On July 10th, 2014, Project Pengyou was honored to co-organize a major event at the Great Hall of the People celebrating 35 years of US-China student and scholarly exchange.
The program was a collaboration with the China Scholarship Council and held in conjunction with the fifth annual US-China Consultation on People to People Exchange (CPE), a high level bilateral forum led by Secretary of State John Kerry and Vice Premier Liu Yandong for government and private practitioners to discuss strategic cooperation and deepen mutual understanding. The invite-only gathering brought together two hundred and fifty people from over 20 institutions involved in US-China educational exchange (See below the full list of American programs involved).
Speakers of the 35 year celebratory event included prominent alumni representatives who studied in the other country from the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. Eight speakers told stories of their journeys and lessons while studying in the US or China, reflecting on how studying abroad and student exchange affected their lives. The historic event was also attended and highlighted by the US and China government leads of the CPE.
We were grateful for the hard work and support of our co-organizer, our staff and interns at Golden Bridges, and the many partner organizations who helped us ensure the entire day of intense security protocols and logistics went off without a hitch.
After the event, all participants took part in a group photo with the honorable U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and China Vice Premier Liu Yandong as part of the 5th Annual CPE. (Basketball legend and US-China bridge-builder Yao Ming even made a surprise appearance!). See below for a full list of speakers and participants.
China Vice Minister of Education Hao Ping
United States Under-Secretary of State for Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy Richard Stengel
Emcees of the Event
YANG LAN: Yang Lan is a well-known celebrity in China, often nicknamed the “Oprah” of China. She studied in Columbia University in New York, and is a Chinese media proprietor, journalist, and talk show hostess. She is the co-founder and Chairperson of the Sun Media Group and the Sun Culture Foundation. In 2013, she was included in Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women.
JOHN THOMSON: John Thomson was a career diplomat with the U.S. Foreign Service from 1970 to 1997, serving in Beijing during the historic normalization period of US-PRC relations. He oversaw all first American cultural and educational exchanges in China from 1978-1981, including placements of the “Beijing 8”, the very first group of Americans to study in China, and the establishment of Fulbright exchanges in China. John is a member of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations.
Alumni Representatives from 1970s
LIU BAICHENG: Liu was appointed by Deng Xiaoping to lead the first batch of Chinese students to study in the US from 1978-1981. He was a visiting scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1999, Liu was elected as a fellow at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, and a 2002 recipient of the Guanghua Engineering Technology Prize, China’s top prize in engineering). He is currently a professor at Tsinghua University.
FRANK HAWKE: Frank Hawke was in the group of the very first American institutionally-sponsored exchange scholars to study in China, at Peking University in 1979. With a prolific career in the corporate and nonprofit sector, Frank has stayed in Beijing his entire 30+ year career and is currently serving as the China Director of the Stanford University Graduate School of Business at Peking University.
Alumni Representatives from 1980s
PEI GANG: Pei Gang is President of Tongji University (PhD in Biochemistry and Biophysics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and undertook post-doctoral training in Cell Biology and Signal Transduction at Duke University. Former President of Shanghai Institute for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and elected to the Third World Academy of Sciences in 2001.
DAVID MOSER: David Moser holds a Master’s and a Ph.D. in Chinese Studies from the University of Michigan, with a major in Chinese Linguistics and Philosophy. He was a visiting scholar at Peking University in 1987-89, and a visiting professor for five years at the Beijing Foreign Studies University, where he taught courses in Translation Theory and Psycholinguistics. He currently serves as Academic Director at CET Chinese Studies at Beijing Capital Normal University.
Alumni Representatives from 1990s
SHI YIGONG: PhD Dean of Research Institute of Institute of Life Science and Medicine Science at Tsinghua University. Shi received his Ph.D. in molecular biophysics from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1995. Following post-doctoral training at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, he became a professor at Princeton University. Yigong Shi is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences and an Honorary Foreign Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
SANDRA JEFFREY: Sandra Jeffrey is the Executive Director of Americans Promoting Study Abroad (APSA). APSA provides international opportunities for young and talented underserved Americans, who are not traditionally exposed to the chance to study abroad. She studied at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center for Chinese Studies and holds a law degree from Michigan State University (J.D). She received her bachelor of arts from the City College of New York. Sandra was also a Rotary Scholar and a Fulbright Scholar for Chinese language studies. Prior to joining APSA, Sandra practiced law as an attorney in New York City and managed a wide range of community and education based programs in New York City.
