For four weeks each summer, this program hosts a small group of English-fluent Chinese law students in Washington, DC to meet US officials and observe the US legal and political system. Since 2008, a total of 53 students have participated. They viewed legislative and judicial proceedings and held interactive meetings with officials across all three branches, including (totals) 120+ Members and 700+ staff of Congress, 175+ administration officials, and 110+ presidentially-appointed judges. They averaged six meetings per day during their month in DC. When not in meetings, they were visiting our museums and landmarks, joining our cultural and social events (e.g., July 4 fireworks, Nats games, backyard BBQs, birthday parties), and gaining lifelong impressions and friends. See the List of US Hosts and their Letters of Support. As a complement to this “DC Program” for Chinese law students, in 2016 we added a “China Program” for Chinese-fluent US law students. For more information on our China Program, click here.
The program is sponsored and managed by USAI and one of its Senior Advisors, J. Matthew Szymanski, who worked for Congress from 2001-2007, and lived and taught in China from 2007-2014. See the Founder’s Letter. Funding is provided by USAI, Mr. Szymanski, and participating students. Donations to USAI for this program are most welcome.
Participating students are fluent in English and familiar with the US legal system. They come mainly from East China University of Political Science & Law, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Law, Tsinghua University School of Law, and Peking University School of Transnational Law (a four-year graduate law program that combines a Juris Doctor degree in American law with a Juris Master degree in Chinese law). For an overview of their educational environment in China and how they have been chosen for this program, see the China Context for DC Program.
Each year’s program is highly structured, with the students lodged together near Capitol Hill to facilitate a busy schedule. On weekdays, they attend congressional and judicial proceedings and meet with federal lawmakers, judges, and agency officials, and with private sector scholars, lawyers, and lobbyists. On weekends, they explore the DC area, visit other cities in the region, and interact with Americans in a wide range of social settings. See our Photo Gallery. Our 11th annual DC Program ran June 25-July 20, 2018.
Daily meetings: Daily meetings with US hosts, especially US government officials, are the largest portion of the program. The goal of these meetings is to expose the students to a wide array of issues in American politics, culture, and society. For example, students may ask their hosts about their personal and professional background as well as the nature of their jobs and their employers. In addition to these meetings, students attend congressional and court proceedings.
Teach-In Sessions: Once or twice a week, there are “teach-in” sessions with law professors and other public policy experts in the DC area. These sessions are usually more focused discussions on a selected legal topic and are conducted as Socratic seminars, as is typical of American law courses.
Friday Wrap up sessions: Each Friday there is an informal group meeting with all students and USAI interns to discuss the preceding week’s events and meetings. This allows students to discuss the observations they made throughout the week, ask questions, and process the week’s events.
Cultural activities: USAI organizes cultural activities in DC that can help the students immerse themselves in American life. Typical activities include visiting the National Mall, museums, restaurants, concerts, etc., as well as visiting the homes of USAI staff members or advisors.
• Pre-trip expectations form
• Four weekly reflection write-ups
• One seven-page final paper
• Evaluation form