Meet Tianshen Rong: Pengyou Intern

Tianshen Rong

Hi everyone, I’m Tianshen and I’m excited to be back in Beijing, my hometown, to intern at Golden Bridges Foundation this summer!

After finishing the first year of middle school in Beijing, I moved to London with parents at the age of thirteen. It was through meeting people with very different traditions and mindsets in London that I began to understand what “cultural diversity” really meant. Subsequently, I decided to go to college in the United States, a place that seemed to be a gigantic melting pot for all the cultures in the world.

Currently I am pursuing a major in physics at Amherst College. While I enjoy studying the discipline that has intrigued me since childhood, I’ve been sensing a growing passion in my heart to serve as a bridge between the Chinese and Western cultures that are present in my cultural make-up.

I remember how shocked I was when I saw for the first time that the Middle Kingdom was not in the middle of the world map on my first day in school in London. Since then, I’ve been learning to look at China from a different perspective.

It was not easy at the beginning. I loathed going to school because we had a whole three months of history class on the British Empire, which I had to attend and hear about how the British soldiers were a great help to the Chinese and Indians by building railways. Everything I had learned in China was constantly contradicted and challenged. I wanted to stand up and argue with the teacher, except I didn’t know all the words I wanted to say in English.

While I became increasingly confused, I missed home and counted down the days till I could go back for summer vacation. But what happened when I finally got back to Beijing? Other than devouring 60 dumplings at the first lunch upon arrival, I found myself beginning to disagree with my Chinese friends’ views about China and the West.

My ESL teacher in London once said to me: “When you moved here, you had to give up some part of your own culture and become ‘Westernized’ to some degree. But one day, you will pay it back.”

And now is the time.

As I begin to think about post-graduate plans, I find myself most attracted to jobs in public diplomacy. During the years of living between Chinese and Western cultures, I’ve come to realize that you cannot eliminate your prejudices about another culture until you have personally experienced it. Therefore, I am passionate about facilitating American and Chinese students to have more direct exchange with each other. I believe that only through direct interaction can people understand each other’s ideas and customs.

And that’s why I resonate with the vision of Project Pengyou and I am honored to be part of a team that serves an important role in promoting mutual understanding between China and the United States.

During my two months at the Golden Bridges Foundation, I will be working on improving the content of Project Pengyou and curating and translating nonprofit Weibo posts for a digest that Golden Bridges voluntarily produces for its users.

I will also be helping the team prepare for the launch of the Hopkins-Nanjing Center (HNC) Pilot Project, an online community of the HNC and SAIS China alumni hosted at There will be a lot for me to learn, but I couldn’t be more excited to start the internship!