A Conversation with Carola McGiffert

The whole group in our hutong courtyard.
The whole group in our hutong courtyard.

On Tuesday, April 9, we had the honor of hosting Ms. Carola McGiffert—President of the 100,000 Strong Foundation at our hutong courtyard!

Co-hosted by the American University Beijing Alumni Chapter, we had the chance to ask Carola McGiffert about her China journey and learn behind-the-scenes information from the very beginning of the 100,000 Strong Initiative to the launch of the 100,000 Strong Foundation this past January.

Carola told us about her first trip to China, which happened by chance because her older cousin, Frances Fremont-Smith, one of the first American high school teachers that taught Chinese, was living in Beijing. Carola’s summer in Beijing as a high school student sparked her interest in China and she later received her M.A. in Chinese Studies from Johns Hopkins School of International Studies.

We also asked Carola about her varied experiences working in the private, public and nonprofit sectors, challenging issues she faced and the strategies used in leading the 100,000 Strong Initiative, and the 100,000 Strong Foundation’s partnership with American University School of International Studies.

Towards the end of our conversation, Carola offered some personal advice to students studying Mandarin, to make sure to keep up Mandarin language skills, regardless of where you are or what job you are doing. She emphasized the importance of putting in the time in jobs that may not be your dream career now, but as long as you work hard and are patient, it will pay off later.

Alyssa, Holly, Carola
Alyssa, Holly, Carola


Both The Golden Bridges Foundation and the 100,000 Strong Foundation complement each other in supporting the 100,000 Strong Initiative from the grassroots level to national high-level partnerships and are working together to expand the diversity of Americans studying abroad.

Another big thanks to Carola for joining us while fighting through jet lag!

Check out more photos from the event and video clips of the event will also be online in the coming weeks!

– Team Pengyou