PRESS RELEASE: 35 Years of Student Exchange Between the U.S. and China Celebrated at the Great Hall of the People


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35 Years of Student Exchange Between the U.S. and China Celebrated at the Great Hall of the People

Project Pengyou co-organizes special event in conjunction with the Fifth Annual U.S.-China Consultation on People-to-People Exchange (CPE)

Beijing, July 13, 2014 – A special speaker event was held on Thursday at the Great Hall of the People celebrating 35 years of student exchange between the U.S. and China. The event was co-organized by the Golden Bridges Foundation and the China Scholarship Council and held in conjunction with the Fifth Annual U.S.-China Consultation on People-to-People Exchange (CPE), co-chaired by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong.

Richard Stengel, the U.S. Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, opened the event alongside Vice Minister of Education Hao Ping. Stengel called education a “silver bullet” for fostering mutual benefit between the US and China, creating shared understanding, and forging lifelong friendships. Stengel also acknowledged the important work of the Golden Bridges Foundation to develop “Project Pengyou” to build a community of American alumni dedicated to fostering greater U.S.-China understanding.

In front of an audience of 250 notable Chinese and American students and alumni who participated in US-Sino exchanges beginning from 1978 and 1979 respectively, eight esteemed study abroad alumni spoke of personal journeys and showcased the impact of educational exchange on their lives and its increasing importance in bilateral relations.

“Studying in China completely changed my life.” said speaker Frank Hawke, the current Director of Stanford Graduate School of Business at Peking University and one of the original eight American students to arrive in China in 1979 after restoration of US-China diplomatic ties. Hawke has since actively participated in China’s economic growth applying his education and talents to establish a number of landmark corporate deals in China.

Prominent speakers from China also echoed similar sentiments, including Robin Li, Founder and CEO of Baidu Inc.,Yang Lan, influential Chinese TV personality, and Shi Yigong, leading scientist and Dean of the College of Life Sciences at Tsinghua University.

“I don’t think any young person preparing to study abroad really understands the ways in which it will change them” said Robin Li. “There are no better ways to build bridges than to go abroad.”

Since the re-establishment of bilateral relations in 1979, educational exchanges have played an important role in bilateral engagement between the U.S. and China. This marks the first year that the CPE and the Strategic and Economic Dialogues were held concurrently in Beijing – a signal that people-to-people exchanges are increasingly at the core of US-China strategic and economic relations.


Event Speaker List

Speakers from U.S.:

  • JOHN THOMSON (Emcee), Former career U.S. foreign service officer; represented USG to oversee educational exchanges in PRC after normalization beginning in 1978 and established Fulbright Scholarship program between US and China.
  • FRANK HAWKE, One of the eight original American students to arrive in China in 1979 after restoration of US-China diplomatic ties; studied at Peking University, current Director of Stanford Graduate School of Business at Peking University.
  • DAVID MOSER, Academic Director of CET Academic Programs in Beijing. Visiting Scholar at Beijing University and visiting professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University in 1980s.
  • SANDRA JEFFREY, Executive Director of Americans Promoting Study Abroad; Former real estate attorney in New York; studied at Zhongshan University in 1990s, alumni of the Hopkins Nanjing Center and recipient of Fulbright-Hays GPA Scholarship for intensive language study at ACC.
  • HOLLY CHANG, Founder of Golden Bridges Foundation and Project Pengyou; Former plant engineer at United Parcel Service; studied intensive Mandarin at Tsinghua University in 2006.

Speakers from China:

  • YANG LAN (Emcee), Chinese talk show host, Co-Founder and Chair of Sun Media Group. Completed M.A. at Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs.
  • ROBIN LI, Founder and CEO of Baidu Inc. Completed M.S. in Computer Science at University at Buffalo, The State University of New York.
  • LIU BAICHENG, Appointed by Deng Xiaoping to lead the first group of 52 students from China to study abroad in the United States on December 26, 1978. Studied at University of Wisconsin, Current Professor of at Tsinghua University.
  • YIGONG SHI, PhD, Dean of Institute of Life Science and Medicine Science at Tsinghua University
  • PEI GANG, President of Tongji University of Shanghai. Completed PhD at University of North Carolina and Post-doctorate at Duke University. 


About Project Pengyou 

Project Pengyou is a program of The Golden Bridges Foundation that seeks to empower and mobilize a new generation of US-China bridge-builders to serve, inspire and transform lives. In 2011, Golden Bridges was invited by the State Department to help strengthen US-China relations by building an alumni network for the 100,000 Strong Initiative, a presidential campaign to increase the number and diversity of American students in China. With funding from the Ford Foundation, Golden Bridges began to develop “Project Pengyou” as a public-private partnership and build a critical mass of young Americans who lived and studied in China and engage them in meaningful ways beyond the classroom. Project Pengyou currently connects alumni of over 250 exchange programs and provides training and resources to foster a global community of US-China bridge-builders and capture the return on investment for study abroad in China.

About The China Scholarship Council

The China Scholarship Council is a national non-profit institution hosted under the Ministry of Education. The CSC provides scholarships to Chinese to study abroad and to international students to study in China. Its mission is to develop educational, scientific and technological, and cultural exchanges so as to foster economic and trade cooperation between China and other countries, strengthen the friendship and understanding between Chinese people and the people of all other countries, and to promote world peace and drive modernized socialism in China.