This Thursday, Project Pengyou embarks on an exciting new adventure: the Project Pengyou Leadership Training Summit. As we get ready for four days of intense training in how to build and organize communities, we reflect on the months of planning that has brought us here.
When we announced the Project Pengyou Leadership Fellows in January, we didn’t know what to expect. We thought maybe 100 people might apply, maybe less. But in the end, we received nearly 300 submissions.
The applicants were high school students, university students, academic faculty and recent graduates, spanning 29 states, 3 countries and 107 different study abroad programs. They all had their own story to tell, about what led them to China and how the country, its people and the language changed their life.
Needless to say, we were overwhelmed by the response. We are so grateful to the academic directors who helped spread the word through their networks. To all who wrote references, thank you so much for your time and effort. And of course, to all the applicants: your thoughtful essays and delightful videos warmed our hearts. All of you are living proof that there is a community hungry for opportunities not only to lead, but to guide U.S.-China relations along a more positive path.
For us, it was almost impossible to choose just 40 applicants from the pool of exceptional candidates. In fact, it took us hundreds of hours and many late nights of deliberation. We read every essay and watched every video. In the end, we felt like we almost knew the applicants personally.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t include everyone this time around. But the incredible response has given us the confidence to organize more leadership conferences in the future. It has reinforced our belief that this community of China alumni is something special. We remain committed to strengthening this unique community and hope that you will as well.