Leadership Fellows Leslie Martinez and Jorge Dimas break ground at TAMIU!

Photo courtesy of TAMIU

Texas is an area where study abroad, especially to China, is considered underrepresented. Our Project Pengyou Leadership Fellows, Leslie Martinez and Jorge Dimas, are working to change that at their home university, Texas A&M International University (TAMIU). Leslie writes:


Fellow Jorge Dimas during a small group breakout at the Harvard Training Summit


“In our community, being composed of many first-generation college students, opportunities like (studying abroad,) are something unknown and new for many of us. “

But they hope that building a Project Pengyou Chapter will change that, and bring opportunities for study abroad and other cultural exchange into their community. They have been working hard to raise awareness for their Chapter-building efforts at TAMIU, and they recently had an article written about them for their local news organization, and posted on the Texas A&M International University website!

Using the tools they learned at the Harvard Training Summit, Leslie and Jorge would like to focus first on building a strong leadership team and then connecting to the community at large, including bringing other local organizations, such as the Laredo Asian Association, on board.

Fall 2014 Fellow, Leslie Martinez and Team Pengyou’s Online Community Engagement Manager, Devin Nickell, swap China stories at the Harvard Summit.

Leslie and Jorge both tell about the life-changing experiences they had while in China, and their passion and leadership experience ultimately resulted in their selection for our Fall 2014 Leadership Fellows Cohort. Leslie tells us of her motivations for Chapter building at TAMIU:

“By creating a PP Chapter at TAMIU, I hope to empower fellow students to unveil the wonders of the world, of China, by studying abroad. With the enthusiasm and support of the PP network and TAMIU members, I hope to inspire others to get out of their comfort zone, to learn more about China and to become bridge builders between China and the U.S. I want to provide resources, motivation and support upon inspiring others to embark on a journey of a lifetime.”


The Laredo fellows also have big plans for Pengyou Day, including a cultural display that passersby can interact with, Pengyou ‘tea time’, to share a cup of tea and a chat about China, and even ambitious plans for a Lion Dance performance! Leslie says: “We were hoping to bring a Lion Dance company from San Antonio but it seems to be quite expensive, and our starting chapter has no funds yet. We are looking into making/buying some costumes from China and maybe performing by ourselves! We will do it gladly. We are passionate about Project Pengyou and our mission, and Pengyou Day is just the beginning display of that excitement in our university.”

We could not be more proud of you Leslie and Jorge! Keep pioneering Project Pengyou in Laredo!