Alumni Representatives from 2000s
ROBIN LI: Robin Li is the founder and CEO of internet giant, Baidu Inc. He is also a director of New Oriental Education, a New York-listed company that provides private educational services in China. Robin holds a bachelor’s degree in information science from Peking University in China and a master’s degree in computer science from the State University of New York at Buffalo.
HOLLY CHANG: Holly is a Chinese-American social entrepreneur with formal education in engineering, psychology and business. She came to China and studied Mandarin in 2006 at Tsinghua University, and later established the Golden Bridges Foundation to work on nonprofit and educational projects between the US and China. Holly founded Project Pengyou in 2011 to empower and mobilize a new generation of US-China bridge-builders to serve, inspire and transform lives.
Each of the speakers had a unique and interesting story to tell of their time abroad, spanning the decades from the 1970 through the 2000.
Emcees John Thomson and Yang Lan set the tone, explaining that in tribute to the ideals of exchange each of the speakers would be giving their speech in the target language.
“There are no better ways to build bridges than to go abroad.” – Robin Li, Founder & CEO of Baidu.com
Liu Baicheng, invited by Deng Xiaoping to lead the original fifty-two Chinese students to study abroad in the US kicked off the event. He recalls stepping off the plane and expressing to reporters “Chinese people are great people, American people are also great people. We come not only to study science and technology, but also to befriend the American people.”
Liu was followed by Frank Hawke, who reflected that upon being asked by reporters whether or not he was afraid of going to China, he lamented that since they were the first group of students invited by the Chinese government, they would surely take care of them, and thus he had no reason to be afraid (original quote in Chinese: 他问我去中国怕不怕？我有有序。。我该怕？我们是第一些学生被中国政府邀请了不用害怕。)
The other speakers reminisced on their experiences abroad, and with each progressive generation the tone shifted from reflective to hopeful. Speakers Vice Minister Hao Ping and Professor Pei Gang talked about their time abroad and the creation of “sweet memories.” David Moser spoke of a friend that described Beijing in the 80s as romantic, (“浪漫”) remembering a time when the city was full of dreams (original Chinese quote: 八十年代的北京, 大家都有梦, 留学的梦，发财的梦；这不是浪漫吗？) .
Chinese speakers Shi Yigong and Robin Li from later generations emphasized wonder and gratitude for the opportunities they received in America; being able to achieve amazing personal growth and their own American Dream.
However, as China was rapidly becoming a major world power, they weren’t satisfied sitting on the sidelines. Shi Yigong said of his return home to share his knowledge and experiences with a rapidly changing China: “I could no longer remain a witness to China’s change, I wanted to be an active participant.” He also noted that the amount of Chinese students overseas is “perhaps the largest wave of studying abroad in the history of mankind” and that he shares the dream of Rong Hong (the first Chinese student to graduate from a US University) who believed in China’s ability of a peaceful rise to prosperity.
Sandra Jeffrey spoke of challenging the stereotypes at home and abroad through continued study and exchange of culture. She said that despite friends at home warning against going to China a place where “no one like her goes”, she decided she wanted to stay in China and share her culture: “I wanted to tell them that we are the same, there’s no reason to be afraid, but they (the Chinese people from a small rural village,) had already run away. There are too many experiences similar to this, but I still want to stay in China and show people that America is a diverse place.” (the original quote in Chinese: “我想告诉他们我们和他们一样，没有他们想的那么可怕，
Although Robin Li and Holly Chang both pointed out that this journey will not be one without some hardship and misunderstanding, to quote Mr. Li “When it comes to the relationship between our two countries, we need that ability to give and accept challenges. When we don’t dwell on what separates us (China and the US), as we too often do, we’ll see that we’re all decent people who believe in the success of meritocracy.” He added, “I don’t think any young person preparing to study abroad really understands the ways in which it will change them. There are no better ways to build bridges than to go abroad.”
Holly Chang, our Chief Pengyou, spoke last to close the event with her own personal experience, a moving story of “cold war” between herself and her parents based on American and Chinese cultural differences. The challenges she experienced personally spurred her to establish the Golden Bridges Foundation and later develop Project Pengyou to build a community of bridge-builders and strengthen people-to-people ties between the U.S. and China.
