U.S. China relations are much like community building, said Melinda Sanchez at the “U.S. – China Youth Summit” held at the Rayburn building on Capitol Hill, during the International Young Leaders Assembly.
Melinda Sanchez speaking in regards to US and China relations at the Rayburn Building. Sanchez comes from Camden, New Jersey, a city with the highest rate of violence per capita in the United States. She admitted that her experience and knowledge of China was limited, her first exposure being in middle school when she had her first taste of Chinese food. But, her personal experience growing up in a neighborhood broken by conflict that has striven to rebuild itself has taught her the importance of community and individual responsibility.
In Spanish “communidad” means “the gift of togetherness.” Sanchez explained that communities are built and strengthened through relationships. “We need to make connections and build community life. It is about connections, about building friendships and making alliances for that is what builds community.” Within these relationships, traditions are passed down, values affirmed, culture exchanged and understanding fostered.
Sanchez told the audience that she was taught to view U.S.-China relations as a competition. But she encouraged a paradigm shift from competition to “community”. Sanchez told participants that the global community is an extension of their families and local communities. “We are meant to coexist with each other. We are meant to enjoy the gift of being with one another, to be intentional about life together on this planet, that we have been given.” For Sanchez, seeing the world as an extension of her family makes peace tangible and accessible.
While she emboldened participants with the real possibilities of change, she also challenged participants to start from themselves. “Before you initiate the labor of changing the world, go around your house three times and see what work needs to happen first. “
Melinda Sanchez offered her personal experience and insight towards the possibilities of progress in U.S. and China relations and creating a world where all can coexist peacefully: to see others as priceless gifts, and to build the relationships with our world family. We are relational beings, therefore it is only logical that we are meant to peacefully commune with one another as family. But as Melinda Sanchez reminds us, that change must first begin from within and with a sense of responsibility and intention.