The HNC-SAIS Project Pengyou Inaugural Launch Event in Shanghai

Project Pengyou-HNC Pilot has launched!
Project Pengyou-HNC Pilot launches in Shanghai!
Drue Banta (Photo Credit: Lee, Orient-Media)
Drue Banta

On September 26, 2013, Project Pengyou and the Hopkins–Nanjing Center (HNC) jointly held a launch event at M-Glamour Bar in Shanghai in celebration of our collaboration to strengthen HNC’s global alumni community.

With support and leadership from the Shanghai Alumni Club, over 80 HNC and Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) alumni came out to join in the festivities and reunite with former classmates and friends. The evening kicked off with remarks by Shanghai club leader Gary Huang (HNC ’03), our fearless MC and moderator for the event, followed by a video presentation of the HNC-Project Pengyou Pilot. Later, HNC alumnus Drue Banta (HNC ’13) spoke  about his own unique HNC and China experience, leading to a special keynote panel.

The keynote panel
The Keynote Panel: Elizabeth Knup, Jason Patent, Robert Daly (via Webex)


The panel brought together, for the first time, three HNC American co-directors to discuss the past, present and future of their bilingual, bicultural community. Panelists included Ms. Elizabeth Knup, current Chief Representative of the Ford Foundation Beijing Office and American Co-Director of the Hopkins–Nanjing Center from 1998 to 2001; Dr. Jason Patent, current American Co-Director of the Hopkins–Nanjing Center beginning in 2011; and Robert Daly, Director of the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States and former American Co-Director of the Hopkins–Nanjing Center from 2001 to 2007. Mr. Daly had just started his position at the Kissinger Institute in Washington D.C., but was able to participate in the panel through the magic of intercontinental video conferencing.

The panelists had a lively discussion on a wide array of topics, including their most memorable moments from HNC and how they expect for HNC alumni to shape the future of US-China relations. When asked about the increasing number of programs for study in China, Ms. Knup said, “None of them are able to replicate entirely the experience of the Hopkins—Nanjing Center.” “It still remains a very unique program,” she continued. “The history, the longevity and the alumni network, the number of people who are doing really interesting work and really far advanced in their careers is a very powerful foundation for the program.”

Travis Tanner (Photo Credit: Lee, Orient-Media)
Travis Tanner, COO of 100,000 Strong Foundation


Following the panel, Travis Tanner (HNC ’02, SAIS ’04), senior vice president and COO of the 100K Strong Foundation, emphasized the importance of bringing more Americans to China. “Times have changed,” he said. “In order to be a successful future corporate executive, entrepreneur, engineer, lawyer, diplomat, journalist, whatever it might be—it’s critical that the future generation of Americans know more about China.”


Holly Chang concluded the evening with her own China story and comments on how technology can be an enabler and a tool, but does not in itself build a vibrant and meaningful community; community is built by individuals who care and see value in that community. She stressed that each and every HNC-SAIS alum plays an important role in these crucial early stages.  No matter how much funds or technology we have, the HNC global community will only become sustainable if everyone comes together and helps to build a critical mass.

Holly Chang (Photo Credit: Lee, Orient-Media)
Holly Chang, Director of

After the programmed portion of the event, guests participated in “Pengyou Quests” to enter the raffle and win a limited edition iPod Nano. Alumni first needed to sign up on and join the HNC-SAIS China group, then they had to spread the word through social media. The last two steps were to sign a poster as a gift to the HNC and finally to record a short video introducing themselves and showing their Pengyou pride.


We were elated to witness more than half of the attendees completing all four Pengyou quests! At the end of the night, Elizabeth Knup handpicked Helen Yan (HNC ’95) as the winner of the lucky draw out of over 50 names. We were fortunate to have Lee from Orient-Media as our volunteer photographer whose photos from the event are featured here and on our event photo gallery. We’d like to extend a big thanks to all the guests for coming out and supporting our efforts!  A special shout out to the amazing leaders and volunteers from the Shanghai Alumni Club:  Gary Huang, Sue Anne Tay, Tommy Li, Chynna Hawes, Lain Shen, Li Ying, Alicia Zhang, and Jasmine Du!  We are now gearing up for our next launch event in Beijing on October 14th at the Project Pengyou Courtyard with an exciting keynote speaker in the media industry. Stay tuned for more future events in Washington, D.C. and in New York City!

Raffle Winner: Helen Yan! (Photo Credit: Lee, Orient-Media)
Quests Winner: Helen Yan! (Photo Credits: Lee, Orient-Media)