American Student and Alumni Attendees
|John||Thomson||Director | Emcee||UC EAP at PKU|
|Frank||Hawke||China Director | VIP Speaker||Stanford University Graduate School of Business|
|David||Moser||Academic Director | VIP Speaker||CET at CNU Beijing|
|Sandra||Jeffrey||Executive Director | VIP Speaker||Americans Promoting Study Abroad (APSA)|
|Holly||Chang||President | VIP Speaker||Golden Bridges Foundation | Project Pengyou|
|Abigail||Coplin||PhD Student||Fulbright Scholar at Peking University, Columbia University|
|Abraham||Sorock||Alumnus||Atlas China \ Hopkins Nanjing Center|
|Adam||Jones||Senior Manager, Asia Programs||CET Washington D.C.|
|Alexa||Burkus||Student||The Alliance for Global Education, Beijing Language & Culture University|
|Alexander||Nourse||Student||The Alliance for Global Education, Beijing Language & Culture University|
|Alice||Sato||Student||Americans Promoting Study Abroad (APSA)|
|Alison||Friedman||Alumni / Director, Founder||Fulbright / Ping Pong Productions|
|Alvin||Wong||Student||The Alliance for Global Education, Beijing Language & Culture University|
|Alyssa||Farrelly||Program Manager||Golden Bridges Foundation / Project Pengyou|
|Ann Teresa||Gore||Alumni / Associate||Fulbright / Albright Stonebridge Group|
|Annabel||Virella||Student||Critical Language Scholar / Project Pengyou Leadership Fellow|
|Ashley||Olvera||Student||Americans Promoting Study Abroad (APSA)|
|Austin||Dean||PhD Candidate||I.I.E. Fulbright Scholar at Renmin University / Ohio University|
|Ben||Manthey||Alumni / International Property Paralegal||Princeton in Beijing / Hogan Lovells|
|Brendan||Moreira||Student||The Alliance for Global Education, Beijing Language & Culture University|
|Carola||McGiffert||President||100,000 Strong Foundation|
|Catharine||Crandall||Student||Associated Colleges in China, Hamilton College | Project Pengyou Intern|
|Chris||Clayman||Alumni / Director of Development and CTO||Teach for China / BEAM （学愿桥）|
|Christopher||Chan||Student||UC EAP at PKU, UC Santa Barbara | Project Pengyou Intern|
|Connor||Fairman||Student||University of Pennsylvania, IIP | Project Pengyou Intern|
|Crystal||Waller||Student||The Alliance for Global Education, Beijing Language & Culture University|
|Dana||Fong||Residential Assistant||IES Abroad Beijing Center|
|Daphne||Chen||Student||UC EAP at PKU|
|Deven||Ropes||Residential Assistant||IES Abroad Beijing Center|
|Devin||Nickell||Resident Advisor||IES Abroad | Golden Bridges Foundation|
|Diane||Hernandez||Student||UC EAP at PKU|
|Eleanor||Goodman||Independent Scholar||Fulbright Scholarship Program|
|Elvira||Hammond||Academic Director||CET / Junior State of America Diplomat Program|
|Emily||Ullberg||Alumna||Fulbright Scholarship Program|
|Emily||Cheung||Student||University Studies Abroad Consortium, UM / Project Pengyou Leadership Fellow|
|Enya Liu||Kent||Student||The Alliance for Global Education, Beijing Language & Culture University|
|Evan||Thornton-Kolbe||Student||Americans Promoting Study Abroad (APSA)|
|Evan||Kornbluh||Associate Director||Teach for China|
|Frank||Dolce||Graduate Student||University of Pittsburgh / Project Pengyou Leadership Fellow|
|Galen||Green||Student||Gilman Scholar, Beijing Language and Culture University|
|George||Ding||Media Producer||Golden Bridges Foundation / Project Pengyou|
|Harold||Owens||Student||Americans Promoting Study Abroad (APSA)|
|Hector||De La Rosa||Student||Americans Promoting Study Abroad (APSA)|
|Ilda||Delgado||Student||Americans Promoting Study Abroad (APSA)|
|Jaecena||Howell||Student||CET / Junior State of America Diplomat Program|
|James||McCarthy||Student||CET / Junior State of America Diplomat Program|
|Jeremiah||Jenne||Center Director||IES Abroad Beijing Center|
|Jeremy||Friedlein||Director||CET at Shanghai|
