This post was co-written by Project Pengyou interns Alex Mitu and Melodie Ha.
November 16 was our fourth annual national Pengyou Day! Young leaders all across the U.S and China held events to promote U.S.-China relations and encourage cross-cultural exchange and friendships. Over 100 campuses including Project Pengyou Chapters and Asia Society Confucius classrooms participated in conjunction with the U.S. State Department’s International Education Week. The nationwide campaign celebrated U.S.-China study, engagement, and friendship through events, gatherings, and stories shared via social media using #projectpengyou, #mypengyouis, and #pengyouday.
This year, we were thrilled to be joined in our efforts by the Asia Society Confucius Classrooms, Hopkins-Nanjing Center, Fulbright Program and the US-China Strong Foundation who helped to promote US-China exchange on Pengyou Day in their national networks. Thanks to everyone who contributed, organized an event, and helped spread the word in their networks!
Growing Stronger Together
Over the past three years, over 70 Project Pengyou Chapters have been initiated at schools across 35 states in the US. Pengyou Day is both a launching point for new Chapters and a day for the entire network to stand in solidarity promoting their shared values of friendship, constructive dialogue, and empowering young leaders to take charge of their own futures as the next generation to take the global stage in a shifting world. In practice, this means Project Pengyou Leadership Fellows and their Chapter teams take up the deceptively difficult task of making connections between disparate groups on their campuses during this day of massive action, starting from the simple question “what does it mean to be a pengyou/friend?.”
This year’s events included a panel discussion on building professional networks at University of California, Berkeley, a Friendsgiving dinner at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a Chinese public-park at The Claremont Colleges complete with dancing Aiyi’s, Taichi, and milk tea, as well as many other cross-cultural traditions and games such as calligraphy, ping-pong tournaments, and more. A few campuses, such as the Project Pengyou Middlebury Chapter, had a week of Pengyou Day events.
Being a Pengyou Today
Here in Beijing, we offer support and guidance leading up to Pengyou Day, but the real magic happens on each campus. Each of our Chapters is autonomously run by students, and we are constantly inspired by the drive and passion they display and the care and thought that goes into planning each event. Whether it’s a large panel discussion or an intimate dinner with friends, the Project Pengyou Chapter leaders are all working hard to build bridges on their campuses during Pengyou Day and we couldn’t be more proud.
This year, Pengyou Day served as a reminder to us all that even in tumultuous times, simply sitting down and having a conversation with someone and forming genuine relationships can go a long way. On a macro-level, it may seem like a simple conversation will not go far in terms of solving larger issues of xenophobia or cultural misunderstandings, but on a micro-level, this cross-cultural dialogue can create a sense of connection that transcends our preconceived notions of the world and those around us.
With that in mind, Project Pengyou Chapters across the nation took this day to engage with friends, classmates, teachers, and community members, celebrating the spirit of friendship, unity, and collaboration that comes with learning about other cultures and share those stories with one another.
Pengyou Day Challenge Winners
The Pengyou Day Challenge is a friendly competition between Project Pengyou Chapters celebrating their efforts. Points are given based on three categories, including social media outreach, online membership to their Chapter page on projectpengyou.org, and offline recruitment from their Pengyou Day event at their campuses. There was a great amount of effort from all of the Project Pengyou Chapters and Leadership Fellows, however, there were a few Chapters that really stood out this year. This year’s Pengyou Day Challenge winners were:
In third place, the Northern State University Chapter in Aberdeen, South Dakota, for promoting engagement with Chinese culture through Chinese yo-yo, calligraphy, paper cutting, chopstick races, and good food!
In second place, the Colorado University at Boulder Chapter in Colorado, for their efforts in creating genuine dialogue on campus through a rousing ping-pong tournament!
Finally, in first place, the Colby College Chapter in Waterville, Maine, for their efforts in spreading cross-cultural friendship by hosting a panel on bridge-building between the U.S. and China!
In addition to this year’s winners, the following Chapters also put forth notable effort on Pengyou Day:
- American University, Washington, DC
- Binghamton University, NY
- Bowie State University, MD
- D.C. International School, Washington, DC
- Detroit Catholic Central HS, MI
- Eagle Chapter, AZ
- Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
- Garfield High School, WA
- Grinnell College, IA
- Lewis & Clark College, OR
- Loyola College, IL
- Medgar Evers College Preparatory School, NY
- Middlebury College, VT
- Morgan State University, MD
- School of Visual Arts, NY
- Servite High School, CA
- The Shipley School, PA
- St. Lawrence University, NY
- University of California, Berkeley, CA
- University of Kentucky, KY
- University of Missouri, MO
- University of South Florida, FL
- University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN
- University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI
- College of William & Mary, VA
- Western Kentucky University, KY
We applaud all of you for your efforts and we hope you don’t underestimate the impact you have, both in the wider network and as individuals, to make a difference in someone’s life by being a friend.
Pengyou Day Highlights
Here are a few selected moments from events held across the U.S. this year! Check out our 2017 Pengyou Day Photo Album to see more, or search for the hashtags #projectpengyou, #mypengyouis, and #pengyouday on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
Congratulations to all of our Chapters and Pengyous around the globe on another great Pengyou Day!