Meet Chris: Project Pengyou Intern

Chris Chan
Hey everyone, I’m Chris! I’m Canadian-born, California-raised, and currently a sophomore at UC Santa Barbara studying communication and technology management. I’m thrilled to be spending a semester in Beijing, the city that my mother grew up in, a city full of surprises.

Talk to the Chris of a few years ago, and studying/living/traveling in China would not even be something he’d really consider. So how did I end up here, spending my days eating jiaozi, memorizing Chinese characters and traveling throughout this diverse and enormous country?

Last year, in an Asian literature class at university, I stumbled across a quote by Chinese scholar Dong Qichang: “Walk 10,000 miles, read 10,000 books.” It pushed forth the possibility to pursue experiences, to go beyond just book-learning—to take the unknown and live it first-hand.

While I’ve always loved to read about China and its enduring history, culture and people, it wasn’t until recently that I understood that making the leap to live and travel in China would be my best chance to quench my curiosity for the country. So in January, I finally made the decision to pack my bags—weighed down with Chinese history books and travel guides—and boarded a plane to Beijing.

While in China, I hope to expand my knowledge of a history and culture so drastically different from my own. I aim to explore the power of conversation with people I meet along the way. After all, through traveling and studying in three continents, I’ve come to learn that conversations with people both at home and across an ocean can bring about huge changes in perspective.

On another note, I firmly believe that fostering people-to-people relations will continue to play an important part in the U.S.-China relationship. I also believe shattering prejudices and biases will truly reshape our understanding of one another and pave the way for meaningful dialogue.

That said, I’m extremely thrilled to work with Project Pengyou to help push forward the U.S.-China relationship beginning with the individuals that have made the leap to bridge the cultural divide. I look forward to all the challenges, discoveries, and the endless jiaozi that the next few months in China will bring.