|Joe||Wood||Alumni||IES Abroad Beijing Center, The Hutong|
|John||Holden||Associate Dean||Peking University Yenching Academy|
|Jonathan||Kaiman||Alumni||Fulbright Scholarship Program, The Guardian|
|Jonathan Ashley||Ellis||Program Coordinator||Americans Promoting Study Abroad (APSA)|
|Jose||Acquino||Student||APSA / i.am.angel scholar|
|Joshua||Linder||Alumnus||American University, China Studies Institute|
|Justin||Perkinson||Student||Fulbright at China Communications University / UCLA|
|Kameron||Carino||Student||APSA / PAAC|
|Kitty||Poundstone||Resident Director||Alliance for Global Education, Beijing Language & Culture University|
|Katherine||Guidel||Alumni||Americans Promoting Study Abroad (APSA)|
|Keith||Clemenger||Vice President, Alumni||Greenpoint Group, CET|
|Kening||Li||Resident Director||IUP for Chinese Language Studies at Tsinghua University|
|Kevin||Lam||Student||APSA / NSLI-Y|
|Kimberly||Ortega||Student||APSA / i.am.angel scholar|
|Kristen||Lum||Director of Public Relations and Events / Alumni||Hatsune Restaurant Group / World Link Education|
|Lei Chen||Wong||Executive Director||Jane Goodall Institute / Hopkins Nanjing Center|
|Letitia||Liu||Student||UC EAP at PKU|
|Lilach||Brownstein||Student||University of Pennsylvania, IIP | Project Pengyou Intern|
|Madeleine||Norman||Student||CET / Junior State of America Diplomat Program|
|Marianne||Craven||Managing Director for Academic Programs||ECA, U.S. Department of State|
|Matthew||Davoodian||Student||UC EAP at PKU|
|Matthew||McMahon||East Asia Pacific Fulbright Branch Chief||ECA, U.S. Department of State|
|Meagan||Seitz-Smith||Program Director||CET / Junior State of America Diplomat Program|
|Meryl Drew||Ertelt||Student||The Alliance for Global Education, Beijing Language & Culture University|
|Michael Aaron||Pareles||Scholar||Fulbright US Student Program, Zhongyang Minzu Daxue|
|Molly||Manning||Student||Americans Promoting Study Abroad (APSA)|
|Morgan||Banaszek||Student||University of Nottingham, Ningbo / Project Pengyou|
|Nathan||Keltner||Cultural Affairs Specialist||U.S. Embassy in Beijing|
|Nazimuddin||Hakimi||Student||UC EAP at PKU|
|Olafende||Akinleye||Student||Americans Promoting Study Abroad (APSA)|
|Olivia||Naegele||Student||The Alliance for Global Education, Beijing Language & Culture University|
|Phillip||Merlo||Student||UC EAP at PKU|
|Sijia||Jin||Student||UC EAP at PKU|
|Tammy So-Jung||Yang||Student||The Alliance for Global Education, Beijing Language & Culture University|
|Timothy||Liu||Student||CET / Junior State of America Diplomat Program|
|Tom||Healy||Chairman||J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board|
|Travis||Smith||Alumni / Professor||Fulbright / Yuba College|
|Travis||Tanner||Senior VP & COO||100,000 Strong Foundation|
|Victoria||Chan||Student||UC EAP at PKU|
|Willa Mei-Chen||Dong||Student / Research Associate||Fulbright, Chinese Centers for Disease Control and Prevention|
|William Brent||Haas||Director||UC EAP at PKU|
|Zelda||Glenmore||Student||Americans Promoting Study Abroad (APSA)|
This event would not be possible without the support and participation of students, alumni and leaders of the following organizations. Thank you for your continued support and for making this day unforgettable!
- U.S. Department of State
- The China Scholarship Council
- Associated Colleges in China (ACC)
- Americans Promoting Study Abroad (APSA)
- Alliance for Global Education
- CET Academic Programs
- Fulbright Scholarship Program
- Gilman Scholarship Program
- Hopkins Nanjing Center
- IES Abroad
- University of Pennsylvania IIP
- Inter-University Program at Tsinghua University
- National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y)
- Teach for China
- University of California – Education Abroad Program
- The 100,000 Strong Foundation
- The Ford Foundation