Young Leaders Celebrate U.S.-China Friendship and Cross-Cultural Understanding on Pengyou Day 2017

This post was co-written by Project Pengyou interns Alex Mitu and Melodie Ha.


Pengyou Day Collage

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 ClassroomsHopkins-Nanjing CenterFulbright 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

The UC Berkeley Chapter held a career panel with 5 established professionals, including James Eron, Haiyan Fu, Xinggang Tong, Darren Ji.

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

Colby College - Pengyou Day '17 (5)_preview
Pengyous at Colby College in Waterville, Maine demonstrated their friendship.

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, 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!

Northern State University Chapter - Pengyou Day '17 (2)_preview


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!

CU Boulder _ Pengyou Day 17 (1)_preview


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:

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.

Pengyous at the University of Wisconsin-Madison held a Friendsgiving dinner for #PengyouDay


Pengyou Day at the D.C. International School in Washington D.C.
Happy #PengyouDay from the D.C. International School in Washington D.C.


Pengyous at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green capture an Instagram-worthy moment.


Pengyous at Detroit Catholic Central High School in Michigan battle it out in a ping-pong tournament.


Pengyous at the University of Southern Florida in Tampa went bowling.


Pengyou Day at Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University in Dayton Beach, Florida.
Pengyous at Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, AZ showed off their calligraphy skills.


Pengyou Day at Medgar Evers College Preparatory School in Brooklyn, New York.
Happy #Pengyou Day from Medgar Evers College Preparatory School in Brooklyn, New York.


Project Pengyou Leadership Fellow ’14, Founder of St. Olaf College Chapter, Kyle Obermann celebrates #PengyouDay in Sichuan with the Guanba People’s Nature Reserve.

Congratulations to all of our Chapters and Pengyous around the globe on another great Pengyou Day!