Nowhere on earth will the impact of the aging revolution be as drastic as in China—by 2050, there will be more than 400 million Chinese citizens over the age of 60.
With an enormous population, a low mortality rate and its infamous “one child” policy, China is now in the unique position of having too few younger people to support its older citizens, who face a dangerously stressed national infrastructure. As the world watches to see how the nation meets these unprecedented challenges, high-ranking officials invited the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology’s Assistant Dean, Maria Henke, M.A., to explore the possibility of international collaborations.
Drawing on the USC Leonard Davis School’s international reputation among Asian countries and its success with a pilot gerontology-training program in Tokyo, Henke toured many of the country’s facilities and universities. Accompanied by USC Leonard Davis/Keck School professor Edward L. Schneider, MD, and the USC Leonard Davis School’s Director of International Student Initiatives, May Ng, Henke also embarked on a series of meetings to lay the groundwork for future partnerships.
“The link between the USC Leonard Davis School and Asia has always been strong, and we are thrilled about the opportunities our aging expertise could create in China,” said Henke. “We have the potential to help enact very real changes that will benefit literally millions of older adults in China and beyond.”
“Maria was besieged the phone calls from Chinese universities interested in working with the USC Leonard Davis School,” Schneider said. “They recognized that USC was the leading university in the field of gerontology and were eager to discuss collaborations.”
After attending the first China International Senior Services Expo in Shanghai, Henke and Schneider also met with Du Yubo, the Vice Minister of Education, as well as representatives of City University of Hong Kong, the Alliance of International Education, the University of Peking, Renmin University, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the Beijing Institute of Technology.
“We were honored to meet so many Chinese and international experts in the field,” Henke said. “The universal desire to improve the quality of life for the older adults of today as well as of tomorrow was inspiring in any language.”
Besides the discussions of academic and professional gerontological programs, the pair met with representatives from planned senior housing communities such as Display Infinity Limited and Belmont Villages.