Locke Bookends Tenure with Project Pengyou, Calls for More Americans to Study in China

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Project Pengyou builds global community to strengthen US-China relations and carry forward long-term goals of President Obama's 100,000 Strong Initiative.

To improve US-China relationships, we simply need more Americans studying here.

U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke honored non-profit Project Pengyou as part of his farewell tour last week, calling for a new generation of stewards for the US-China relationship.

Locke gave one of his first speeches as Ambassador launching Project Pengyou, a program conceived as the alumni network of President Obama's 100,000 Strong Initiative. Project Pengyou (“pengyou” means friend in Mandarin Chinese) connects young Americans who have lived or studied in China through leadership training, events and a social networking site.

“The entire world needs a strong US-China relationship,” Locke said at a reception hosted by Project Pengyou at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing last Wednesday. “But right now we have some 200,000 Chinese students studying in America, but maybe only about 18 to 20,000 Americans studying here in China. And to improve US-China relationships, we simply need more Americans studying here.”

At the event, Project Pengyou announced the launch of a Leadership Fellows Program, where select Americans who studied in China will convene at Harvard University to receive cross-cultural leadership and grassroots organizing training. Project Pengyou plans to mobilize Fellows to set up community chapters across the United States to promote China study and engagement.

In his final days as U.S. Ambassador to China, Locke spoke on the importance of Project Pengyou’s long-term efforts to build a community to foster people-to-people diplomacy and friendly relations between the United States and China.

“Together all of you are helping to create an informed, mature and productive US-China relationship,” Locke said. “While I may hold the official title of Ambassador, quite frankly each and every one of you is an ambassador each and every day.”

Project Pengyou is the first nonprofit dedicated to building an alumni community to promote a mutually beneficial and peaceful future between China and the USA.

It is is seeded by a multi-year grant from the Ford Foundation as a program of the Golden Bridges Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization established in 2007 to build bridges to China that strengthen the capacity and sustainability of community-based nonprofits and individuals to serve, inspire and transform lives.

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