temple, the home of China's rich kung fu tradition. It was fantastic to see how the ambassadors from countries around the world were able to understand more about China's history by visiting Shaolin, and to see theirs and our own understanding of Chinese culture grow through this first-hand experience," said Foster.   

The hope of the China-US relationship lies in the people, and its future lies in the youth. 

In commenting on what messages he would like to convey to the younger generations in both China and the US about the importance of cross-cultural cooperation, Foster said that more youths from the US and China will foster further mutual understanding through people-to-people exchanges and continuously contribute to the development of the bilateral ties.

"I hope the younger generations in China and the US can understand that the two peoples have a long tradition of cooperation and friendship, and that understanding more about the other country can help eliminate fears and misunderstandings. The coming generations of US and Chinese people must learn to communicate better and work together more successfully than previous generations have done, in order to maintain a peaceful and prosperous world," he said.